Nigerian music has really come a long way from being being an art enjoyed locally to one that appeals to the global audience. Famous Nigerian musicians like Fela Anikulapo Kuti, King Sunny Ade and Oliver De Coque to mention a few made indigenous music that resonated with Nigerians. The lyrics of their songs were filled with messages and counsels that promoted moral values and local culture. These musicians also used their songs to propagate love, peace and unity amongst Nigerians who at the time were still recovering from the devastation of the civil war that broke out in the 60's. Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the originator of the Afro-beat genre of music, was well known for using his songs to demand for freedom, justice, equity and a conducive environment for Nigerians to thrive and succeed from the military government who were in charge of the nations affair at the time. He was an advocate of economic development and prosperity in Nigeria and never hesitated to criticise the government whenever it veered off course or shirked it's responsibilities. He was a social commentator and freedom fighter.
Music did not only serve as a source of entertainment to Nigerians, it also gave us hope and inspiration to be the best version of ourselves. The precedence of using music as an instrument for entertainment and social awareness by the musicians alluded to earlier was taken up by other colleagues who came after them. Notable musical artistes like Onyeka Onwenu spread the message of unity amongs Nigerians with her hit song titled "One Love". A song that not only stimulates your auditory senses with pleasant rhythm and melody but also emphasizes the importance of love and unity among people. It is a song that remains evergreen. The chorus of this song conveys a powerful message to it's audience. It goes thus -
"One love keep us together.
Living in a world, it's a struggle to staying alive.
One love keep us together.
Living in a world, it's a struggle to staying alive."
The song serves a remainder that the challenges of life are easier to overcome when people love each other and live in unity. Majek Fashek was also in this league of musicians who sang conscious music. One of his popular songs dubbed" So Long" was an anthem in Nigeria when it was released. The lyrics were powerful and thought provoking. It was a song that implored people to take charge of their lives. A clarion call for self responsibility. Musicians of this era were highly respected by Nigerians. They used their art to entertain and stimulate the intellect of their audience. These musicians also facilitated the export and appreciation of Nigerian music abroad. Highlife, a local genre of Nigerian music appealed to a lot of people in West Africa, especially in Ghana. Ghanaian highlife music originated from Nigeria. Nigerian music had began to have influence outside the country.
A new generation of musical artistes emerged as time elapsed and they changed the trajectory of the Nigerian music industry. This set of musicians added elements of Western music culture to local music. This fusion gave birth to contemporary Nigerian music, a melange of two concepts in local art. This trend was quite radical and took some time to grow and be appreciated by Nigerians. The pace setters of this new trend braced up for the challenge. It however gained traction over time. Musical artistes like Alex O, Blackky, De Trybez Men, Zaaki Azaay, Plantashun boiz and Sound Sultan were some of the musicians that initiated this movement. Their body of work started the evolution of local music to contemporary art. Contemporary Nigerian music began to grow and build momentum in the 90's. A trend that continued to grow. A major break in this sphere came in the mid 2000's. "African Queen", a song by 2Face Idibia disrupted the music scene in Nigeria and Africa. It got great reception and appealed to a large audience locally and internationally. The success of this song paved the way for other contemporary Nigerian music to make waves in the continent of Africa and beyond. Several years later, Oliver Twist by D'banj also gained a lot of popularity globally. Contemporary Nigerian music gained a lot of acceleration within and outside Africa from this period onwards.
The rapid growth of Nigerian music was sustained and it's reach kept expanding. Musicians continued to improve their craft and release good music. Stakeholders in the industry also began to generate good revenue as the industry become more lucrative. As all this events were happening, a new set of musicians emerged too. They were ready to take the reins from their predecessors and push the frontiers of Nigerian music. Some artistes who emerged during this period are Wizkid, Davido and Burna boy. These musicians took Nigerian music to the next level. They raised the bar! They filled the music airwaves with great songs and reached a larger globally audience. They also began to hold and perform in sold out concerts in renowned entertainment centers around the world. The Madison Square Garden, New York and The 02 Arena in London are some of those events center. The appeal and reception of Nigerian music by the global audience looked surreal! Famous musicians began to collaborate with Nigerian artistes. Beyonce featured Wizkid on her song Brown Skin Girl. The song was used as a soundtrack in the movie Lion King. Pop icon, Madonna also featured ace Nigerian musician Fireboy DML in the remix of her hit song titled "Frozen". A major highlight and achievement for Nigerian music was when Burna boy won the prestigious Grammy Award. An accomplishment that validated the progress that has been made in Nigerian music.
The success achieved in the Nigerian music industry is remarkable and praiseworthy. Stakeholders of the industry are reaping the rewards of their efforts. They have literally put Nigeria on the world map of entertainment! Their accomplishments have made Nigerians proud.
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