Every Saturday both here in Europe and United States. The queue of stylish men and women, many of whom wouldn’t be out of place in a music video, snakes around the block of many Nite-clubs, discotheque. It looks like a typical crowd for a New York hip-hop club, come to dance to Jay-Z or Lil Wayne. But it’s not, and they haven’t. In fact, inside the club there’s barely an American track to be heard, because this crowd isn’t particularly interested in listening to American music. Instead, the majority of the tunes the DJ spins are the latest urban hits from Nigeria, and the punters, mainly young Africans, are hooked on every one. It’s all part of the biggest boom in Nigerian music since the 1980s, with clubs from New York to Paris to London to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Nairobi playing club hits from Lagos.
This new wave of Nigerian music, which has really only begun to take hold in the last five years, is a world away from the sounds of the pioneers of that first wave of exports – the likes of Fela Kuti and Sunny Adé – who helped spur the growth of world music as a marketable niche product in Europe and North America.
Listen to music by the contemporary Nigerian artists – 2Face Idibia, D’Banj, P-Square, Naeto C, Ikechukwu or eLDee the Don – and you’ll hear the smooth synthesised sounds of the latest US productions. Beats are no longer provided just by talking drums, but by 808s and sequenced kick snares. Vocals may have been processed with vocoders and other studio tools to give them that commercial, MTV urban edge. “It’s untraditional,” says Alex Okosi, the senior vice-president and general manager of MTV Networks Africa. “It’s not your middle-aged African artist [making music for] your middle-aged European audience.”
Leaning more towards hip-hop than high life, the latest breed of Nigerian artists fuse American urban sounds with Nigerian influences to great effect. “Hip-Hop and R&B – that’s the foundation of my sound,” says Nigerian rapper Naeto C, who was recently named best new act at the MTV Africa awards. But even though this music uses the urban sounds of America as a launchpad, it is marked with a distinctly Nigerian stamp.
Originally Written By: Lola Adesioye.