Surely we remember Asa, don’t we? It has been over five years since we actively heard her voice on our radios and saw her on our TVs. And we are beginning to miss her. We want to go back to the days when she connected to Nigerians by discussing real social issues with her songs. We want an opportunity to go back to listening to good music.
Born to Nigerian parents in France, Asa had positive influences in the area of music at a very young age. She moved with her parents to Nigeria when she was two, and was raised in Lagos. 20 years later, she returned to France to record her first album. And in 2007, she released “Fire on the Mountain” and “Jailer”, and those compositions were masterpieces.
While Asa reigned, the influence of the city in which she was raised could be heard throughout her albums. With tentative hints of Afrobeat wafting through the folksy pop, her style was unique. It lied somewhere between pop and soul — and just a twist of reggae. We miss Asa, but then she is not the only one our ears itch for.
Foundational Years for Nigerian Music
About ten years ago, there were other really good musicians who came in with great talents and prospects. They came into the Nigerian music scene with great stories and with unique perspectives, but did not stay long enough to enjoy the recognition their efforts will produce.
The music they produced then was original, came from the heart and addressed some societal issues. They, in small and big ways, contributed to what we are proud to call Nigerian music today. The frustrating thing is that we didn’t get to hear more from them.
They were able to only drop one or two albums before they disappeared. And there is no doubt that if they had been around, the recognition that our music is enjoying now everywhere around the world would have happened sooner.
So why did they disappear?
There have been a couple of reasons why some of the fine stars didn’t stay long. These reasons range from personal security to lack of inspiration.
Journalists who’ve had to follow their progress say some of them outgrew the genres they started in. Because they did not know how to transition, they stepped down. Some others found new interests and followed their hearts. Where some are now involved in businesses, others are building families. And all that begs the question of what the real gist is.
Running businesses can be tedious, no doubts, but people in other parts of the world have been able to find ways to combine these things. They run their businesses efficiently, while they hold onto their music careers. A discovery of a new interest does not necessarily mean the death of an old one.
Somehow, those who have stayed relevant have had to either change genres, switched lanes, or engage in collaborations. It just hurts to see that the new crop of ‘musicians’ are mostly hungry people who see music as a way out of financial problems and a quick way to fame.
Who do we miss?
A poll (on Nigerian music) was taken recently and it produced a list of musicians that Nigerians would love to encounter again. It is not like they have gone out of the game completely. It is just that we don’t have them operating at the same frequency they came into the industry with.
Musicians like Asa, Darey Art Alade, Eedris Abdulkareem, Bouqui, Goldie (of blessed memory)and Mocheddah made the list. You guys remember M.I, Bracket, J Martins, Jesse Jags, TY Bello, 2Shotz, Faze, Nigga Raw, Tony Tetuila, and Naeto C? We miss them all. Styl Plus and Mohits! Why did you allow your individual differences break you up? More than enriching yourselves, your music plays a huge role in boosting the GDP of this country.
There is the understanding that time changes everything, but music does not fall under that category. Over the years, musicians around the world sing well into a beautiful (this has nothing to do with gender) old age. I mean, today, the 27th of August 2019, there is Google Doodle for Cesaria Evora on what would have been her 78th birthday. If you follow her history, you will find that she only died recently. And until she died, she was still singing, attending performances and going on tours.
Cesaria is widely celebrated today for her kind of music (Morna) and how she carried herself into old age. How long she held onto her beliefs and truths is maybe the more inspiring part.
Nigerians can learn to combine good music with other life ventures. I know I speak for most persons when I say: “Don’t start a career in music when you are not ready to put in the work for at least 10 years. It is unfair to build a buzz around yourself with one track, and then kill it with inconsistency.”
By the way, somebody please tell our musicians that the ‘comeback stunt’ is becoming stale. If it is a publicity strategy, Nigerians are no longer buying it. When you stay away for too long, don’t expect your audience to throw a party at your return. You can only do that when Nigerians consider you really good.
Just know that if your music is good, Nigerians will always want more. Please don’t starve us.
Do you think some of your favorite musicians from a decade ago were omitted? Kindly mention them in the comment section. Thank you!