Have you noticed that, since the meteoric rise of Afrobeat/Afrobeats, Nigerians and Africans have been reluctant to adopt other genres? If you go to a Nigerian/African club and the DJ dares to play an American or western song, the crowd will unconsciously show a sign of disapproval.
Music can take various forms and indeed, Afrobeat does not appeal to everyone. People like myself enjoy genres other than afrobeat. Some Africans consider music to be trash if it cannot be danced to, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that the only reason Wizkid’s song “ESSENCE” featuring Tems became viral was because it went viral in America, where people understand the value of good music, that song would not have ‘blown up’ if Wizkid had relied on Naija to do so.
Please refrain from critiquing other people’s music or genres. Afrobeat is not the definition of music. Afrobeat is popular today because people enjoy the music, but don’t forget that we’re still striving to break into the American market or the whole world in general. The biggest festivals in the world generating hundreds of millions of dollars is not afrobeat. And yes, we will also get there, in time.
Even with all of our loudness, Nigeria has yet to create somebody like Jay-Z, Kanye West, DJ Khaled, and many others, and if we eventually do, nobody will sleep again because we make alot of noise which has some advantages and disadvantages.
Don’t get me wrong, we are really talented, as I am living proof, but let’s make room for other talented individuals as well. My debut single “They Can’t Pull Us Down” has a groovy feel to it. So anytime I play it in front of white people, they dance their asses off. When I play the same music around Nigerians/Africans, they refer to it as ‘Old Skool’. I’m always like, ‘Just shut up. This ain’t old school, it’s just funk music. It’s a genre’. And this so-called ‘Old Skool’ originated from African/Americans and now we wanna abandon it all in the name of ‘old skool’?
We have a wide range of genres. It does not become old because you dislike it. The fact that our parents enjoyed it does not negate the fact that it is a genre. I sometimes grow tired of correcting people.
I just want people – especially Nigerians- to know that all songs matter, all genres matter, John Legend’s ‘All Of Me’ would have struggled in the Nigerian market, yet today its one of the dopest songs in the world with billions of views on YouTube. We have many Africans that sing even better than John legend but their music isn’t recognised because it’s not danceable or because it’s not afrobeats.
Let’s grow up jare!
Charles Onyeabor writes from Amsterdam, he’s the first son of legendary musician, William Onyeabor