This year has brought forth just one genuine pop hit song in Nigeria. ‘Fada fada’ by Phyno and Olamide still retains its place as the only hit record from 2016 that can be certified as penetrating all demography, and standing proud in all corners of the country.
Truly, it has been abysmal this year for the hit makers. Everyone keeps making songs, creating records and releasing singles. But very few have had their music fly far and away into general acceptance. The systems for promotion still exist, they are constantly employed, oiled, refined and refired. But for some inexplicable reason, they fail to hit home. And for those who hit home, they don’t stay enough to properly disseminate.
Olamide, Phyno, Baci at the “Gold” album listening party.
That’s the Nigerian music industry for this year. The artistes know this, and it is happening in a year where the focus is on international expansion. For the A-List acts, it is this expansion and crossover that has ruled their year. Wizkid and Davido, two of Nigeria’s perennial hit makers are on the fringes of success on the international scene, working their way through deals, collaborations and many more for the international market. Davido has not released a song all year, Wizkid has no official release in the Nigerian market. Tiwa Savage is still working on her albums, Sean Tizzle is away and beyond making hit records, Mavin Records are having a ‘normal’ year, and many more of these people are not finding it easy. That has opened up a ‘hit’ vacuum.
Fuse ODG and Patoranking in studio session in London
But it is business, not artistry that currently occupies the mind of most stars. Music is now made for other markets, with the core of creativity pushed into making songs that will push the profile of the acts in other markets. Patoranking’s “God Over Everything” album is a great example. The singer made strategic songs for different countries, choosing his collaborations to that effect. Jamaican stars Elephant Man and Konshens are on the album. Yemi Alade is on a UK push right now with new single ‘Want you’. Only Olamide, Phyno and a number of others are looking at the market.
Is making music for business the new and true creativity to push the market forward?
We are currently in the time when sound-limitation is old-fashioned, with the globalization of diverse sounds, once considered as niche melodies. Drake’s ‘One Dance’ success, and Rihanna’s ‘Work’ phenomenon, has started a wave that many have jumped on. Afro-Caribbean tunes are in right now, with the spotlight shining on Nigeria, and her acts. The opportunity is there for the taking, and the A-list musicians are on the wave. Music has to be made for the new markets and that’s what these acts are focused on. It’s their new way forward.
But for the upcoming acts and those who are yet to go pop, they can’t play at this level. Nigeria is still big enough a market for them, and conquering it is a huge ask that many won’t achieve. The goal for them is to survive. Once they get that, they can switch focus to thriving. Business music is not their concern right now. Artistry is.