Analysing the Exodus of Wizkid.
In recent times there have been major activities in the Nigerian music industry involving Nigerian acts and foreign labels. Sony Music and RCA have been dishing out lucrative deals to our stars with the likes of Davido, Wizkid, Ayo Jay, Tiwa Savage and more as beneficiaries.
There is no better time to be a Nigerian than now as everything that is involved with the country seems to be getting worldwide attention and in a positive note. From Music to movies to fashion and art; there is a lot of positive attention coming in from the western world in those fields. The world is now paying much more attention to what we have to say and how we want to say it.
Honestly as a Nigerian i’m happy for the progress our artistes are making internationally and i am well aware of the good we stand to gain as a nation from the publicity and the effects it has on our music culture and in exporting our craft to the world. We might be feeling bouyed by all the hypes but things seems not to be going in our favour. As one of the pacesetters of the Nigerian music export, Wizkid (the flag bearer for African music worldwide) will be my primary focus and i will be using his situation to make a few points.
As a Nigerian music enthusiast, I don’t think anybody apart from Wizkid is happy with his music progress. As a long time fan of the Daddy Yo crooner and as a firm believer in the music industry, there is nothing more exciting than seeing Wizkid featured heavily on some of the most popular worldwide playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.
Asides all the shows, chart topping and not forgetting the financial reward it is important to note that Wizkid’s sound is changing and it is either the world is not ready for our kind of sound or the top labels are bent on surpressing it. Every ardent fan of Nigerian music can attest to the fact that since Wizkid appeared on “One Dance” most of his music, especially those targeted towards the western audience, have been heavily reggae infused including the most recent “come closer” featuring canadian hiphop heavyweight Drake.
From Daddy Yo to his verses on Justin Skye’s “U Don’t Know” and Zara Larsson’s “Sundown” to “Come Closer Ft Drake” it is evident that either he has switched his Afro Pop sound or he is being forced to quit his style. It is even more noteworthy with all his recent features with American artists having been fully reggae. Maybe RCA is making us see what direction they want him to go so as to break in to the worldwide audience.
It is important to note that i have no firsthand information in the deal Wizkid signed nor do i claim to possess all the facts. As a critic and a fan i stand to have my own opinion and having analysed the situation i have come up with this editorial. I am not hater of wizkid nor do i stand against the movement of Nigeria to the world. In fact, for me, it’s important for the Aftican music industry that Wizkid breaks into the American market makes huge impact and if possible bring home the grammy even if he had to rap like Desiigner. I have no problem with it whatsoever.
The truth of the matter, in my opinion, as it stands, Afrobeat or Afro Pop is not ready to cross over yet, or rather, the labels are not ready for that experiment yet. What that means for us as fans and as our music culture is concerned is that we need to slow down some of our current celebrations and curb our enthusiasm.
My analogy is that the Nigerian Industry (labels and all), is like a feeder club for the American market/audience. Wizkid our major star attraction has quite admittedly grown bigger than our industry. Wizkid is currently too big to be signed by any Nigerian label, even if they combined. Now, in situations where star players transfer from feeder clubs to massive top clubs, the only thing the small club can look forward to is a hefty transfer fee.
Right now major labels with huge funds and world coverage are scrambling for our superstars and offering them lucrative deals at the expense of our local industry. because of the excitement and frenzy we have been caught in the euphoria and have failed to realize that Wizkid breaking in to America with a their own sound rather than our Afro sound will do our industry no good. it is a far cry from what we’ve envisioned with hope for our music sound and industry. Our industry is developing very fast but that is not attributed to the fact that our artistes are crossing over rather it is because the world is enjoying our kind of music and if properly harnessed would be a goldmine for all.
For our music and culture to finally break into the world market, the major labels will have to show a genuine interest in our sound but not only that, they need to also put in efforts and funds to develop our local industry and not just hand pick our finest stars. Our industry is still suffering from teething problems and they (the major labels) must come in and help us collectively develop our craft, culture and sound.
Akpofure Shedrack is a freelance writer and music critic. Formerly a fulltime blogger, he is currently working with various blogs and entertainment websites as guest writer and columnist providing thought-provoking opinion on entertainment and carefully crafted creative articles to keep the reader entertained.
Connect with him on Twitter & Instagram @king_konfam