African Fixer

Nigerian Culture Experienced Through Music

April 5, 2022

Talent Searches In Nigeria

The ‘Unplugged Talent Show” is the most popular and successful music and dance television show in Nigeria and rivals the likes of America/Europe/Britain’s Got Talent. What differentiates the Nigerian show from international talent searches is that the organizers not only discover but also manage and promote the winning acts, and the key criteria for auditioning is that all songs must be original.

In many parts of Nigeria, music is used by artists to say things in their lyrics that would otherwise be perceived as offensive. While the most popular genres are Indigenous music and Afrobeats, the rapid growth of the television and film industries since the 1990’s has allowed musicians from Nigeria’s extensive theater, festivals and religious traditions to break into the mainstream. As a result, many television and film producers

 simultaneously work on film- scoring. 

Nigerian film producers have perfected this art so well that they have even inv]ented a unique method of film scoring, called prefiguring.

This technique was introduced by the famous Nigerian soundtrack producer Stanley Okorie, and uses repetitive tunes to foreshadow dialogue and scene changes before they appear on screen. Unique to the Nigerian film production space, this technique draws on the art of storytelling in indigenous communities that intertwine language, song, dance and drama into an artistic work.

INSPIRATION FROM INDIGENOUS CULTURE

Drawing inspiration from indigenous culture has ensured that traditional folk music is still in vogue.The most illustrious Nigerian music legend, Fela Kuti, is still venerated by many artists, especially those who have been in the entertainment industry since before the days of pop culture.

Burna boy, a musician whose songs featured on the original soundtrack of the 2019 American film Queen and Slim, was inspired by a Fela Kuti classic, ‘My Money, My Baby.’ Other Nigerian musicians whose songs have featured in well-known films are 2Baba (formerly known as 2 Face), John Boyega and Burna Boy.

Award-winning songwriter and recording artist Bukola Elemdie, professionally known as Asa, explained in a BBC interview why Nigerian artists take pride in producing original work: “To understand Nigerian culture, you must connect to the soul of the people and understand their inner psychology.”

Even modern songs released by pop artists like Olamide, Ziatan and Naira Marley reveal the psychology of Nigerian youth, which can be summed up by their motto: “Why of course I can…to the extent that I am Nigerian.” In this philosophy of radical freedom, what matters most in life is ‘the vibe’ you bring to a project.

NIGERIAN BEATS IN FILM SCORES

In Nigeria, music, drums and dance always go together. This explains the phenomenon of ‘Oga God’, the most popular genre of music for streaming, that is classified as ghetto gospel music. A fusion of traditional Christian hymns, indigenous drum beats and pop music ‘vibes’, Oga God was created by Ransome Kuit, grandfather of the famous Fela Kuit, in the 1930’s. Ransome Kuti’s compositions became standards amongst later Igbo composers and led to the evolution of hybrid music genres we see today.

With the huge success of series like the American Greenleaf, there is a lot of scope for African gospel artists to explore film-scoring, and there is no better place than Nigeria to tap into opportunities to work with film producers.

The outpouring of grief and condolences from fans across the continent for gospel musician Osinachi Nwachukwa, who died on 08 April, compels everyone in the artistic space to pause and reflect on the impact that music has in telling a story.

As Asa puts it: “music is a conduit that makes me remember something.”

African film fixers would do well to remember Nigerian musicians and recording artists when working with film producers who need original music scores for their movies. In contrast to modern music that sells ambitions, dreams and love purely for the sake of making money, Nigerian music transmits age-old wisdom that incorporates words found only in the Nigerian lingua franca, Pidgin English.

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