I hope everybody’s New Year is off to a healthy and booming start. How is that resolution working out??? It’s too early to quit on yourselves… A BIG Shot Out to the “Kool Keedz”; you are the stars of tomorrow and I Love you all.
Ok people, LET ME GET FOCUSED!!!
So over the years I have been auspicious enough to have had the opportunity to listen, celebrate and gain knowledge of my ethos through the talents and creative minds of many Nigerian artists. The likes of icons such as Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, the late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister (R.I.P.), Ebenezer Obey and Shina Peters took our music to its apex. I lived and saw personally how the different genres of pop culture at that time bridged the gap for the haves/have-not’s and educated/illiterate. There was something in their music for everybody as it now appears that their period truly were the wonder years of my once great country.
But as I left Naija for the United States in the late 80’s something about our music was already losing its luster in the form of public opinion. It seems that as the political unrest grew, economy crumbled and crime and corruption became the norm, the music faded away into greener pastures. Artist such as Lagbaja, Femi Kuti, Tunde Baiyewu of the Lighthouse Family (Ikeja Grammar School, Oshodi Alumni) and others would attempt to restore life into it but only experience “some” success. I would hear exciting music every now and then through the influence of my siblings who would send tapes and CDs of artist they listened to in hopes of soothing my interest, but to no avail.
Fast forward to 2007; I had my break through moment during a conversation with my older brother. While on the telephone he says to me, “Yo, I have this song I have been jamming to all day. When you hear it, you will go crazy”. My brother typically visits the States 3-4 times a year, so I was lucky to have access to things I cherished such as Gari (food), Alabukun (medicine), arts & crafts and native brocade (clothing) on his visits. Upon picking him up from the airport, I knew he was going to bless me with the CD, a Street Banga!!! While en route heading back home, he inserts the 9ice “Gongo Aso” CD into the player of my automobile and Naija music as I previously knew it would never be the same again.
All I can recall was hearing the beat and witnessing the hair on the back of my neck standing up. The first 30 seconds of the track had me trembling; the voice and the lyrics that accompanied the track “Kinda Life” immediately returned my attention back to my early years listening to those aforementioned icons. It felt like I was back in high school listening to the late Notorious B.I.G. “Ready to Die” album all over again. B.I.G. was killing it people!!! I still recall the first time I heard “Juicy” playing on the radio. Ladies, think about that moment when you finally got to here the much hyped and highly anticipated “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” album and how you all lost your minds for a minute almost like she did… huh??
Similar to B.I.G. and Lauren in hip hop, 9ice bridged the gap and transcended the music I grew up loving but also kept the essence and its soul alive. I believe what drew me to his style more than any artist was his ability to blend the use of my native tongue of Yourba, very similar to the old popular genre of “Fuji” with Nigerian hip hop and R&B. After experiencing what felt like a drought in indentifying great music from my motherland for years, the “Gongo Aso” CD became this treasure that I would play on heavy rotation in my home, car, office and IPod. The one track that stays on repeat and will always remain my favorite is the “Street Credibility” record. Never had I been afforded the opportunity to exult in my fellow countrymen/women, my great country and the idea of reclamation for a better Nigeria all in one from an artist. Like the chorus in the song states “We are the most Incredible”…
It’s 2011 and I see the music scene in Nigeria in three words, Ba-Na-Nas!!! The country is oozing with talent right now and it does not look like its going to slow down anytime in the near future. Artists like Tuface Idibia, D’ Banj, Psquare, Terry G, Wande Coal Asa, AiRis (interview coming next week) and others have set a new standard and raised the bar. It appears that the Naija soul has experienced a rebirth but only this time around with more energy and purpose.
9ice One Baba