WIZKID AND THE AFROBEAT CONUNDRUM
Music is an art and its aesthetic quality must be subject to criticism, there is no use for art which serves its own purpose without thrilling its audience. The young generation seems to have fallen into a trance of sycophancy that they do not differentiate what it means to be fans and being idol worshippers, they do more harm to the career of the emerging Afro pop musicians. I do understand what it means to identify with a particular movement which is aimed at promoting a person or subject but the moment such identity pans towards becoming idolatry and it’s product a dogma, then I cease to understand what the main purpose of such a movement is. Now, let me explain what I am trying to say, sit back, relax and read through this cruise with me.
The new buzz in town is Afrobeat, this genre of music is doing well in the international market as we have seen Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti get nominations for the grammy awards. This nomination in a prestigious music awards goes a long way to show that the brand of music has international appeal and we have also heard successful international acts like Alicia Keys make statements as regards Fela Anikulapo and Femi Kuti’s songs. I am happy for the genre called afrobeat and it is a genre that is easily recognized with its Jazzy and swing beats which has its origin in African drums. Afrobeat as a genre of music is well grounded in African art and it is disrespectful to reduce it to Afro pop. The pain I feel every time the young generation refers to pop music artistes who are gaining attention outside Africa as Afrobeat kings cannot be expressed. I feel like getting koboko and flogging sense back into the heads of these young lads. Fela’s sacrifice should never be reduced to such petty chirpings of a young generation that seem to be ignorant of what actually obtains.
How do the likes of Wizkid, Davido and Kiss Daniel come off as Afrobeat artistes? I still don’t understand how that happened. While Fela was alive, he was an admirer of Lagbaja and a lot of people tried to tie the title of Afrobeat king to Lagbaja but he simply declined and went ahead to state that his own genre of music was ‘higher life’, this was a way of avoiding the controversy of him being in a competition with Femi Kuti. So let’s ask the question, how did pop musicians end up being Afrobeat music artistes to the point that their fans are trying to claim the crown of Afrobeat kings for them? How?
The loudest amongst the set of clowns laying claims to Afrobeat monarchy are the wizkid fans, people who seem not to know the difference between being fans or sycophants. These mass of ignorant soldiers are forever ready to attack anyone who dares to criticize wizkid’s song or posturing. If we have to be honest, Wizkid is no better than Buhari presently, a young man living with his past glory and very vicious fans who have deified him, he is more in the news these days for pinching the buttocks of another man’s wife than he is known for the reviews of his music. Don’t get me wrong, I am a Wizkid lover but truth be told, his music these days do not do justice to the genius he used to be. I am aware that his collaboration with Beyonce ‘brown skin girl’ is doing well but so are the tracks of the other artistes who featured Beyonce. Look at the present ratin g of CNN top African music Artistes and Wizkid is in faraway number 6 while Burna Boy sits atop and Angelique Kidjo follows. The truth is, Wizkid fans do him more harm than good, someone needs to tell Wizkid that his songs seem not to have any coherent lyrical content anymore and message seems to be an abstract with his style of music. Music is not an art that sells because ignorant worshippers say so but it is an art because it is subject to criticism and Music critics determine what song gets nomination for top awards, as such it is not surprising that Burna boy got the Grammy awards nomination with his Album and Wizkid did not.
Personally, I think Wizkid is lost, he is lost as regards who he is. He can’t seem to grapple with the fact that he is a very creative young man who is good with freestyling and doesn’t need to be cocooned in the fantasy of being king of a genre he doesn’t understand. Wizkid is an amazing pop artiste and if one must be fair, he has achieved heights that few Nigerians have ever stepped but I think it is time, he lets go of the fantasy that he is the new King of Afrobeat music. Afrobeat Music is not a genre that should be reduced to music loved by narcotic influenced youngsters as the original genre is spiritual and is always heavy laden with a moral message. Please and please, let us stop this sacrilege of calling every talented artiste an Afrobeat musician and then pass some imaginary crown to them, let us stop confusing sycophancy and idolatry for music adoration. It is one thing to love Wizkid the person but it is another to adore his music. We already have enough pangolo music to go round and the only thrill some of us get is listening to the beauty of the original genre called Afrobeats.I no