Opinion: Afrobeats and the Reflections of the Nigerian state

Music is magic and Afrobeats as a genre of music exudes a lot of that magic. Ordinarily, music affects the human psyche. It can be used as an element of social restructuring and psyche reconfiguration. In some cultures, music is actually used to ease pain.

Even scientific research has confirmed it that the human system is hard-wired to respond to music. Therefore, stimulation is one of those very effective magic wands of music. You get excited listening to music, just like a drug addict does when taking drugs.

This then necessitates the check on the degree of consciousness that should be put into the production of music. The Nigerian music scene has evolved over time. Gone are the days when Nigerian pop artiste would wait for the Kanye Wests and Rick Ross to drop a song before creating an adapted vibe from it.

DBanj Oliver Twist Video featuring Big Sean, Kanye West
DBanj Oliver Twist Video featuring Big Sean, Kanye West

That especially since we have successfully indigenize music as to have a peculiar vibe being attached to us. Afrobeats is a blend of traditional sounds which includes jazz, West African highlife and funk with Fela Anikulapo Kuti championing the cause of its acceptance in the 1960s.

New York Times pop culture writer, Reggie Ugwu had said in 2016 that the contemporary Nigerian pop is ‘both proudly local and pleasantly porous’. His submission seemed to be an attempt to undermine the Nigerian sounds. That too at a time when the likes of Wizkid and Davido are pushing the afrobeat movements into international lands.

Wizkid Performing at the Lagos to London Concert at Royal Albert Hall London
Wizkid Performing at the Lagos to London Concert at Royal Albert Hall London

However, he was right. Afrobeats basked in the euphoria of being locally accepted because the random listener could relate comfortably and vibe to the beats. Meanwhile, less prominence is given to the message of the song.

Over time, it has been argued that the music artistes share the responsibility of shaping the social orientation of the listener. Nevertheless, since we have tried to build our music around the reflection of the immediate society in such a way that the listener can relate with, Afrobeats remains lacking in the league of music driven by message.

That brings the discussion to the perceive essence of music to the singer who produces and the listener who consumes. The average Nigerian singer has realized that what good music is to a typical Nigerian is a mechanism to escape from the enclave of daily tribulations that is being faced daily as we bout for survival. He understood that his prominence lies in his ability to render such music which will drift the attention of the listener away from his worries.

The kind of vibe that will transcend them to the state of i-don’t-care-ism when they listen thereby neglecting at least for the ephemeral moment their pains and troubles.

Therefore, he wanders within the reality that sex sells, vague hopes intrigues and the quest for material things is rife and singing about those could endear him to the average Nigerian man.

In a country-state where the security of life and properties is not assured, where human capital development isn’t an item of concern to the government, where governance is absurdly administered generally, where the ruling class creates a divide between himself and the governed and also within the governed along ethnic, religious and cultural sentiments, we find solace in the songs that adores individuals of questionable character, promotes illicit sex, covertly appreciate the abuse of drugs, inconsequentialize the get-rich-quick syndrome and flaunts the affluence that such singer has harnessed at our expense all in our face.


Afrobeats artiste remains the largest traders of the Nigerian music industry. And save for a few, they don’t sing against the ills of the government but for the government; they don’t sing about love but about lust; not about being successful but about living large – the lavida loca type.

With the social and moral degeneration and decadence that is rife in the society now, it is in this time and age that we need more of conscious music. The kind that we can sit at the comfort of our bed, listen to and find therein lyrics that ministers to us. And we need to recognize more those artistes who have been tirelessly working with lyrics that borders beyond shaking your ‘bum bum’ and getting high.

We party, we club, we vibe, we dance but we maintain our consciousness too after partying, clubbing and dancing. So many artistes have done this in the past and many more can achieve these feats again.

Good that we have platforms like BEYONDTHEVIBES.COM which is consistently aiding the prevalence of such consciousness with insightful music reviews. This is in a bid to foster a music industry that gives prominence to the lyrics of the song.

With music occupying a very important locus in our lifestyle, it just have to get better. Until it does not, our society is at a greater risk of soaking deeper into more social malaise.

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Post Author: The Sultan Grey

The Sultan Grey is a young and enthusiastic Nigerian youth with a great flair for creativity and the life mission of inspiring the next generation always with his voice and pen. The former got him on the journey of #OnBecomingRadioSultan as a Broadcast Journalist - OAP, VJ, Red Carpet Host and Public Speaker while the latter turned him into a Blogger with special interest in development 'webloggism'. Think The Sultan Grey; think Radio, TV, Music, Fashion and Movies.

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