Nigerian Old or New Skool Music: Which Music Strikes the Heart Most?

king sunny ade
King Sunny Ade. Photo/Rollingstone.com

Music in Nigeria remains one of the best ways to relieve the mind of the day’s stresses, painting a sound and peaceful atmosphere within ones environment.

Regardless of the choice of music, it’s a known fact that aside just smiling and laughing, good music provides a solid medicinal means of keeping the body and soul alive at every given point in time.

Nigeria, with a population of over 150 million has many music types, music creators, music producers, music legends, music writers etc with each unique style and type. There are various types of music preferred by certain individuals or groups of people in the country.

A stroll through memory lane

Little is known about the country’s music history prior to European contact, although bronze carvings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries have been found depicting musicians and their instruments.

Nigeria has been called “the heart of African music” because of its role in the development of West African highlife and palm-wine music, which fuses native rhythms with techniques imported from the Congo for the development of several popular styles that were unique to Nigeria, like Apala, Fuji, Jùjú, Highlife, and Yo-pop.

This type of music was the main thing during the days of our early fathers, perhaps, beginning in the 40s and through the late 80s. Songs rendered by musicians such as Ebenezer Obey, who became famed for his use of Yoruba proverbs and intricate lyrics; Sir Victor Uwaifo from Benin City in Nigeria was hugely popular in the 60s and 70s best known for songs like “Joromi”, “Guitar Boy” and “Mami Wata” (mermaid) a huge hit inspired by an encounter which he has long maintained actually occurred while at Bar Beach in Lagos.

Sonny Okosun was another hit maker who gained international fame with the song “Fire in Soweto” one of his biggest hits, other popular hits were “Papa’s Land” and “Highlife'”.

Not forgetting, King Sunny Ade, Onyeka Onwenu, Fela Anikulapokuti and Ayinla. Kollington Ayinla was the funkiest thing to come out of Fuji music.

The rise of “swaggerism”

Due to the current American music trend, which has been widely accepted by a younger generation and radio and television DJ’s, Nigerians blend of music began to have some twists in terms of sound in the late 90s, 20th century thereafter. Thus, giving rise to the most popular genres of music of today and overshadowing the “old skool” songs.

Today the country’s music industry is patronized by genres like AfroPop, AfroBeat, Nigerian Hip-Hop, Nigerian Gospel, Reggae, Rap and RnB.

The new generation of artists such as Eedris Abdulkareem, ASA, Lagbaja, 2face, Idibia, P’Square, Wizkid, Olamide, D’banj, Chidinma, late Da Grin, Davido, Falz, Praiz, Timaya, Darey, Sound Sultan; Tiwa Savage, Frank Edwards, Sinach, Banky W, and Adekunle Gold changed the face of music in Nigeria, thereby gaining more acceptability and recognition internationally.

The combination of dance hall and “swaggerism” seem to be the major highlights of the recent generation of artists, with less emphasis on quality messages. However, the old skool music completely considers the need to have direct effect on the morale, social and political well-being of the people irrespective of their background and the desire to hit fame at all costs.

The level of moral decadence in the nation’s music industry is a thing to worry about amongst music artists today as they tend to overdo their competitors with different styles of dressing, Champagne collections and pipe smoking in a bid to win more fans.

It also may be of interest to know that some new skool artists copy from the old skool beats just to recreate the past with the present.

In all, both the old and new skool music has promoted the image of the country positively and globally, carting home awards of different categories, and making sure Nigeria remains Africa’s biggest brand.