By Yinka Olatunbosun
It is feared that by the time music reviewers sit down and take a stock of Nigeria’s new generation of music productions, it would be difficult to list 20 songs made by artistes of this generation that can be classified as classic songs. This view is founded on the fact that most classic songs are taken from the older generations of music artistes.
Macmillan Dictionary online defines a classic song as very good and has been popular and had a lot of influence for a long time. Asides the dictionary meaning of a classic song, it is a known fact that classic songs are not only popular songs but they sometimes become folkloric songs that young children are taught in schools. For instance, Christy Essien Igbokwe’s Seun Rere has become a hymn song in many elementary schools and valedictory services are almost incomplete without graduands dancing to the song. Chief Ebenezer Obey’s What God Has Joined Together is a wedding classic and before the popularity of Naija hip-hop, it used to be the couples’ anthem although some die-hard juju music fans in Yoruba homes insist on the song during their traditional weddings and there is no ‘juju’ (magic) about that.
King Sunny Ade’s All-Star track, The Way Forward is another classic that has earned its place inNigerian music history and in the hearts of patriotic Nigerians. Ras Kimono’s What’s Gwan is another classic song of revolution with message of contemporary relevance. Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s songs are all classics and are arguably the most valuable musical works ever performed by any Nigerian artiste. They are not only in demand for social consumption; they are resource materials for educational purposes. One thing is common to all these classic songs aforementioned. They have messages that register a measure of sanity, intellectual aptitude withrecurrentsocio-economic relevance.
One may argue that this generation has also produced great classic songs. Yes, they have. D’banj’s ‘Why Me’ is a classic that shows the frustration of a man who wants a one-night stand and gets something a little more than he bargains for. Asa’s Jailer and Fire on The Mountain are classics not just because they address national issues and humanity but because of their underlying philosophies. 9ice and Tuface’s Street Credibility, Idris Abdulkareem’s Jagajaga and Banky W’s Ebute Meta are amazing tracks that will earn a replay in another decade or another millenium.Wande Coal’s Ololufe, Paul Play’s Angel of My Heart, Style Plus’ Olufunmi are love songs that may make wedding playlists in the next decade.Tuface’s African Queen is arguably the best classic song that this generation has ever produced. It is not just another love song. It is not exactly a party track. It is a song that celebrates ‘negritude’ and African identity. Hence, it has socio-cultural relevance and it is no wonder that the song was made a soundtrack in an Afro-American movie and facilitated the first MTV Award to be won by an indigenous African act.
Well, one may now begin to scratch this generation’s classicsongs beyond the surface to see which of the songs can transit to folkloric songs or pupils’ anthem. While still on that, one may add other popular songs like Timaya’s Bum Bum, P-Square’s Chop My Money, May D’s Ile Ijo, Davido’s Dami Duro and Tiwa Savage’s Ife Wa Ngbona to the list of songs to be tested for classic element. No doubt, time tests best. Still, one can tell a classic song by the way the song survives beyond its period of release. Even some so-called one-hit-wonder artistes have made classics. But it is very sad to note that some artistes will die with their songs or live to tell the next generation that they had made songs that once enjoyed airplays like jingles.If artistes only care about short-term benefits of creating their works, they will lose the long term benefits.
The nature of music is that the prevailing culture of the people affects the general public taste. That is why artistes’ popularity wane with time and not because they lack talents or skills. But their great works speak for them long after active career days are over. Those who make classic songs automatically become music idols and they will likely become National Award winners by virtue of the good name and fame that they have brought to their motherland.