Yinka Olatunbosun takes a cynical look at the copycat lewd trends in the Nigerian musical videos of recent times...
The news of the recent ban of some Nigerian music videos by the regulatory body, Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) came just when this piece was half-written. Naturally, it felt good to know that some Nigerians have actually watched these videos and will appreciate the backdrop against the arguments about to be raised here. Of course, the argument is not related to issues of morality, as anyone would second-guess by just a glance at the headline, but on creativity or the lack of it in recent trend of making music videos.
It has become visible that most music videos have been reduced to “bum business”, that is the business of parading female buttocks for the goal of huge sales and social acceptance. Yes, great points have been scored in that regard but these videos are simply becoming more monotonous every day. To be clear, you must have watched at least 20 or 30 Nigerian music videos and same figure for foreign music videos to be eligible to read and comprehend this argument. A fairly simple skill is needed to produce a music video in Nigeria: the artiste, adorned in blings, flashy cars and surrounded by an array of assembled female buttocks. The result is a hit song. The examples are everywhere. SoundCity, MTVBase, ONTV, Channel 0, Trace Urban and others have given us an overdose of these “bum shows” called music videos.
To move a step further, another artiste may want to dazzle the audience beyond just the “bum revelation” and end up copying dance steps, sequence by sequence, from western music acts, perhaps forgetting or ignoring the reality that some of their audience watch other music videos asides theirs. Some supposed high-profile artiste videos even use the same locale in their shoots and end up being the music parallels of Nollywood producers who stage village scenes in the same village in every video. For instance, DBanj’s palatial home in his music videos is becoming a regular boring feature, save for the introduction of the leopard in his “Tony Montana”, which features Naeto C. Hopefully, the leopard motif will not be copied by other music producers who are often swept off their feet by the band wagon effect. We cannot afford to preach against bum videos and get music videos with leopards running around as creative substitutes.
The moment one artiste decidedly introduces the story-telling technique into creating a particular music video and it sells, every other music producer becomes a storyteller, not minding whether the story offers some logic or not. Such is the nature of bandwagon effect and it has permeated our music videos to the point of decline in ingenuity. Lack of fund is usually the largely appropriated excuse. However, lack of fund itself is what should propagate innovation in the name of improvisation. For example, Kid Cudi set a music video of his hit song “Day and Night” in a supermarket where his imagination was running riot with every female customer that arrived at the store. Also, General Pype’s appearance in tricycles in “Champion”, Banky W’s display of chivalry in “Strong Thing”, Lagbaga’s blend of love, romance and Afrocentrism in “Never Far Away” and Gino’s award-winning “No Be God” are strong evidences that Nigerian music artistes are dynamic. To cap it all, Tuface’s pace-setter music video, African Queen, a bum-free music video, is a testimony to the truth that “bums” are not what necessarily sell the music.
With the waning popularity of bum videos, it goes to say that even if an artiste is desperate enough to congregate all the hottest bums in his videos, his song may still not be a sold-out and worse still, a critical rating of his work will surely indicate that his music video is a sheer celebration of artistic mediocrity. It thus follows that if Nigerian music video producers continue with the usual bum business, they may gradually lose their spot in award categories for music videos in major international music competitions. The NBC ban, if perceived in good light, should make video directors return to the drawing board and begin to think of where to focus their cameras other than female buttocks while shooting. If a music video director can sit and think of making a video out of the five fingers on a hand dancing round a table, making them look like real dancing ladies through good editing, then someone in Nigeria needs to start thinking out of the box.