Conscious Artists in Nigeria Raise Concern on Lewd Music

Yinka Olatunbosun

The April edition of the Unchained Vibes Africa (UVA) tagged Democracy Vibes summit at Freedom Park, Lagos, was again another type of town hall meeting of conscious artists. With the theme ‘Regulation of Musical Works on radio and TV: Matters Arising, ’three artists – Irawo Drumline, Myke Pam and Eedris Abdulkareem, a radio DJ, Mr. Raymond Bola-Browne, an art journalist and writer, Mr. Anote Ajeluorou, engaged in conversations that stemmed from the popular culture and its influence on the young audience.

The session, moderated by ace radio broadcaster Funke Treasure-Durodola, had in the audience young undergraduates, mostly from the University of Lagos.

In his intervention, Bola-Browne remarked that the over-commercialisation of airwaves by DJs, who insist that artists must pay them money before their music can be aired, is to be blamed for the poor judgment in the choice of playlist. It is widely believed that commercial success often eludes artists with clean lyrics and often, new artists follow the template of success in popular music. Citing the example of the singer and self-acclaimed ‘Number one African Bad girl,’ Tiwa Savage, he revealed that the singer made her entry into the Nigerian music scene with clean music, but later switched to lewd lyrics, having been heavily influenced by the trend of semi-nudity on screen. 

While calling for a rebirth of interest in wholesome music, Bola-Browne argued that it is possible to sell clean music successfully citing the example of Tuface Idibia who has blazed the trail for over two decades without obscene lyrics or music videos. Furthermore, panelists mulled the role of corporate sponsors in promoting indecent content. 

Female drummer, Oluwakemi Famugbode (aka Irawo Drummer), revealed how women are exploited sexually in the creative industry as they struggle to have their voice.

“Once you take your music to them, what they first see in you is your private parts,” Famugbode said. “A music promoter once told me, without even seeing my music, that we need to ‘collaborate’ in all areas, so he can fully promote me to as high as can be.”

In her view, the attitude of DJs towards female musicians is capable of driving away female artists to the point of abandoning their music talent entirely.

For Ajeluorou, a lack of proper education is to blame for the poor lyrical content that morphs into obscenities and lewdness that characterise most music and musical videos today. 

Reggae artist, Pam, on his part, argued that Nigerian music lost its course when musicians shunned the wholesome reggae music. Pam said there is need for all parties concerned to make concerted efforts to clean up Nigeria’s music for the better.

The rapper, Abdulkareem recounted the true story behind the hit track, ‘Mr Lecturer.’ The song which would become an anthem for sexual harassment is based on a true life experience. He had encountered a victim who was trying to escape sexual advances from a lecturer and decided made a move to rescue the young lady. 

He, however, expressed regret that sexual harassment is still a lingering pandemic despite his effort to fight it using the power of music. 

The Secretary to the National Broadcasting Commission (NCC), Dr. Igomu Onoja, tasked everyone to work towards building a better broadcasting environment, in his remarks. Citing a popular television reality show, the stakeholders held the commission accountable, arguing that the commission has failed in its oversight and has allowed DSTV to run amok with content that is not-fit-for broadcast, content that compromises the culture of decency in broadcasting.

There are also genuine concerns about insensitivity of some artists to cultural and religious issues that may trigger violence, exposure of children and teenagers to excessive nudity, drug, cultism and gangsterism through music videos, among others. 

More also, there was a call for Censors boards’ statutory functions to be limited to classification of works to protect children. And for it to be renamed as classification boards and a refocus from censoring artists’ activism to include investing in sensitisation of the public on parental guidance to protect children from consuming content that is not suitable for them. 

Artists and practitioners in the creative sector were also encouraged to work more closely with CSOs as strategic partners for the collective benefit of the civic space rather than working in silos.

The event culminated in freedom vibes poetry concert, a special edition of Freedom Vibes Series brought together by leading Nigerian spoken word poets for a convergence with Afro-pop musicians to promote freedom of expression. The concert featured the best of performance poets in Nigeria, including Dike Chukwumerije, Sage Hasson, RezThaPoet, Iquo Diana-Abasi and the invigorating spirit of the fast rising Victory Ashaka. The concert also featured special appearances by veteran rappers Ruggedman as Guest Artist rocking the microphone with his firebrand rap anthems and Eedris Abdulkareem as Chief Host.

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