When the topic of discussion is Nigerian music the first thing that comes to mind is afrobeat or Afropop artists like Wizkid, Burna boy, Olamide and the likes or if you’re older (get the fuck off the internet old person, read a newspaper or something) you’d think of Fela Anikulapo Kuti (bows in reverence to the god master of afrobeat). I can confidently say (and not because I’m a prideful Nigerian, okay maybe a little) that Nigerian music is amongst the best in Africa and probably the world because that’s how we roll.
But what about the music for misfits and crazy kids. Loud, fast, aggressive shit with soul. Shit that moves you. Music that charges you with so much energy, makes you forget all your frustrations and sorrows. If I haven’t been obvious enough I’m talking about rock and heavy metal. And naturally, Nigerians are killing it, despite the scene being mostly underground Nigerian bands manage to make high-quality music for their devoted fan base. But the question is can these bands compete on the African scene? Or maybe even the global scene. To answer that question, we have to analyse the state of the Nigerian rock and heavy metal scene and their challenges.
The State of Rock
Rock music never really gained popularity in Africa, in fact, some people view it negatively. Heavy metal is often referred to as the devil’s music (you have to admit he has great taste in music). The scene is quite underground at the moment but it’s slowly and steadily gaining popularity. The devoted fan base of Nigerian rock fans is growing. All it takes is one hit song to breach the mainstream divide and knowing how awesome Nigerians are at doing things, Nigerian rock music would take the continent by storm.
So what challenges does an aspiring rocker/metalhead have to overcome to succeed in Nigeria? People often ignore the skill it takes to play what a non-listener (more like pleb) would call noise. Instruments require practice and devotion to play proficiently (but if you’re a talentless hack like me, not even devoted practice can help you. It is not like I was devoted to practising the instrument or anything so maybe it will transform you from a talentless hack into a rock god ).
So if you do succeed in learning how to play an instrument (congrats if making a band fails you can always just use your guitar to pick up chicks. If you’re a bassist or drummer just keep doing whatever because you’re not getting any chicks either way). You’ll have to find other guys that have as much free time as you (probably because y’all are jobless) and can play instruments in order to start up a band.
That itself might be a difficult task because those who can actually play instruments are usually not interested in rock music. If you manage to successfully overcome all this (congrats) you’re only getting started. A band is more than a bunch of guys/girls/non-binary who can play instruments (okay well it sort of is) but it is a family. There has to be chemistry between band members. Everyone has to be in sync or else you’ll just end up sounding like an even shittier Nickelback. Every member has to be passionate about rock, breathe rock, live rock, sleep rock, eat rock and be rock. A true rocker\metalhead doesn’t do it for the money and fame, they do it for the passion. But passion isn’t going to pay the bills which leads us to the next challenge.
Money doesn’t grow on trees (oh lord I wish it did *cries*). Procuring and maintaining musical instruments is quite expensive. Travelling to shows costs money. So does the recording and producing songs (why the fuck does everything have to be so expensive). Due to the lack of support from the music industry an aspiring rockstar has to use personal funds to pay for all this. And this is due to?
Lack of industry support; Making it in mainstream Nigerian music is hard enough on its own but it’s even harder for rock musicians to compete with their peers in the industry who make more commercial music. The lack of popularity of rock makes it harder for bands to get signed. Well, this got sad quickly but have no fear.
A spectre is hanging over the music industry, the spectre of rock music. The rise has been slow but sure. The industry soon shall be overtaken by rock fever. It is inevitable. All the challenges shall be overcome by the sheer power of rock. But the bands can’t do it alone!!!!!! They need the support of you the fans (so buy my EP when it drops). Buy their music, attend their shows, make your mum buy their music and attend their shows, make your neighbours, bring your dog too, throw your grandma in the mosh pit….okay a little overboard. Support the bands dammit. Nigerian rock music will eventually prevail. It’s only a matter of time. And when it does I’ll tell you I told you so.
The name’s Kadri. Poser extraordinaire. Likes metal but secretly listens to Fela and Tame impala on repeat everyday