And the beef… sorry, beat goes on

Posted: October 28, 2009 in Blog party, True talk, What's going on..., Xamination

October 21, Chude Jideonwo wrote a review. October 26, Ohimai Amaize wrote a rejoinder. October 27, Chude responded. And now, it’s the return of Ohimai. Is it just me or is this some real Hip-Hop ish going on in this here arena. Who will get ethered when it’s all said and done?

Seriously though, this is an important debate that relates to the current state of music in this place. Was Chude’s review really malicious? Was ID Cabasa’s album really that bad? Is Nigerian music (heck, music in general these days) really as good as we make it out to be? Do we truly celebrate mediocrity or do we fail to give deserved credit when due? Are we too sensitive or personal? Or is it that we are easily blinded and influenced? Whatever the case, we clearly have a discussion on our hands. Piracy is not the only problem with our music, the music itself is a problem. How do we move it forward? That is the question we should be asking.

Anyway, this post features Ohimai’s response to Chude’s response (read post below) to Ohimai’s rejoinder (read here) to Chude’s review (read here) on ID Cabasa’s debut album, ID.Entity. Let us know your thoughts on this whole fiasco, misunderstanding or whatever you want to call it.

A Journalist’s Demonisation of Dissent

By Ohimai Godwin Amaize

Knowing Chude Jideonwo, I am not surprised that my Monday Oct. 26, 2009 rejoinder to his review of ID Cabasa’s album of Wednesday Oct. 21, 2009 both published by NEXT newspapers has elicited malicious outbursts from him in what may be termed a hastily written and venom-filled counter-rejoinder titled “Help! There is in fact a crisis!”

The truth is there is no crisis. Grudges I cannot harbour; enmity I cannot afford. Indeed, a million friends are not enough; one enemy is too much. There is so much work to be done about the future of our generation; chiefly among which is the need for us to uphold the values of truth and integrity at all times regardless of the consequences. What I simply did with my rejoinder was to call critical attention to the destructive elements which characterised his review of ID Cabasa’s new album. Whether he has the right to write a music review was never at issue.

Not known for throwing wild allegations, I unearthed hard undisputable facts about his journalistic past which cast a shadow of doubt over the true intentions of his review of the ID Cabasa album. I didn’t conjure these facts. Chude, in the reality of his own past, created them.

All that one expected from such a promising writer was for him to disprove the facts I presented with his own dose of factual journalism. But no, he simply diverts attention and re-invents the wheel in a shifting goal post of wild counter allegations – all in a bid to discredit and demonise an articulate disagreement to his review.

In this counter rejoinder, Chude’s limited understanding of an objective album review is hinged on the sole idea that the directive to write the review emanated from his boss. But does this dispel the possibility of infusing his personal bias in the review? He himself admitted in the review that he listened to the album once. How could he possibly do a critical review of a thirteen-track album he listened to just once? Is this the new standard of journalism?

What is more? The young man himself confessed that he was under pressure from his boss to turn in the album review. What can one make of an album review that was hastily written under pressure in an attempt to beat the newsroom deadline? Can it be validly deduced that the reviewer did this review in his right frame of mind?

Taking this a bit further, beyond the creative liberties that characterise media practice, what really guarantees Chude’s competence in the review of music albums? Did he go to a music school? Is he a musician or a certified scholar in popular culture studies? What is the level of his competence in the Yoruba language – the language through which ID Cabasa’s album was predominantly rendered? Is it possible for a journalist who has just a basic knowledge of a particular language to do a critical to review of an album in that language?

Let somebody remind this young journalist that his so-called ‘gormless’ critics are probably not as sheepishly naive as to understand that commending a man one moment and condemning him the other moment does not always qualify as a gesture of objectivity. History is replete with examples.

In the twist of untidy logic, he declares that he was part of a process that crowned ID Cabasa Producer of the Year 2008. Very true. And we are also aware that a popular publisher of a national daily was part of the process that crowned Babatunde Fashola of Lagos state, Governor of the Year 2008 – an award the governor later rejected and returned to its organisers.

The crux of this whole matter is too straightforward for anyone to resort to throwing diversionary tantrums and employing smear tactics capable of destroying cherished relationships and more importantly, sacrificing professional standards on the altar of destructive newspaper publications in the name of the right to hold opinions. No one is asking anyone to write favourable album or music reviews all the time. No one is asking anyone to celebrate mediocrity. What someone is simply saying is let’s do this constructively!

Nowhere in his counter rejoinder did he deny labelling ID Cabasa’s album with snide remarks like “a lazy effort”, “a muted disaster”, “a bad album” or to make matters worse, his infamous advocacy for the album to be “banished from the airwaves.” Is this tantamount to constructive or destructive criticism?

In the final analysis, journalists in an open society, are not demi-gods whose opinions cannot be subjected to constructive criticisms. A journalist who feels too big or lacks the temperament to tolerate and accept constructive criticism and then goes out of his way to demonise dissenting views is not ready for the job.

There is a prize of honour to earn in this profession. It’s more than just getting the job done. It’s about getting it done the right and honourable way. Dele Olojede did not write his way to the Pulitzer in this manner, not to cite CNN’s recognition of the literary prowess of Tolu Ogunlesi – all who are Chude’s colleagues at NEXT.

Ohimai Godwin Amaize is Creative Director at the Youth Media & Communication Initiative (YMCI), Abuja

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