Posts Tagged ‘Ruggedman’


Vive la Renaissance!

One thing to be said about entertainment in the past decade is that there has emerged a deeper sense of national pride.

From the ubiquitous Proudly Naija symbol to the hilarious viral antics of those ‘Naija Boyz’, Nigerian youth culture appears to have embraced its heritage. The internet is liberally sprinkled with web- and blog-sites like, bellanaija and

To quote Storm Records boss, Obi Asika (, “there’s been a reawakening of the Nigerian identity.”

With artists like Ruggedman insisting on rapping in pidgin and the immense popularity of Funke Akindele’s ‘Jenifa’, it is obvious that there has been a nationwide renaissance. In an interview with NEXT, Abuja based artist, 6Foot+ said that there’s “been a shift in focus. We are accepting what we are.  This reorientation happened before the country decided to rebrand. It’s multi-faceted – some think there’s nothing to celebrate, while some people might be doing this because it’s fashionable.”

Bayo Omisore, editor Blast magazine, comments on the ‘Proudly Naija’ renaissance sweeping through the entertainment industry:

“There used to be a time in Nigeria when everything good was foreign and everything Nigerian was bad. Those were the SAP days when things were very hard for Nigerians. Being a third world country with no manufacturing industry did not help matters. We resorted to importing everything – Food items, domestic utensils; even our music. (Of course I’m only being dramatic. It’s for effect!)

Because of the hard times, piracy grew and legitimate music business practitioners quit for greener pastures. The times precipitated a natural death of thoroughbred musicians. Suffice to say, the phonies took over.

Fast forward to 2009 and we can truly say we’re proudly Nigerian, many thanks to the pioneers Remedies and the forefathers Kennis Music for taking a chance. Ab initio, music lovers were content with hearing songs that sounded familiar but had Nigerian content. It didn’t matter that most of the songs lacked intelligent content. The fact that they were made by Nigerians was enough to excite music lovers. However, Ruggedman changed all that with his ‘Ehen Pt. 1’ which ensured that artistes paid attention to the lyrics that went into their music.

So, whereas in the late 90s and early 2000s, it was an almost impossible feat to hear Naija music back-to-back at a party, these days, a foreign song that gets spun must be a certified hit.”

Did government get it right?

It goes without saying, that democracy has played a role in these developments – what with changes in attitude, some subliminal and some less subtle. Says CNE boss (and My Rhythm Band patron) Chuks Ezeilo: “During the repressive military era, freedom of expression went out of the window. The most prominent example of this was the case of Fela Kuti. His music was banned from the airwaves a lot of the time.A close look at Fela’s lyrical content shows that he was merely identifying the cracks in the Nigerian moral order, long before they became obvious.

Before the advent of democracy, most imports, including musical instruments were banned, thus denying a whole generation of Nigerians access to proper musical training, and the effects can be seen today.

The coming of democracy, though it may still be in its infancy, has opened lots of doors. Now that people don’t get locked up for saying things against the government, entertainers, especially comedians, have found a niche market for their art. We now have comedians who can not only survive, but make a decent living from doing their shows uninhibited.

The press freedom that has come along with the democratic landscape is another milestone. The press is very important in the making or breaking of an entertainer’s career. Nowadays, there are so many entertainment magazines, and columns in newspapers that write creatively without fear of having their office sealed.

The Nigeria entertainment industry still has a long way to go in matching international standards but its stakeholders are optimistic. To quote rapper Ikechukwu, “what I am doing is championing Nigeria.”