One of the biggest messages shared by the 2000’s African generation is “One Africa”. Relentlessly and responsibly the 2000’s Africans have carried on the baton their ancestors handed to them. In fighting for and sharing their message, they have found ways to give Africa the glory she deserves.
The entertainment industry has been a major tool for driving this focus. In the early 2000’s, the movie and television industry led the bandwagon with the Production of Big Brother Africa and collaborations among Nigeria and Ghana Movie industry. The music industry soon picked up and we saw more artists making music together regardless of nationality.
The press for “One Africa” was so loud as we remembered very often the sufferings of our fathers before us as we pushed for a liberated Africa that stood on its principle of brotherhood and love. One of the best parts for me is seeing Africans taking the stage worldwide, creating their narrative and not living a narrative handed to them.
Recently Burna Boy took to Twitter, to make comments that got some people triggered. He said, it was because of his effort alone that Afrobeats became accepted internationally and he is second only to Fela. The self-acclaimed African Giant has given us good music and taken stages that deserves every applaud that comes his way. His album “African Giant” showcased his stylize of Afrofusion. Every song was a hit and I believe he was worthy of his Grammy nomination. BUT..
Burna here is the thing, you and Fela are not in the same class, musically or otherwise. You sing Afrobeats/Afrofusion, Fela created Afrobeat and yes there is a difference. Fela popularized Afrobeat and his activism shook nations, Uk included. Afrobeat is a combination of Highlife, Fuji, Jazz, and West African traditional music. Build your legacy. Share your message.
Fela understood what “One Africa” meant and the power of it that he began singing in pidgin language so his music could penetrate areas that language would have been a barrier. He knew his music could cause a change, his message was powerful and the music was the tool to pass his message, so he spoke what could be understood by all, thereby getting his message to all.
Without the help of the internet/global village move Brenda Fassie, Fela, King Sunny Ade, Angelique Kidjo were able to share their music with Europe and America. Fela and Sunny Ade toured both America and Europe in their prime and they didn’t come back fighting for dominance. To say no one paved the way for you is to deny these men. They may not have sung your type of beats but they surely took African Music to the world outside of Africa before you came. My guy, we can not say you have not built but to say you started from ground less than zero is a lie. Just so you know, in 1984 and 1999 King Sunny Ade was nominated for a Grammy award. His 1984 nomination made him the first Nigerian to be nominated.
After massive success in Nigeria, in 1982 King Sunny Ade toured Europe and North America where he was received greatly. Without the backing of a foreign record label and the hindrance of the language barrier, King Sunny Ade was successful on foreign soil. Jon Pareles, The New York Times newspaper music critic, in his 1987 article called KSA one of the world’s great bandleaders and about his music he wrote: “but while American listeners may not know the Yoruba language or recognize traditional African dances, they clearly understand the music”. King Sunny Ade is one of the artists in Gini Gorlinski “The 100 Most Influential Artist of All time”. Also in 1991 Sikiru Adepoju was the first Nigerian to win a Grammy Award for his contribution to the ‘Global Drum Project‘.
Back to our Millennium era, Oluwa Burna deserves the credit for bringing foreign light on Afrobeats but Oluwa Burna remember say D’banj was the first artist in Nigeria to get signed to a foreign record label(2011). The Good music group signed him with a cameo appearance from Kanye West on the “Oliver Twist” video. Shortly after that P-square had Rick Ross rapping on their “Beautiful Oyinye” remix. There was already hunger for African music in foreign soil, you identified it and we appreciate you for jumping on it and doing the work to feed and sustain the hunger. With the backing of your Los Angeles based record label, Atlantic Record and your hard work international recognition should not be too difficult. With the International Record help and wide reach, your music can be targeted at people hungry for it and you more likely not to be shooting blind.
In my opinion, “Accepted” is not the word. Popularized, brought you to foreign light, take to other nations, etc but not accepted. We were already accepted long before you came. When we were accepted, we were not begging for their validation, we just wanted to share African Music to the world and we wanted to share our message. Lately, what many artists define as acceptance is simply validation seeking.
Universal Music Group is an American owned company and it stands as the biggest company in the music industry, Broadway is an American owned company and they gross one of the highest in music and movies. These two companies stand as giants in the music font and have rights to some of our African created content. This means the majority of the profits on this content go to them, not to the creator nor Africa.
When will these childish beef of who dominates bring us to the point where we can and would build an industry for Africa? Understand that Africa is not one country or three. It is West Africa, East Africa, North Africa, and South Africa. We can’t give up our freedom for validation from captors. We cannot accept a system that only imprisons us because of money and fame. Remember the mirror that made our forefathers accept slavery? It is now fame and money.
Build this industry, not your ego or selfish interest.
Written by; Onyefuosaonu Chioma