The Entertainment Industry in Nigeria has seen its fair share of controversies especially the music Industry but how much of an impact does this have on the industry?
It’s no longer uncommon to see an artist involved in one scandal or the other whether intentional or concidental. In Fact, the music industry can’t go by without experiencing one a least a week.
Ever read celebrity news and come across the words “Controversial Artist” and wonder what that artist must have done to be labeled that way. In simple words what makes an artist controversial?
First, Nigeria is highly religious and traditional in a sense and over the years some practices have been curbed or stopped while some are still regarded as sacred, and doing anything contrary to them is a taboo.
What would have earned one the title as a controversial artist in the early 2000s would be seen as normal now.
For example, Fuji artist, Obesere was considered to be controversial because of his music and their videos in the early 2000s but fast forward to 2020, he is seen as relatively normal, as having vulgar lyrics in your song isn’t seen as a taboo.
The big question though is what is the impact controversies have had on the Nigerian Music scene.
In 2004, Eedris Abdulkareem went toe to toe with American rapper, 50 Cent who had visited Nigeria for a tour and this sparked a lot of controversy for the “Jaga Jaga” Crooner and that iconic scandal produced a lot of results one of which unfortunately was a decline in Eedris’ career.
In 2019, Naira Marley was arrested by the EFCC on alleged fraud charges and while the anti-graft body thought it was doing the nation a great service, it indirectly catapulted the artist’s career.
Naira Marley went from being an upcoming artist to becoming one of Nigeria’s most sought after artists.
Why did the two different controversies have a different impact on both artists? First of all, the era in which the controversies took place.
In Eedris’ case, a lot of things weren’t accepted back then. 50Cent was kind of revered in the Nigerian Music scene as a god of rap. Eedris despite being the Nigerian person in the fight was slammed by his fellow Nigerians for trying to fight an International artist.
While in Naira Marley’s case, he was praised as being a savior and a defender for ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ boys because the Nigerian society had become less tolerant of ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’.
A Protest was even carried out demanding for his release from EFCC’s custody.
So what changed during the time period from the years before Eedris to the current time being 2020; Tolerance and Acceptance.
As society became more exposed, the less tolerant we were of some things. What the older generation frowned on, we opened our arms to.
While the majority of the Older generation frowned on vulgar lyrics, we the younger generation see them are an important element of music.
The society also became less judgmental, meaning we stopped seeing some practices as taboo. For example, a video vixen who goes unclad for a music video shoot would have been tagged as a prostitute in the early 2000s but currently, it’s rare to see a music video that doesn’t show semi-naked girls.
Another factor in the relationship between the music industry and controversy is fans’ reception to controversy. In layman’s English, the more controversial you are, the more popular you get.
Take for example Naira Marley fans who refer to themselves as Marlians or No Belt Gang. They have been tagged as a rebellious group of sorts but it doesn’t stop others from joining the movement. Even Celebrities have joined the bandwagon.
While this format hasn’t worked for everyone, it has proven to be an advantage for some artists. People like Burna Boy, Davido, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage amongst others have benefited from this.
In 2018, rumors of Wizkid having a relationship with Tiwa Savage was the main talk of the year. It heightened when Tiwa Savage was featured in the music video of Wizkid’s “Fever”.
The song which came out of first didn’t receive enough buzz but when the music video came out, it reached one million streams within 24hours of its release.
This move by the two was expertly using the ammunition of controversy to bring in viewers which worked. In the wise words of Joey Akan, “when people are fascinated with anything, it creates a demand for a product.”
Naira Marley also used this method when he released “Soapy” which went on to be one of 2019’s biggest hit songs. Professionals know this, the right controversy would bring the much-needed attention one needs.
In 2019, rapper, Vector dropped a diss song, ‘The Purge” which threw jabs at M.I Abaga. M.I Abaga responded with the “The Viper”.
This boiling rivalry between the two brought the attention Hip Hop in Nigeria was being starved of. Check the streams on the diss tracks, you will understand.
While this writer doesn’t believe an artist needs controversy to become popular, it does have its advantage if used properly.