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The Evolution Of Nigerian Music

Last month, Nigerian pop artist Ayo ‘Wizkid’ Balogun sold-out his concert at the revered 02 Arena, joining an illustrious list of international acts that include Beyonce, Rihanna, Gary Barlow and the Spice Girls.

Weeks before Wizkid’s epoch-making moment — now a bench for any Nigerian artist seeking to flaunt his worth on the international stage — his once-upon-a-time rival and now friend, Davido, performed before a crowd roughly half of Wizkid’s 20,000-strong audience in Suriname, a country alien to a bulk of his loyal fan base in Nigeria.

Last week, Falz’s new video This is Nigeria, a remake of Childish Gambino’s viral hit This is America, was co-signed by one of the biggest names in world hip-hop, Sean ‘Puff Daddy” Combs, with a promise that the socially conscious video would be given generous airplay on his Revolt TV network.

That three of the biggest Nigeria’s entertainment export in the last decade are constantly expanding the frontiers is not only a testament to their tenacious work ethics, it also follows in the paths already charted by equally talented and influential front-runners such as Fela Kuti, King Sunny Adé and, more recently, D’banj.

But it has not always been that way.

Over the decades, we have watched and listened to Nigerian music take different forms, especially with the internet and the external influences that have made it what it has become. From the songs lacking in depth to the musicians that boldly confront social ills using their art, every generation has its peculiarities.

Falz on This Is Nigeria. Photo: YouTube

Pick up a copy of Guardian Life magazine in the Guardian Newspaper this Sunday as we delve into the evolution of Nigerian music and the factors that have been unique to each generation as it progresses.

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