Mr. President: The music and heroes past
On the night of Easter Sunday, I was honoured to attend the 2019 ‘AY Live’ comedy show, supported by leading dairy brand, Peak. Previously, concerts or live shows weren’t my thing, since I could always catch up via streaming Realtime – or YouTube, for the nights I wrestle with insomnia.
A highpoint of the event for me was the cameo performance by African China, during a drama routine by AY and friends that depicted the state of political leadership in Nigeria. African China, a veteran artiste, is famous for his magnum opus “Mr. President”, an up-beat anthem from mid 2000s that preached good leadership and moral standards in the corridors of power and national security. At the sound of the rhythm and mention of “lead us well…” (The starting lyrics in the chorus of Mr. President) the crowd at the AY Live show went agog with chants of the song, as euphoria filled the arena.
My consciousness at that moment bordered not only on the aptness of the song in times as these, when political mischief is at all-time high – but mainly about the demography of guests at the concert. By their reaction to this performance, people in this age and class were mostly music lovers from mid 1990s – the golden era of Plantashun Boiz, The Remedies, Baba Fryo, Ruggedman, Daddy Showkey Sunny Nneji, Trybsmen, OJB Jezreel and Sound Sultan. The list is infinite. In those years, talent success, behaviour and growth were original, organic and earned; devoid of vocal effects, social media amplifiers and Instagram razzmatazz we have today.
While ideally, we should accord new-generation entertainers’ great ovation for how they’ve shaped the industry with presence on global frontiers, the unsung heroes nonetheless remain those who charted a path where there was little or none – showcasing the relevance of entertainment to brands, through sponsorship opportunities and ambassadorship. Sadly, this day, only a handful of the herd enjoy the commercial success that the intensity and quality of their labour deserves.
Peak Milk, a foremost dairy brand (from the stable of FrieslandCampina), has demonstrated this through support for AY Live; a concert that’s revered internationally and showcases our greatest local talent in music and comedy. Corporations can borrow a leaf from this by bringing back the ‘golden years’ while driving their brand’s affinity through musical nostalgia. Like the “Magic of Motown” and backed by our ministry of culture and tourism, initiating public-private partnerships which would not only resuscitate the classic artistry by soldiers of the renaissance but also to gratify the ‘Xennials’ generation – who are typically at the rudder of socio-economic affairs today.
A radio station in Lagos, which prides herself as playing every song known, Classic 97.3, is forerunning this revival by way of airplay and even shows. Their project “The Classic Concert” is noteworthy for stimulating the melancholy of good old days. A study according to the Canadian Review of Sociology, asserts social class as a driver, which informs our cultural attitudes and the way we listen to music. While this is true, it is only standard that a people of a certain age group will incline to certain musicals (songs across several genres) that dominated their blissful years. Nostalgia.
To the masters of golden tones, like the proverbial lizard, who leaps from a palm tree and nods its head in self-appreciation, please take a bow; you are celebrated. Afterall, in the words of Seth Godin, only remarkable things get remarked upon.
Michael George, a music enthusiast writes from Lagos