I once watched an interview during which Nigerian Superstar D’banj was asked what the chorus of his hit song ‘Why me’ meant. At that, he went into some long rhetoric about a ‘deep’ meaning of the question ‘why me’. “There’s no need for that D’banj!!!”, I screamed at the TV. The fact is that we all know that ‘Why me’ is not some deep philosophical or spiritually inclined song, and that’s why I love it.
A philosophy I have about musicians and their lyrical content is that people can only sing about what they know. I don’t expect Lord of Ajasa to come and sing a song about the war in Iraq, because even though he may be familiar with it, it does not feature in his own reality.
I believe that the reason why D’banj has been immensely successful as an artiste is that he has remained true to himself and is singing about things he is familiar with, hence telling his stories through his music in a way that only he can.
There is no pretence about him, and that’s what sets him apart from the pack. Take a look at some artistes who have communicated their reality through their music: 50cent- When this guy stormed upon the world stage, all you could ever hear about him was the fact that he’d been shot 9 times. Through his music, he was able to give us an insight into his lifestyle and history and quite obviously, we got hooked. The rest as they say is history.
Amy Winehouse- One word is screaming at this controversial yet extremely talented songstress, ‘Rehab’.
How is it that the world will so embrace such a troubled singer whose music contradicts a lot of the socially responsible messages that our systems feel compelled to promote? Truth: That’s why she’s so successful. She has drawn us into her weaknesses and struggles and we are intrigued so we sing her song because in actual fact, her song is our song.
I can go on and on naming people who have found the formula for a successful musical career, but I’ll stop at these.
Many artistes especially here in Nigeria have lost the plot, they have probably too often heard the ‘let your music have meaning’ line too much and misunderstood it. Music doesn’t only have meaning when you blast the government in your music or even praise God. As long as it doesn’t come from deep within you, it will fall flat on the ears and most importantly, heart of the audience.
Meaningful music is that which reveals the struggles, triumphs, desires and aspirations of the singer to his/her audience. This is why legendary artistes such as Elvis Presley have what is referred to in some quarters as a cult following even long after his death. His music went beyond being able to make his followers wriggle their hips; it was a binding force between Elvis and his audience.
Now don’t get it twisted o, there are some songs that are made for nothing more than to get you gyrating, and nobody does it better than those who have mastered the art of cooking up mad beats. Nevertheless, those that remain in us, even long after they have faded away from the charts, served an emotional need which we sometimes may not even be able to place a finger upon.
For me, there is good music that is guaranteed to make you move, D’banj definitely has blessed us with that. What next?