Vulgarity Or Sense in Music: Which Sells More?

By Guest Writer: Tofarati

Apparently, this is not news. Sense eloped from our music industry years ago. Gone are the days when musicians were appreciated and lauded for their inspiring and motivating lyrics.

The times have disappeared when Pastors and Imams could borrow from the song books of our artistes and infuse in their sermons.

Nowadays, a man cannot even sing along to some of the popular “hits” in the country with his children.

Where are we heading to?

Growing up, music was often times my best friend. At times, when I couldn’t open up my mind to anyone; family and friends alike, music was always there to comfort and soothe me.

I recall with painful nostalgia how I used to idolize musicians based on the strength of their lyrics alone.
Those were the days when I’d quote a musician to win an argument.

But now, what’s there to quote? Buttocks shaking, drunkenness and whoredom? How times have changed.

A very wise man once said, music is the food of the soul. Pray tell, what sort of food are our musicians feeding us these days? Nothing but junk of the worst kind!

I’m sorry I didn’t get the memo, but when was it decided that watery and foolish lyrics are the only ways to capture the attention of the audience? Must commercial music be senseless?

Nowadays, I hear a lot of musicians saying, all they really need is a good beat, then they’d just hop on and mumble all sorts of gibberish, and with proper promo, the music will be a hit? I utterly disagree with that!

A dancehall party track can still evocate sense. It can still impart tangible life lessons while hastening the steps of the dancer to the thumping of the bass line.

We really need to get back to the basics. There is a need for total overhaul in the music industry.
However, before I go further, let me say here that I would be very naïve and uninformed if I blame the artistes/musicians alone for all this.

The fault lies more with the consumers; the general public who eagerly lap up these songs.
It is commonplace to hear people commenting that Nigeria is very tough, and so, when they want to listen to music, they prefer a feel good song that’ll make them dance and forget their worries.
Yet these same people will march their children to mosques and churches while dispensing strict admonitions on moral conduct. Jonzing world!

Don’t we realize the power of music? A musician may be able to reach and influence more people than even the President or religious leaders.

Music is a culture on its own, and it has a more entrenched effect than the orthodox ones.
Nonsense feel-good songs, and sense making feel-better songs are the difference between “Raves of the moment,” and “Classic evergreen.”

We have very good examples in icons like King Sunny Ade (KSA), Ebenezer Obey, Bob Marley, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and so many others. These are (were) musicians who released songs in the 70s yet are still relevant today. Those songs still get massive airplay, and even children born of later generations drink from the time tested values and lessons taught in those songs. That is because they were aware of their role as prophets. Musicians are prophets and they hold a sacred duty to speak for, and to the people.

Another good and contemporary example is the legend himself, 2face Idibia. Even when 2baba is making a party track, you’re still sure to come away with something tangible. His latest effort, Ihe Neme, is a party track, yet it still finds time to remind us that, “Change is the only thing constant in life” while relating it to the life of the artiste, who has evolved (changed) over time, yet remaining true to his musical ideology. That is why 2face will always BE THERE (pun intended).

Some musicians only manage to stay relevant for three months, some for shorter periods of time. That is because they and their music have been weighed, and found to be lacking in depth and substance.

Ask Asa, Nneka, BankyW and even Sound Sultan, and I’m sure they’d corroborate me. Vulgarity sells, but sense sells more!

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Tofarati is a singer, rapper, poet, writer, thinker, philosopher, actor, compere,comedian, dj and empowerment activist. He cuts the picture of a multi-dimensional 'jack of all trade,' but chooses to call himself a total entertainer. He believes that for true learning to take place, there has to be a fun element. He is the author of two books; 'Town Crier' and 'Oriki' (Praise Poetry) which are available online. To order copies send a mail to For more information you can call on +234 8124533044 

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