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Jide Taiwo’s History Made, Nigerian music’s most important book yet? 

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Jide Taiwo’s History Made, Nigerian music’s most important book yet?

A review by Kayode Badmus

Jide Taiwo

The author, Jide Taiwo basking in the euphoria of the moment as he authographs copies of the book

The Nigerian entertainment space is not known to be an intellectual field. Infact, it has taken years to have things put in proper perspective but no doubt the industry is now one of the most important money spinning fields in the continent courageously battling petroleum, agriculture and ofcourse more recently; the tech industry.

Nigerian music has in the last two decades not just dominated Africa but has taken the world by storm with streams, awards and global acceptability showing credence to this. However, some people are expectedly deserving of accolades for the height Nigerian music currently enjoys but making a book about the most important songs recorded since 1999 is definitely a bold move which pushes for an equally curious read.

No doubt, Jide Taiwo knows his onions as a music journalist and editor with experiences at highly rated entertainment media outfits like TheNETng and Bubbles but attempting to single handedly chronicle the most important songs of over two decades is an ambitious aim which puts the author’s bold step in study. What is Jide Taiwo’s aim? Is this a form of PR for some artistes? Is he aiming to own the narrative as was told by his book or are his affirmations actual facts? These and many more were on the mind of this writer as he picked up a copy of the recently released book to read albeit with an open mind (regards to Fela) somewhat between being a music fan and ofcourse, a critic.

The book opens in 1999, the days when foreign music were the mainly hippie entertainment for young people. The days when Nigeria was fresh in a democracy, the days when there were no reputable record companies and the contemporary Nigerian music industry was without form. It didn’t help at the time that only heritage (traditional) musicians were recognized in the form of Fuji, Juju and other local genres but this was to change in the late 90s and Jide Taiwo puts this glory at the foot of iconic entertainment journalists turned music/media entrepreneurs, Kenny Keke Ogungbe and Dayo D1 Adeneye. The author begins the book by crediting Tony Tetuila’s ‘Omode Meta’ as the most important song of 1999, a judgment which might ordinarily raise eyebrows but after a critical read of the chapter, one will no doubt agree with the author especially following through his amazing historical trace of how Nigerian hip-pop (now known as Afrobeats) came into form from Eedris Abdulkareem led Remedies and how the lead duo of Eedris and Eddy Remedy sidelined a supposedly ‘less talented’ Tony Tetuila after they got signed to Kennis Music.

History Made captured the formation of Remedies and how Tony Tetuila was overlooked into being a star

The book further explained how a desperate Tetuila eventually proved everyone wrong by becoming the first superstar of the label. Jide Taiwo made a great case which although might be arguable but with his rather solid defence, this would withstand any jury should one be set up.

African China

Year 2000 according to ‘History Made’ saw ghetto bred singer, Africa China releasing ‘Crisis’, a narrative of many societal problems ranging from communal fights, jungle justice, problems of undemocratic forces amongst other critical issues bedevilling the country at the time. Again, the author made a viable case for his decision to crown ‘Crisis’ the most important song at the turn of the millennium. Very few people will disagree with him.

Lanre eLDee Dabiri’s inspired 10-man squad on ‘Oya’ scored the most important song in 2001 and there is no doubt about this knowing fully well that this era encouraged a balance between hardcore and easy flows which endeared more fans and even artistes to the hip-hop genre. Eldee deserves a spot on every list that would be made when discussing contemporary Nigerian music and Tribes Men’ ‘Oya’ is that track which started it all, well due respect to ‘Shake Body’ and ‘Plenty Nonesense’.

2002 belongs to Eedris Abdulkareem’s ‘Mr Lecturer’ and Jide Taiwo argues that the importance of the topical issue of molestation by lecturers in Nigerian higher institutions was a critical worry everyone should be concerned about. The “Sex for Mark” menace has become a tragedy in the country’s educational system and for a Nigerian music act to decide to sing about it was absolutely legendary stuff that only the likes of Fela were known for.

As Jide Taiwo mentioned, Eedris had no reason to record that song. He was not an upcoming act neither did he need such buzz because he was already the most popular rapper at the time but his decision to go all Fela on us, cannot be overemphasized. Eedris would later show that this was no fluke when he dropped ‘Jaga Jaga’, a song which has not lost relivance even to this day. Jide Taiwo was absolutely correct on this one.

Years 2003 and 2004 have Styl Plus’ ‘Olufemi’ and 2face Idibia’s ‘African Queen’, two of Nigeria’s biggest RnB songs ever and nothing is closer to being factual. As noted by Jide Taiwo, Styl Plus’ Olufunmi presented Nigerians with its first ever version of boy bands in the likes of Boys II Men and they didn’t disappoint.

As also mentioned by the author, 2face Idibia broke all available records with African Queen including winning awards never won before and also ushering in MTV to the continent. Apt.

The book goes on to name Ruggedman’s ‘Big Bros’ (2005), ‘No be God’ by Gino (2006), ‘Jailer’ by Asa (2007), ‘Safe’ by MI Abaga (2008), ‘E No Easy’ by Psquare featuring J. Martins (2009), ‘Eni Duro’ by Olamide (2010) as the most important songs of that decade.

The list went on with ‘Kedike’ by Chidinma (2011), ‘Aboki’ -Iceprince (2012), ‘Johnny’ -Yemi Alade (2013), ‘Dorobucci’ -The Mavins (2014), ‘Ojuelegba’ Rmx -Wizkid featuring Drake and Skepta (2015), ‘Fada Fada’ -Phyno featuring Olamide (2016), ‘Fall’ -Davido (2017), ‘Ye’ -Burna Boy (2018) while controversy loving act, Naira Marley’s equally controversial single, ‘Soapy’ scored the 2019 spot.

While most of these songs can be conveniently agreed with, some of them were infact not the most important songs in their years of release despite unarguably making indelible impacts. One of these songs is Ruggedman’s ‘Big Bros’ released in the 2005. Although, it showed the rapper’s rebellious motive to people he felt were oppressive and playing God but it wasn’t huge enough to be a deal breaker for anyone. Ruggedman as noted in the book had shocked the industry earlier on when he dropped ‘Ehen’, Nigerian hip-hop earliest diss track which ended some people’s career and inevitably made some other pretenders restructure their delivery as seen in Eedris Abdulkareem and Maintain. The Big Bros single was however most definitely not the most important song of 2005, it was a good diss track that exposed the powers that be at the time, it had a good rap delivery but shouldn’t have been crowned the MVP of 2005. This was the same year D’banj released his break out single, ‘Tongolo’ which remains one of the most successful pop songs ever released by a Nigerian. Tongolo saw the emergence of a new order on the Nigerian music scene introducing leaders, Dapo Oyebanjo and his then shy side kick, Don Jazzy to music enthusiasts. Tongolo introduced Nigerians to Don Jazzy despite his earlier exploits with JJC and 419 crew back in the UK. Tongolo is unarguably the biggest and most important song of 2005.

The pioneering duo of Keke Ogungbe and Dayo D1 Adeneye came under attack on Ruggedman’s Big Bros.

Asides Tongolo, 2005 had a catalogue of other great jams from Psquare’s ‘Bizzy Body’ to Nigga Raw’s ‘Obodo’. Obodo is what can be described as the pioneer Igbo rap song and top acts like Phyno, Zoro, Slow dog and the late MC Loph amongst others can be said to have gotten their inspiration from this hit which showed another side of comedian, Klint de Drunk who was featured on the track by the rapper who now goes by the moniker, Mr RAW. Obodo achieved what 2shots kept aiming at with his Umunnamu style and would have stood any jury’s scrutiny if named the most important song of 2005.

The 2005 most important song should have been a battle between D’banj and Psquare.

Also very arguable is the author’s decision to pick Psquare’s ‘E No Easy’ as the most important song of 2009. This might be a far cry from reality as even Psquare would probably disagree. While their earlier released ‘Bizzy Body’ stood a good chance for the 2005 spot, ‘E no Easy’ was absolutely not the real deal in 2009 despite it’s stated wins which include introducing the twins to a bigger continental market, introducing the star that J. Martins would later become and huge views on Youtube. 2009 had more important songs like the abounding ‘Pon pon pon’ by the late Dagrin which inevitably opened the door for the likes of Olamide who came after. The year also had Wande Coal’s ‘Bumper 2 Bumper’, which is credited for the melodious turn around of what current day Afrobeats has become.

2012 is another controversial chapter of the book. While Jide Taiwo consciously crowned Icerince’s ‘Aboki’, this writer believes that was a loud injustice as no song could withstand the energy D’banj’s ‘Oliver Twist’ brought with it in 2012. The song was enormous that it also heralded the breakup of D’banj and his long-time partner and producer, Don Jazzy. For months, the UK couldn’t get over Oliver Twist and we saw how Kanye West eventually won D’banj over to his side which began a new chapter for all parties involved. In terms of impact and acceptability, Oliver Twist shadows the success of Aboki by miles even when their views are compared. While Iceprince Zamani’s Aboki currently has 3.2 million views on YouTube, Oliver Twist has 54 million views. Long before Wizkid went international with Ojuelegba, D’banj did with Oliver Twist and Aboki is nowhere near this musical masterpiece produced by Don Jazzy.

 

Despite these observations, the book, History Made is a great read which showed how Jide Taiwo is not just a successful journalist but a creative writer who incredibly weaved words while telling true life tales of Nigerian music industry. Asides the songs discussed in the book, the project focuses on the growth of these artistes and those around them, those who nurtured them and others whose indelible contribution to the acts and largely the industry shouldn’t ever be forgotten. This includes the likes of Keke and D1, Howie T, Obi Asika, OJB Jezreel and many other legends who worked behind the scene to create some of these iconic stars as we have them now (and those who might have disbanded or went defunct).

Another critical low of the book is the writer’s obvious walk over of other successful genres other than Afrobeats. In particular, the writer ignored Fuji and Gospel music which are perhaps the two most important genres in Nigerian music outside Afrobeats. The likes of K1 and Pasuma Wonder have remained absolutely relevant in the two decades covered in the book. They have recorded equally important songs, sold out shows and kept the largest and indeed most loyal fan base any act across the world can wish for. No Afrobeats act has been on the same pedestal for two decades. The Pasuma that was on ‘So Ligali’ with Eedris in 2001 was still quite active and equally big when he featured Davido in his 2019 single, ‘Amen’. K1 is also still recording duets with pop acts in 2020 while also making huge sales. Such is the range of these acts.

Furthermore, the success of the likes of Tope Alabi and Sinach shouldn’t have been ignored in the book. The latter has one of the most important gospel songs ever recorded by an African and has remained highly rated even five years after it’s release. ‘Way Maker’ has been translated into 50 languages and is now sung in different churches and worship arenas across the world. Not forgetting Nathaniel Bassey who captured the attention of the entire population with his HallelujahChallenge which birthed the Olowogbogboro song.

Anyways, History Made by Jide Taiwo has begun a conversation about archiving the growth of the contemporary Nigerian music industry. It has started a new culture which would never be forgotten in a long time to come and the author has joined the likes of Bode Omojola (*Nigerian Art Music, *Juju: A Social History and Ethnography of an African Popular Music, *Yoruba Music in the 20th Century), Thomas T. Ajayi (History of Juju Music) and Sola Olorunyomi (Afrobeat! Fela and the imagined continent) who have earlier committed to history, some of the untold stories of the Nigerian music industry. In 2015, celebrated journalist and media entrepreneur Ayeni Adekunle also published a book on 2face Idibia titled ‘Very Good Bad Guy’ (although it was a collection of newspaper stories and interviews of the iconic Nigerian musician).

History Made is without any doubt a decent effort by the author and would go down as one of the most credible contributions to the Nigerian entertainment industry, it might also yet be the most important book ever written on Nigerian contemporary music.

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