Naija and Alternative Music Podcast- Episode 2: ChitChat/Interview with Yela

Hey guys,

Episode 2 is here! Yaaaay!!

Afrocentric R & B singer and songwriter ‘Yela’ dropped by on the show. He is such an amazing personality and we had an amazing show! We talked about his art, and many other random stuff.

Listen below and please drop a comment.

#OldSchoolFriday: Peacock Guitar Band’s Eddie Quansa

Yaaay! Old School Friday is baack!!

If you ever saw any episode of the series ‘The New Masquerade’ then the chances are that you will remember this song. The very memorable ‘Eddie Quansa’ was used as the soundtrack for the series.

 

The highlife song was performed by the Peacock Guitar Band in the 70s and still remains enjoyable till date.

Have a listen below:

AFROBEAT AND AFROBEATS: THE ‘S’ FACTOR

The first time I was ever at the ‘New Afrika Shrine’ was the night of my sister’s wedding in January 2014. Back in UNILAG, I’d heard people say all sorts of things about the shrine. This was six years later and of course my imagination of what I’d get there was still very lit! Scantily clad women in cages, shaking, twirling and turning to the loud sounds of Femi Kuti’s voice and an incredibly heavy band dishing out unbelievable instrumentation which would be quietly but surely assisted by the gentle sounds of beads clanging against each other and softly brushing against the dancers’ bodies. I’d been told about how there was usually literally no space to keep one’s feet at Afrika Shrine whenever Seun or Femi was playing; about how crazy the crowd went from the sounds of the music.

That Saturday night was quite an interesting one. Interesting activity at the entrance *wink*. Those guys don’t play! Lol. By the time the show started, I could swear I’d never seen that number of grown men on one stage before! Yes, it wasn’t exactly what I had always imagined it to be but it was a fun night out.

Rewind… Probably to the early ‘70s when I was not even born. Almost the same setting in the former Afrika Shrine somewhere in Allen, Ikeja which was later burnt down. The man, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti in all his glory, almost as scantily dressed as the dancers and sending his listeners to a different level of sound with his eccentric performance style. In that nightclub began a genre of its own: Afrobeat! Fela’s music had a lot of foreign influences stemming from having lived, studied, learnt and played in various countries including Ghana and the United Kingdom. The Afrobeat sound was different and special; an interesting mixture of Jazz, traditional Nigerian Music and highlife, American funk music among many other different styles of music. Characterized by call-and-response and rhythmic chanting, something else that made Afrobeat music different is the instrumentation. Fela was a band-leader and a multi-instrumentalist and the Afrobeat band would usually consist of loads of instruments such as the trombone, conga, trumpet, and saxophone, drums, bass and lead guitars, shekere among others. Fela was arguably a very interesting personality and used his then unconventional style of music as a weapon to transform the Nigerian music space and also to speak about the Nigerian socio-economic and political space.

Now let’s add an ‘s’. Afrobeats! I honestly have never been able to understand why the names have to be so similar and why there cannot be a clear distinction. Joey Akan of Pulse Ng refers to Afrobeats as ‘a reductionist neologism fed to the international media, and providing a foreign and convenient narrative to classify the African popular music which contains a 21st-century fusion of western rap influences, and contemporary Ghanaian and Nigerian pop music’. I think I agree! Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate Afro-pop sounds. I can’t deny how Wizkid’s ‘Ojuelegba’ makes me (and most other people) sway and nod my head, and how 2baba can do no wrong with his sound. I’m a sucker for Sarkodie, his voice and his style of rap. I mean we went from the days where having a party without ‘jamming’ foreign (American) songs was a taboo, to now when even the cool kids can get away with grooving to Afro-pop music. There’s definitely nothing not to love about that. That said, I dare say that Afrobeats is not a genre of music.

You see, contemporary African music comes in various forms and styles. The sounds of a man like Olamide (in my opinion) can in no way be compared to what you will get from a Timaya or Davido and there’ll all afro-pop. Afro-pop music consists of all genres of popular music ranging from rap to Afro hip-hop, to soukous to even African trap music. We Africans produce these amazing pop sounds with our pop beats and even create our own unique dance steps. We should own it. If anyone should be telling our stories, it should be us! Adding an ‘s’ to a genre which stands on its own already is a very confusing narrative that someone else is telling on our behalf, totally downplays the growth that African music has experienced and the versatility of our African artistes. I always wonder, ‘Why was Afrobeat picked on to be pluralized?’. Why not ‘Juju’ so we can have ‘Jujus’ or ‘Soukous’ so we can have ‘Soukouses’. If we need one name for every popular music out of Africa, then I think ‘Afro-pop’ suffices.

Fela (and those who have stuck to that sound) ’s iconic genre of music is Afrobeat, and then we have all the other numerous popular music genres which our African artistes have been able to excel at which have all been lumped up and called ‘Afrobeats’. Confusingly so!

Cheers,

Yemisi!

6 Nigerian Soul Songs to Enjoy this Month of Love

It’d definitely be rude not to wish you guys Merry Christmas (2016), Happy New Year, before I start to talk about Valentine. Even for Valentine I’m already so late! Yes, Naija and Alternative Music took a (not-so) little break. Blogging and having a 9 to 5 does take its toll I must say. Plus 2016 was one hell of a year! In any case, we do hope things get better in 2017.
So it’s Valentine’s – the love season, and there is a recession! The luxuries of last year no longer abound as such and the gifts may just be a tiny bit lighter. But music will always carry the same weight regardless of economic situation (it’s probably even heavier this time around). I definitely think music is and will always be part and parcel of love.
So even though we’re a few days late with this list and Valentine’s day 2017 is gone, here are six Nigerian soul sounds that’ll definitely melt your heart this month of love (in no particular order):

1. Fe mi by Brymo
This song sets an amazing mood for ‘alone time’ with bae. Using the one of a kind richness and soulfulness of his voice, Brymo describes at length how she makes him comfortable, takes care of him, and how she finally makes him feel when they’re alone without being too ‘graphic’. This is definitely a mood setting song, great for the season.

2. Aduke by Tjan
This would have been the perfect song for a Valentine’s day proposal seeing as the main crux of the song is asking his lover to be his wife. Of course if you missed Valentine’s day for that romantic proposal, we’re still in the love season so it still works.

3. Omote by Ese Peters
This song has promises flying around.. Promises that can melt anyone’s heart. I love how the instrumentation is nice, simple and doesn’t interfere with the words. Sounds like someone reading his wedding vows. I mean you want to hear those promises clearly so you can hold him accountable for every word. So damn romantic!

4. My Beautiful Love by Johnny Drille
A bit upbeat, and ‘country-ish’, this song comes from the angle of a man who can’t do without his lover. The instrumentation of this song is also really heart-warming and can make even make for a complete song on its own. Very beautiful song that can make anyone feel appreciated.

5. Ayanfe Mi by Nayo Soul
For those who didn’t know, ‘Ayanfe Mi’ means ‘My beloved’. If you haven’t heard this song, you need to get you some of it. The calmness of Nayo Soul’s voice in this song is so soul-soothing and priceless. Great love song.

6. O to’jo Meta by Tonie the emperor ft. pHisayo
I promise you, you haven’t heard any love song quite like the one in this song! This is a track that perfectly fuses soul music and spoken word together. It builds up this bout of interesting suspense and then shocks you with its surprisingly romantic ending. It is sure to make one blush and giggle. I definitely love it!

There are too many others, the list is too long to exhaust. Please feel free to add more songs to this list.
Happy Valentine’s Season (if any such thing exists).

Love,

Yemisi!

5 Tips For Enjoying Jazz Music for a Beginner

I’ll start by stating the obvious: jazz music is receiving less and less popularity in the minds of Nigerians.

Jazz happens to be one of those complex genres of music. It makes use of a lot of musical improvisation, conflicting rhythms, and interruptions in regular flow of rhythm. It also borrows a lot of aspects of African music and American pop. Needless to say, jazz music may prove very hard to understand and relate with, hence difficult to enjoy. Not everyone can understand why there is a song without any words.

It’s no wonder that the younger generation (of which I am proudly a part) will rather just listen to popular/mainstream type genres of music. Whilst this is not such a bad thing, I still strongly believe that jazz music can be enjoyed and is worth exploring.
Let’s share a few tips you can try out if you would be interested in dipping your hands into this genre of music:

Know that this journey is not about your friends
People usually revere people who can relate with jazz music because it is believed to be something for people of a particular level of intellect. So you may somewhat be tempted to go into jazz to impress your friends. Ask yourself; am I really interested in this? It’s not such a bad thing not to be! It’s about you! As tempting and elitist as it is to be able to speak about jazz and the artistes and what ‘this’ and ‘that’ jazz track means to you, you need to know that enjoying this genre is about yourself and not about impressing people. Else this journey will become like ‘homework’. You’ll only appreciate jazz if you set out to listen to it and love it for yourself!

Read about it
There are many materials out there that can gradually expose you to what you’re getting into. Read about the history of jazz, the old artistes, and the contemporary ones. Read about jazz in your own country and your own locality. What you will find will amaze you!

Understand Jazz
All types of music have their own peculiarities. Look out for those of jazz. The one beautiful thing that sets jazz music apart from other genres is ‘improvisation’. Jazz musician tend to play around with improvisations which means that they make up their music, their tunes, and harmonies up on the spot (More like a freestyle type thing)! This is why sometimes when you listen to jazz, it feels like the melody suddenly changes. To appreciate jazz, you need to observe the improvisations and how they’re used. Figure out the instrumentation. Listen to the melody. Observing and identifying will help you get into it even more.

Attend live jazz events
Whether it’s rock, soul, R and B, fuji, reggae or jazz, a live experience is the best way to enjoy it. Look out for events happening around you where jazz artistes are performing. In Lagos, I’ve heard of Jazzhole in Victoria Island (even though I have never been there). I also know of Inspiro Productions’ Annual Lagos Jazz festival and Lagos Jazz Series. Find yourself in such events, and this will help improve your experience

Find other lovers of jazz
Just like every other interest, talking to other like-minded people helps you grow even more. So join a social a social media group, follow a page or a blog. Share your experience. If you do meet a local artiste who would like to be your friend, that’s even better! Talk to him or her about their work and their inspiration. Let them tell you what they were think at a particular event, or while recording a particular track.

I do hope these tips help and will help you open your mind to receive more jazz music.

Bonus Tip:
Sometimes I like to make up my own words to their instrumentation. It helps me feel like I’m in the head of the artiste!

A Review of the Lagos International Jazz Festival 2016.

So if you read my blog late last month, you’d remember we talked about three places you could celebrate the International Jazz Day. Well, I was at two of the events. Got a couple of free tickets for the Runway Jazz (thanks to Smooth Fm). So I attended that on Friday evening, and then I did Lagos International Jazz Festival on Saturday.

lagos international jazz festival

High Points
Let’s start like this; the event was fun for me! Like most events in Freedom Park, there was space to stroll around, less ‘paparazzi’, and it was all free (Of course I loved that!) Loads of bands and artistes were also there to perform, so there was a wide variety of activities. The performances were also very ‘LIT’. In the usual fashion of the Lagos International Jazz Festival, there was more than one stage and I was mostly at the bigger stage which was somewhere around the second gate end of Freedom Park.

This stage was where most of the action was happening as most of the crowd was here. The event kicked off really well with ‘Tonie the Emperor’ as he delivered an awesome solo acoustic session. It then continued to gain momentum with various bands coming up the stage to perform live. Anyone who knows me already knows that my heart is sold out to live music, and any show that encourages artistes to perform live already has my heart. This event has my heart 100% for this. From the ‘Empress’ to the 15-man band called ‘JAYA BAND’, down to ‘Tayo Konga’ and his band, all the performances were very lively and energetic. I would say it was an enjoyable show!

Low Points
The thing about it however, is that I expected more! I believe since it was called ‘Lagos International Jazz Festival’, there should have been more jazz than what we had there. A lot of the acts that featured there were afro-beat acts.

Now, I know someone would say to me that afro beat is a ‘baby’ of jazz. Yes, I agree. Jazz is a major influence on what afrobeat has become today but I do also think that there is a clear distinction between both genres and for an event that was a celebration of jazz, the afrobeat could have been a lot more downplayed. I had to take a little stroll to the second and smaller stage to which less attention was paid to begin to experience some jazz. There was this amazing three (or four)- man band whose name I didn’t get that was really amazing and the drummer totally killed it. The Survival band who performed on the larger stage were also very awesome and they gave us good jazz too.

Sometime last year also, I listened to a radio show last year where I learnt that Lekan Babalola (the legendary percussionist) was supposed to curate the event. Apart from the music, the event was supposed to delve deep into the culture of Lagos; the food, the dance, the art etc. All these heightened my excitement and expectation. Well, I didn’t see any of these. Everything I was looking forward to was nowhere in sight and I wasn’t very impressed about this.

If you were at the event in 2014, you probably remember what the event was like. There were like 6 different stages or so (named after various veteran artistes) with various jazz artistes and bands, and even the other genres were well blended into the program, such that no one genre was pre-dominant. That year, I was somewhat confused on what stage to watch from because there was great music coming out of all stages. I also hear (even though I wasn’t there), that the 2015 edition was like that as well. Even though the show had a very beautiful and dramatic end with very spell-binding performances from ‘Tari-Guitari’ and the opening act ‘Tonie the Emperor’, I would describe it as a watered-down version of the 2014 and 2015 events.

All in all, I do love the idea of the ‘Lagos International Jazz Festival’. It is a fantastic innovation and it should definitely continue. But not without a few necessary improvements. Thumbs up Inspiro Productions on the success of 2016 edition. Thanks for giving us this great show. Would I be there again in 2017? Oh yes! Definitely!