The hustle of the noisy, crowded, streets of Lagos is spawning a raw sound that is catching the ear of the world. They call it Nigerian urban music and it could be a gold mine.
Twenty million people-a-month, in 98 countries, tune into Nigerian urban music on YouTube and the numbers are rising rapidly.
“Nigerian urban contemporary music is about young, powerful, trendy, attitude-driven Africans who are not talking about poverty, exclusion or famine. They are saying we’re the new world, the new way, get in with it or forget it,” says Obi Asika, CEO of Storm Records—a leading entertainment company—who also sits on the board of COSON—Copyright Society of Nigeria.
Nigeria is in a prime position to take advantage of this music. It has some of the finest recording studio technology in Africa and a thriving home market on which to test new sounds. The only problem is corruption and rampant music piracy, which threatens the growth of this vibrant Nigerian music.
Asika says the deterrents to growth are regulation, copyright and piracy issues, which leave artists with a lack of income from record sales.
“It is a constant battle but we are making a lot of progress,” he says.
“If you give Nigeria the same resources the Americans have, we will have full domination of the entertainment scene. This is a fact because they don’t have the story. We have a unique story, a unique culture, a unique urban identity and it is in high demand.”
One of the problems is the average Nigerian musician’s recordings can be bought at the side of the road in Lagos traffic, for a pittance. It means concerts and live shows are the moneymakers.
For this reason, the United Sounds of Africa—a music project taking African talent on a seven city tour of North America—was created. On tour will be: Tuface; M.I; Jesse Jagz; Ice Prince; Brymo; Timi Dakolo and J.Martins. They will play in Atlanta; Houston; Washington; New York; Los Angeles; Chicago and Toronto.