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#MusicallyWithMichael: Songwriting in Nigerian Music – Yay or Nay?

Michael Olorunsola

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#MusicallyWithMichael: Songwriting in Nigerian Music: Yay or Nay?

One of the biggest problems people have is admitting to have gotten help from an external source. This is true in so many societal strata and is much more evident in the music sector. Most artists find it hard to get someone to write for them because they feel like they would sooner or later have to admit to having their songs written by someone else.

My problem here is, how is that a bad thing? The greatest music legends, present and past have all had people write or lay backup vocals for them on one song or another. Yes, even the great Michael Jackson has songwriters. Even Beyoncé. It does not necessarily mean you are a terrible artist, it just shows you put enough thought into the stuff you are putting out for your fans’ consumption.

Over the past week, I have had two similar and brief discussions that funny enough, ended the same way.  On Twitter, someone obviously in an attempt at making a joke had asked why Nonso Amadi would be having a concert when he has just a couple songs. I quickly retorted that he obviously was not a fan of the guy and would do well to check his SoundCloud. He stated that why would he be singing songs that were not hits at a concert or to put it as he said “if many people don’t know his songs, how will they sing along“. That actually brought a chuckle when I got the notification because I don’t understand why I would go to a concert and start singing the artist’s songs? Was that why I paid??‍♂I know some people do that but really? You might be wondering where I’m going with this. Well, I’ll say exactly what I told him. We all go on social media and troll Yemi Alade, Flavour, Timaya et al for releasing songs with questionable lyrics and we’re still the same set of people who go to their concerts and strain our lungs shouting “kporopokontom migidi figidi sigidi

Let’s pause for a bit and figure out why these artists keep dishing out the same trashy lyrics now and again despite criticisms from the media. The same people who criticize them are the same ones who go around and buy the same songs later. Let’s cultivate the habit of supporting good music or at least request for that from out favorite acts. The “sigidi figidi migidi” will not get anybody a Grammy award. We need to challenge our musicians to do better. Better means putting out better lyrics or at least getting someone to compose the lyrics for them.

I decided to write on this as a result of happenings recently after Davido‘s latest single which singer Teni claimed to have written. People were of the opinion that even if she really wrote it, she shouldn’t have said. My take is what is wrong with owning up to writing a song? She did not accuse Davido of stealing it. I really think we need to need a change of orientation concerning songwriting as it pertains to Nigerian music. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comment section.

Yours Musically,

Michael

Music is life. Music is love. Music is everything. I live, breathe and eat music. Also, I'm the fun music-loving guy on the BellaNaija Music Team.Want to send us anything? Email [email protected] @bellanaijaonline on Instagram @bellanaijamusic on TwitterPersonal Twitter & IG is @_kvngmichael

11 Comments

  1. tunmi

    November 25, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    We steal and have no issues with it. We plagiarize and have no problems with it.

    Songwriting is a craft on its own. Performance is another. Songwriters should be credited and paid for their work. Teni did well to announce and advertise her work. We’ll get better, eventually

  2. zzzzzzzzzzz

    November 25, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    There is nothing wrong with a song writer writing a song for an artist to perform. That is how it is done in all parts of the world.. You only need to listen to some lyrics and know that the writer lacked the right words to make up the song e.g. using banana or cassava into something else. Song writing is a course. I almost took one for the fun of it. Listen to most Nigerian music and you find the repetition of the same words and phrases . All you need is listen for that word or phrase to know that a particular musician sang the song instead of listening to the voice. It makes the whole thing monotonous. Most hits were not written by the musicians that sang the song.

  3. Gryffindor

    November 25, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    You absolutely spot on,we really need a culture shift,but i feel the fans have 20% of the blame game,80% of the blame should go to co-operate firms and organization who endorse these artistes with lil or no lyrical prowess & sound all in the name of marketing strategy,we can’t but help associating ourselves with these publicized entertainers.

  4. Gryffindor

    November 25, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    The only bad thing about her publicizing she wrote the song, is that she would have given the artiste the onus to do so,was more like she was a lil bit ahead of herself,what if the song ends up not turning out a hit?,guess she was a lil bit too excited,of which from my own standpoint that’s allowing yourself get distracted as a supposed professional

  5. Ajala & Foodie

    November 25, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    Not too long ago I read a conversation on Facebook. Someone had asked about a Yoruba song, I don’t know the song or the title but it has these wordings :” Olorun t’ o da awon Oke igabni…” The question was who originally sang the song. To which someone mentioned a “Christian artiste” . People were however quick to debunk that idea, many testified to how they were familiar with the song even prior to its recent rebirth. The popular claim was that many grand parents had sang it when they were much younger. Someone had suggested it was an Anglican hymn with an unknown author. At this time the original poster had tagged the artiste who was originally given credit but obviously just remixed the song to the conversation.

    Well instead of responding to the question the only comment this dude will make was that it was not an Anglican hymn. It was obvious this guy was not willing to give credit to the original source of the song and wants to take credit for lyrics he obviously did not write. I was taken back by his response, because like the author of this post, remixing an old school classic is nothing new, neither is singing the songs written by another.

    Many, even successful songwriters themselves sing lyrics written by others and never hesitate when it is time to give credit.

    So again like someone pointed out is stealing, just part of us that even so called religious leaders, artistes do not realize they are guilty of the things they preach against???

  6. Ene

    November 26, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    The Nigerian musical industry is not yet well structured. If it had continued with the same progression as in the 80’s and 90’s with P.man and standard record labels, I’m sure we would have gone further. In a structured Industry everyone is recognised, songwriters, producers, artistes etc, An Artiste does NOT have to be a songwriter. Its just a plus.
    As for the Davido and Teni issue, He should have given credit for the songwriting, and its not the first time he has been accused of that. A lot of Artistes in Nigeria don’t like to give credit and its bad. Give credit to your team. It doesn’t take away anything from your success.

    • teni

      November 26, 2017 at 8:31 pm

      Davido always gives credit. The girl too rush abeg.He was probably going to. She needs to chill.

  7. Onetallgirl

    November 26, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    There’s nothing wrong with having songwriters writing songs for artist. Like Michael said, Beyonce uses song writers all the time. Some people are just talented and can sing and write songs i.e Neyo and Alicia Keys and thats okay. I really wish people like Flavour would use a song writer so we are listening to the same type of songs over and over again. Teni didn’t have to announce that she wrote the song. A lot of song writers write songs and don’t announce it.

    • Ajala & Foodie

      November 26, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      @Onetallgirl, trying to understand the logic in your last statement i.e many song writers write without announcing it. Many politicians steal and get away with it, many people are plagiarized and never do anything about it….It does not make stealing or plagiarism ok. That other song writers choose not to do anything about not being acknowledged for their work does not make it wrong when one chooses to right a wrong/stand up for his/her work. Just like it isn’t wrong when a blogger/artistes goes to war for being victim of plagiarism. We really need to get rid of this idea that because something has been done a certain way in our society, although wrong, it is ok to keep doing that way and anyone that tries to right the wrong is labelled the bad one (at least according to your argument in your last sentence). It is the reason corruption is now a societal norm in our country.

  8. Prince

    November 27, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong in someone writing for you. I don’t know where we get that shit from. Most of the movies we watch are not produced by the writers. I dare say 99.9% of movies produced have their screen-writers different from the producers and executive producers to directors and the list goes on.
    We need to change our orientation when it comes to our music. Too many rubbish out there.

  9. tunmi

    November 28, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I think this also plays into the Nigerian culture of waiting for someone to rescue you. Our culture doesn’t foster doing things for yourself or by yourself. We are often told to keep quiet, stay silent, and wait until someone can help us. And it shows in songwriting. imagine you have a talent and people around you make you feel helpless and you feel helpless until you know some big person

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