Posted by Nelson Dafe | 5 January 2013 | 4,353 times
In these times when Azonto and Gangnam dance steps are marking the continuing dominance of the Nigerian airwaves by Nigerian hip-hop and RnB music, it is sometimes hard to make a case for any other kind of music in the country, let alone classical music.
The success and popularity of Nigerian RnB stars and rappers continue to spawn more acts into these genres, including many, no less talented but largely undiscovered ones. One such act is Abuja-bred Dino (real name Amadin Idahosa). I caught up with him at a private ceremony in Benin City recently, and he was eager to let me listen to the repertoire of jams that he and his hip-hop group, Nasty Sound Academy (NSA), had made.
Their album which is currently awaiting release features powerful, gripping and exuberant rap lyrics that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the very best that the country has to offer. Dino particularly came across as not just an intelligent stringer of words, but also as a lyricist who knows the art of using his rhymes to entertain and provoke.
He sat back on a sofa, staring at the TV screen that was on in his room, with unspoken expectations of feedbacks from me as each song rolled to its end. I was gripped by what I was hearing and praised his efforts.
As our chat moved into other music genres, he gave a quicky of a remark about his interest in other music forms. I picked upon it and he revealed that he has actually tried his hand on what he calls classical music stuff.
He let me hear a classical track of his. What arrived at my ears was a soft and soothing musical ballad titled ‘Explore you’. Think a dinner with your lover in an exotic night out, set to slow music at the background from a lead chorister-like voice; that is the ambiance the song evokes.
The uniqueness of Dino’s classical song perhaps lies in the slow rap verse that punctuates it. And when the line arrives when he says “… if I can’t say I love you with my mouth, then I’ll use my tongue”, one is at once reminded of a playful deviancy not lost in many a young kid in the streets.
I wondered why he is not keen to promote this unique work of classical music, as he is doing with his rap songs, and his answer underscores a conflict that goes on in the minds of many an artiste when they have to choose between what they are good at and what they think would be liked by the majority – that conflict between personal satisfaction and professional success. “When we were in the studio and I began to do an off-the-cuff rendition of the song, the other guys (in NSA) wondered aloud if I was crazy. They told me in no uncertain terms to cut that out, as they couldn’t entertain that kind of music. I am reluctant to do push my classical tastes further because I think the same attitude pervades in Nigeria. But there’s a side of me that connects with the classical form,” he smiles.
There was a time when the now popular hip hop form was strange to artistes in Nigeria, but it took the brave decisions for groups like the Remedies to force it into the consciousness of the Nigerian music space. It was the pioneering efforts of the Remedies and Plantashion Boys in the ’90s that saw the emergence of the hip-hop and RnB genres into the top echelon of the Nigerian music industry, and ever since they have grown tremendously, with local artistes rivalling their Western counterparts for lyrical prowess, rhymes, and beautiful beats. In fact, if not for the occasional code-switching between English, Pidgin and Nigerian dialects in many ‘home-made’ jams, distinguishing them from those of American origin would have been the devil’s to achieve.
The MIs, P-Squares, Tufaces, etc., have taken the Nigerian hip-hop forms to places never dreamt of before in the not-too-distant past, and collaborations between Nigerian acts and the more established Snoop Doggs, Akons and Rick Ross is the fad of the moment.
All thanks to that brave decision of groups like the Remedies, way back in the ’90s. It might take that kind of bravery from Dino to bring his classics-rap fusion to bear in Nigeria if he ever so decides.
•Photo shows Dino (left) with Nelson Dafe of News Express.
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