HOW TIME FLIES
My eight year-old cousin does not know Baby Fryo. Names like Daddy Fresh, Mighty Mouse, Healing Child, Father U Turn or Gidd Magip do not ring any bell to her. She’s never heard of Cashman Davies, Nico Gravity or Angel Zig Zag. Not even Felin records, Ultima music or Sol records sound familiar.
As far as she’s concerned, the Nigerian music industry starts and ends with Kennis music, 2face Idibia, D’Banj, 9ice, Faze and Asa. Anytime I hear her singing along to no long thing, gongo aso or kolomental, I imagine her dancing suo, gala or yahoozeey, and I laugh to ,yself. My lips part in subtle bitterness, remembering a path I waked before, and how, just like me, the poor young girl might never imagine that this time she so cherishes will soon pass.
What would life be without gongo aso, yahoozeey, see me so, kolomental, mogbo na fele feli, Bibanke, ijo ya and do me? Dull and boring, right? Wrong!
It’s so funny how time rolls; even funnier how we tag along, not willing to be left behind. As a young boy caught in the core of the reggae/dancehall craze of the 90s, how could I have imagined that, someday, Ras Kimono, Blackky, Majek Fashek, Daniel Wilson, or Felix Duke would have cuts that’ll compete with the national anthem? Each time I got drenched while Majek performed send down the rain how was I supposed to ever picture a day when the rainmaker would become history? How was I to know that original bad boy, ragamuffin time, bang belly, rossie, rhumba style, rat race and other chart-topping songs were just like moods in a man’s life? How was I to know that we wont still today, be singing along to dyna, denge potz, eleru gberu, African culture? I followed Juju as much as I followed reggae. And, when I abandoned by school homework to learn the A to Z of Shina Peters’ Ace, could I ever have imagined there’ll be a day when we won’t be bouncing to ijo shina? How was I to know someone’ll find a cure to Shinamania before HIV?
Truth is, most times, pop music is extremely perishable. It’s like tomato and fresh pepper – very spicy and exciting, but also very short shelf lives. And all too often, we mistake the emergence of a hit song, for the making of a star. Quite often, a hit song turns its owner into a short-time star. But there are several instances where the owner of a hit song may remain in obscurity.
Whatever the case, it never lasts for too long. Never. And, as my little cousin will soon find out, yahoozeey, gongo aso and all her other favourites will soon pass away. Because the human system is naturally configured to adapt to changes, she will so quickly adapt and tag along, that it will surprise even her.
So, if songs fade so fastly, I careers end so quickly, and I fans behave just like prostitutes, why then do artistes act as if they have all the time in the world? Why do many act like the hit songs will keep coming, and their bank accounts keep swelling till they drop down dead? At the peak of Baba Fryo’s reign in the late 90s, he moved from a one-room apartment into a duplex, bought a car, and embraced the lifestyle of the rich and famous. It’s over ten years now since denge potz faded away – and you don’t want to know how he’s faring. He belongs to the same category with Father U turn, Daddy Fresh, Dele Taiwo, Dayo Kujore, and many others who are now living below average lives, and trying desperately to come back. They got the same opportunity Ali Baba, Sunny Neji, 2Face Idibia and Daddy Showkey got. The only difference is that, like the biblical parable of talents, they were not fully equipped to exploit their opportunities like the latter.
Now, no generation of Nigerian entertainers has made the kind of money today’s practitioners are raking in. From endorsements, marketing rights, concert fees and many other avenue, today’s music stars, just like their counterparts in football, are making it big. While they’re buying houses, SUVs and throwing wild champagne parties, I think it’s our duty to tell them that it’s important to plough their revenue back in their art, invest in gathering more relevant skills ( say, learning a musical instrument, taking acting classes, or acquiring production skills) and begin to make investments that’ll guarantee that can maintain the quality of life they’re now used to, when the curtain draws on their career.
Each time I see a one-time hit-maker jump a danfo bus, asks friends for alms, or hustle to pay bills, my heart bleeds. Especially if he/she’s someone who I know has squandered the income of their youth on showbiz vanities.
So, let’s hope that, when we stop bouncing to gongo aso, yahoozeey, do me, why me and booty call in a matter of months, our dear young pop stars would be able to outdo their last efforts. If they don’t, and my cousin (and may others like her0 move on to a new rave, will they be ready for what’ll happen next?