American Music industry has since the world could remember served as mentors to industries in the world. They have helped in growing other industries by affiliating with smaller industries in South America, Africa, Europe and Asia; expanding their music and dabbling into the different genres of music in the process. Music being a universal language has always united different people with different music sense to make sounds and this was evident in the two singles made by the music production group known as Major Lazer. This group teamed up with the largest music industry in Africa, featuring two of their best trending musicians in two songs. Although they featured two other musicians in these song, we will be taking a critical look at the implications of featuring these two Nigerian Musicians. In an ideal situation, these songs are supposed to publish the name of Major Lazar in Africa but because of some obvious flaw in the songs, this may not happen.
Mr Eazi and Kizz Daniel who are household names in the Nigerian music industry had their selves run leads on these songs but had their musical strength dropped by the production. Major Lazer; a music group formed in the US wanted to make songs with some kind of African vibes in it but they went against it in some few ways. Usually when musician cross the sea to explore new sounds and beats, they do so with the intension of building a new fan base. However it can be argued that this particular aim has been defeated by the lack of sound control. You may be wondering why this stand is taken in this article; below are a few argue-able facts.
Too Much American Influence
African songs are dominated by different beats depending on the region of Africa that the music is made. Central African is dominated by the Makosa genre/beat; the West African region is dominated by the popular Afrobeats and Afropop sounds; while the South African region has sounds that are highly influenced by the Zulu tribe. Therefore when songs are to be made to gain the attention of the music lovers in these zones, attention has to be given to the type of sound synonymous to these people.
In the song “Loyal” in which they featured Kizz Daniel and Kranium; it can be deducted that the sounds was not Afrobeats as they claim. The construction of the lyrics, the arrangement and sequencing of the percussion was not African, let alone Nigerian. The use of the patois language by Kranium further threw away the sound from being an Afrobeats sound to a Caribbean sound from Jamaica. On the other song which featured Mr Eazi and Raye; it can be regarded as the worst of the two songs because it had zero trace afrobeats in it apart from the music video. They also got trapped in the Caribbean influence and made a song with too much RnB influence in it. The way the lyrics was arranged, reduced the potency of the songs as an afrobeats sound.
Wrong Choice of Instruments
When making Afrobeats, it is important to note the type of instruments used in the sequencing. Afrobeats have some basic instruments that makes it sound the way it does. Tony Allen, who is Fella Kuti’s Drummer made sure the sounds made for Fela’s Afrobeats sounds has same elements repeated. These instruments includes a drum kit, shekere (shakers) and wood. These three basic percussion instruments was totally missing in the production of “Loyal” and “Tied up”. Instead they went for the usual sound instruments that they are used to. This act alone killed the music and removed it from afrobeats to Caribbean beats.
Absence of Code mixing and Switching
In high schools in Nigerian, one of the basic things they teach every first year English student is the principle of code mixing and switching. Afrobeats and Afropop songs are songs that are dominated by a lot of code mixing and code switching. Famous afrobeats pop stars like Wizkid and Davido, use three basic language in making their music which are Yoruba, Pidgin and English. This act of code missing and switching made the songs sound African and gave is depth. However, the song produced by Major Lazar maintained a strict use of English Language. It must be understood that a real afrobeats o afropop song must have some bars for code mixing and switching. This action of strict English threw away the origin and birth of the sound which major lazar claim to have made.
Learning and creating a new sound and production is difficult but it must be understood that music is an identity and not just sound. Calling a sound that is from the Bahamas or Jamaica to be Afrobeats is not just a misrepresentation of the genre but a general misrepresentation of the people who own it. Therefore it is important to note that the singles released by Major Lazer had no Afrobeat beat characteristics but Afrobeat musicians.