Nigerian Music Videos And The South African Syndrome
... You have seen them either on Africa Independent Television (AIT), Sound City, Nigezie and other avenues for watching Nigerian artistes show why they are Africa's best and Nigeria's most titillating music-making generation. Good song, nice beats, wonderful hooks, danceable tunes, beautiful ladies nice video (shot in South Africa) and . . . eternally wacky dance-steps. “How?” You ask. The dance-steps are wacky, because the wrong people are dancing.
Sure, a music video has to be rich in content and all that official crap, but it has to have some home packaging. Timaya sang 'Plantain Boy', a ballad about the life of a child who hawked plantains in a country where it is a delicacy. We all enjoyed the song, but when the video was released, all we could see was a boy who could not even swing right or left and some women who were too large or too old to dance. For God's sake, the setting was a make-shift one constructed in South Africa. That video would have been great, but . . . it was laughable.
Before Timaya's 'South African' video, dynamic twins P-Square had a go at the South African pie, if we can call it that. They recorded their song 'Temptation' in which they featured Alaye in the rainbow nation.
Enter J-Martins. He shot his video for the song 'Eva' in the country, where he was the only one dancing (if you can call it that). The experience was so good that he went back to shoot the video for the song 'Cool Temper'.
Recently, P-Square took 2Face to the country to go shoot the video for the song 'Impossibility'. Good song, cute video, but it was South African and the 'African queen' could not dance in any way. All she could do was wave them goodbye. The streets were quiet and cold (one could tell from their dressings) and what would have been a good video became just 'another wacky video'.
Bank W followed suite. He went to the same country (you know which one now) to shoot the video for the song 'Feeling It', in which he featured M.I. Sure, they could say they used Djinee and a totally Nigerian cast, but . . . a little Nigerian-ness wouldn't have done any harm. That video would have been shot anywhere in Nigeria, if we can enjoy the freedom of being frank.
M.I could not wait. He went to the same country to shoot the video for his song 'Undisputed Champion'. The video was good, but he would have added some Nigerian-ness (if there is anything like that). Is he saying he could not find 'mean men' in all of Lagos to be part of that movie? Pity.
As fans of Nigerian artistes, we buy their videos because we imagine they would be as good as the songs. But with dismay, we notice that the video is not a hit but a flop. Who always advises them that the South African option is the best? Who?
Actress-cum-singer Omotola Jolade-Ekeinde also ran to good, old, South Africa to shoot the video for her song 'Missing You', where a white guy played the role of her lover. Very pathetic. Maybe, if a Nigerian had played the part, tongues would have started wagging and get her into trouble with her husband. Who knows?
The South African allure was too good for Timaya to resist, that he had to go shoot another video. This time for the song 'Water Bam Bam'. He was playing a serious Nigerian in a South African video. As much as it is laughable, it is sad. The women weaving their hair could only smile for the camera and the other people he met in the deserted streets could only smile, as they could not dance to a song they know nothing about. They had never listened to the audio, perhaps no station in their country played it (of course, no station in South Africa will play a Nigerian tune), so how can they dance? If they do dance, would their steps be as creative as desired? These examples are just a few of a myriad.
When one considers the works of artistes like Olamide (for 'Eni Duro'), Omawumi's 'Na Who I Go Ask?', 2Face's 'Only Me', Bracket's 'Yori Yori' re-mix, Maleke's 'Ewole', Harrysong's 'Thinking About You', Danny Young's 'My Girl' . . . the instances are innumerable.
What are Nigerian artistes scared of? 'Area Boys'? Come on, many of them grew up in Lagos, they should know better. Did the area boys follow The Bracket to Obudu for the 'Yori Yori' video-shoot? Could it be that the South African fever is meant to emphasise superiority. We don't know about no South African syndrome, all we, as fans of Nigerian music are asking for are good videos, where Nigerian girls who know what the beats and the hooks are about do all the dancing.
2Face's 'African Queen' did not win an award for it's lyrics and audio. It won awards for the costuming and the Nigerian-ness of the video. The girls were obviously Nigerian.
If Nigerian artistes can respect our wishes as home-based fans, we would be glad and though pirates are living off them, go for original copies of the videos, because we know they are worth the time and buy.
Problem is, these 'South African' videos are not shot in scenic locations that would make anyone want to see the video. They are shot on empty streets, or like in Timaya's case, in make-shift locations where no one is curious as to what they are doing.
What happened to the Bar, Kuramo, Eleko, Elegushi and Alpha beaches (all in Lagos), the Snake Island? Do Nigerian artistes don't even know the states where some scenic locations are. A Disgrace. What happened to the Assop Falls, the Farin Ruwa Falls (Nasarawa State), the Three-sister Rocks (Riyom Rock) . . . the list, as you know, is endless. If they are too embarrassed to show-case nature's wonders in Nigeria, then with respect to us, they can shoot the videos in choice studios within the country. If only it were as simple as that. Could it be that they are doing this to please award panels and demean the home-made ingredient in the videos?
Just in case these 'path-finders' have forgotten, they need to be reminded that the seeds they are presently sowing will surely blossom. Then, they would be on-lookers, and placing themselves in our shoes, see the erroneous path they have charted, being trod by others, but in that state can only counsel. Then our artistes will go to Ghana for audio recording. God forbid.