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THE GUCCIS ARE REALLY NOT HAPPY About ‘House of Gucci’

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Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani in “House of Gucci.” Credit...Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

When artistic license collides with reality, which one wins?

By Vanessa Friedman

The fractious Gucci family, whose internecine power struggles famously helped it lose the company Guccio Gucci founded in 1921, has finally found common cause once again.

The reason for the family’s reunification: “House of Gucci,” the 24-carat camp drama framed in pigskin about the murder of the family scion Maurizio Gucci. The film, starring Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani, the spurned wife who commissioned the hit, and Adam Driver as Maurizio, opened in the United States last week, bringing 10 members of the dynasty back together to protest what they believe is a distortion of history, the family name and the brand they made.

The descendants of Aldo Gucci, one of the three sons of Guccio, and the man who turned the Florentine leather brand into a global sensation (and who is played in the film by Al Pacino as a sort of rumpled, prosciutto-spewing American cartoon of a Mafioso) issued a statement, reading: “Although the film claims to tell the ‘true story’ of the family, the narrative is anything but accurate, depicting Aldo Gucci — president of the company for 30 years — and other members of the Gucci family who were the protagonists of well-documented events, as hooligans, ignorant and insensitive to the world around them.”

It went on: “Even more censurable is the baffling reconstruction of events that advocate leniency toward a woman who was definitively convicted as the instigator of Maurizio Gucci’s murder. To see her portrayed as a victim — not only in the film but also in statements by the cast — who is trying to survive in a male-dominated corporate culture, is an injustice and could not be further from the truth.”

Public relations representatives for the film said that neither the producers nor Ridley Scott, the director, could be reached to respond to the family’s statement. Lady Gaga has acknowledged that she did not engage with Ms. Reggiani (who has expressed her displeasure about not being consulted), or even read the book on which the film was based, the better to create her character from her own imagination, she has said.

In response to earlier criticisms from Patrizia Gucci (a daughter of Paolo Gucci, played by Jared Leto as a dolt of a designer in a bad corduroy suit) that the filmmakers were exploiting a family tragedy for Hollywood profit, Mr. Scott said on the BBC “Today” show: “I don’t engage with that. You have to remember that one Gucci was murdered and another went to jail for tax evasion, so you can’t be talking to me about making a profit. As soon as you do that, you become part of the public domain.”

The suggestion being: Once you’re in the public domain, your story is not your own. An assumption presumably exacerbated if your ancestors have deliberately transformed your family name into a brand that they then sold to the world. It’s kind of like saying they swapped the family soul for fame and filthy lucre, so tough luck.

It’s also why the family decided to take the fight public. It may seem like a squabble in a green-and-red horse-bit-tinged teacup, but at a time when the distinction between what is fact and what is fiction has become evermore porous, when the concept of so-called alternative facts has became a part of the general discourse, and when viewers tend to believe whatever they see onscreen (big or little), it has resonance that goes beyond the box office.

Patrizia Reggiani in the 1980s.
Patrizia Reggiani in the 1980s.Credit…Ipa/Shutterstock

Sure, the Guccis are interested in perpetuating the aura of their own taste (even though they no longer have a financial relationship with Gucci the brand, they are deeply attached to the name). But that doesn’t mean their concerns are without merit. As Lady Gaga said in a British Vogue article, “I did my very best to play the truth.” But whose truth?

Not, the Gucci family says, theirs. According to Patricia Gucci, the family began discussing the possibility of a joint statement a month or so ago, after the breathless reaction on social media to early trailers suggested there would be a wholesale embrace of Mr. Scott’s version and after earlier attempts by the family to contact the film’s producers before the movie was even in production were never returned.

On one level, this is not a surprise. For as long as there have been biopics, the people on whose lives they have been based (or the people with a stake in the lives on which they have been based) have often felt shortchanged or otherwise misrepresented by the result.

Michael Oher was not happy with “The Blind Side,” nor Mark Zuckerberg with “The Social Network.” And there’s an entire industry in complaining about what “The Crown” gets wrong. “Based on a true story” is effectively creative code for “some artistic license involved,” which is itself shorthand for sacrificing fact to dramatic imperative and story arc.

Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani and Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci.
Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani and Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci.Credit…Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

As it happens, “Gucci” takes the caveats a step further, with the opening disclaimer “inspired by a true story,” a signal that the filmmakers may have taken more liberties than usual. (Another signal: All the characters speak English in various versions of fake Italian accents, a much-derided choice that makes no sense.)

Yet the film is not presented as magical realism, nor even overt satire. It is based on the nonfiction book by Sara Gay Forden, “The House of Gucci: A True Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed,” and none of the names have been changed, creating an expectation that what the viewer is seeing is at least a plausible re-creation of a historical truth. There has been much discussion of the attention to period detail when it comes to the wardrobes — so ’70s and ’80s fabulous! Even some from the actual Gucci archive itself!

But a cursory and noncomprehensive list of some of the changes the filmmakers made includes: the erasure of three of Aldo’s four children (who were also in the family business); the deletion of Dawn Mello, a key figure in the Gucci renaissance under Maurizio and his outside partner, Investcorp (and a female power player); the collapsing of various outside lawyers and bankers into the single figure of Domenico De Sole, who has been turned into a Tom Hagen figure à la “The Godfather” who not only does professional dirty work but also personal; and the fast-forwarding of Tom Ford’s breakthrough collection to associate it with Maurizio’s leadership (not true; nor did it involve men or Gucci G-strings — those came years later).

Such reduction can often be excused in the name of art and story streamlining: plot details that matter only to insiders. And the actual Gucci saga, with its competing boardroom power plays, was convoluted at the best of times. At a time of limited attention spans, you can understand why it seemed better left on the cutting room floor.

Except that there is also another element that has also been elided in the film: the reason any of it mattered in the first place.

Maurizio Gucci in the 1980s.
Maurizio Gucci in the 1980s.Credit… Ipa/Shutterstock

For that you have to go back to the myth of elegance, craft and a bit of flash encapsulated by the word “Gucci” that made the products — the shoes and bags and clothes — desirable as markers of both aspiration and achievement. And that was created largely by the exact characters the film turns into caricatures, embracing the showy trappings of success — furs! Ferraris! — to gussy up a rotten core. They may be entertaining to watch (Jared Leto and Lady Gaga may even get Oscar nominations out of it), but as tastemakers they are impossible to believe.

By most accounts, Aldo and even Paolo, not simply Maurizio and Rodolfo, were magnetic figures whose carriage reflected the soignée substance of what they were selling — and, indeed, helped sell it.

In a recent review of the film for Air Mail, Tom Ford, who had a front-row seat to the whole story (though not the precise one depicted in the film), wrote: “In real life, none of it was camp. It was at times absurd, but ultimately it was tragic.” The lack of nuance in the movie made him, he wrote, “deeply sad.” In a phone call, Domenico De Sole said much the same.

In their statement the family said it reserves the right to “protect its name, image, and dignity,” which sounds like yet another Gucci case might be the offing. But Patricia Gucci (who is currently embroiled in a different lawsuit, in which one of her daughters is suing her ex-husband for childhood sexual abuse, and she is named as a co-defendant) said there are no such plans; they are leaving it to the court of public opinion for now.

Will it make a difference? It’s easy to dismiss the complaints as the whining of sore losers who are obsessed with image over all. But it’s exactly that image that formed a totem of identity that is part of the story of how we got to here: how so-called craft became a value unto itself and fashion vaulted from being a bunch of small family-run businesses into a global part of pop culture.

And that in turn is part of what made the movie itself worth making, because that’s why a corporate and family crisis exploded into closets around the world. It’s part of why, since the film’s release, searches for Gucci products have gone into the stratosphere; according to the global fashion marketplace lovethesales.com, up 257 percent for Gucci bags alone.

To miss that seems not so much like creating art and more like fake news. And in that case, no one really wins.

Vanessa Friedman is The Times’s fashion director and chief fashion critic. She was previously the fashion editor of the Financial Times.

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NOLLYWOOD LACKS STRUCTURE –EMEKA ROLLAS

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Emeka Rollas, the President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria

Emeka Rollas, the President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, tells BABATUNDE TUGBOBO about his career, Nollywood and other issues.

The Inspector General of Police recently directed that actors and skit makers who use police uniforms without authorisation should be arrested. What do you make of that order?

It is very easy for the Inspector General of Police to give such an order. I (once) had an interface with the IG through the force’s Public Relations Officer, and we discussed issues like this. We cannot shy away from the truth that before now, a lot of practitioners did not know the position of the law on certain things. However, ignorance of the law is not an excuse. It is time for producers and actors to come together and engage the police in discussions.

On the other hand, the police also needs to know that it is not enough to sit in their offices and only point out areas that affect them negatively. They should know that the industry has also promoted the police positively. It is important for them to engage practitioners and find out how we can promote them even more. In the United States of America, they (authorities) work hand in hand with Hollywood because they know it is a strong medium to propagate many things, even government policies.

You studied Mass Communication in the university. Why then did you venture into Nollywood?

While I was a student at the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State, I got to know about a club called ‘Attractions’, which is still in the school till date. Back then, we used to organise shows. I recall that I did a show then called ‘Rolling Beats Jeans Carnival’. It was the first of its kind in that school. When I left school, I did not immediately venture into acting, until I met a woman, Mrs Nonye Okechukwu, who is presently a costumier in Onitsha (Anambra State). She took me to the late Mike Oriedinma, who in turn took me for an audition. I was eventually given a role, and that was how my acting career started sometime in 1996.

You once stated that Nollywood is not a dump site for ex-Big Brother Naija housemates. Why did you make that assertion at the time?

It is not proper that people criticise Nollywood, yet embrace whatever comes to their screens via BBN. Some people like the things seen on BBN, but if an actor does any of those things, people will begin to shout. In BBN, the contestants are not trained before going into the house. If former housemates who leave the show feel that they want to become actors, then Big Brother should extend a hand of fellowship to the industry, instead of trying to use the platform to create ‘pseudo beings’ who fade away after some time.

Another season of the reality show is on. What measures has the AGN put in place to guard against what you spoke about?

There is not so much we can do, but we have standard practices. If anyone wants to join Nollywood, they have to follow the laid down procedures. There are some people who might have even won the competition but when we check their behaviour while on the show, we feel they don’t deserve to be welcomed into the industry.

We did it with Whitemoney (winner of the 2021 edition of the show). We checked his attitude right from the beginning of the show to the end. We then deemed it necessary to honour him with our membership. He is presently a member of AGN.

There seems to be a great influx of actors into the industry, with little or no experience, thereby causing roles to be interpreted wrongly. What steps is the AGN taking to correct this anomaly?

Anyone who is registered with the guild will have to undergo training before they can be recognised as actors in the industry. The training is done in different state chapters. After that, we have an official induction ceremony, before anybody can become a member. Also, we have categorised membership, where people go through internship while training. In the course of the training, they will be made to understand certain things about acting.

Actors and filmmakers have often lamented the lack of support from the government. In what ways has the guild solicited the support of the government?

One of the greatest problems of the industry is not just about government support. If one needs government money, one must stand on a structure. Nollywood, as it presently is, lacks structure. However, we are trying to structure our guild; not Nollywood. If we are able to structure the guild, we will lead the pack. Many of the people who call themselves ‘filmmakers’ came into the industry to act. But, because acting did not favour them, they began to diversify into other areas, such as producing.

If Nollywood’s structure were intact, it would be easier for the government to put in funding. The last time the Federal Government tried to support Nollywood was when former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration gave the industry a whooping N3bn. One cannot put N3bn into an industry that has no structure. Till today, nobody can give account of what happened. The Bank of Industry also came up with a fund, and outlined what needed to be done for people to access the funds. In the course of that, it was realised that majority of Nollywood practitioners did not have things they could use as collaterals.

How much did the AGN get from the N3bn released by Jonathan’s administration?

When they released the N3bn, the conditions attached to it made some people to be ineligible. Because of the criteria, many non-industry practitioners and even relatives of government officials access the fund. That was possible because there was no structure in place.

What informed your decision to contest the position of the national president of the AGN?

I have contested that position for 12 years but different things kept happening. I believe I have a date with destiny, and major aim is to change the narrative. For me, the motivation was to look at the system and see how I could contribute positively to it.

In what ways has this position affected your appearance in movies?

It has had a negative effect, because I don’t have time to be on location anymore. Except I decide to make out time. At a point in Nollywood, we no longer make films; rather, we strike deals.

What has been your most challenging moment as the President of AGN?

The biggest challenge was how to convince my members to be on the same page, and making the members realise how valuable they are. When evil prevails for a long time, people will take evil to be good. In Nigeria today, because corruption has been here with us for a long time, most people feel that is the norm. Actors have been deprived over the years, so many of them have normalised it.

At a time, you named Senator Elisha Abbo as patron of the guild, and this generated a lot of criticism because of the Senator’s negative public image. How were you able to appease disgruntled members?

I reached out to the people who were calling for my head. I also reached out to some senior colleagues, such as Joke Silva, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Segun Arinze and Okey Bakassi. We had a meeting and we decided that we needed to carefully look at what was happening, and through a public relations strategy, we were able to deal with the matter decisively.

Did you regret making that decision of nominating him?

I won’t use the word, ‘regret’. Perhaps, the word, ‘oversight’ is better. If not that I was under pressure at the time, I should have noticed that it was the same controversial senator. It did not occur to me (that he was the one that had been in the news for the wrong reasons after he assaulted a girl at a sex toy shop). It was our members in the North-East who presented his name to me. Because I was under pressure, the thing passed the committee level, got to me and I approved it.

Despite the public outcry, did you retain his nomination still as the patron?

No, I can assure you that he was not retained as an AGN patron.

What are the benefits that come with being the president of AGN?

In any position of leadership that one finds oneself, one should do well, so that the people that one serves will give good testimony about one. So, when one is contesting any other position, people will give testimonials that one did well in the previous position. At this stage, we are still building structures for the industry.

How were you able to unify aggrieved factions that existed before your emergence as president?

I give the glory for that to God. I actually prayed about it. In places where I was supposed to feel proud, I humbled myself. For the factions, I went to see them myself and spoke to their consciences to understand that we need to do this (build the guild) together.  Conflict resolution can only be achieved by a determined person. I was determined to make it work.

Sex-for-roles in Nollywood is a challenge that has refused to go away. How is the guild tackling this?

We have a dedicated email address and phone number, through which people can make complaints, whether it is about rape or any form of molestation. However, we have not been receiving reports from people, and I don’t know why. I had to even go to some states to investigate and find out if there was a problem. I also found out that some persons were framing people up, claiming it was because of sex-for-roles that they did not succeed in the industry. However, this phenomenon is not peculiar to Nollywood. It happens in other industries.

What movie shot you into the limelight?

I think it was My Cross, which I acted in alongside Liz Benson.

It is generally believed that entertainers can’t keep their marriages. How have you been able to maintain your marriage for close to two decades now?

I got married in 2003, and this will be the 19th year.  Marriage is an institution of God, and it is bound to be attacked. There is no perfect marriage anywhere. I made a decision that nothing will happen to my marriage. Even if it requires me to beg, I will do that to make it work. However, marriage failure is not peculiar to entertainers. I can give you examples of people who have successful marriages in the industry. Every marriage cannot be the same.

Having studied Mass Communication, did you at any point practise journalism?

I once had a brief stint with some ‘junk’ newspapers.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement as the president of AGN?

I don’t like to sound my trumpet. I will prefer that members of the guild speak for me. I have done many things silently, and when I begin to unveil them, people will be shocked. Some of the things we have done are our health insurance scheme, setting up a welfare committee, and a health management committee. I have also made the guild peaceful to the point that people now believe in the AGN.

How does the guild support ailing actors?

In the last four months, we have distributed over N6m (to ailing members of the guild). I keep telling actors that it is what one gives to life that it will give back to one. The period you were doing well, save up something, and guard yourself with different health insurance schemes. When you fall sick, it will definitely help you.

What is your best food?

My favorite food is fufu with okazi soup.

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ASAKE SELLS OUT O2 LONDON SHOW IN MINUTES

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Nigerian Afrobeats singer-songwriter, Ahmed Ololade, popularly known as ‘Asake’

Nigerian Afrobeats singer-songwriter, Ahmed Ololade, popularly known as ‘Asake’ has sold out a show at the prestigious O2 Academy Brixton in London in five minutes.

The ‘Terminator’ crooner broke the news in post via his Twitter handle on Friday.

He also announced a second show at the venue to accommodate other interested music lovers.

@Asakemusik – UK Terminators Sold out my 1st LONDON show in 5 minutes una too much Can’t leave anyone out 2nd Date added tickets on Sale Monday LET’S GO!

I can’t wait to see you all!!

The next round of tickets is set to go on sale on Monday. The tickets on sale today were Priority Tickets – General Tickets for the first show will also go on sale on Monday.

Reactions:

@septimuajprime – Asake tickets starting prices are between £50-£60??? what is going on ?🤣🤣🤣🤣 even wizkid o2 prices weren’t that crazy

@founda_ – Asake sold out O2 in 5mins? Okay Burna Boy should come outside

“Only witches and wizards got tickets for asake so if you were successful you know your category,” Tweeted one fan.

@SnehQueenBee – Even Rema wey get 10 Billion streams on Spotify,  he take him 2 months to sell out O2 Academy Brixton,  Na the same venue Asake wey just come yesterday sell out within 5 minutes. This run 🤯🤯🤯

@dealdray – Wait na the same O2 academy that made remilekun postpone na him asake dey trouble so? Life no balance!

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NIGERIA AT 62: REMINISCING ON THE GROWTH OF NIGERIA’S MUSIC INDUSTRY

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VENO Marioghae-Mbanefo is a Nigerian singer, writer and Public Speaking and English Elocution instructor. She is known for her hit song “Nigeria Go Survive.”

When Veno Mariaghae prophesied it nearly four decades ago, most people might have dismissed her words as wishful thinking.

The Delta songbird’s prayers on her 1985 bop dubbed, Nigeria Go Survive, still manifest deeply into the existence of this great country. It has been a 62-year-long adventure filled with twists, travails and triumphs.

Veno’s prayers might have not fully come to fruition in every facet of the country, but within the Nigerian music industry, there have been monumental leaps of growth. From a child of circumstance, struggling to find a voice, the Nigerian music industry has grown from just a mesh of tribal sound systems into one giant ecosystem that has now become the soundtrack of the world.

Wizkid

In this Guardian Music Independence Day special, we are taking a kaleidoscopic view of some of the monumental eras, landmarks, and figures that shaped the growth of our beloved music industry.

Rise of indigenous popular music  

THE sweetness of indigenous music, from both the Eastern and Western climes in Nigeria, was almost as intoxicating as the palm wine itself that was the main staple in social settings where they were championed. Already, Babatunde King’s Juju music had already been a noble genre, which was played across pre-colonial Nigeria at that time. Yet, there were some scintillating voices emerging such as Dr Victor Olaiya, Roy Chicago, and Rex Lawson, among others, ruling the highlife scene in Lagos, Nigeria’s entertainment capital.

Within the Southeast, the Osita Osadebes, Oliver de Coques and the Oriental Brothers were also chiefly involved in popularising the highlife genre. Other highlife stars such as Roy Chicago blazed a trail with his slew of hits such as Iyawo Pankeke, Are owo ni esa Yoyo gbe, and Keregbe emu. He was also arguably the first musician to blend the talking drum into highlife music. Victor Olaiya’s International All Stars and Roy Chicago’s Abalabi Rhythm Dandies were two of the leading highlife bands in Nigeria, both led by graduates of the Bobby Benson Orchestra.

The ‘60s and ‘70s were such a beautiful era for indigenous music in Nigeria. Within the South Western region, Haruna Ishola became the stuff of legends. The musician was the best performer of apala, a percussion-based style that started in the 1930s as a wake-up call to the Islamic faithful during the month of Ramadan. Ishola was known for performing lengthy shows to massive audiences in Osogbo.

In 1971, two years after he started STAR Records with I.K. Dairo, he released Oroki Social Club on Decca Records, an ode to the popular nightclub that hosts his performances in Osogbo. That album sold over five million copies and became his largest selling record till date.

Nonetheless, indigenous genres started to take a nosedive during the ‘70s and early ‘80s, with the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) pushing highlife’s mavericks into other genres including Juju music. Adherents like Victor Olaiya kept the fight going strong with his series of ‘revival’ concerts, which were held at the Papingo Nightclub of Stadium Hotel, Lagos and even an album dubbed, Highlife Giants of Africa. Still, highlife faced its eventual decline.

Fela

Disco-funk and Rock Evolution

WHILE Highlife was battling its decline; and Juju and Apala music were still flourishing with that anxiety of ‘who is going down next?, a few musicians were experimenting with Afro-funk, creating varieties of electronic music that were silently taking over dance clubs in Nigeria.

Joni Haastrup’s Greetings; SJOB Movement’s A Move In The Right Direction, Bongos Ikwue and the Groovies’ You’ve Got To Help Yourself, and T-Fire’s Will Of The People were profound records that proved Nigeria’s mettle in the realm of Disco Funk. Drenched guitars, jazzy trumpets, flailing flutes and heavy percussion of Disco Funk dominated this sort of ‘alternative’ genre.

Conversely, Nigeria’s rock scene rose mostly from university campuses shortly after the Nigerian Civil War, and the bands came from all over the country but were especially common in the East. The members of BLO (it was an acronym of their first names) had played with Ginger Baker in Europe for a few years, as had Joni Haastrup, with his rock band called, Mono Mono. These were two of the country’s biggest rock bands. Other bands such as Ofege, and their Higher Plane Breeze album provided one of the Nigerian rock scene’s iconic images.

Many other names like Tunji Oyelana, the Funkees, Ofo the Black Company, The Hygrades, Colomach, Tabukah ‘X’, The Elcados, and many more were all lost from memory due to Nigeria’s horrid legacy of not keeping good archives.

Fela Kuti and Afrobeat

THE musical mad scientist, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, is another proud beam of Nigeria’s musical legacy. After he broke into the Nigerian music scene, in the ‘60s, with his Koola Lobitos band, he began to gain prominence. However, it was his 1969 tour of the United States that bootlegged his drive for activism, after being exposed to the work of Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, and other militants.

With his band, which was variously known as Nigeria 70, Africa 70, and later Egypt 80, he churned out an increasingly politically-charged discography. Songs like Roforofo Fight, Zombie, Sorrow, Tears and Blood, and many others.

To date, Fela Kuti is the most influential singer that has ever created popular music. His style of music, a melange of Jazz, funk, and its own distinct drum patterns became a spectacle of admiration globally. It would later influence musicians down several generations, whose creolised fusions are collectively categorised under the moniker, Afrobeats.

Streaming Platforms, COVID-19, Social Media and Global Awards

THE dawn of the millenia ushered in a new era of music, where American Hip-Hop and Rap were fast becoming household sounds. RnB, too, began to dominate radio plays and dance clubs. Everyone was hooked on Destiny’s Child, Mary J Blige, Mariah Carey, Ja Rule, Ashanti, 50 Cent, and many more.

It didn’t take long before stars like Plantashun Boiz, The Remedies (Tony Tetuila, Eedris Abdulkareem and Eddy Remedy), Styl Plus, Eedris Abdulkareem, Sound Sultan, and Lagbaja began to lead their era with Afro RnB and Hip-hop, which became the popular music of that time.

Soon, the Ajegunle boys such as Daddy Showkey, Daddy Fresh, Baba Frayo, Marvelous Benji, Mad Melon & Mountain Black, African China, and others started fusing elements of music from other West African climes, popularising sub-genres such as Makossa, Konto, Galala, among others. The music was hard to categorise, at the time, with its very native appeal. There were stars like Pasuma and Obesere who were still holding the forte with Fuji music. However, these newer genres and fusions ruled the scene.

Interestingly, the 2010s brought in the biggest change to Nigerian music. As of then, more access to technology helped Nigerian musicians create better music videos. From The Mo Hits crew to Storm Records, the EME Crew and other major music collectives, or superstars, it was the era of shooting music videos in foreign countries. The video qualities were crisp and very attractive.

It was also the era of major music-based TV stations such as Channel O, MTV Base, Hip TV, and SoundCity TV, among others. The industry was becoming more localised, with all facets of the ecosystem being represented in the country – from production to marketing and distribution, to performances. It was a good thing, while it lasted. Now, the industry is fast-becoming Westernised, and for good reason too. But that is discourse for another day.

The 2010s also brought the experiment of streaming platforms. looking was the forerunner of the business. After seeing the digital explosion happening, and the accelerated movement of local listening habits from CDs to mobile consumption, the company swung into action to create a product.

Founded in September 2010 with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria it offered a range of online media products, including its movie streaming website named iROKOtv focused on Nollywood Film productions, and ‘brokering’, a Nigerian music streaming platform. While cooking was short-lived, other music platforms – all owned by foreign companies – started to slowly crawl into the Naija music sphere. The likes of Apple Music, YouTube Music, Audiomack, Boomplay, and more recently, Spotify, all came on board. And this catapulted our music scene to greater acclaim.

With the streaming platforms came more elaborate charting systems that helped with cross-continental music discovery. Music lovers in other climes were now discovering Nigerian musicians via playlists. And the diaspora black community strongly became hooked on Nigerian music. The streaming revenue from this has been meteoric. For instance, Ckay’s Love Nwantiti has raked in more than one billion naira from streaming royalties alone.

Then came the COVID-19 and social media era. This current generation of music creators has enhanced possibilities with marketing their music today. It is also quite easy to discover new talent today. From Adekunle Gold, to Reekado Banks, down to Ayra Starr, to Mayorkun, and many others, artistes are now getting discovered by posting freestyle videos on their Instagram or Twitter pages.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, we were all taken by surprise in Nigeria. Nationwide lockdowns forced concerts and disco floors to be shut down. Musicians were stuck at home and not performing on stages. It only meant one thing; more music. And with creative ideas such as Instagram live challenges, between music producers, musicians and so on, the internet kept everyone busy. And this era changed our consumption of music permanently. Nigerians became more voracious listeners, and musicians started to seriously consider creating music for more markets beyond the Nigerian industry. This is where Wizkid comes in.

In the middle of the pandemic, he released an album dubbed, Made In Lagos, which till today is one of the best-selling African albums of all time. Songs from Made In Lagos, such as Essence, attracted the entire diasporic community, with big stars including Rihanna, Jay Z, Chris Brown, and even former US President Barack Obama all giving their applause on the Terms-assisted song.

The current music industry space is also a more profitable scene thanks to social media. With the rise of entertainment platforms such as TikTok, Triller, YouTube shorts, Instagram and Twitter, it is easier for artistes to create trends with their music. You’d hardly see any song, today, being released without a dance challenge or some routine being used to promote it on TikTok. We even witnessed extreme routines, many of which were not spearheaded by the musicians themselves but the artistes, such as the Joeboy’s Alcohol challenge, where people kept pouring cooking oil, liquid soaps, and bottles of alcohol on their bodies. However, it has helped with a global explosion of these songs.

You see songs like Oxlade’s Ku Lo Sa, currently going viral in literally every region of the world. Thanks to social media. It’s easier to track views and gain more insight into the stats of your listeners. It is helping show promoters better understand consumer behaviour and know the right types of artists to bring to specific regions.

Lastly, global award shows such as the Black Entertainment Television (BET) award, as well as the Grammys, have also become another laudable point in our music history.

While they were not the first Nigerians to be nominated, Wizkid and Burna Boy became the first two Nigerian-based musicians to win big awards. Wizkid won, in 2021, for his contribution to Beyonce’s Lion King: The Gift album, while Burna Boy won in the same year for his Twice as Tall album, which earned him the Best Global Music Album.

The BETs had previously been won by artists such as Wizkid, Ice Prince and Davido, and had always been closer to home, but the Grammys were seen as the holy grail of music worldwide. And this is a US-based award; that’s the legacy you get for 64 years of consistently celebrating musicians.

Other African award platforms like The Headies, Soundcity MVP Awards, and the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) have equally tried to fill the void within the country. But these platforms are all young, and it will definitely take them a bit of time to reach the Grammy’s acclaim.

While 62 years might seem like a long time, for the marathon of achievements that the Nigerian music industry has made it definitely is something to be cheerful about.

Currently, with the exports of Nigerian music under the aegis of Afrobeats, the Grammys have started contemplating creating an “Afrobeats” category at the awards.

Billboard has created a dedicated charting system dubbed, Billboard Top 100 Afrobeats. Wizkid, Burna Boy, Ckay, Asake, and many more are selling out monumental venues in Northern America and Europe. And literally, every British or American superstar wants to collaborate with Afrobeats/Nigerian artists.

After 62 years, we are enjoying more general exposure, increased access to opportunities, better technology for production and distribution, a decline in music piracy, ridiculously high streaming numbers (or song plays), and dominance of worldwide music charts. After 62 years, Veno was right about us. The Nigerian music industry is here for the long run. And it can only get better.

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