In the past few years the term crossover has been used repeatedly by Nigerian artists on interviews and on their social media space. This crossover is used to describe the transition of a Nigerian musician to become an International/American artiste. In crossing over the Nigerian music will not only be played on Soundcity or Beat Fm Lagos but will also be played on MTV and Hot 97 fm in L.A.
Whenever this crossover is discussed, the first example is the instance of Dance Hall being a major genre in the U.S and the world in general. If any Nigerian Musician crosses over he will headline major shows and events across the globe. This is a big dream for Nigerian musicians that are usually having their ‘US Tour’ in a small African club in the U.S or Canada. The crossover is an ambition mainly nursed by Nigerian artists that have lived in the U.S before whom had earlier started their music career in the U.S with the hope of being signed to major labels but did not succeed and were left with no option than to move back to Nigeria and continue their trade.
This cross over was the main reason for the Feud between DBanj and his Producer Donjazzy.
While Dbanj believed so much in the crossover, Donjazzy did not see any future in it because at that time he was only a music producer with no major benefit in a successful crossover. They say the dream is free but the hustle is sold separately. While it’s very easy to believe in the crossover, it is very difficult to achieve it. Recently we just heard that the long awaited Davido Album that is supposed to drop in 2016 will be shifted to 2017 because his album is being prepared for the world market. In all honesty the crossover is possible but will the music remain Nigerian after making it acceptable to the U.S market?
Everyone thought it was about collaborating with U.S based artists till Drake jumped on Ojuelegba and Wizkid’s name is still not on Billboard yet.
While some artists are trying to break into the U.S market, some Nigerian musicians are trying to break into the South African market . Even musicians from other African countries are trying to break into the Nigerian music sphere. Needless to mention that some U.S based artists are trying to break into the Nigerian Market too in order to increase their audience. What a vicious cycle?
To break into the international music market, the key component that a music genre must have is popularity (numbers) Dancehall was able to become an acceptable genre because it is a product of reggae which already had a global appeal. The kind of popularity needed is not the kind achieved by the marketing power of the Nigerian micro record label. No doubt that the likes of Sony, Epic and Columbia records can give an artist the much needed exposure and publicity needed for this feat.
Some artists think the crossover will happen to one artist at a time and they are struggling to be that one artist. The truth is that when the time comes, it will happen to a number of artists at about the same time. The content of the music needs to improve because the world will not pay money to listen to “skelelele and okokobioko” if the artiste cannot explain the meaning of his/her song . The message should be coherent. Nigerian artistes will have to be consistent for the world to take them seriously. One important point to note is that just like every good thing, it will take some time to happen. If you force a song or an artist to the international market it might end up a One hit wonder.
Some of the Nigerian music that we are trying to export today are inspired by different genres of music including R&B, reggae and hiphop. Sometimes these Nigerian music loses its identity because it is not unique. Recently in an Interview, Flavour mentioned that a Nigerian cannot be more hip-hop than the Americans.
Imagine Future coming to Nigeria to perform Afrobeat. The kind of music that will make it to the other side are very original music. Some artists already know this and are gradually changing the kind of music they put out. Indigenous rappers like phyno and Olamide are gradually slowing down from rap and gradually singing.
Nigerian music has been on a steady growth recently. From the quality of the music productions to the gradual acceptance by the world at large. One thing is certain, the crossover will someday happen but nobody knows when and how.