Yesterday, I had some friends stop over. But I hate them because they hate my music.
I hate my guests because they hate my music.
Yesterday, I had some friends stop over. They were nice people, who came with a bottle of vodka, some coke, and great conversations. The only problem was that they hated my music, and were unapologetic about it.
You see, as Music Editor of Pulse Nigeria, my playlist reads off one huge playground of numerous unknown acts. I get music pushed at me all the time. Artist managers want me to listen to their clients new material, rappers who have spat spiritual bars want it to pass through my medulla, and as for singers, well, you know the rest.
My playlists across Apple Music, Spotify, Soundcloud and Deezer reads across like an imposing library filled with books by authors that many people will never hear about. In a way that makes me feel nice. Because I have been able to mine the depths of Nigerian music and gain perspective beyond mainstream radio and DJ mixes.
I have content, and every time I settle in with a glass of something good in my hand and my earphones in my ear, I get transported to a world that many people can’t reach. The world where the artistry is pure and the music is strange.
I love it this way. It makes me deep. I love that extra layer. I can stand up, turn my nose in the air and tell people that they are suffering in the gutters of Pop music and see the light. These people look at me with awe and wonder.
But not the music.
You see, the thing with Nigerians is that they barely like anything that doesn’t come with a bounce. You can sing through 10 registers, plumb the depths of your artistry to provide music that angels can worship to. But if it lacks a bounce that they move to on the dance floor, they would look the other way quickly.
That’s why my guests were bad people. They didn’t like my music. The moment I took charge of the aux cord and began to drop to play from my deep collection, something snapped. The mood began to drop. I switched from new record to another new record and pulled off some difficult dance moves to match.
I was alone. Nobody wanted to listen to it. I flapped in the wind for 20 minutes before I decided that I had had enough. My audience too had had enough. They stared at me like I was that guy who the devil sent to ruin their turnup.
I gave up. My hands went through my playlist, and I climbed out to one of those with all the pop stuff. The good stuff with that pop bounce that everyone enjoys. I clicked on Tekno’s ‘Yawa’, and as he began to croon in that unmistakable syrupy voice.
“Monica, no be today, me and you don dey fight e don tey…”
And every one of my guests broke out in happiness, and group dancing. As the tunes continued, they pulled a conga right there in my living room.
I had seen this happen in many places. The first time I played ‘Despacito’ in a public setting, someone asked me “Why are you playing your in-law’s music?”
It was a question which asked why I had a personal interest to play alternative genres instead of popular music. It’s one of the hardest things to do.
But alternative music has to grow, and we have to continue to support it. Sometimes we sneak it in during parties, other times we simply just push it in front of people, for the culture. It is hard to introduce new music to the public, especially when it is alternative. But no matter how much rejection you get, you have to understand that not everyone will see the light that shines in your world.
Even while drinking your alcohol, and enjoying your hospitality. That’s why on that funny evening, after they had so much fun, and thanked me as they went home. I shook their hands, but couldn’t shake the thoughts from my head:
They still hated my music.