The best way to be a fan here isn’t to listen to other fans. The best way here is to go on a personalised journey to locate the soul of the music.
Everywhere I see ‘yes men’, who love everything that they are instructed or told to love. They don’t hold any opinion dear to their hearts, they stand for nothing, and they will swallow everything thrown at them by everyone and everyone. They sing praises without thought, showing a great talent to simply nod ‘yes’ at every turn.
They are the classic example of a Nigerian fan. They kiss the ass of their favourite artist, hiding under the word ‘support’, and attacking every other critical opinion with their favourite defence against reason: “Hater.” They are everywhere, commenting on Instagram, masquerading as journalists, and camouflaging as promoters without pay. They are in huge numbers, the backbone of the music industry, providing fuel for every move by their favourite artist. When musicians record music, they have these people in their heads, knowing fully well, that whatever comes out, the ‘Yes’ men will be waiting in line, like mindless robots, ready to be given life their controllers.
At concerts, they scream the loudest. On the timelines, they are the best defenders. And when the artist blatantly goes wrong, they line up with the placards that say “the bible says thou shalt not judge.”
When you cross over to the other side of fandom, you find their opposites. These ones are the stubborn ones. They are the ‘no men’, who simply don’t think the Nigerian music industry is worth anything at all. They believe that the only way to fix the game is to attack and kill everyone who is thriving off it, and from the ashes of that destruction, they will build a better world, where the music obeys their thoughts, and the structure of the sound is anti-establishment.
They are the unmovable Hip-hop heads, the people stuck in the past, with no change or adaptation shifting their stance. When they find an artist who speaks to their soul, they bond instantly, support with all their convictions and powers, pay for their concerts, and sing the loudest. Their happiness isn’t in numbers or the joy of sharing music with a large crowd. They would rather be the only ones supporting an artist. Those people who stay there before the artist blows. And take pride in saying “I only support good music.”
And then, between these sets of fans are the truest ones, who are genuine followers of the art. They are happy to appreciate a specific type of music, but their minds are open and willing to connect with the new ones. These are the people who go lengths to study the culture, dissect it, read, study and achieve an understanding of the music. They have the best arguments, demand for quality from whatever musician they chose to consume. These people pay for the music, buy the concert tickets, and ensure that they consume the music in different formats and forms. They have the best conversations, can hold the best arguments, and not resort to cheap fights and attacks. They are the best set of fans.
These are the people Nigerian music needs. We are operating in a very diverse and unstructured scene. The music is mixed, the inspiration is personalised and the sounds are heterogeneous. All three types of fans serve different functions, but they aren’t all great for the music. The ‘Yes’ men are the ones who encourage mediocrity. The ‘No’ men are against progress and inclusion in the art. And the ‘True Fans’ provide a calming voice of reason and balance.
The best way to be a fan here isn’t to listen to other fans. The best way here is to go on a personalised journey to locate the soul of the music. Doing this means you have to aggressively move away from the herd, avoid mindless arguments, and simply focus on the music. If it is good, show support. When it is bad, spare not the rod. We aren’t put on this earth to be slaves to low-quality music. We are kings, designed with brilliant minds to appreciate the art and consume the best of life’s passions. Read the best publications, increase your understanding of the art, and then with that judge and support the music.
Here’s to recognizing our power in fandom, and wielding it with purpose and strength until we get to a good place where the music flows like it should, and the air is filled with happiness and the unity that only the art can provide.