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Pulse Opinion: Davido, and why Afrobeats needs to come home

After conquering the UK market, more or less, Nigerian pop music needs to go back home to solidify itself.

What's next for Afrobeats after Davido conquered the 02? (Instagram/Efe One)

On Sunday, January 27, 2019, Nigerian pop act Davido sold out the 02 Arena in London, a feat similarly achieved by Wizkid the previous year.

This is the same venue where Michael Jackson was scheduled to stage his comeback with the 'This Is It Tour' before his shocking death on June 25, 2009.

Barely two years after the death of the gloved one, Hip-Hop megastar Kanye West tweeted at D'banj and Don Jazzy who were then the titans of contemporary pop music in Nigeria. That tweet helped set D'banj's ambitious agenda rolling as he had his sight set on global domination.

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D'banj stopped short of achieving this, but on a grand scale, his dream continued. The duo of Davido and Wizkid would push Nigerian pop music further than even their harshest critics would imagine.

With the African diaspora in the UK helping to push the Afrobeats narrative, Nigerian pop music and by extension West African pop music has now become a hot exportable commodity.

From mega collaborations to A-list cosigns, Nigerian pop music has never been hotter than it is right now. The last few years have seen the genre scurry the ladder of international acclaim.

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With Davido descending from the rafters of the 02 Arena, the obvious question is where does Nigerian pop music go from here? Have we witnessed the apex of this musical movement?

North-America is a frontier that has not been conquered by our Afrobeats marauders. The region is a notoriously hard nut to crack and those who figure out how are not welcomed for too long. Davido is taking another shot at Yankee after his 'Son of Mercy' EP wasn't well received.

There are no bets on how this gamble will pay off. With all his acclaim, Wizkid's US effort 'Sounds From The Other Side' did not pull mad numbers. Maybe America is not the next point of call for our superstars. The answer might be back home.

Nigeria's population is approximately 190 million, that is nearly four times the population of England and more than half of America's. Ideally, if things worked properly in Nigeria, our music stars will need not to cross the seas for international domination.

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You don't see Chinese or Indian movie stars knocking on the doors of Hollywood for international acceptance. Their respective industries are self-sufficient which makes it not necessary for them to seek international acclaim.

The reason why the best of our music stars have looked at foreign markets is that the Nigerian market is too small. The genre of Afrobeats is bigger than the Nigerian music industry which sounds absurd but it is true.

I have always said that we do not have a proper music industry in Nigeria. What we have are a few passionate individuals determined to make a living by making, distributing and selling music. A proper industry of bolts and nuts does not exist. This limits the potency of Nigerian music as a commercial force in its own country.

Isn't it weird that while the likes of Burna Boy, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, and Yemi Alade regularly go on tours overseas but rarely tour in Nigeria? This is because the structure and support system for touring here are crude.

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The most viable market for rap music is America and we all know why. The most viable market for Nigerian pop music shouldn't be in London or Manchester but in Nigeria.

The responsibility to fix our industry doesn't fall on our music superstars. This is where we need men and women of vision and leaders to show Nigerian leaders the economic potential in harnessing the power of our creative industry.

This how we can fix it, visionaries and Nigerian leaders who are interested in maximizing the potential of young Nigerians in creative arts.

Until this is done, Nigerian pop music will be exported to other regions of the world without the country of its origin benefiting from it. Afrobeats next point of call is not in New York or Los Angeles but in Nigeria. Afrobeats needs to come home.

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