Without Brains: Does Pen And Paper Make One A Songwriter?

Written by Chinedu H. Nwadike

It has been a while since I wrote a piece like this because somehow I felt I have written everything I know and there was nothing new to inspire my hitting the keyboard again.

I had issues with starting this article because somehow I doubted its relevance in a Nigeria where no one seems to care about what is right and all the truth loaded in our guns had been shot into the air just to scare birds away, leaving the wrongs to walk among men in broad day light.

That’s the bla bla bla that goes with every writer (almost all of them) and I am glad I can ask Nigeria and every other country celebrating us if pen and paper or better keyboard for the modern guys can make one a writer without brains.

Well, writers have nothing to do with this, but songwriters have everything to do with it because this is about them. I have taken time to read many Twitter profiles in recent times as well as the little write-ups that usually follow songs when they are blogged and I always see something common with all of them. Everyone is an artiste, songwriter and a performer. I usually laugh when I am done with such songs because I come back to ask what was written there.

When I hail the olden days, some people see me like I am some guy who doesn’t want Nigerian music industry to move forward but the truth is this; those guys took time to write their songs, which is why someone included their names in the music textbooks that I read in Junior Secondary School.

Who is the song writer we will remember tomorrow?

I don’t mean to disrespect anyone, but I was just wondering what someone took time to write on a track like Limpopo and others like it that we will be celebrating them as great song writers. Is it that our brains are black and the likes of Celine Dion, R-Kelly, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston and cliques are hybrids in human skins that we play their songs every day and still consider songs that were just hits last year as old songs in Nigeria?

We have dominated Africa packing all the MTV Base Awards, but wait a minute! Is there is still more grounds to be covered? Because the last time I checked, there is still the Grammy and MTV Video Awards which I don’t think has African category.

If only people will stop calling themselves what they are not or better go home and think of how they can make themselves better. Bob Maley, Lucky Dube and so on were not Americans, same thing with our Neighbour Akon but these guys put words to song in a way that people say they use spiritual help to write them.

I have been to studios severally to watch songwriters record a song and all they do is freestyles and the order of the day has become, “get a hook, the verses won’t be a problem”.

Nigerian artistes have bought all Ferrari and Bugatti that have ever been manufactured in their songs and I wonder if someone can never be humble enough to buy his girlfriend a smaller car; I mean something cheaper that he can afford because the way I am looking at it, every girl in this country will be wanting those cars on their birthdays and nothing less. I just wonder what guys like us who cannot afford such cars will do because I know the perfume I will buy for mine by next year. (Ladies; this is a joke).

Abroad there are commercial songwriters but anyone on that business in Nigeria will die of hunger because he will never be patronized.

This is because our songs now lack real creativity, all we now have are ‘China Tracks’; they reign for four months and fade away like they were never released and while we are busy celebrating foreign artistes as evergreen artists, no one cares to ask how they are doing it. I see Tuface on African Queen; Faze on Originality; Asa has gone all the way as well as other artistes who are writing songs that will be remembered after today.

Someone wrote a comment on one of my articles saying “We have seen a lot of good lyrics and it’s now time to dance the whole thing away.”

Another person said “Americans commit suicide because they listen to a lot of depressing songs, but how can a man listening to Shoki commit suicide? He will just dance and dance.”

People have their opinions and like that, this is mine. I don’t want to talk about the ‘Shoki’ syndrome because it is one trend that beats the ‘go down low’ syndrome.

No one cares to know if 500 other songs have already been titled ‘Shoki’, they just want to follow the trend and own a track that will never take them anywhere.

“shoki shoki, everybody shoki, if you get money shoki, if you no get shoki…” assuming that’s my chorus, my verse could be “fine girl the way you de shake am de make me craze, e de make me wan spend my money. We go travel go Toronto, and enter for Chicago, I go buy you Ferrari and buy my own Bugatti. When you born them go be ejima, I go carry you go show my man eh…. shoki shoki, everybody shoki, if you get money shoki, if you no get shoki…”

That is the typical best of a songwriter here in the dancehall genre and I won’t be surprised if someone copies that tomorrow. These are just disjointed songs. The chorus and the verses will never point to the same lane.

We need to step up in this game because it takes just more than writing materials to be a songwriter. Songwriting is a gift; it is a talent that is not in everyone.

If we cannot just change the way we think, and do things right without believing that being Africans or Nigerian gives us the right to accept flaws in everything we do, we will never see someone from Nigeria going all the way to America to bring home a Grammy Award.

Everyone is busy making music for today but soon, just like Asa a songwriter I celebrate said, ‘the rivers will overflow and there’ll be nowhere else for us to go, and we will run, run, wishing we had put out the fire. There is fire on the mountain.

Chinedu Hardy Nwadike, is a novelist, blogger, newspaper columnist, he writes from Owerri, Imo State. chikinow@yahoo.com 08136723796, BBM 763D08AE

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