The importance of A&R in Nigeria and why Nigerian Artists really need it.
The Nigerian music industry is no longer what it used to be. Nigerian songs are making waves in international countries and even charting on Billboard Hot 100 with instances of “Love Nwantiti” that spent more than 30 weeks on the chart, as well as Fireboy DML’s Peru.
The argument remains that our music is becoming global music and the world is making a transitioning to making African music a centerpiece of the music that thrives in the world.
It is based on this that the need for A&R urgently rings in the Nigerian music industry so as to improve the quality of songs made and help the artist evolve in accordance with their craft.
A&R in Nigeria is not as distinguishable as it is in countries like the U.S and the reason for this is not far-fetched.
Most times, the producer does this job and once he arranges and mixes the track, it is assumed that a perfect song has been birthed, but apparently, the case is definitely not so. Here is why.
Nigerian Artists erroneously believe that this is the work of the producer. However, Song arrangement is the work of an A&R and it borders on determining if every beat, every lyric and every pause on the song is at the right place, has the right pace or should even be on the song.
So many times, you listen to a song and you are like “why is that beat there? Or why is that percussion coming in so late?
Are the beats at the end of the song really necessary? Why did this artiste start the song and not another artist?
The answer is simply that the artiste does not know that some things are wrong with the song because they believe they just made a “banger” as Nigerian artists love to call their hit songs.
After spending hours, and sometimes days recording a song, or even an album, artists think they are down with their job and that they have done a really good one in fact.
Some even take on the role of A&R themselves and attach the years of experience they have singing to the fact that they just made a perfect song.
Don’t get me wrong, the natural musical abundance of talent of such artist is unquestionable, but their determination of what makes a perfect record is.
The fact that you are a medical doctor does not mean you are qualified to teach medicine unless you become a professor in the field.
This does not also mean you don’t know the rudiments, but you just don’t have the expertise, and this is where the role of an A&R comes in.
Kudos to Nigerian singers, some of them are actually very good songwriters. You have people like Simi, Adekunle Gold, Johnny Drille, Wurld, and Kizz Daniel. These are really good songwriters.
You can’t listen to their songs and not feel the lyricism appeal to you. But such is not the case for most of other Nigerian singers.
As a singer in Nigeria, the belief is that you have to compulsorily and solely write your songs yourself or else people won’t believe that your stuff is original.
This is as untrue as it is ignorant. Rihanna’s “Diamonds” was majorly written by Sia. Someone else co-wrote “Formation” with Beyoncé.
The list is endless. The point remains that songwriting should not be done solely by Nigerian artists if there are instances where they can be assisted by other songwriters who are not necessarily singers.
This does not in any way take away from their craft.
Sometimes, you listen to Nigerian songs and you are like “What exactly is this verse about and why did the singer put it there?”
Another can be in form of a diversion within a song that does not even qualify as a bridge because it breaks the song theme into something else entirely. An A&R identifies all this perfectly.
Album track sequencing
For the love of Christ, if Nigerian artists don’t hire A&R executives for any other thing, it should be for this.
I have listened to so many Nigerian album and the song that begins the album- “The Album Opener” does not set the stage for the album or open the album well.
There are some times that you get to track 4 and you are already bored because the good songs are at the end of the album. Or you get to track 6 and the album is beginning to lose its power because the good songs have come first.
There are some songs that shouldn’t even have made the album but they did because they were recorded for the album.
There are only few artists that make very good music videos in Nigeria- Burna Boy and Davido, Yemi Alade. Good instances are “Wonderful” (Burna Boy), “If” (Davido), “Assurance” (Davido), “The Best” (Davido), “Shekere” (Yemi Alade), “Africa (Yemi Alade, “Oh my Gosh” (Yemi Alade) and “Ye” (Burna Boy).
Other Nigerian artists try their best, but the music video does not really do justice to the song in question.
I know, you probably may be thinking that this is definitely the job of the music video director. Partially, but not entirely.
A music video director can only provide a partial creative direction, and probably a script for the singer. It is the main job of the A&R to get creative with the video alongside the wishes of the singer
Examine the recently released “Buga” video. The video screams the absence of an A&R to put better co-ordination and creativity to it.
Stage performance is not Nigerian artists’ greatest suit and it is disappointing. If you want to have a good time at a show, The Felas put together a good show.
Yemi Alade does really well on stage too because she is a dancer.
Burna Boy tries his best to keep on the energy. But we have to admit, for other artists, that the jumping and standing in a single place needs to be reduced.
The power of an artiste to take on a stage and give people a memorable experience is what makes them relevant on stage. When you leave, people don’t remember what it feels like with you.
Sure, your vocals can be serving, but they want to feel alive when you are singing, and Nigerian artists don’t seem to really pay attention to this as long as they get paid.
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