Pop culture has grown from being a confined and small build up into a global interest. Nigerian pop culture in the past years has failed to create strong attentiveness to the underground sound which is, the street pop. The street pop has metamorphosed from a local household name into a commercial output within a short while. It will be difficult to attach a firm background to its development but it is clear that the street culture has been a part and existence of the suburb parts of the Lagos Mainland. It is from this way of life that has made listeners witness important pop stars rise like Small Doctor, Slim Case, Mr Real, Zlatan and many more.
Olamide is arguably a major artiste who imbibes this culture in his craft. He is also the most commercial artist from this style of pop creation. This simple living is borne out of street hustlers whose way of life is just to make it out of the streets of Lagos. This creative process has extended to other parts of the country which has further transcended into an everyday trend.
Artists from this path who have found their way into limelight continue to hold on to it and this has further propelled them into greater heights with headlining major shows in and outside the country. The negative impression that has been portrayed by these music creators is a major controversy. Their music is indeed filled with great love and passion for the craft or if it is to pay the bills they all dreamt of because little to nothing can be said about the body of work (music projects) they make or propose to make.
Lovers of this culture put more interest in the short term interest enjoyed from these artistes’ dexterity and most of their thought has been limited and not to improve the art into a global phenomenon. The popular saying of ‘anything wey go make man blow’ has been a direct pathway to every street hustler’s success.
One distinguishing element of the street culture is how much it is adorned. The stylish dress and thug life composure has been a stir of controversy from the older generation.
Some conclude with these simple words ‘Nothing good comes out of these ones’, but there has been a myopic view into the promising side of these individuals. These youngsters may show their immerse love for success and fame but must stay true and real to their belief. Apart from the street spirit developed in them, they understand the true essence of keeping the family close. The family is not only limited to the blood relations alone but to true brotherhood that has discovered extraordinary things in them. Class discrimination is the least topic that pops out from this culture and they try to stay ‘lit every day to live another day’.
Few things can be said on how budding the street music has added socio-political values. Street crooners like Small Doctor have been used as guest performance in political campaigns. Their lyrical substance is found relatable and some have been acknowledged with titles like ‘King of the Street’ and have become role models to inspiring youths.
It is so ironical in the past few months that saying the slang and grooving to Shaku Shaku and leg work has been a requirement for youth to show how cool they are even for other youth in other pop class.
The recognition of the street hop category at the Headies award has led in interesting discussion on recognising street hop as a genre. There has been no unanimous rule on the music genre requirement particularly for African music. Overtime, artistes in this category are casually referred to as afro pop stars.
The major setback faced is the inconsistency of the artistes and how quickly and easily the created trend becomes something of no interest in the years that follow. The artists and their works become ‘fast food’ and within a short while, thrown out into garbage. This is a major criticism in this pop style and there have been speculations on how long the craft can hold on and not lose its grip.
So many might not agree to this but it will be of great importance that the street culture should continue maintaining its underground status and this will be related to a plant. The leaves, flowers and stem symbolises the commercial pop structure while the root represents the street culture. The root is a part that makes the plant stand and allows the flowers and leaves look good to the outside world. When the root becomes infertile, the other parts die. When street culture dies; the commercial pop music declines. When the leaves and flowers are cut off, another one grows back if the fertile root still exists. The Alingo, and Alanta are products of street culture that has made Nigerian afro pop enjoy decades of making history and so much can be said about the street culture in crafting African’s music industry. The commercial interest of these dance steps have declined but street hop still lives on.
Photography by: Stephen Tayo, Medium, Adioh Makinde, Straatosphere
Ogunleye Oluwakorede writes mainly on entertainment, history and socio-economic matters. He has previously released works like album reviews and content information. He is also a music critic and analyst particularly on Nigerian music entertainment.