Nigerian music and its very many accents

Six decades of colonial experience took a lot from Nigeria. The exploitative world economic system that emerged after also set the tone for a national economy that thrived solely on loans and importation. It’s been nearly another six decades since independence and we are still borrowing and importing everything. Including our accents.

The American recession of the mid-2000s saw the homecoming of many Nigerian artists who couldn’t hit the big time in the states. This birthed the first wave of Nigerian IJGBs (I just got back) who took the industry by storm. Other Nigerians in diaspora quickly saw the opportunity that lay in the entertainment scene and began returning home instead of competing as underdogs elsewhere. These artists came packing their Americo-Nigerian accents and they quickly gained some measure of fame. Many careers that existed before their arrival faded into the background and the industry grew at an exponential pace.

The sudden changes were unprecedented, new standards for cool were set and homegrown artists have never been more confused.

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This marked the genesis of the language virus of faux-accents and ambiguous intonations in Nigerian music. In a bid to emulate their better exposed IJGB counterparts, many Nigerian artists became Avatars of fake accents. Masters of all elements of English language of every origin. The fluidity of their mastery is so profound, they sometimes switch between language forms within the same breath. This is most demonstrated during interviews, conversations and Instagram videos.

Surprisingly this language versatility does not affect their music. Much to our dismay, the music is still largely rendered in Nigerian English and colloquial slangs. Clearly these borrowed accents are proof of an industry struggling to tie celebrity culture with a healthy regard for public relations and image representation.

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