There is no gainsaying the fact that the Nigerian music industry has grown in leaps and bounds. If ever there was any doubt that Nigerian musicians were now the toasts of the world, the recent Grammy Award win by Burna Boy put paid to that.
However, as the industry seems to be growing daily, there is an ugly aspect that is giving a lot of people cause for concern. Many music videos by Nigerian artistes have been described as ‘soft porn’ by many because of the display of near nudity in them.
Music videos such as ‘Bounce’ (Rema), ‘Agege’ (Tekno), ‘Looking Nyash’ (Flavour) and ‘Idi Oremi’ (Naira Marley) are filled with scantily dressed ladies who leave nothing to the imagination. Also, quite a number of songs brazenly promote drug abuse and Internet fraud. Examples are ‘Cash App’ (Bella Shmurda) and ‘Coming’ (Naira Marley). Though some of these videos have been banned by the National Broadcasting Commission, they can be viewed on cable TV and on the Internet.
Over the cause of the past few months, several Saturday Beats readers had sent in messages, complaining about the use of vulgar lyrics and raunchy music videos by Nigerian artistes. A particular reader, Ademoye Kazeem, stated that the situation had got so bad that he banned his children from watching certain stations and channels. He said, “The kind of lyrics in many Nigerian songs is not good at all. They are full of vulgar messages, even as they encourage listeners to engage in social vices such as drunkenness, prostitution and smoking. It has got to a point that I use the parental control feature on the cable TV at home. I also banned everyone in my house, both children and adults, from watching certain channels. I don’t want them to be polluted by those horrible images.”
An educationist, Biodun Shonubi, told Saturday Beats that lewd lyrics and videos had a negative impact on children. In an interview with our correspondent, he said, “What is happening is not good at all. Children listen to those lyrics and watch the videos and see all manner of things.
“Now, many children repeat those vulgar words without even knowing the meaning. In the school where I work, we constantly correct these kids, telling them that if they don’t know the meaning of a word, they should not use it. Unfortunately, the media is not also helping issues. Those videos are practically shown on every station one tunes to. Even if those raunchy videos are to be played, they should be shown at night when children would most likely have gone to bed. But, regardless of what time it is, those videos are shown to members of the public, including impressionable minds. It is also sad that society celebrates musicians who propagate such vices. Many children see these musicians as role models and want to copy everything they do.”
Shonubi also berated musicians who felt their songs would not be popular if they did not use vulgar lyrics. He said, “Not all musicians have to sing that way. Someone like Teni D’Entertainer mostly makes songs with ‘clean’ lyrics and videos, yet she is doing well in her career.”
Another teacher, Victoria Kolaosho, described the preponderance of lewd lyrics and videos as a ‘cancer that was eating the soul of society’. She said, “I am an elementary school teacher and this issue is a big concern for me. Early this year, I was shocked to see a nine-year-old female student giving a ‘lap dance’ to a classmate. I initially thought it was something she had seen her parents doing, but the little girl in question stated that she was only practising what she saw in a music video. I had to call her parents immediately and report the incident to them. They then promised to be more careful and intentional about the things their children listen to and watch.”
A youth coach, Tade Borokini, also noted that the near x-rated content of many music videos had a correlation with the increase in drug abuse in society. He said, “I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist but the country is practically sitting on a keg of gunpowder. As a youth coach, I am taking care of more than 10 teenagers who are in the grips of hard drugs. Many of them are in rehabilitation centres, trying to break their addiction to drugs.
“There are many youths out there who are basically walking corpses because of the harmful substances they put in their system. Sadly, entertainers are not helping manners. These days, you would rarely find music videos where they are not drinking, smoking and taking drugs. This is in addition to the near-nakedness that is always on full display in such videos. Many people don’t seem to realise this but the youths, who are the future and glory of this nation, are being damaged psychologically.”
Borokini also stated that parents had to rise up to the occasion and monitor their children more closely. “Right now, the onus is on parents to take proper care of their homes. The family is the primary unit of society and it is said that ‘charity begins at home’. Parents should take active interest in the kind of content their children have access to. Children learn more from what they see, rather than what they hear. Thankfully, most TV programmes are age-categorised. As a parent, one must make sure that one’s children don’t watch or listen to content that is not appropriate for their age,” he said.
In a similar vein, a psychologist and a former Vice President of the National Association of Clinical Psychologists, Afolabi Aroyewun, stated that lewd lyrics, images and videos had negative impacts on the minds of children. He said, “Even children that are still growing and cannot talk can be affected by such videos. At that stage, they are observing everything going on around them and forming an idea of what is good and bad. If what they see is nudity everywhere— on TVs and even billboards when they go out— they would have a warped idea of human beings and human nature.
“Through these acts, certain seeds are being sown in the minds of the coming generation. All these things on television are forms of culture reengineering. The Westerners that started such were trying to reengineer our culture, humanity and focus. Unfortunately, we bought it hook, line and sinker. This amounts to putting the next generation in ‘trouble’ because of what we are feeding their minds. The only reaction to vulgar lyrics can only be negative. With such lewd videos, even marriages are no longer safe. Things that should be covered are now displayed in the open for all to see. Little wonder that ‘baby mamas’ seem to be on the rise. I work on a campus and you need to see the sort of dresses some students wear, as if they are going to the nightclub. All these things are interwoven and have a spiral effect. We really need to pause and take stock of the kind of message we are passing to the younger generation.”
Aroyewun also stated that the only way out was to have a ‘culture reengineering’. He said, “The solution is for us to start our own reengineering programme. It may be difficult initially but we would get it done in due time. It is a long-term project; not something that can be done quickly. It takes a long time to re-orientate people.”
Another psychologist, Freda Nwabudike, noted with dismay that many artistes even went beyond music videos to propagate vices on social media. She said, “As a mother of three young daughters, this is a matter that gives me much concern. It is disheartening that beyond music videos, some of these artistes also go on social media to say all sorts. Recently, a controversial artiste, Naira Marley, took to social media to say he wanted to sleep with a mother and daughter at the same time. I was pleased that Nigerians, including other celebrities, called him out for that statement, which I consider to be very irresponsible. I would like to see more cases where celebrities are called out if they say or do anything untoward. If this trend is allowed to continue, the coming generation would begin to see certain irresponsible acts as being normal. They would have been desensitised to certain things that should not have a place in a decent society.”
Meanwhile, the President of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, Pretty Okafor, noted that it was not the job of his association to regulate the intellectual property of musicians. He said, “It is actually the work of the National Broadcasting Commission to regulate how such content are aired. We are a trade union and we are supposed to safeguard the interests of musicians. PMAN does not have the power to regulate the creative content of any musician. However, in recent times, it seems like they (NBC) are either not working or don’t know what is happening in the industry.
‘‘We can only advise musicians about the effect certain lyrics have on society, especially the young ones.”
Meanwhile, a music critic and analyst, Nnamdi Okafor, was of the view that musicians were at liberty to make whatever kind of music they wanted. He said, “I believe that musicians have the right to make whatever kind of music catches their fancy. After all, they don’t force anyone to listen to their songs. It is the duty of parents, teachers and other people who take care of children to determine what their wards watch and listen to. However, some parents like to push their responsibilities to teachers and other people, without playing their parts. I agree that quite a number of artistes use vulgar lyrics but those songs are not meant for children. It is not compulsory for kids to watch music videos. They can always watch cartoons.”
Okafor also added that the kinds of songs in circulation were a reflection of the values of the larger society. He said, “People are just being hypocritical. If you say musicians are the ones polluting the minds of young ones, what would you then say of politicians? Every day, we hear stories of politicians embezzling huge sums of money meant for the entire populace. Does that not pass a negative image to the youths? The news is saturated with reports of mindless kidnappings, killings, robberies and other negative acts. I think it is things like that that should capture our attention; not the content of songs. Generally, there is a huge moral deficit in the country and it would be wrong to place the blame at the feet of musicians.
“It should also be noted that the music industry is governed by the rules of supply and demand. There are a lot of message-laden and ‘clean’ songs out there. Have you ever wondered why they are not as popular as the vulgar ones? It is because that is what people like. If people don’t like songs with lewd lyrics and videos, they should stop demanding for them.”
Meanwhile, a message sent to the official website of the NBC, www.nbc.gov.ng, was not responded to as of the time of filing this report.
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