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Grammys showcase Nigeria’s ‘soft power’ on world stage

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When artists step onto the stage for the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, all except one of the nominees for the newly created Best African Music category will be Nigerians.

For the country’s creative industry leaders, the dominance of Afrobeats stars like Burna Boy and Ayra Starr at music’s biggest accolade is recognition of Nigeria’s growing “soft power” influence — and not just in music.

From Paris hotel lobbies to Mexico City nightclubs, the Afrobeats sounds of Nigeria’s hottest stars get played far from the streets of Lagos, as “naija” culture crosses increasingly into the mainstream.

Even before the Grammys, Nigerian stars were already selling out London’s O2 Arena and collaborating with global names like Selena Gomez and Drake.

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“Some people think it is a wave, I think it is the beginning of the future. What has happened is the soft power has kind of evolved on its own,” said Obi Asika, a record executive recently named director of the National Council for Arts and Culture. “Music is the driving force, but with the music comes what I call Afrobeats culture, so you get the fashion, you get the dance, you get the attitude.”

With his blend of Nigerian pidgin and Yoruba lyrics, Burna Boy, who already won a Grammy, is nominated for four awards this year. Artists Asake and Olamide are nominated for “Amapiano” — referring to South Africa’s own popular genre.

Davido is nominated three times, including for his African award title “Unavailable”. Female singer Starr is up for her title “Rush”. “African music has been dominant for years, if you are asking me if we should have gotten recognition since? Definitely,” Davido told France24..

“I always knew that if we were given the opportunity to be heard, I always knew people would love it. The culture as a whole. Not only music, food, fashion, and the list goes on.”

‘Long time coming’

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Nigerian music executive Motolani Alake said the Grammy category was a “long time coming”, not just for Nigeria but for Africa. “It can’t be anything than a blessing for Africa,” he said.

Afrobeats is not new — more than a decade of work is behind its growth as a genre — but interest from abroad has exploded in recent years.

Much of the overseas interest in Nigerian music traces back to Fela Kuti, the 1970s Afrobeat star who won applause for his new sound and stage presence.

Nigeria’s large diaspora in Britain and the United States has also been key in its wider popularity, said music historian and documentary maker Ed Keazor.

With a population of around 200 million — 20 million in Lagos alone — and most Nigerians under the age of 30, demographics also have a part.

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Siya Metane, at South African music publication SlikourOnLife, said Nigeria’s proximity to London, large diaspora and especially the work, investment and collaborations with global stars paid off.

“All of those things are ingredients for a genre to really start spreading out and reaching the whole world,” Metane said.

Abuchi Ugwu, chief executive of one of Nigeria’s largest labels Chocolate City, said the Grammy category is “acknowledgement” but argued African musicians should be competing head-to-head with other stars. “Africa is not just Afrobeats,” he said.

Music is not the only area where Nigerian creativity is gaining visibility — Nollywood, its prolific movie industry, is reaching a more global market.

The Oscars Academy last year invited a group of Nollywood directors, writers and an actor to its membership, including CJ Obasi whose film “Mami Wata” won a prize at Sundance.

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Chike unveils third studio album ‘Son of Chike’

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Chike unveils third studio album ‘Son of Chike’

Nigerian music star Chike-Ezekpeazu Osebuka popularly known as Chike, has unveiled his third studio album titled ‘Son of Chike’.

The songwriter announced the project’s release on his social media pages on Friday.

The 12-track project follows the success of his debut album, ‘Boo of the Booless’ (2020), and his sophomore body of work, ‘The Brother’s Keeper’ (2022).

Speaking about the album, Chike described the project as a “celebration of his heritage and identity”.

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He also said the body of work adds to the legacy of music and culture passed down from previous generations.

“I am Osebuka, the son of my father, and this album symbolizes and celebrates my heritage and identity as a #SonOfChike and my new musical offspring joining the ranks of those that came before,” he wrote.

The album features tracks such as ‘Unto You’, ‘Lifetime Love’, ‘Apple’, ‘Mma’, ‘Someone’, ‘Your Loss’, ‘Not Your Daddy’, ‘One Day’, ‘Balance Am’, and ‘Man Not God’.

It also includes earlier releases like ‘Ego Oyibo’ and the hit track ‘Egwu’, featuring the late Nigerian singer Mohbad.

The music star collaborated with other notable artistes on the album, including Olamide, Qing Madi, and Ladipoe.

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Chike began his music career in 2015 with his participation in Project Fame.

He then became the first runner-up on The Voice of Nigeria in 2016.

He is currently signed to Brothers Records.

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“Make smart choices” – Tonto Dikeh offers alternatives to youths’ protest plans

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"Make smart choices" - Tonto Dikeh offers alternatives to youths' protest plans

Actress Tonto Dikeh has shared her perspective on the planned Nigerian youth protest scheduled from August 1 to 10.

While she fully acknowledges the right to protest and empathizes with the struggles stemming from the difficult economy, she believes there might be more effective ways to address the issues at hand.

Dikeh expressed her sadness over the rising cost of living, which makes it hard for citizens to manage their expenses despite working hard.

She recalled how the #EndSARS protest against police brutality in 2020 was ultimately derailed by those who caused damage, and suggested that a more constructive approach might be to form a representative group to engage directly with President Bola Tinubu.

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She wrote, “Dear fellow Nigerian youths, I understand your frustrations about our nation’s current state. The price hikes and economic pressures are tough, and many are struggling with increased costs of commuting and living. However, a nationwide protest from August 1-10, 2024, might not be the most effective method right now. This isn’t to undermine the power of protests but to suggest a more strategic approach.

“Instead of protests, I recommend forming a representative group to formally communicate with the President. This group can advocate on our behalf, request a meeting to discuss our concerns, and propose solutions. Engaging in meaningful dialogue and community development can lead to positive change and unity.

“The economic challenges affect us all, and addressing them through peaceful and diplomatic means could be more beneficial. Let’s unite and work towards a better Nigeria. I urge you to consider alternative ways to make your voices heard and to work towards a brighter future.”

She concluded with the caption: “Sometimes we can be right, but how we express ourselves matters. This is a heartfelt plea to all Nigerian youths—LET’S MAKE SMART CHOICES.”

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Cynthia Morgan blasts MAVINS over Rema’s smoking, Ayra Starr’s attire

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Popular Nigerian dancehall artiste, Cynthia Morgan has criticized MAVINS Record for their artiste Rema’s smoking habit and slammed female singer Ayra Starr for her outfit when meeting American actor Will Smith.

Morgan emphasized that life involves more than music and stage performances.

She also warned MAVINS Record about Rema’s cigar smoking, stating she would locate their office if anything happened to him.

Morgan wrote: “Meeting will smith dressed up like that? There is more to life than music and stage performances my dear @ayrastarr

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“And that Rema wey they hold cigar wey he no sabi smoke. If anything happen to that boy mavins I go find una office.”

Ayra Starr recently had dinner with Hollywood star Will Smith in Rome following her impressive performance at Coldplay’s concert.

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