South Africans want answers.
The release of Burna Boy‘s latest album, aptly titled African Giant, has opened a rather robust conversation on South African Twitter. The Nigerian star’s album isn’t only great, but it boasts features from US superstars Future, YG, Jorjia Smith and Jeremih, Damian Marley among African icons such as M.anifest and Angelique Kidjo. This is becoming a norm for Nigerian artists. Davido dropped a single featuring Chris Brown on the same day. Wizkid is on Jeezy‘s 2017 album Pressure. The Nigerian popstar’s Sounds From The Other Side project featured the likes of Trey Songz, Drake, Major Lazerand Ty Dolla $ign.
South Africa, which also has one of the biggest music industries on the continent, has had a reasonable number of contemporary artists rubbing shoulders with US superstars and get a bit of shine. From Nasty C’s collaborations with French Montana, A$AP Ferg, and upcoming ones with No I.D. and T.I., to Cassper Nyovest working with Black Thought, The Game, Talib Kweli and many others, South Africa has refused to get left behind. There are plenty of examples, including Saudi, Sjava, Yugen Blakrok and Babes Wodumo appearing on the Black Panther soundtrack last year, and recently Busiswa and Moonchild appearing on the Lion King one, curated by Beyoncé.
But, beyond collaborations, Naija artists are a thing in the US and the UK. Compared to recent South African albums, Nigerian artists have released albums that get serious recognition worldwide.
South Africans’ not so much.
So word on the streets have it that East and South Africans believe that Nigerian artists are flying because they are united, and support each other.
Leemao. Don’t allow our dope music, PR, organic distribution, and superb management fool you.
We ain’t that united o. Hustle o!
For the last few days, South Africans on Twitter have been scratching their heads, wondering just what it is that Nigerians get right that they don’t. The reasons have varied, from how Nigerians make “authentic” African music, to how South African artists aren’t united.
The frustrations come from the fact that, in the 70s, 80s and going into the 90s, South Africa had a reasonable number of internationally recognized musicians—think of the likes of Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba (alongside Fela Kuti of course). Masekela even managed to score a Billboard chart topper with “Grazing in the Grass” in July 1968. Nigerians, are however, frequenting those platforms in present day more than South Africans.
Last year, when we interviewed Kiddominant, he told us he felt Afrobeats would be mainstream in the US “in three years.” We asked him why he thought Nigerian artists succeed globally. His answer was:
“I think, as Nigerians, we work 10 times harder than the average African. Trust me, it’s in our DNA, we are hustlers, man. So it’s the extra mile artists are going pushing their music. And also the fact that in places like the UK and the States, the population of Nigerians there is very high. So we share our music with people around us, eventually it spreads out.”
Below are some tweets from South Africans (and Nigerians) trying to make sense of just why SA artists aren’t as big as Naija artists globally.
Too gone. We could have the same thing but nah, we would rather fight amongst ourselves and cut down our airplay to cut the reach. Disrepect our own sound and artists. That’s our vibe here. Niggas not playing your music cause they don’t like you, you know? Those vibes. We lost! https://twitter.com/Sox_Live/status/1154661235926941696 …#uBabesWeLips@Sox_Live
Davido chilling with Chris Brown and having a song with him. Wizkid featured by Beyoncè. Then Burna Boy. West Africans are gone!
Artists don’t mean an industry. You’re going off on a tangent…
Exiled SA artists that got to tour Europe and America with any modderate success made good money. They returned to retire and the state supported them and so did big business because of they enhanced stature. https://twitter.com/sizwedhlomo/status/1155364129185685505 …
Every now and again I think back to the fact that D’Banj made the first movements in getting Nigerian music recognised in the mainstream and he just didn’t have the team to help him properly ride the wave. https://twitter.com/sakpo007/status/1152104533964873728 …OWOSENI SAMUEL SEYI@Sakpo007
Wizkid – African G.O.A.T
Burna Boy – African Giant
Tiwa Savage – African Queen #TheGiftAlbum