Obviously, one of the latest fads is “The Art of Critiquing.” As usual, everybody is claiming to be masters at it, and all thanks to the new media, we are able to show our abilities off to a lot of people. Without sounding like a whiner, I can say this is the same the world over, at least the part of the world I have been able to have access to, most thanks to the new media also. Naturally, we all have different talents, some can write, some can sing, some can critique, and some can criticize. It would be nice if an individual focuses on their area of strength, but if I decided to sing (you will never catch me singing though, not even at a Karaoke) would it be right for anyone to analyse my performance using Asa as a benchmark? It is this blanket criticizing, disguised as critiquing, that is the crux of this post, and I am going to limit the discourse to the art of music in the land called Nigeria.
First and foremost, in critiquing an artiste’s work, while I agree the obtainable standard for what is deemed as music should be the benchmark, I strongly believe the artiste’s should also be compared to their personal self to fully do justice to the critique. An artiste who has been evolving over the course of his career should be appreciated even if they cannot rub shoulders with the industry leaders. A fitting example here is P-Square. From the Album “Last Nite” from nine years ago down to “The Invasion” which hasn’t really invaded every mind, we can actually trace an upward trajectory in what P-Square does best: sampling expansively, churning out party jams and inundating with superficial love songs. P-Square has decided that is where there strengths lie, and they have decided to stick to it and to always improve in those areas. Moreso, P-Square normally follows their audios with classy videos, and there has to be a huge connect between the audio, the video, and consequent live performances. They are more of all-round entertainers, and this has to be taken cognizance of. To critique P-Square’s album by benchmarking against the likes of TuFace, Darey and Sound Sultan who usually focus more on content, rather than expression, will be tantamount to sheer criticizing. Another artiste in this scenario is 9ice. From “Gongo Aso” which was 9ice’s peak through “Tradition” down to “Versus” and “Bashorun Gaa”, the depth in message, versatility in beats, wit in lyrics, and strength in voice that brought 9ice so much affection and commendation have been on the wane. But if I have to rate “Invasion” against “Bashorun Gaa” both in isolation, I will pick “Bashorun Gaa” as a better album, but if I trace the history of the two artistes, I will commend P-Square for a better work done because while Paul and Peter have been improving their games, 9ice has been wallowing in mediocrity.
Contextually, music as a form of art is so ubiquitous to the point where you cannot put a definite form to it. There are different genres to it and at different times, an avant-garde form might crop up serving some particular purposes. First to the mind here is TerryG who has totally disregarded coherence and logicality in lyrics thereby turning madness to an art. But the universality of music which made Nigerians, in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, to embrace Awilo Longomba’s “Coupe Bibamba” and Magic System’s “Lepa Gaou” without understanding a word of what they say also excuses TerryG’s antics in the name of music. TerryG does not pretend he is into making music, he is only into enunciating sounds, thus it will be unjust for anyone to critique his works based on the necessary parameters of good music. Thus, to critique such work, just consider acceptability from the target audience and let us move on. This actually applies to most of the artistes out there who are victims of self-delusion calling themselves musicians while they are more or less clowns without the costumes.
In synopsis, inasmuch as we call ourselves music connoisseurs because we have a large collection of music and we have an ear for beats and a brain to dissect the lyrics, the bitter truth is there is just so much music, there is so much to music and there is so little we can do about streamlining everything into discrete and distinct categories. The more we try to see through the eyes of the artiste, and consider as many factors as possible, the better we are at critiquing.
God Bless Us All!!
See You Next Time!!!