As a music artist with the vision of influencing a culture, it’s not enough to release music, you might need to include entertaining dance steps with your art. Dance steps have developed a great effect in the music culture in Nigeria, this has gone beyond listeners displaying them in parties and clubs, it has become trending tools for music artist to gain a presence in this digital age. The global presence Nigerian music is enjoying now can is attributed to these dance trends hip-hop artists from all part of the country release daily. Every day, various music blogs across Nigeria publish songs released by Nigerian artists. A blog like NotJustOk release a minimum of 3 songs per day; to think we have over fifty top music blogs in Nigeria. To be ahead in the industry, artists need to be more creative. Reuters recently agree that “just like the famous “Nollywood” film industry, music is now big business in Africa’s most populous nation”.
Nigeria is one of the 10 most populous nations in the world, and as such have a considerable market for entertainment products. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Nigeria has one of the fastest-growing markets in the entertainment and media industry, they state this in its 2016 to 2020 Entertainment and Media Outlook report for South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. In that same report, PwC forecasted the music industry’s revenue to grow to $88 million in 2019.
The internet, especially video support platforms like YouTube and Instagram, has contributed greatly in making these various dance steps, including the music by some of these hip-hop artists, go viral. According to PWC, Nigeria emerges as the country with the highest reliance on the internet for revenue in Africa, apparently, I can say same about going viral. According to Google’s report on Nigeria search index in 2018, one of the most trending searches on Google is Shaku Shaku, a popular dance step that has found its way into the music culture of Nigerians.
Many dance steps we have in Nigeria, emanated from the diverse cultures within the continent.
A brief look into early dance steps that paved the way for some artist, will give us an insight into the efficacy of dance trends in influencing a musical culture.
One artist that comes to mind when mentioning the pioneers of those who utilized dance trends with music, is the popular Awilo Longomba, the Congolese star, who popularized the dance, Makossa. Although Makossa has existed among the locality of Francophone speaking region, Awilo and his team through his music helped to export the dance step across Africa, especially in Nigeria. And once we accepted it in Nigeria, it became a trend and a wave, partly, this is so because of the numbers Nigeria boast of. With Awilo’s hit track, Gate le coin, featuring the viral dance step, Makossa, the video on YouTube generated over 6million views uploaded many years after its release. Although the song and dance steps were released (the 2000s) long before digital media was popular across Africa, they accepted it, as Awilo made use of music tours and concerts to make the dance a trend. He and his team toured the continent, carrying the dance step along.
Apparently, after seeing the success dance steps as Makossa and Galala has recorded, music label like Kennis Music, took no time to spot the creative talent of their signed artist, Olu Maintain. Olu Maintain introduced his dance step Yahooze, which was released 10years ago (2008). The dance and song were one of the most successful dance trends that have left the shores of this country-continent. Although the song which was released in the time when social media was not popular, succeeded to be accepted in the heart of many and stayed at the top of the music chart for many months. The success of the dance trend was evident as it got the then US Secretary of State, Colin Powell to do the dance when he came on a state visit to Abuja, Nigeria, in 2009. On YouTube, the official video of the song has over 3million views. While national trending dance steps like Galala and Suo, made popular by Daddy Showky, could not make it to the international stage, Olu Maintain’s Yahooze got that global recognition.
Soon emerged the popular Azonto dance step, a dance that was originally credited to the Ghanaians, was slightly introduced by Ghana’s popular hip-hop artist, Fuse ODG, with his hit track Azonto. However, the song and dance were given more global and international acceptance when Wizkid, then signed under the ousted EME records, released a viral video to his song also titled Azonto. Wizkid took the leg-and-finger dance step to the far ends of Africa and the UK. Both Fuse and Wizkid song generated over 40million views on YouTube, with over 70,000 posts on Azonto on Instagram.
2014 was a year of dance trends in Nigeria as music artist were creative. A dance to look at is the Shoki dance step, arguably the biggest dance for more than 10years. The dance was a trend, big enough to break out an artist like Lil’Kesh, credited to have created the dance trend. Lil Kesh who was an upcoming artist from Agege, a part in Lagos, released his hit track Shoki in 2014, and soon became everyone’s favourite, both locally and internationally. Due to the popularity of the song and the uniqueness of the dance, he was invited to events and interviews both locally and internationally. His record label YBNL, owned by popular music artist Olamide Adedeji, claim that “that was the greatest year recorded with spontaneous calls and invite to shows for our artist; everyone wanted Lil’Kesh to perform at their event”. Although, as at the year of releasing the song (2014), the most popular social media video platform was YouTube, Lil Kesh Shoki dance video garnered over 11 million views.
Still, in 2014, Davido released a popular song, with a dance step called Skelewu. The song and dance were popular at that moment. The Skelewu video gained over 25million views for Davido and took the artist far and wide, beyond his imagination. Same way, a Nigerian MC, known as MC Galaxy, ventured into the music scene with his new dance style called Sekem. The dance trend successfully made MC Galaxy a star of the moment, as his song and style were generally accepted, as an upcoming artist, the official video to Sekem gathered over 8million views, a massive success for an artist just entering the music scene for the first time. But both Skelewu and Sekem were short-lived, as none could match the success that Lil Kesh’s Shoki dance was recording.
It is imperative to state here that, there was a time, during 2013-2015, when many labels were in serious search for an artist that is creative enough to utilize the power of dance trends, to make their music go viral. For instance, MMMG record label boss, Ubi Franklin, recalls how he was always telling his team to come up with a dance that could go viral. Iyanya, one of his artist released a song with a dance step, ‘Etige’, that went viral.
Lastly, the wave of the moment to look at is the Shaku Shaku dance. This dance trend has taken the whole continent and industry by storm, apparently, this is partly due to the massive spread of the internet in Nigeria and Africa, and the many digital media platforms available. They say Shaku Shaku came from the same region Shoki emanated from, Agege, Lagos. The dance trend has successfully brought so many unknown artists into the limelight. Artist like Mr Real and Slim Case are recording successes in the music career, through the Shaku Shaku dance trend. An act like Mr Real went viral with his song ‘Legbegbe’, which featured some Shaku Shaku moves. His video on YouTube generated more than 8millon views, in 8months. Both Artists confirmed that the Shaku Shaku dance played a great role in the success of their music. When asked if given another opportunity to use dance trends to go viral, if he would do it, Slim Case responded that he will gladly do that. According to Case, he is working on a new dance step he is trying to make go viral, he calls this one Kalamo Dance. Making a dance step go viral comes with a lot of creativity and awareness. People only respond to what they see regularly. According to research in HBR 2018 Sprint copy, something only sticks to the minds of people when they have seen it over seven times. Hence, in this digital world, this is possible.
Digital media and social media platforms have contributed immensely into making these dance and songs go viral. However, both YouTube and Instagram are the major driving tools. Google has indexed over 2500 sites with ‘Shaku Shaku’ keyword and records millions of search on the word ‘Shaku Shaku’ every month. There are over 2000 dance videos of Shaku Shaku on YouTube. On Instagram, Shaku Shaku has generated over 117,000 posts, apparently the highest for a dance trend in the continent.
“With the advent of social media the music is more readily available outside, beyond the shores of the country,” said Deji Awokoya, general manager of Megaletrics Ltd which operates three Lagos radio stations and operates another in Britain’s capital, London, two years ago.
Copyright content: Glitz Plus Entertainment