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Is today’s African popular music too obscene?

By The Africa Report
Posted on Monday, 15 February 2016 11:24

Yes African culture can be quite prudish when it comes to having an open discussion on ‘bedroom matters’ pertaining to intimacy. I love music so it was quite surreal and rather disappointing when it seemed that out of the blue, lyrics to some of the songs by some of our popular artistes took on quite a vulgar and obscene turn in a bid to blend in with Western culture. From our unique rhythms and beats to our catchy lyrics there is so much inspiration that our musical artists can draw from to showcase the beauty of our continent. So when some of the lyrics took on a rather obscene twist, I had to re-evaluate whether I wanted to continue being a connoisseur of this kind of music, which didn’t reflect my values or my morals. It’s refreshing to see the discourse is changing thanks to the brilliance of artistes like M.anifest, Sarkodie (I am currently loving his song ‘Bra’ which is a beautiful celebration of love featuring the legendary Ghanaian music genius Pat Thomas) as well as newbie on the scene Adomaa who announced her presence on the music scene with her ‘Evolution of GH Music.’ Alongside a host of many other artists, they are such a breath of fresh air on the music scene and are doing so much to portray the continent’s music in a positive light. ● Angie Broks, Educator and Fashion and Beauty blogger.

No I would have to disagree. To describe the popular music scene as obscene is a rather extreme sweeping generalisation, and a diversion from what the real challenges are. Yes, there are many songs with sexual innuendos and music videos that work the ‘sex sells’ angle but there are also myriad songs which have many different angles: love, struggle, aspirations, inspiration, etc. A good number of songs that have dominated and captured the imaginations of Africans in the past two years have been anything but obscene. But sure, you could turn on the radio or television and the same ten songs with clichéd sexual innuendos, often copied and pasted from America, dominate and get more play than Messi would in a division three football match. The second problem is that in a bid to succeed artists are driven to join the fray of clichéd sexual tropes – reaching for low-hanging fruit. In this era of memes and trending topics it’s controversy over art, basic over clever, imitation over originality. Maybe we can ask other questions such as why is our music going in one direction? No pun intended. Do we support and regard music as art on a level that allows the best of our songwriters and musicians to flourish and result in balance? ● M.ANIFEST, Award-winning Ghanaian rapper and songwriter.

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