Why foreign media have a different perspective of Nigerian albums

In the space of one week, two albums of two separate Nigerian singers were adjudged by the foreign media to be one of the most outstanding albums across the globe but opinions appear divided on such public sentiments.

Popular UK-based media outfit, Guardian, ranked Wizkid’s November-released Made in Lagos album as one of the top 50 albums of the world for the year 2020. The top 50 albums list which was released on December 1 had Wizkid, born Ayo Balogun, on number 43 and was the only African artiste on the list, even though the outfit acknowledged other Nigerian stars such as Burna Boy, Davido and Tiwa Savage.

Three days earlier, Time magazine had named Tiwa Savage’s third studio album, Celia, as one of the best 10 albums of the year across the globe. The singer herself wasted no time in celebrating such recognition, taking to social media to appreciate Time while throwing a subtle allusive jab at local media, implying that she is not honoured and appreciated enough in her home country, especially on her latest discography.

This then begs the question as to how foreign media perceive musical works of Nigerian artistes when compared with how local fans receive such works.

Obviously, Tiwa Savage does not think her album is held in the same esteem she thinks it should. And going by popular opinions on social media and streaming numbers, ‘Celia’ is a bit behind some other albums. Even ‘Made in Lagos’ would be met with war if it were to claim to be the outright best Nigerian album of the year.

Nonetheless, there are reasons for the distinct perspective of foreign reviews which may not necessarily conform with popular opinion among Nigerians.

Culture

Our review of Wizkid’s Made in Lagos album at YNaija established that the album speaks to a surprising audience, particularly in the UK and the US. And it is therefore not incredible that the Guardian UK rates it as the only worthy African album to be included on its best 50 albums across the world. While the album has been met with impressive reception in Wizkid’s home country, the Guardian’s opinion takes it beyond the rooftop.

International ambition

Also, many singers now chase foreign accolades and they are increasingly imbibing foreign genres, often at the detriment of the local fan base and taste. Burna Boy’s quest for a Grammy gong is well documented while Wizkid has often positioned himself through foreign collaborations as an Afrobeat champion. It would not be surprising if Tiwa Savage’s next project leans heavily towards Western culture than Afrobeats.

More artistes also nurse ambitions of going ‘international’ while some silently crave having Grammy nomination.  

Possible PR

Many Nigerians stars are now signed to international music labels with foreign music executives realising the huge Nigerian music market. Burna Boy is signed to Atlantic Records a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, Davido to Sony Music, Tiwa Savage to Universal, Olamide and Fireboy to Empire Distribution.

Being foreign-based labels, the onus is on these music outfits to promote their artistes and oftentimes, PR moves are evident across the media especially when a signed artiste just releases a body of work.

In the bid to promote such artiste using ‘global’ media, reviews may appear out of the roof and even coincide with local perspectives.

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