Seun Kuti, Afrobeat musician, says most “real artistes” are not financially successfully and are hardly known.
In an interview with U.S-based Revolt TV, Kuti noted that there’s a difference between entertainers and artistes, saying the latter owe a responsibility to their community to pass meaningful messages through their art.
Entertainers on the other hand, he believes, have no depth as they are packaged for mainstream media as art.
“Well, I think all my albums have been socially and politically charged. I don’t think I’ve written a song that didn’t have some kind of political meaning ever in my life. Maybe one song, ‘Fire dance’. Probably in my first record. I didn’t want to come off as too serious so I was like ‘let’s put a song about nothing’ but since then I haven’t been able to bring myself to write that kind of song again.
“For me, it’s not just about making an album, it’s about the responsibility of art to the society. Art has a responsibility. Most people forget that. They think ‘oh, I’m an artist’. Well, to be honest, most real artists are not even famous, most real artists are not successful financially, commercially.
“Most people that are called artistes are really just entertainers. There’s no depth to them. They are just entertainers, people write their songs for them, and they are packaged like a product and are sold to people on mainstream media as art. But there is really no depth, and when there is no depth, it can’t be art. So I believe that true artists know that they owe a responsibility to their community.
The son of Fela Kuti, Afrobeat progenitor, also said Nigerian artistes are not singing his father’s creation as they are mostly doing pop music.
Seun Kuti said Nigerian artistes are afraid to compete with their foreign counterparts doing pop music, hence, they seek refuge under the umbrella of Afrobeat.
“I don’t think this is really Afrobeat music, it’s pop music. I don’t think this music is Afrobeat, it doesn’t stand for Afrobeat, it’s not Afrobeat in any way, shape, form, in terms of composition, in terms of arrangement, in terms of message. It’s pop music.
“But they are afraid to compete with American pop musicians, try to come as if ‘oh, we’re different’ but it’s all pop music. So I won’t be surprised if Wizkid is able to make it to Billboard because it is pop music and it will relate. They are making the same mistake trying to pander. They are talented, they have good music, they have catchy lyrics, so sell yourself based on your strength. Don’t pander, don’t be scared.
The leader of Egypt 80 band further noted that his music hardly gets radio airplay because of the brashness of his message.
“Like me, I don’t get radio play. My music is not ‘radio friendly’ as they say. I will never get that kind of mainstream push. But I play to new audiences’ every day. And I’m only able to do that because I believe in what I’m doing and I assert the importance of my art,” he added.
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