Remember times when the definition of cool was being trendy with western entertainment, having no affiliation whatsoever with Nigerian the entertainment scene particularly when it comes to movies and music? and for you to be defined as cool, you had to have invested much of your time in Western music and Hollywood movies.
The ‘new cool’ then was not simply identifying with Nigerian movies and music— and doing such would only earn you the look of reproach, possibly tagged as razz and local, one not knowing ‘what’s up’.
Memories like this has this writer cackling up, wondering why we deprived ourselves of so much good from the Nigerian entertainment scene. While we’re finally glad we caught the bug of what good is left in the Nigerian music and movie scene, we shake heads for ignorant days of avoiding it.
You really couldn’t blame us, particularly in the conversation of Nollywood movies — the silliness of production from those days were unrefined, predictable and cliche; they provided comfort however to the old but as youths and growing teenagers, the recoiling thoughts of watching a movie so laced with mediocrity was a no-no. Why watch a movie filled with seasoned actors such as Patience Ozokwor, Sam Loco, Nkem Owoh and sit through a 2-hour movie, watching slap-sticks and plots that bore no definite intention at the end of the day.
For us, growing adults, it was always welcoming to pick Hollywood romance, blockbuster, thrillers and suspense movies— because it was simply just ‘cool’ to be an avid follower of the industry.
When you typically think of the reason as to why Nigerians at some point never really identified with the Nigerian music, or cared enough to invest time giving our artists much listen time, you’ll realize it was a ‘trend’ thing— as was with movies too.
The culture of ‘new cool’ heightened our sense of ignorance to appreciating these things because reminiscing now, you’ll understand that production those days were also good— perhaps not as washed-up as music and movies of today, but the effort remains undenied.
Perhaps, one of the regrets we wish in this new year and time is how we never really got to relinquish music and movies of those days — little wonder, we cherish throwback Naija songs and often find ourselves intrigued with Nollywood movies often available on YouTube viewing app.
These days, the Nigerian music industry is placing on a sterling plate, seasoned artists who are worth their onions; artists who are not afraid to explore with sounds and take on the country by storm.
We have moved, from gushing over the beauty of western music to understanding that Nigerian afropop scene is equally as good, understanding that our artists aren’t confined to the space of afrobeats and pop, they too can make ecstatic music that explores outside the acclaimed genre of Africa and Nigeria as a country— they can lean into RnB, soul music, amongst others.
One of the most memorable one is how we never really understood highlife, apala or even fuji and juju music or appreciated it till now; and with the emergence of artists taking wilfully this genre, we now embrace heartedly, this genre and locking it into our young soul— perhaps after all, dining with the spirits of the old through it.
Thankful for producers like Jade Osiberu, Charles Okpakpale, Biodun Stephen, Kemi Adetiba, Kunle Afolayan and other mind-blowing movie film makers who have taken Nollywood to the next level! They have brought so much suspense and thrill to Nollywood movies, taking us outside the predictable plotting of a typical old Nollywood movie.
While it is said that Rome was never built in a day, getting to this level was not a day’s feat— we first had to wade through movies that generally were distinct in plotting and purpose before getting to a level of getting into movie platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, Showmax and Prime.
The thrill of watching high fashion sense, diverse acting and creative plotting of a Hollywood movie is now adopted into Nollywood movies. Although issues may still lie with the exaggeration of Western influence in our movies, creating unrealistic setting, it still remains that improvement has occurred— and there is better willingness to sit still for over an hour in a Cinema, snacking on popcorn and laughing to the comical brilliance of Wedding Party.
Commenting on The Wedding Party, it’s okay to reflect and realize that the Nollywood industry took a very big swerve after the drop of the blockbuster movie. Featuring actors such as Adesua Etomo-Wellington, Bankole Wellington, Sola Sobowale, Frank Donga, Ireti Doyle, Richard Mofe Damijo, amongst others, the movie essentially highlighted a Nigerian wedding between two major tribes in the country— the rom-com movie for days, weeks and months after its release was a trending film, amassing high viewership in the cinemas and earning high praise from movie critics.
The Nollywood scene never remained the same after that— tons of movies have dropped, there no longer is an objection to the production mastery of these films and everyone is on the bandwagon of appreciating Nollywood movies, even more.
There also is the recent remake of old Nollywood movies that though most of us didn’t have access to as kids, we consider quite enjoyable— relinquishing a 1998 or 1995 produced movie in this contemporary times (did you see the masterpiece called Living In Bondage, Breaking Free?, or even Rattlesnake:The AhannaStory— both directed by actor, Ramsey Nouah and produced by Charles Okpakpale).
However, when we think of the cringe towards the old entertainment industry, we can possibly conclude that it was what got us to this level— this satisfactory level of embracing Nollywood and immersing ourselves into the melodies of Nigerian music.
Quite alright, some of us still have a thing for Western music but coupled with our love for that, we have learnt to make space for Nigerian music, comprehending that it is an equally good scene with seasoned artists.
Come few years from now, with the new cool being the fresh air of Nigerian movie and music, the shape of Nigerian entertainment industry will tilt to an even better angle, promising creatives will fill these areas to the brim and we’ll finally that level where no one would consider our entertainment, ‘razz and uncool’ — none at all.