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The Yoruba Influence and Dominance in the Nigerian Music Industry


The music of Nigeria includes many kinds of folk and popular music.
Styles of folk music are related to the multitudes of ethnic groups in the country. Each group with their own instruments, sounds and cultural background of music. The Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba are the largest ethnic groups in the country.

Yoruba music has become the most important component of modern Nigerian popular music, as a result of its early external influence. These influences stemmed from the importation of brass instruments, sheet music, Islamic percussion and styles brought by Brazilian merchants.

In both Nigeria’s most populous city, Lagos, and the largest city of Ibadan, these multicultural traditions were brought together and became the root of Nigerian popular music.

Afrobeats, the leading genre of Nigerian music was given birth to by the great Fela Kuti who is from the Yoruba lands. In the 1970s, Fela fused James Brown’s funk, traditional West African dance rhythms with jazz and his own style to lay the blueprint of the modern sound. The sound from the days of Fela is not the same as today due to more influence from Western culture. Music stars would rather have the sound called Afropop or Afro-fusion. Fela’s legacy lives on tho and with Burna Boy, it is utterly obvious.

See also: The Rise Of Igbo Rap Through Time

Lagos in Southwest of Nigeria is the most vibrant city in the country. Lagos is seen as the cultural hub of music and entertainment in Nigeria. It is where talents are unearthed and refined. Most producers and the artistes we speak of today were either born and/or bred in Lagos or moved to Lagos at some point, for the sake of their music aspirations. The Yoruba dialect is the main indigenous language of Lagos. Thus the Yoruba language has gradually become the dominant traditional lingo in which local artistes flex their musical skills.

Much has changed in Nigerian music from the 90s through to the present day. What hasn’t change tho is the way the Yoruba artistes have contributed massively to the blossoming industry.

Check some of the leading Afrobeats acts; Wizkid, Davido, Kizz Daniel, Mr. Eazi, Tiwa Savage and the list are from the Southwest. In the hip-hop scene; Vector, Falz, Olamide, Lil Kesh, and Zlatan Ibile are an incomplete list of the top dogs. See some new hopes like Fireboy DML, Joeboy, Oxlade and Lyta.
All these aforementioned stars are from one Yoruba speaking state or the other. Something they also share in common is their inhabitation of Lagos.

Praise should be given to the Yoruba’s for their enormous influence in contemporary Nigerian music. Notwithstanding, praise is also due to the many folks and ethnic groups for their contributions to bring the country’s music to where it is today. Take nothing from them.

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