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    Thursday, 23 June 2016

    Repositioning Fuji music


    Once a fad among the Yoruba, Fuji music has lost its appeal in the last decade. However, at a roundtable organised by Nigerian Breweries’ Goldberg in Lagos, stakeholders in the music industry pushed for a revival of this brand of music through creativity, writes ADEDEJI ADEMIGBUJI.
    IFuji music dying? Stakeholders and lovers of this brand of Yoruba music said the music genre, which ruled the airwaves and at parties in the good old days, is almost going into extinction. They claimed that one hardly hears of its many exponents nowadays. One of the second generation Fujimusicians, Mr. Adewale Ayuba,  attested to the near-extinction of this brand of music.
    Ayuba is one of the younger generations, who promoted Fuji as a special brand of music, making it appeal to the youth, especially when the industry was almost plagued by violence, drugs and rivalry, among other vices.
    He identified the inability to market Fuji music to the global audience as a result of poor production and the dwindling allure of Fuji music. The allure, Ayuba said, seems to have simmered. This, it was gathered, was after the death of a Fuji maestro, Dr. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, and the un-confirmed retirment of his ageing arch rival, Kolawole Ayinla, popularly known as Kollington.
    “And if this is the case, we cannot complain that our brand of music is not being aired. Fuji is not digitalised so, it cannot be played in disco halls. The second issue is that it is too long. In this era, you cannot have a piece of music playing for 17 minutes. We need to get back to tracking,” said Ayuba.
    Saddened, a Fuji artist, Alabi Pasuma, just veered into Hip Hop music to promote Fuji and take it to the next level in a market where Hip Hop sensationals – D’Banj, Davido, Olamide and others – seem to have knocked out Fuji music because of lack of appeal to new generation of music lovers.
    “Diversity is very important to one’s life. That you are a Fuji musician does not mean you can’t do something else. People still see me as a Fuji artiste but they see it that this guy really knows what he is doing and that he can do something nice. That is why we diversified,” Pasuma said.
    Against this backdrop, stakeholders at a recent Goldberg roundtable on Fuji said there was a need to reposition the genre to appeal to global and local audience.
    At the event sponsored by Goldberg Lager Beer from the stable of Nigerian Breweries Plc, participants described Fuji as the only Nigerian music brand devoid of foreign contamination.
    The Chairman, National Project Committee, Fuji Musicians Association of Nigeria, Sikiru Ayinde Agboola; Akogun Gani Balogun; the Genaral Manager, K1 De Ultimate Band, Olasoju Adebayo and Olawale Obadeyi, a Fuji analyst, said despite the challenges, Fuji music has contributed to the socio-cultural development of the Yoruba.
    Obadeyi traced the origin of the music to when Were, the local brand of music, was in vogue among Muslim faithful. He said the music has grown, featuring various artistes who have contributed to its development.
    He said the innovations brought into Fuji by those artistes have deepened.
    “Each Fuji artiste, evidently, is pushing the limits of creativity. The horizon of Fuji music has been astoundingly widened,” he said.
    Obadeyi noted that Goldberg appropriated Fuji music as a platform through which cultural values could be used to validate the essence of the Yoruba.
    Agboola advised Fuji musicians and other stakeholders to take the music to the next level. According to him, it is the only surviving genre of music that has its origin in Nigeria and deserves concerted efforts from stakeholders to proffer possible ways through which it would be more developed. His words: “It is the duty of all stakeholders to take the music to the next level.”
    Agboola, therefore, commended Goldberg Lager Beer for the support it gives to the music. He said this was second to none and should be emulated by other firms.
    Meanwhile, Balogun said the late Barrister invested heavily in Fuji music, took it to international market and provided a platform for Fuji musicians and other stakeholders to prosper.
    Balogun advised every beneficiary to ensure the music is given due support every time.
    Why Goldberg supports Fuji
    In an era where the Federal Government is driving local content as the key to sustainable growth in the economy, most brands have continued to support various local ideas to achieve that goal as against dependence on foreign contents. While various local contents are dying as a result of lack of support from corporate organisations, the Portfolio Manager, Mainstream Lager and Stout brands, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Emmanuel Agu said the importance of music to any country cannot be over-emphasised. According to him, the role of music in nation building is monumental as it fuels the mind and the creativity of listeners.
    His words: “Music transcends all boundaries of communication. Music and its rhythm define our humanity considering the universality and essentiality beyond language barrier. I believe it is important for one to have an open mind in order to be in touch with that sense of understanding. Music cannot be separated from our socio-cultural life and as such it is a social connector which has the power to suggest circumstances, moods, and moments. It has general appeal to human senses.”
    Agu said Fuji music exerts a strong influence on the social life of the Yoruba. He stated that through the music foreigners can easily feel and connect with the culture of the Yoruba people. The influence that Fuji music exerts on the social life of the Yorubas is therefore very strong irrespective of their locations.
    Agu said the company strives to champion, promote and associate with the culture of its host communities. His words: “This is what Goldberg has been doing with its initiative of Fuji t’o Bamsince 2012 when it inaugurated the concept. We respect people’s cultures and values.”
    He said the Goldberg Fuji t’o Bam initiative has brought to life the twin socio-cultural tradition of companionship and celebration. “The initiative readily identifies and celebrates the rich musical tradition of sustaining the cultural values of the people in the region. The indigenous musical platform, which is currently in its fourth edition, had in the last three editions led to the discovery of budding Fuji talents and artists. I have strong conviction that our gathering here today would in no small way help in contributing ideas to the development of the Fuji music and the culture of the Yoruba people,” he stated.
    Recently, the brand also signed Flavour, an Hip Hop artists as brand ambassador for its Life Beer brand to support contents from the East using exploits in the use of Igbo languages to convey his message.
    Background
    Fuji is a popular Nigerian musical genre. It arose from the improvisational Ajisari/Were music tradition, which is performed to wake up Muslims before dawn during the Ramadan season. Weremusic/Ajisari was made popular by the late Barrister

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