Damini Ogolo, alias Burna Boy, is a Nigerian musician. Apparently, he is part of the Lagos megacity urban wave and crowd. This characterisation is important because of the following. Often times those who make things happen in Lagos take to a sense of entitlement. For them, if you are a hit it Lagos, it follows you got to be a hit nationwide. That is, for them Lagos is the centre of the universe. Well this is a free world and delusions are allowed. But to be deluded is not to be rightly informed. One, despite his ego, needs to wake up.
First of all, there is no logic to Lagos being any other thing than Lagos, a presumptive megacity. Lagos is neither Nigeria, nor representatively Nigerian. Lagos no doubt is a city of hustlers and chancers and of course, some really cool folks. However, Lagos is definitely and un-enviably a city on edge. What goes and can go in Lagos may not go with the rest of the country. That is the essence of markets. Markets by definition are differentiated by regions, age, income brackets, geographies, etc. And this is especially so when it comes to cultural markets. And it is in this style market that Burna Boy plays. Burna Boy we repeat is a musician.
It thus did not do him any great good when one reads the following: ‘Easterners in Nigeria only love their people in music’ – Burna Boy. Burna Boy also revealed that he was making music for himself, before 2014 when he performed in a stadium in the Eastern part of Nigeria. He claimed that Easterners only love only their people in music, and a singer has really “popped” when he has crossed over.
“That’s the first time I did a show in a stadium in the eastern part of Nigeria, where it is like they only like their own people. So if you cross over there, then like you’ve popped. Like I’ve never seen nothing in my life, I didn’t even think it was real thing that could happen. https://www.lindaikejisblog.com/2019/7/easterners-in-nigeria-only-love-their-people-in-music-burna-boy.html
To read that is to feel pity for Burna Boy. First of all, his claims of course fly in the face of history. There is a musician called Sir Shina Peters. His blockbuster album, ACE, was a nationwide hit. In fact, Peters sold in the East possibly more than he did in the West. Even that West was made up of a sizeable lot of Eastern patrons. And Peters is just one of the many pan-Nigerian musical hits. Even more interestingly, Peters sang largely in Yoruba. In other words, markets are open to whoever can prise into them. Markets are not like your inheritance. Nobody hands over a market-share to you. You got to sweat and earn it out.
Anyway, I can’t accuse Burna Boy of demonizing the Igbo. He is too small to do that. I think his case is largely one of well-received ignorance. I say this because we have encountered similar baseless biases in other cultural contexts. For instance, there was the ignorant claim, that Igbo beauties were bribing and compromising the beauty pageant system in Nigeria. And what was the evidence? Too many Igbo damsels are turning up as winners. We wrote an essay, https://www.sunnewsonline.com/which-nigerian-ethnic-nations-have-the-prettiest-women/, to correct that.
The point is not that there are no prejudices in our consumption of goods, especially cultural goods. It is just that such prejudices can’t last any long. To the extent open markets exists, the universal order is in the iron lore of supply and demand. And embedded in the two planks of supply and demand are other variables like taste, promotion, quality, branding etc. In the long run, no product can be rejected on prejudicial lines in the open market. This explains in part why some Iranian youths wear jeans pants, an American cut, to protest against Yankeeisms. This Iranian paradox is possible because of the logic of the marketplace. Products, whether cultural or physiological, rise and fall on price, not prejudice. And for the market, prices are the nearest indication of value. If you don’t get the mix right, you miss out on the market and its prosperities.
So whether you play and sell music as a Burma Boy, or you push barrows in the marketplace, the ancient saw reigns true: In the marketplaces, it is price not prejudice, that rules the day.
Thus, if a Burna Boy fails to attract eastern patrons he should blame his marketing mix not the consumers’ tastes. The consumer, whether easterner or northerner, is always right, is always the king. At least, he has a right to his dough and how to spend it. Burna Boy should be there to serve and service his king, the consumer, as a pageboy. His, is not to raise issues over the taste of his masters, his kings. Whoever buys from you is your king and master in the marketplace.
Finally, Burna Boy may be well served to know that regional differences is not a Nigerians and Nigeria only thing:
‘’One of the things that makes America great is how diverse it is. While Americans share many things, collectively there are also plenty of distinctions between different regions. This is very apparent when you look at musical tastes. You can learn a lot about the different states by looking at their favorite genres and favorite artists….’’ https://www.grizzlyrose.com/most-popular-music-genre-by-state/