In the past 48 hours, the internet has been raving over MI Abaga‘s intense interview on the LooseTalk podcast with music journalists; Osagie Alonge and Ayomide Tayo.
Alonge, the lead interviewer has been receiving a lot of backlash from both average listeners and industry players (openly and on social media/comment sections) – some have called him disrespectful while others have referred to him as unprofessional.
Truthfully, a lot of people- especially musicians find this particular interview unpleasing; not because it was a bad interview but because it was a shift from the norm. Now if we carefully allow ourselves to understand the true meaning of journalism (mixed with passion), we would all slow down and appreciate Osagie for changing the narrative and pushing interviews beyond the boundaries of local (Nigerian) stereotypes and MI for placing his respect for the music above his ego.
I understand that most Nigerian musicians are not open to constructive criticism because before now, music reviews weren’t a thing. All we had from the early 70’s were publishing firms and media companies who focused only on profiling the lifestyle of the musicians. You would see articles with headlines like ‘Fela Kuti and His Several Wives etc. Much emphasis was not laid on the actual content of musicians- the music.
But times have changed. The industry is expanding; African music is now a global market place and it is our duty as both journalists and listeners to demand for quality and ensure that musicians are putting their best foot forward. It is a very mutual thing because at the end of the day, when true journalists begin to question the content and activities of the musician, the end product would be ‘quality content’.
This is a new era: journalists are not the enemies. You cannot want progress and hate honesty. Growth is usually accompanied by pain.
The journalist loves and respects the music as much as the musician does (or even more). There is no such thing as hate. The job of the journalist is the ask questions and critique whenever the need arises. Journalism is an objective profession and sometimes our verdicts might come off as provocative but it is for the greater good. Like MI said during the interview, the future of Nigerian music depends on the conversations we have today.
So dear artistes, it is time to put your ego aside and stretch your creativity. The journalist is equally a consumer of your product and it is very okay to be questioned or held accountable if your product doesn’t quite satisfy the consumer.
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