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THE NIGERIAN REGGAE SCENE: DID THE MUSIC DIE WITH LUCKY DUBE?

LUCKY DUBE

It has been four years since the death of iconic reggae star, Lucky Dube; and that genre of music known for its prominence in the 80s and early 90s seems to have died with him thereby creating a big vacuum in the reggae world. ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM in this piece takes a look at some Nigeria reggae artists who are still in the business but making little or no impact. 

 

If you are an ardent follower of reggae music, you will know the song ‘To My Root’. What about the song ‘Prisoner’ which made wave all over the world in the 90s. Those were some of the many songs by the South-African reggae music super star, Lucky Dube, who even though is gone to the world beyond, his legacy – his music – still lives on.

Born August 3, 1964; he was the only reggae artist who by all standards stepped into the shoes of the ‘father’ of reggae music, late Bob Nesta Marley.

Dube during his lifetime recorded 22 albums in Zulu, English and Afrikaans in a 25-year period and was South Africa’s biggest selling reggae artist.

He would have continued recording his song, but for the cold  hands of death. He was murdered in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville on the evening of October 18, 2007.

Since his death there has been no reggae artist able to match his achievements or replace him.

Though in Nigeria today, we have top men like Oritz Wiliki, Raskimono, Majek Fashek, the Mandators  just to mention but a few who are supposed to have taken over. But the case is not so for the artists who are either retired or tired. Let’s make a quick profiling of some these Nigerian artists.

Majek Fashek
Fashek first gained national fame on a television show in the early 1980s as a member of Benin-based reggae group Jastix.

His band mates included Ras Kimono and Amos McRoy Gregg. They toured for many years with fellow reggae group, The Mandators. In 1988, shortly after Jastix disbanded, he began a solo career which marked the beginning of a new dawn for him and he became the best-known reggae artist in Nigeria as at then.

His song ‘Send Down The Rain’ was a hit, and he won six US-based PMAN Music Awards.

After leaving Tabansi Records, he was signed to CBS Nigeria in the early 1990s before moving to Island Records’ Mango imprint, a label more accustomed to marketing reggae internationally. His first album for the company included a cover version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”.

In 1990, he was signed to Interscope Records and he released the critically acclaimed album ‘Spirit Of Love’, produced by ‘Little Steven’ Van Zandt. Flame Tree released The Best of Majek Fashek in 1994. He has recorded several albums for various labels since, including ‘Rainmaker’ for Tuff Gong (1997) and ‘Little Patience’ for Coral (2004).

But today the artist is having problems of drug related issues since he left the country to pursue his career abroad, as could be been seen in different shows and concerts he anchored.

A recent report speaks on how the artist is going through thick and thing and some are even calling for a proper medical care to ascertain his psychological balance.

He would have been a proper replacement For Lucky Dube in Africa if only…

Majek Fashek

Ras Kimono
Since the release of his album ‘Mr President’ the reggae artist who was known in the 80s for his ‘Rumba style’ hit song has been in the states.

Once in an interview he was asked why he stayed long away from home and his response was:

“I was only taking a long sabbatical to re-discover myself musically and secondly to grow with my kids for a while before I hit the road again.”

Though he relocated to America, he has been surviving doing shows from club to club.

“Yes. I have been doing some private shows here and there just to make ends meet. I performed some shows in B.B. King night club in New York and Zanzibar club in Washington D.C; and I have done a lot of private shows like the St Gregory Old Student College re-union here in Atlanta and some that I can’t even remember anymore because it’s been a long while,” he said.

Nigerians expected more from a big personality like him in the reggae scene, but thank God he is getting his grooves back. We hope his new video will be better of ‘The President,’ album.

Oritz Wiliki
Over the years people have ridiculed reggae artist Oritsabemighor Wiliki aka Orits Wiliki over his claim of being an Ethiopian.

And what baffles one is why this Itshekiri, Delta State-born musician should lay claim to being a citizen of a country considered one of the poorest in the world.

Son of a late Reverend gentleman, the man who is popularly known as the Koolman revolutionaire is one that Nigerians and South Africans won’t forget easily as he sang song of revolution, calling for the end of apartheid and oppression in the hands of oppressors.

“I hold my ancestral home dearly and that is why I visit the embassy often. I am most grateful to my godfather, Ambassador Olusola; he was one of the persons who, 15 years ago, got me close to the Ethiopian Consulate.

When it was time to release my debut album titled, Tribulation in 1989,1 was a very experienced musician.

“Tribulation was originally signed to a French company, but was released in Nigeria by PolyGram through the prodding of Lemmy Jackson.

“Most of the jobs we did in the past were stuff we lifted from the original owners in Jamaica.

From the beginning I refused to be part of that and so tried to create my own music. If you listen to any new job today, you will find traces that sound like my music and this makes me proud – sustaining reggae music. It’s wrong when people say reggae music is dead. Reggae is going to last forever. Are you not wondering that reggae has made several turns over the years?

“The Hip-Hop you play today is reggae. Every genre of music you listen to is influenced by reggae.

Everybody is going back, because reggae is the root of all music. My own style of music which as you know is reggae, is influenced by our own culture which is highlife.

“Remember I introduced talking drum into reggae music and today, every reggae band has a talking drum,” he once asserted.

Thank God he is still talking and the like of Ras Kimono is still waxing stronger.

We want to have better competition in the industry today, like we had in the past. Also, we want the big wigs in the reggae music scene to groom the younger generation who aspires to step into their shoes so that the genre won’t die. We want the next big thing to come out of reggae music after South African’s Lucky Dube to be from Nigeria.

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