Get a load that afro and those sideburns! Look at those shoes! Arguably, no other era comes close to matching the fashion grooviness of the 70s, a time of unprecedented optimism revisited by Nigeria's Sexy Steel (Abbey Abuede) in this affectionate and humorous pastiche of a video for his most recent single, Bebedi Alhaja.
The country was enjoying an oil boom and the economic disaster of implementing the IMF and World Bank's Structural Adjustment Programme would not happen for another decade. Right now, the Nigerian economy is apparently one of the fastest growing in the world (7.68 per cent growth rate), a bit of news met by most Nigerians with a raised eyebrow. As was pointed out during a meeting of the Nigeria Employers' Consultative Association earlier this month, the government needs to consider other variables of well-being, and at the moment there are still too many areas of concern: wealth gap and pervasive poverty (even as the middle class recovers), high unemployment, dilapidated infrastructure, growing insecurity and high mortality rate, etc. It's going to take a bit more than healthy GDP figures to raise the level of optimism to where it was in the 70s.
The seventies was also an exciting time for music in Nigeria. Influences from West and East Africa, the Caribbean and the States were being combined with local musical traditions to produce a rich variety of distinctive styles. Apala, jùjú (popular dance music), fuji (with its emphasis on lyrical content), afrobeat, highlife mixed with jazz, palm wine music (urban folk) were just as popular as Naija style disco and funk. We write a lot about how productive the Nigerian music industry is today, but very few would argue that it produces as much variety now as it did then. On the other hand, one thing our current era has over the 70s is that of ownership. MCA Records, Barclay Records, Polydor Records, EMI, these were just some of the labels doing good business in the country at the time, and one thing those international labels were keen on was owning your stuff. They all scrammed when the economy started going pear-shaped in the 80s, and the industry did suffered from the vacuum. But the unintended consequence of this was that when the industry started to pick itself up in the mid to late 90s, it was via small, locally-owned labels: Trybe Records, Kennis Music, Storm Records, Mohits Records (now superseded by Don Jazzy's new label Mavin Records), Chocolate City, Knighthouse, EME records, etc.
Anyway, it's great to see this affectionate pastiche of the groovy 70s, blending jùjú music with some modern day hip hop from Vector the "Viper" and rich melody from Sexy Steel. It's like an old school classic updated for a new generation. The video was shot in Lagos and Ibadan. Hard to believe that the dude in the video is the same one in the picture below.
DOWNLOAD and enjoy.