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Nigeria: Hip-Life Taking Over Highlife Music in Eastern Nigeria?

Legends never die, instead the new generations learn from them, as the steps they took will give them the proper guide for advancement."

As a budding Igbo Nigerian youth, if you had told your father some years ago that the Osadebe or Oriental Brothers song he was nodding to while sipping his palm wine and looking at his vast properties would soon go extinct he would have looked you in the face and wondered if he truly sired you for making such sacrilegious statement.

That was how much the Igbo Highlife music was revered across the Eastern part of Nigeria. At some point, the song started making waves, crossing the Niger Bridge and bringing smiles and happiness on the faces of Igbo neighbours in Nigeria.

What could have gone wrong years later, with the song not being as popular as it was then?

Just like every issue of life, evolution happened to it! With the advent of the internet and streaming of music, people's attention have waned, with most seeking for less programmes which will give them the instant gratification they want from it.

The result of this was the slow death of Igbo Highlife music which was known for its long length (a situation which affected not just the Igbo Highlife music, but also the Igbo Gospel music).

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The Igbo Musicians were left with two options, stick to the Old Igbo Highlife or find a way to mix it with the new version of music in order to grow and make some fortune.

Some stuck with the old version, and in return, they faced zero/low streams because their main target, which was the elderly were not on the internet and the few that were, weren't well versed in streaming music.

The second version did wonders instead; for example Umu Obiligbo. At first, they started with the original highlife music, they sold the discs but they weren't getting the attention they deserved, so instead, they began to mix the Igbo Highlife with HipHop.

With this brilliant idea, they were able to keep themselves relevant not just with the elders, but also with the internet-versed youths.

Interviewing many modern day Highlife (Hiplife) musicians, they have maintained the same story with Onowu Ugonabu saying in an interview that they needed to meet up with the fast-evolving times if they wanted to make any money from their craft.

Will this new development lead to the death of Igbo Highlife?

Of course, the possibilities are there but we make do with the saying – "Legends never die, instead the new generations learn from them, as the steps they took will give them the proper guide for advancement." – I believe this has been the case with Igbo Highlife, and in a current report of 2022 which was carried out, it was found out that Igbo Highlife has climbed among the highest patronized songs of the year, alongside the Ghana Highlife Music.

Artmotion S.Africa

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