R.I.P RAP… AND OTHER GENRES: How true are Wizkid’s claims?

The music industry has been thrown into some commotion these few days after Wizkid described rap music in Africa as a dead and boring genre. To many, he is right. To others, he shouldn’t have voiced it but many others believe he is wrong and rap is still waxing strong. I would say, Wizkid, his critics and his supporters are all right. Rap is dead, yet not dead. Rap is boring, yet not boring. If there is something that is absolutely dead and boring, it is the term “genre”.

Music and other art forms have transcended being categorised inside one specific box. In today’s world, there are no clear boundaries between art forms: artists and artistes have taken to the freedom of art, technology and commerce to express themselves in the most creative and sellable modes. There is no “pop music” or “alternative sound”. What exists is just “music”. Music in this age is just a fusion of already established genres with each artiste claiming however they choose to describe their art.

Rap, for instance, has been on a journey for decades now and has only arrived to where every other genre is at today: music. Rap first started as West African Griot (Igbo: Mbem; Yoruba: Oriki – those that tell stories in musical poetry) that was passed down from enslaved ancestors of Jamaicans and other Caribbeans and Americans down to a generation that chose to do “spoken word poetry” on Jazz and later Funk music. Later rap began to be done over Riddim until it was standardised and popularised in New York as HipHop. Rap continued to be a style in HipHop but today has diversified into every other genre: could be done on afrobeats, could be done on amapiano, could be done on any kind of music. 

Every other genre and derivative is currently suffering and enjoying the same fate. Afrobeat has moved from what Fela created from a fusion of Funk, Jazz and highlife into a sound that could mix with dancehall or rap. Today, we don’t even know who does Afrobeat. Following Wizkid’s logic, Afrobeat is dead too. Highlife is dead (even The Cavemen have opened up to a fusion). Dancehall is dead. Reggae is dead. Every genre is dead. All that lives is music. A fusion of everything that is pleasing to the ear.

Today, the most commercial songs in Nigeria are a fusion of Amapiano, Dancehall, Jazz, Fuji, rap and even choral music (currently sailing Asake) all jumbled up as an undefinable genre we have chosen to call Afrobeats (a nonexistent genre). If rap is dead, then Fuji is dead, Jazz is dead but somehow we keep on doing music with all these dead genres. Every derivative in the present world is just a fusion of anything. 

Genres are dead!