A CONVERSATION WITH BEAUTIFUL NUBIA, PART 3
This is Part 2 of the report on the interview with Beautiful on March 19, 2023. The extensive interview, which has received millions of views across different platforms, talks about the role of music in society. For the transcripts, see:
BEAUTIFUL NUBIA: MUSIC AS A TOOL
Music is a universal language that is heard everywhere. It exists in an individual’s everyday life and forms a part of human identity. It is an art that has pervaded human society, evolving over the years to adjust to the changes in human tastes. Music is a powerful tool, influencing people’s moods, thoughts, emotions and characters. Through music, people have connected with a part of themselves they were unaware of. It has been adopted as a means of expression, healing, relaxation and even education.
Music and society share an intimate relationship because they shaped cultures and influenced various societies. It is a mode of connection and communication, bringing people together and fostering unity. Music is a vehicle for social change. It is used to address societal issues, help people understand their cultural values, spread a message of hope, teach morals and bring people’s consciousness to the happenings in society. It plays a role in determining right or wrong, good or bad.
However, music continues to change with each passing generation. Many song lyrics nowadays contain obscene words, have no concrete message to pass across to society and are very derogatory, especially to the female gender. Contemporary music, especially Hip Hop, has been criticized for further weakening society morally, constantly promoting indecency, greed and lust.
At the Toyin Falola Interview series held on March 19, 2023, Dr. Olusegun Akinlolu, popularly known by his stage name, Beautiful Nubia, stated that music could be a tool of mass sensitization or mass destruction. The interview had Dr. Temitope Fagunwa, Professor Tunji Azeez and Banning Eyre as panelists, while Adepoju Oluwatoyin (who represented Professor Toyin Falola) was the moderator.
When Dr. Fagunwa asked if Beautiful Nubia believes in the existence of good or bad art and if an artiste must be revolutionary both in and out, Beautiful Nubia noted that there is no good or bad art; it only depends on how an artiste chooses to use his artistic gift:
“I don’t like to think of art as either good or bad. When you have an artistic gift, it is your decision how you want to use that artistic gift. Sometimes, the environment in which you find yourself dictates how you will use that gift, but I consciously decided right from when I was a kid, when I was aware that I had this gift. I consciously did, and I wrote it in my book, like in my diary when I was 13, I’m gonna use my music to lift my people to heal the people, energize, and strengthen the people.”
Finding lyrics that teach morals or promote human or societal development is not difficult if a musician seeks to use them. Many musicians do not want to sing songs that edify people because it no longer sells. Instead, they construct lyrics to suggest sexual arousal and activities. It is not unsurprising that popular, trending songs are about women’s bodies, money, glamorous lifestyles, and fame. He continues:
“And I call it a tool of mass sensitization. I call some other forms of music, tools of mass distraction. I’m not trying to insult them, you understand, there’s music as an art form that we can see, and then there’s entertainment as music and many artists can choose to use their music to entertain the people. It is one of the functions of art. You can use it to entertain people, you can use it to teach people, you can use it to guide people, and you can use it to show people a development path. All that is there depends on how you want to use it. What we can say is bad is how you deploy it.”
Unfortunately, many musicians have chosen the path of using their music to encourage societal rot, indecency, fraud, promiscuity, hard drugs, prostitution, covetousness, discontent and increased crime rates. Some others have used their songs to incite disunity, violence, tribal and even religious wars. It is sad to see that children are exposed to these songs that contain vulgar and profane lyrics. Children are seen on social media ‘vibing’ to these songs while their adult parents or relations film and encourage them. These songs sell quickly and appeal to people faster than songs about good conduct, uprightness and humanity, and this is why artists who first started with moral songs switch to singing about a woman’s buttocks and the shape of her body. Music videos are filled with nudity, racy scenes and photography. Moral police officers have called for a more aggressive censorship board.
It is appalling that songs of this nature are churned out daily, and society no longer finds it problematic. These songs are played and listened to everywhere so much that because the ears are one of the gates to the mind, one unconsciously knows the lyrics. It has now become acceptable that people, especially youths, argue and even become enemies over who the best artiste is. Over vulgar songs? Shame!
It seems to me that many artists come into the music industry to make money and be famous, not minding the content they are dishing out to people. They are either unaware or have chosen to turn a blind eye to the fact that they are major contributors to what becomes of society. They have chosen not to follow in the steps of legendary musicians like Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade, Onyenka Onwenu and Victor Uwaifo, who have used their music to set people on the right track and develop good character. Their songs spoke to people’s consciences, urging them to do what is right, and promoting the values of a healthy society. Nowadays, all that is needed is an irresistible beat, some scantily clad girls, a yacht or luxurious car, an exquisite house and lyrics full of nonsense and a song is produced.
To Beautiful Nubia, music is an integral part of society and should be a pointer to proper conduct, intentional living, and good morals. As Beautiful Nubia says, “Music is a tool for opening eyes. It is a tool for helping my society find itself.” As Beautiful Nubia maintains, music should be a moral compass to guide people to the truth and help them have a good life through hard work and contentment. Music should teach people what is right and wrong; it should educate and enlighten them. It should be a collection of the voices in the society speaking against bad governance and oppression, seeking liberation. Music should be a tool to further society, not its decadence.