Naira Marley And The Rise Of Nonconformist Fans
All across the world, there’s a rise in the number of young people resisting the traditional way of life. These nonconformists are out on social media and as well on the street fighting the old order. Without trying to draw moral equivalence or equivocating the motive behind each of their various agendas in the different parts of the world, one thing is sure, they are fighting to gain control of their narrative and their future ways of living.
Words by Sesan Adeniji
In a battle to protect their country’s autonomous independence, for weeks now, on the street of Hong Kong, some of these young radicals have been disrupting proceedings. Also, here in Nigeria, we have seen an upsurge of rebellious young music fans publicly displaying affection to moral values far from the conventional ethical norms. The public demonstration of love for the artist Naira Marley should serve as a contextual thesis for this conversation. Despite Naira Marley’s unorthodox behaviors, his audience continues to increase. So the question now is, are we experiencing the rise of the nonconformist music fans?
By general perception, Naira is not the textbook definition of an ideal artist with vocal prowess and with behavior that could be classified as that of an archetypical societal role model, still, his imperfections are embraced by a legion of young music fans that see him as a reflection of the average Nigerian kid that is street smarts. Naira Marley’s erraticism has made him a cult-hero. Also, despite the vulgarity associated with his music and the unethical representation of his songs like “Soapy”, the youth warmed up to it and could not get enough of it. From Lagos to neighboring states like Ghana, Naira Marley’s songs are on the lips of every youth driven by pop-culture. The tune is a party starter.
This ongoing Naira Marley phenomenon reminded me of some of the nonconformist artists likened to him that came earlier. Although, due to lack of strong social media presence like we have now that has allowed for more freedom and autonomous sub-society, those artists were ridiculed and humiliated for being different and for standing up to have an alternative voice outside the norms. The first of such artists that came to mind is the late entertainer Goldie. Years before the consciousness to sexual equality, in an era where women who justifiably exhibit creative independence are resisted, she withstood one of the most vicious scrutinizes ever experience by any female artists in Nigeria.
Despite being bullied in some quarters of the media, misunderstood and her talents unfairly evaluated, Susan Oluwabimpe (Goldie) ran her race and left footprints in the sand of time. Despite her early death on the 14th of February, 2013, with over ten musical awards that include ‘Best Female Video’, ‘Best Female Musician’ and ‘Best Use of Costume’ and also credited with hit singles like ‘You Know It’ and ‘Say My Name’ among others, Goldie came, saw and conquered the Nigerian music industry with grit that made her one of the most iconic female pop performer of all time. Although she divides opinions like Naira Marley, still, she was one of the first unorthodox artists with a commendable following.
Another artist in that ilk is Eedris Abdulkareen. Despite Eedris’ unusual mannerism and advocacy, he had a huge number of eccentric followers across the country. Imagine if Goldie and Eedris Abdulkareem had the kind of social media mechanism that allows their audience to be heard more like we have today, maybe they would have had many more followers like Naira Marley does now. But then, traditional conversation outlets suppressed the voice of the unorthodox music fans. Now with Twitter and Instagram, they have risen again, and Naira Marley is their flag-bearer.
In this ongoing chase for moral and ethical freedom, mistakes will be made and progress will also be achieved. Change is the only constant thing in life. Anyone concerned about any parts of the ongoing events, the person should join in and help guide the change process to a better outcome. Criticism won’t solve anything. Growing up, we have all had a fair share of bad behaviors.