The Influence of Broken/Pidgin English in Nigerian Music

The Influence of Broken_Pidgin English in Nigerian Music

As man evolves on earth, sometimes we forget to sit for a minute to think about how certain things came to be. Communication is one of the most important things that have helped man evolve in life, business, education etc. Early stages of human existence tell that music was used for communication than pleasure; bells, drums, horns and human voices were pitched to travel miles so messages could be passed no matter the distance involved.

Nature is a typical example of how music could be used to communicate, birds from the early morning melodies render high tone pitched sounds to pass information to each other either to warn a fellow bird about prey or invite a fellow for food.

Pidgin or broken English originated from history time when the colonial masters visited Nigeria, it was the only way people could communicate or trade with the missionaries and colonial masters since they couldn’t speak the exact same language with them. It was made up of English and partly slang. The language is spoken across the West African states like Ghana, Cameroun, and Sierra Leone etc.

Nigerian music is known as Afro-Beat worldwide and it would not be where it is today without the infusion of Pidgin and Broken English. The blend of it in lyrics, melody and production has made it endearing to the people and has aided its penetration all around the continent and Europe as Africans travel the world.

The music is made of different genres which include Afro-Beat, Highlife, Reggae, Afro-pop etc. One thing that can be felt in every genre is the use of broken/Pidgin English in the lyrics. Broken/Pidgin English is the most common means of communication amongst the people of Nigeria and some other West African countries.

Music is a powerful means of communication and it’s done either literally, spiritually or with words. It provides a means through which people share emotions, intentions, thoughts and messages. For those who need special means of communication, it can be used as a vital lifeline in helping them with communication.

The influence of Pidgin English in music can be traced to far back historical moments. It was used as a tool for culture cross-pollination whenever certain events like festivals took place. The likes of Fela who pioneered Afro-Beat sang and told their stories in Pidgin English, the “highlife music” greats did their singing in pidgin and their local dialect too and so were other Music greats around the country.

In early stages of Afro-Beat fusion into Hip-hop, RnB and other genres, singing in pidgin combined with local dialect was the rave until the early millennial era when a new set of artiste emerged in the Hip-hop scene which included Modenine, Ruggedman, Eedris Abdulkareem etc. Modenine, however, was against rapping in pidgin and local dialect which was what the other artiste was doing. A beef battle ensued in the culture between Ruggedman and Modenine with back and forth rap songs released against each other. What made the battle interesting was that these were the two biggest rap artiste at that time.

Ruggedman never stopped preaching wherever he went to that the only way to sale your identity was to infuse your language in your songs, this saw the evolution of people like 9ice and also gave confidence to others who were already making music in the local dialect and Pidgin English. The game is the game and the language culture survived the storm against a singular warrior that fought against an entire industry.

The evolution of music till present time has not really changed much about the use of pidgin English instead it has evolved with time as new slangs have been brought into music to spice up and make it relatable to the present generation. Wizkid, Davido, Rema, Yemi Alade are a few among the music greats of today who use pidgin in their music.

Pidgin English is one of the means of communication that unites the whole country as it is being spoken in all the geographical regions. Its influence cannot be denied in the penetration of music in every corner of the country even as the music is known as a universal language that cuts across all tribes, religion and people.

Written by kealdy Iboko

Kealdy Iboko, a budding writer, music critic, DeheadsUp Podcast Producer and believer of Christ. Contact: kealdy001@gmail.com, sms +2348112083988


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