POP

December in April – Easter is Increasingly Becoming our Post-Christmas Fix

For different reasons, December is the IT month for Lagosians, it is a time for rejoicing and felicitations, for thanksgiving, supplications and positive gyrations; unlike any other city in Sub-Saharan Africa, Lagos truly comes to life in December. 

Nigerians in Europe, North America and other overseas locations book countless flights to the coastal city to sample the ubiquitousness of December Lagos living, they link up with resident citizens of the state who are most certainly on holidays in this period, there is so much joy to share, savings have been made, budgets drawn up, financial constraints loosened and then just as the first week in December passes away; the annual tradition is declared – it is time for DETTY DECEMBER. What a time to be alive. 

Detty December is a spinning carousel. A myriad of music concerts, fashion shows, art openings, food festivals, poetry recitals and every thing creative, if you desire it and you look closely enough, someone is doing it in December. That is the magic of December in Lagos, all your desires come to fruition, all your favourite artists play sets back to back in different locations, all your friends dance and get high with you as you enjoy the pleasures of youth courtesy of a hazy high and enough fun, all your favourite foods are on sale for pocket friendly rates at interesting festivals where you meet attractive, intelligent people. 

Your soul is happy. Then December ends, the magic stops, there’s not much to be excited for, there is a broken or at best, injured bank account staring back at you, January seems like both a warm memory of yesterday and a distant, faraway Nirvana leaving you with only warm memories.

There is a silent revolution that is going on around the coast of West Africa that you should be excited about and this revolution is headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria. 

New events are springing forth around April that are targeted at the millennial audience, emerging generations of African youths and creatives are finding a solution to the gap of entertainment, expression and cultural togetherness that exists from January to November. 

While intelligent use of social media and tailored ads might make this revolution a sparkling moment in the art, tourism and culture calendar of Lagos, these Easter-boom events are not the first in the 2000’s to take advantage of the entertainment gap between late January and early December. For organization, continuity and sheer innovation that honor goes to comedian and actor, AY Makun. 

AY Makun is presumably not on the top of anybody’s most talented comedians’ list but for more than 10 years, he has helmed and put together a widely popular stand-up comedy event around Easter tagged AY LIVE. The success of AY’s yearly concerts boils down to the fact that they go beyond regular stand up comedy events. AY creates a living, breathing exhibition that melds elements of music, comedy, dance and his infamous skits into a memorable event. 

The relative paucity of events in April where Easter traditionally falls has made AY consolidate his position and makes his concert dates a part of the Nigerian cultural calendar.

Where he succeeded in hosting events that captured the imagination, AY’s concert attracts and caters to only a particular class [wealthy patrons], the exclusivity of his events mean that they do not have representation from a large percentage of the actual population.

In a way never seen before, events are rising to tap into the raw untapped potential of the Easter-boom, below are two events you should be looking out for.

GIDIFEST 

The biggest difference between a music concert and a music festival is in how the latter fills out the edges of the music experience with spontaneous human interactions, festivals by the nature of their length demand that you explore the space where they are situated. You and someone you never knew previously might debate the rise of the Alté wave without inhibitions over a cup of coffee at a festival confectionary stand, a group of otherwise shy girls will open up their hearts and soul to join in spitting Santi’s Rapid Fire rage during the thick of a festival.

Before Boy Better Know there was Gidi Cultural Festival, aka Nigeria’s biggest music festival founded by Chinedu Okeke and Oriteme Banigo, popularly known as Chin and Teme. For all the talk of the wild rise of this cultural festival and all it represents as a business and entertainment model, the success of Gidifest is not incidental, it’s acceptance is grounded in the economic laws of demand and supply.

Nigerian of all age (youth especially) want to enjoy live music, and Gidifest provided that. For one day in April, the biggest stars in Nigerian and African music descend on a location in Lagos to party with their fans festival-style – live performances, drinks, arrays of food and social networking – in a safe space.

In less than seven years, GidiFest has become one of the biggest events on the African coast for delivering music culture conditions. Individuals from diverse walks of life collide in a shared space to have fun away from the hurried, frenzied and ultimately dense entertainment served in December. In April, the vibe is just pure.  

The festival has had performances from the cream of the crop of the Nigerian music industry and in this Western appreciated and increasingly appropriated African music times, it serves as a viable option for keeping the content local and indigenous.

For the 2019 edition, Patoranking has been announced as the headline act and the Apata sisters [Teni and Niniola] will also be playing sets on the main stage as well. 

The importance of GidiFest’s next generation stage – appearing for the second year in a row – is non-negotiable, it gives visibility to artists who may otherwise not be able to play to a crowd that large without the pull of a music festival and ensures that new acts are heard on prestigious platforms.

The likes of fast-rising rapper, Blaqbonez, whose two albums in less than 18 months have pushed him to the forefront of hip hop conversations in Nigeria would be performing on the NextGen stage, amazing artists like Mo’ Believe, Tems, Ogranya, Mich Straaw, Blaqbonez and Dami Oniru are expected to perform as well.

This year’s LineUp is already out.

BBK HOMECOMING

The first time rapper Skepta came to the mainstream notice of Nigerian pop listeners was courtesy of his verse on the remix for Wizkid’s smooth groovy aspiration-fueled anthem ‘Ojuelegba,’ completing a lineup that had Canadian global star Drake to boot. Standing toe to toe with Drake on the track, Skepta served as a bridge of some sort between the African perceptions and the Western understanding of indigenous African sounds/ attitudes.

Since then, Skepta’s profile has blown up in Nigeria, opening his heart and soul to his heritage and being at the frontier of the new wave of African creativity that exists beyond Africa’s physical borders. Skepta along with his brother JME, are at the centre of the cultural blending/ artistically breathtaking collective known as Boy Better Know (BBK). They are everything and anything – musicians, producers, merchandise entrepreneurs, journalists and mobile network merchants.

Skepta has performed at multiple events in Nigeria, notably at multiple NATIVELAND concerts, thrilling fans with his catalogue of grime hits and his genuine love for all things Nigerian, following up from his headlining of NATIVELAND 16, his performance at the 2017 edition, a grandiose plan was formulated to create a full offering of his/associates talents and so came BOY BETTER KNOW HOMECOMING CONCERT 2018.

2018 was a second ‘Homecoming’ of some sort, after an earlier one took place in December 2017 involving only Skepta from the Boy Better Know collective. Boy Better Know 2018 was hosted on April 2, 2018, away from all the luster of December. Skepta attempted to create what his sister, Julie Adenuga, called a “playlist” of African culture, deftly involving music, fashion and football to make a grand offering to the culture. 

BBK 18 continued what was steadily becoming a positive break from the boring norm and narrative of the African entertainment year, smack in the middle of the year was a three day cultural festival that had elements of music, fashion, art and a showing of the finest things Nigerian and by extension African creatives can produce. 

In celebration of the mutually enriching relationship between Nigeria and England, Boy Better Know’s festival had performance from root artists like Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage and Olamide. Veterans of the UK-Nigerian music exchange like  Not3s and J Hus gave ethereal performances. 

Perhaps the most impressive part of the 3-days event was the way it shined a light on the new generation of African musicians who fiercely cling to their identities like Nasty C,  Wavy The Creator, Odunsi The Engine, BOJ, and Santi.

BBK is coming in for a third installation in 2019 and the anticipation could not be any higher. Nigeria is new territory for the collective and they are seemingly set to be here for a long time. 

The greatest significance of Easter-boom events is not its the music or even the events themselves – which are great, make no mistake. 

Easter-boom events breath youthful individuality and ability to organize, qualities which are just what the 21st century requires especially in a nation like Nigeria dominated by older power brokers.

The new generation of African youths are not content to just hustle hard and wait till December to enjoy their work, expression is in their blood and they are going all out to seek thrills on their own terms.

Get your calendars out, April is about to get DETTY! 

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