THE IMAGE PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN IN NIGERIAN POPULAR MUSIC
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The study was carried out to examine the image portrayal of women in Nigerian popular music. Due to the increasing popularity of Nigerian pop music, and the astoundingly productive Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, Nigeria’s creative industries are attracting worldwide attention. This has necessitated the need for the researcher to looks at the problematic representations of women in the Nigerian media, Hip-hop music has taken a very unique dimension in the Nigerian music scene. It has emerged as a means of expression among the youth on a wide range of issues. Since its emergence in Nigeria in the 90’s, the music has gone through a lot of transformation. However, a worrisome trend in this development is the fragrant display of women as sex symbols The degree of violence against women and misogynistic ideologies being expressed in the lyrics has been a subject of scholarly enquiry in recent times. This study therefore takes a look at the use of women as mere tools and objects claimed and cascaded around by Hip-hop artistes in Nigeria as a means of enhancing their celebrity status and commercial viability.
1.1 Background of the study
The prevalence of hypersexualised representations and negative images of women presented in popular music, which are closely linked to cultural views of masculinity seem in recent times to have become dominant and magnified in Nigerian’s popular musical lyrics- the modern hip-hop afro beat, with the special blend of English and local dialect. Women in a special way have become objects of ‘inspiration’ for these popular Nigerian artistes’ lyrics. Everything about them (women) form part of the musical lyrics- waist, butts, and boobs-as most artistes bluntly refer to. And it is common sights to see and hear the women (particularly the young women) recite and dance to these tunes in socio- cultural settings. Moreover these young women form a heavy weight of the economic currency distribution of these musicals. What we see in Nigerian popular music is apparently a replication of common trends in popular music globally. Studies, (see Mckenna, 2006; Adams & Fuller, 2006; Chatterji, 2012; Jocelyn, 2005; Espinosa, 2010; Frazier, 2013; Brathwaite, 2013 and Glantz, 2013) have shown that, current trends in popular music include an increasingly sexualized representation of women, and the motives and consequences of this are unclear. Considering the potential powers of popular music and media as a common vehicle for the dissemination of the discursive construction of women and their importance to construction of identity in any culture, a framework for how women who are exposed to or enmeshed within these sites seem necessary, in order to understand their impact on them. Looking at these Nigerian musical popular lyrics in particular can help detail any potential effects on young women to both their benefit and detriment. On the surface, sexism in much of popular hip-hop culture has influenced Nigerian youth culture today, and has redefined the images of Nigerian women in film and music. If you grew up in the 1990s in Nigeria, you remember Onyeka Onwenu, all closely-cropped hair and wholesome elegance, with her songs of lost love and unity. You will also remember Christy Essien-Igbokwe’s gentle mien, and her impressive Yoruba showcased in her hit song “Seun Rere”, or even her tears in her music video for “See the children”. Evi-Edna Ogholi had her hits as well; you probably blew out candles on a cake to her “Happy Birthday” song. These women, along with a few others, were pop-stars, and earned plaudits and renown alongside the many male artists that dominated Nigerian music in the 1990s. But the Mama Africa imagery that prevailed in that cultural moment meant these pop-stars did not roam too far off from cultural expectations. Today’s young female artists are different. They dress more sexily than those who came before them and quietly acknowledge their sexuality, albeit not flaunting it as strongly in their music as their American counterparts. The warm, maternal images that ruled the 1990s would look ungainly on contemporary performers such as Waje, or Tiwa Savage, or Omawunmi, or just about any of the young women who now take the stage to the applause of fans all over the country.
That is not to say that expectations of sexiness and fashion that come with the Nigerian youthful affinity to hip-hop have completely overridden what has been for years the more demure Nigerian ideal. Still, what popular music and film projects as an image of Nigerian womanhood does not in the end reflect the realities of Nigeria’s diverse population of women. Even with the superficial differences in outlook, Nigerian pop music, just as popular film, depict women in the same stereotypical way, which leaves little room for representing the full diversity of Nigerian women, or for exploring the realities of the many gendered exclusions and double-standards in Nigerian society. This continuity in stereotypical cultural depictions does not bode well for any improvement in the representation of women in the popular imagination. With the Nigerian young females under focus, this work seeks to, determine how young females in Nigeria understand and/or perceive representations of women in Nigerian popular music, and how these perceptions reflect, refute, or inform two prominent radical feminist theories –the radical libertarian and the radical culturalist-about popular music’s impact on women’s overall spaces for action. Representations of women emerging as of particular importance in this study are those produced by popular music artistes ‘Flavour’. Flavour’s music was selected for this study basically because of its popularity among the youths and its explicit use of sexually derogatory lyrics which seem to both glamorize and promote images of women as objects of sexuality and male possession. David Wolper, in an interview about his production of the Los Angeles Olympic ceremonies stated: “we are going to have lots of music, because music is the United States’ gift to the world”. This statement shows the overwhelming influence of American music on music of other world cultures. The last two decades have witnessed tremendous growth in the Hip-hop music culture in Nigeria. Numerous studies have equally demonstrated the significant rise and development of the genre among the youth. (Omoniyi, 2008; Omojola, 2006; Ssewakiryanga, 1999). Because of its enormous appeal, it has also been used as a medium for expressing a variety of ideas, feelings, and emotions. However, there has been a growing concern on the negative impact of the music on the perception of women in the society. In spite of the seeming financial success and popularity of the musicians, hip-hop culture is frequently condemned for its misogynistic exploitation of women.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Nigerian film and music videos have been around longer than the more youth-driven popular music industry, but the parallels between the representations of women in the more liberal youth culture and the conservative mores being advocated for in Nigerian film are striking. Having internalized much of commercial American hip-hop’s excesses in music videos, popular music videos often feature overt displays of wealth alongside depictions of women as money-hungry and easily bought. It is in view of this that the researcher intend to investigate the image of portrayal of women in Nigeria popular music.
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The aim of this study is to examine the image portrayal of women in Nigerian popular music, but to aid the completion of the study, the researcher intend to achieve the following specific objective;
- To ascertain the dominant ethos in Flavor’s musical lyrics
- To examine the extent that Nigerian women are exposed to Flavour’s music.
- To examine Nigerian women’s perceptions of gender representations in the selected lyrics.
- To examine how women perceive these musical lyrics as demeaning to womanhood,
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
To aid the completion of the study, the following research question were formulated by the researcher;
- Is there dominant ethos in Flavor’s musical lyrics?
- To what extent are Nigerian women exposed to Flavour’s music?
- What is the Nigerian women’s perceptions of gender representations in the selected lyrics?
- How do women perceive these musical lyrics as demeaning to womanhood?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of importance to Nigerian music and video census board, as the findings of this study will help explore the content of flavor music videos and it representation of womanhood in Nigeria, the study will also be of importance to the department of art and humanity as the findings of the study will be useful for academic purposes, the study will also be of importance to researchers and intending researchers who desire to embark on a study in a similar topic as the study will serve as a reference point to further research, finally the study will also be of great importance to academia, student and the general public as the study will contribute to the pool of existing literature on the subject matter.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study covers the image portrayal of women in Nigerian popular music; but in the cause of the study, there are some factors that limited the scope of the study
- a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
- b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
- c) Finance: Limited Access to the required finance makes it difficult to broaden the scope of the study;
1.7 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The study used both quantitative and qualitative research approaches to gauge young female perceptions and analysis of gender portrayal in Flavour’s musical lyrics. Hence, the survey research methodology and Focus Group Discussion and questionnaire (FGDQ) were adopted. The researcher employed oral and direct interview and questionnaire in administering this research questions. Responses from the respondents were needed, which is less rewarding due to late receipt and loss of responses from respondents. The method of data analysis used by the researcher is the percentage technique and chi-square statistics. More so, percentage and degrees of the responses were also used in the analysis. Here, the ratio of those whose responses were not in the affirmative were found and conclusions were drawn there upon.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Image: this is a representation of the external form of a person or thing in art, or the general impression that a person, organization, or product presents to the public.
Portrayal: this a depiction of someone or something in a work of art or literature; a picture, or a description of someone or something in a particular way; a representation.
Women: A woman is an adult female human. Prior to adulthood, a female human is referred to as a girl. The plural women is sometimes used in certain phrases such as “women’s rights” to denote female humans regardless of age.
Music: this is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies.
Hip hop music: or hip-hop music, also known as rap music, is a genre of popular music developed in the United States by inner-city African Americans.
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