The argument by certain music enthusiasts is that Zanku has a long reign left on the throne. The statement might have some issues that will create a disagreement and consequently a debate.
Nigeria is one country where the music diversity and dynamism is very rapid, such that what is obtainable in a particular generation might not be acceptable in the next. Sometimes, the sound would only last for a few years, before it is displaced by something different and ‘better’.
The longevity of a sound is based on elements such as the artiste plying that sound, the audience base and of course, how consistent to change is the sound with the ever-changing music market.
The ability to incorporate all these factors determine how long the sound stays with the audience. Nigerians enjoy a variety of underground sounds that with hardwork on the path of the artistes have risen to become a popular genre.
One of these sound is Zanku which has clouded the space for two years running, however, the end for it now seems imminent. One thing about proprietors of new sounds in Nigeria is that they fail to understand that like all good things, one must evolve with the scape.
Without any shred of doubt, Zanku is slowly ebbing away. Its progenitors, Zlatan Ibile and Naira Marley seem to be fighting hard, even seeking a Pyrrhic victory, an action that now seems belated and unnecessary.
The truth is that street pop of whatever kind in Nigeria comes and for a while dominates the scene. Everyone is dancing and vibing to it, but after a while it just fades into obscurity. While this writer will not take the luxury to explain that in this article, the underlying summary is that Zanku is dying.
If you doubt the paragraph above, you might want to browse up names like Terry G, Lil Kesh, and Slim Case who at different times brought Sanko, Shoki, and Shaku Shaku sounds and its dance steps. Those sounds are gone, fizzled away with the wind and Zanku is most certainly going to join them.
Zlatan Ibile and Naira Marley enjoyed this sound, which drew audience members from all strata of the country. The ghetto bop and it’s thrilling dance step was hard to miss. Songs like ‘Bolanle’, ‘Yeye Boyfriend’, ‘Soapy’, ‘Puta‘ became instant bangers. It brought dancers like Poco Lee to the public glare and everyone leg-worked and sweated to the boisterous sound.It was so good that artistes like Olamide jumped on it with ‘Woske’, while Burna Boy made a hit with ‘Killin Dem‘ on which he featured Zlatan.
Sadly, Zanku has utilized its time and must take a bow off the stage. As earlier stated, most street-pop sounds in Nigeria fail to evolve with the music market, as Zanku has done.
Music journalist, Joey Akan writes, “Zanku has saturated the mainstream market, and has no room for growth left. While the sound failed to evolve, the dance did the opposite. The dancing held it down for longer. The first Zanku dance we ever did, looks way different from the one that is in vogue. The full body workout. People created intricate combinations and improved on it to keep the moves fresh. But the music? It stopped growing long ago.”
The truth is that the exit of Zanku is not an indication of the proprietor’s music capability. Yes, they might have missed a memo or two about revamping and constantly restructuring music, the death is honestly no fault of theirs.
The market is seldomly loyal to an artiste and will spit you out with sizzling alacrity if you fail to deliver. Audience members can be likened to a child with his favorite toy. He is emotionally attached to it and it seems unlikely that he will let it go, but present him with a new toy and watch him give that old toy up easily. To last long in the industry, growth is an integral part and if you fail to do so, you’ll be washed up faster than the waves can even kiss the shore.
During an interview with DJ Vlad, Akon said, “Urban audience ain’t loyal, every year there’s a new nigga. You gotta maximize your urban presence and right as that new slide in, you exit. You gotta continue to reinvent yourself.”
And that is what Zanku failed to do, it failed to reinvent itself. It continued banging its raucous sound, and well, the audience is fed up with it.It is important to state here that one mainstream artiste that has been able to grow with the sound is Burna Boy as evident in two tracks off his 2020 album, ‘Twice As Tall’. There’s ‘Bebo’ and ‘Comma’, produced by Rexxie who remains a household name when it comes to the sound. The songs are put into the album with a reason, one Burna Boy is showing how dynamic he can be. Two, he is connecting to the local market while eyeing the international space.
As Zanku takes an uneventful plunge into the river, Zlatan Ibile and Naira Marley can comfort themselves that the ripples from the plunge will stay a while before the calm settles in.Photo Credit: Instagram