After a Seventies golden age, the nation’s rock scene fell victim to class woes and negative stereotypes. Now, a unique wave of artists is helping to bring it assistIn 2013, Bianca Okorocha, a Nigerian artist who performs as ClayRocksU, got a DM from one of her Twitter followers. It modified into an invitation to Metal and Romance, a party in Lagos specializing in rock tune — a fashion long plagued by negative stereotypes in Nigeria. When she got there, she couldn’t imagine what she noticed: a total community of fellow rock fans. “It modified into one of the happiest moments of my life,” she remembers. Okorocha grew up paying consideration to her father’s rock records, principally by international bands. Thru her teenage years and early adulthood, she immersed herself in punk trend. But she noticed that folks had been always cautious of her. “In church, I modified into always called to the pastor’s workplace for one criticism or the several,” she says. “Of us always gave me the facet-stumble on and refused to manner me. So I didn’t demand to seem so many people in tune with rock tune.”Throughout Metal and Romance, she modified into disquieted to hear Danjuma, lead singer of the metal band 1 Final Autograph, growl — one thing she’d by no manner viewed a Nigerian make. “After I noticed them build, I talked about to myself, ‘No manner I’m no longer going to collaborate with these guys,’” she says. She’d later turn into traffic with Danjuma, and build and release tune alongside with 1 Final Autograph, at the side of the metal single “Down” in 2014. Presently time, they’re peaceable playing collectively anyplace rock tune might also be chanced on in Lagos and in several places within the nation.And so they’re no longer the single artists leading a unique wave of Nigerian rock. For the Enjoy of Lady and Nation, the most contemporary album by Lagos’ Oma Mahmud, positive aspects each Afrobeats and punk-rock songs, alongside with songs that blend each genres. “There’s a form of of us that essentially wish to take mark tosongs esteem this,” Mahmud says. “Each time I build my tune, it’s frequently one of the highlights of the evening. Largely because most rock songs are of us factual venting their frustrations, and living in Nigeria, [it’s] a nation the place nearly all americans’s frustrated.” His tune speaks to Nigeria’s day to day complications, such as corruption, sorrowful authorities, and a failing economy. Mahmud’s high-vitality performances manufacture his audiences feel connected to his tune. “They without extend lock on to the tune and feel esteem I’m their easiest friend,” he says, “esteem I’m telling their account.”With artists esteem Burna Boy promoting out Madison Square Backyard and Wizkid and Davido doing the same on the 02 Enviornment, Nigerian tune is popping into segment of the Western pop mainstream. Can also Nigerian rock be the next breakout sound? Okorocha thinks so. “If we’ll be capable of combine the rock that we admire with Afrobeats, it would also work a protracted manner,” she says.While rock tune is normally aligned with non-conformity and resistance, in a hyper-non secular society esteem Nigeria, the fashion will likely be branded as execrable — and even linked with the occult. “Most of us factual assume rock fans are paying consideration to one thing demonic,” says Deoye Falade, who started paying consideration to rock and metal within the mid-Nineties and now attends rock gala’s and meetups in Lagos. “The kindest reactions I frequently get is that here is noise.” But, he says, he no longer cares. “At the same time as you esteem one thing and likewise you comprehend it, you factual revel in it.” He remembers a video of a Nigerian marriage ceremony that trended on Twitter in 2018, which featured the couple and their company headbanging to Machine of a Down’s “Toxicity.” Some viewers couldn’t realize why Nigerians had been partying to rock whereas dressed in agbada. “But you don’t enjoy to shade your faces or rock the fashion earlier than you esteem rock tune,” Falade says. A 26-one year-aged Lagos-basically based graphic artist going by the title of Queen, who has cherished punk and metal since she modified into 13, says she felt shunned by her peers for paying consideration to tune from her favourite bands Carry Me the Horizon and Asking Alexandria. “Of us had been cautious of talking to me, and I struggled to manufacture traffic,” she remembers. “When I started rocking and nodding my head, my roommates would remark ‘the spirit’ had possessed me, which is peculiar because even the Christian tune they listened to is radiant powerful rock tune — factual a softer kind.”But rock tune wasn’t always perceived esteem this in Nigeria. In the 1970s, after the Nigerian Civil Battle, and because the nation modified into experiencing an financial increase fueled by the invention of rude oil, rock bands esteem Ofo and the Shadowy Firm, Battle-Head Constriction, the Hykkers, the Funkees, and the Lijadu Sisters graced the airwaves with psychedelic rock and funk that captured a distinctly Nigerian sound. These artists chronicled the evils of the civil war, and Nigerians reveled in a renewed sense of optimism that turbocharged the growth of the nation’s tune trade. But leftover war trauma and unresolved tensions got swept below the rug — alongside with Nigerian rock.Tune historian and researcher Uchenna Ikonne, who spearheaded the two-volume compilation Wake Up You! The Rise and Plunge of Nigerian Rock 1972-1977, says that rock’s formative years enchantment in Nigeria — which place it apart from the then more in fashion kind of juju — within the waste injure the fashion. “In Nigeria, [young people] enjoy the smallest quantity of disposable earnings, when put next with the West the place kids enjoy jobs and can pay money for entertainment, take records, and toughen artists,” he explains. “Teenagers [have never really had] jobs in Nigeria, and the ones that make are doing it to again toughen family. So rock tune had a scrape culture that had a tricky time sustaining itself, as adversarial to juju artists esteem King Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey who would manufacture entire albums praising the richest aristocrats within the society. These social elites would in turn befriend their performances and shower these musicians with their money. … So whereas juju artists had been making money give up fists, rock artists had been struggling.”Ikonne also draws distinctions between Nigerian rock artists and the nation’s most recognizable musical icon, Fela Kuti. On one hand, Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat sound shares stylistic similarities with Nigerian rock: percussive rhythms, and grungy electrical guitar and organ work. (Evaluate the solos in “Ije Udo,” a be aware by Seventies Nigerian rockers Excellent-trying Zenians, as an illustration, with Fela Kuti’s “Shakara.”) But, Ikonne says, “coming from a heart-class background, Fela modified into ready to sidestep the struggles of rock artists on the time, as he had more sources.” In the discontinuance, his experimentation with Afrobeat, highlife, and rock, coupled alongside with his bigger-than-life personality, attracted more consideration than his rock peers. “When [Fela] perfected his sound, it kind of upstaged and cannibalized the Nigerian rock scene,” says Ikonne. By the Eighties, an generation that noticed a growth of Christian revivalism in Nigeria, intently influenced by the Honest Majority circulation within the US, rock tune gained a cross fetch within the nation. These prejudices enjoy lingered for a few years. Even within the 2000s, Dammy Lawal, who grew up paying consideration to international rock artists and would scamper on to chanced on the Metal and Romance fest, confronted criticism for his fashion in tune. “Most of what I modified into hearing modified into that it’s the devil’s tune,” he remembers. In 2013, Lawal started a BlackBerry Messenger community the place he and his traffic might portion rock playlists. “We had of us sharing songs from Timid to Linkin Park, AC/DC to Creed, and up to now more,” Lawal says.The collective grew and transferred to WhatsApp. As every community reached its member limits on the app, more moderen offshoots had been fashioned: RockazWorld, Rock Republik, Rock Haven. In a roundabout arrangement, Dammy decided to host an in-particular person occasion: Metal and Romance, the place he also met ClayRocksU. “It modified into intended to be a meetup for sharing tune playlists and dancing to our favourite songs, however by the next one year, members started demanding that we encompass performances,” he says. “That modified into after we knew we needed to host an real present with an even bigger venue. We had been on to one thing.”In October 2015, Rocktober Fest modified into born. Rock bands and artists visited from everywhere Africa to befriend the present. Greater than 700 tickets had been equipped, and 15 performers happy fans. The numbers grew exponentially over the next two years. Lawal believes that African rock artists need to comprise their culture, somewhat than merely emulating Western sounds. “The absolute best rock songs are the ones that enjoy native fashion,” he says.Oma Mahmud concurs, asserting that Nigerian rock artists enjoy to manufacture rock tune “native” to the nation. “I will build usual punk-rock songs, however I know who I demand to listen,” he says. “But to scale, the rock has to sound [more] Nigerian.” He says that his traffic frequently play his songs in entrance of random of us, “to seem if it’ll draw a reaction.” It always does. “At the same time as you hear rock tune that sounds esteem it comes from here,” he says, pointing to his heart, “it catches of us’s consideration.” In 2021, Afrofolk artist Johnny Drille featured a punk-rock tune on his album Earlier than We Plunge Asleep — a politically satirical rock tune in pidgin that positive aspects growling — to determined reception. ClayRocksU excels at one thing identical, fusing Igbo language and native pidgin folks positive aspects with punk rock. In February 2021, she released “Amin” alongside with her band, the Misfits, creating a subgenre of sorts: “Afro-rock.” With the tune — a feel-appropriate tune sung in Nigerian pidgin and mixing punk rock, Afrobeats, and folks — Okorocha and Co. are also making an are attempting to grief the negative stereotypes connected to rock tune in this segment of the arena. The singer remembers performances the place viewers members had been disquieted to learn that what they had been paying consideration to modified into rock tune. “Most often, of us don’t care about fashion,” she says. “They factual esteem what they esteem.” The lyric video for “Amin” now has 12,000 views on YouTube, a feat she’s carried out organically.“No longer cross for a rock artist in a nation the place no one listens to rock, eh?” she asks.From Rolling Stone US.