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New Sound, Who’s This?

When I first discovered Adekunle Gold’s music, it felt like I had struck gold (literally). I wanted to protect it, and I felt an immense sense of duty to enjoy the beauty of his music. So, when Afro Pop, Vol 1 dropped, and I saw the reviews about him exploring a new style, I was naturally hesitant to listen.” 

Growth. Movement. Discovery. These are three things every creative yearns to experience as they navigate their journey to creating timeless art. To grow, develop and explore different mediums and find new ways to share their art. To uncover new abilities while maintaining relevance in a dynamic world.

In music, the stakes are not so different. Every day a new sound is born, new artists are discovered, and new music genres are created. The pressure to keep up and create mind-blowing music that’ll connect souls can be quite damning. On the other hand, there’s the comfort/stability that comes from honing your sound and creating within that circle. You become a maestro because you have learned to nurture your art in that space. But with comfort comes complacency, and only bold artists get to take brave leaps into new territories. 

It’s been quite a consistent theme amongst music lovers and fans to throw a fit and register their disapproval when an artist diversifies or explores a new sound outside their comfort zone. To be fair, a lot of it comes from a place of genuine love, concern for the artists’ craft, as well as worry that this might affect them adversely. But the truth remains that trying something new is a blind leap of faith, and even with music, the path isn’t always as clear.

When Wizkid released his first studio album Superstar, he was a young, fresh, energetic artist, trying to navigate the Nigerian music scene in 2011. His music was a clear representation of that era. One decade later, it’s beautiful to watch him mature into a world-class artist, a testament that having room to explore is very essential.

But when I eventually did, I understood and appreciated the beauty of growth, the joy that comes with keying into another aspect, developing, evolving.”

Just like me, I imagine that a lot of music lovers feel the need to gate-keep their favorite artist’s sound. Perhaps, to help us continually feed into the perception we had when we first met them, to feel how we felt when we first heard them. Nostalgia is quite a drug, if you ask me. But between fear and nostalgia, there’ll never be a valid reason to boycott growth. 

From the moment you discover music that speaks to you, you create a bond with the art and the artist. You’re comfortable, you feel at home. However, we forget that, like everyone else, artists evolve, learn new things, and have new experiences that’ll affect their creative process and their creation.

For Simi, her journey is one that takes you through all the motions, giving you a chance to appreciate the value of consistency. Experiencing her work grow in real-time, from Simisola to TBH, you can trace a linear line from passion, through hard work, growth, and mastery. The importance of artistic freedom cannot be overemphasized.

In a bid to protect their craft, we mustn’t stifle, or box their art. It’s important that we embrace processes and paths as a means to an end. It takes so much bravery to break out of a phase and start a new cycle. We must encourage such audacity.

I’d be damned if, in five years, my writing style hasn’t changed. Doomed, if I haven’t learned new things, met new people, or had new experiences. I’d imagine that you’d be too. Art is transcendent. Yet it requires nurture and room to bloom. I hope we learn to extend such graces to talents as well as I have learned to.

So now, when I miss the ‘Old AG,’ I stream ‘About 30‘ and Gold.”

Jacqueline Alabi
Jacqueline Alabi
Jacqueline Alabi is a Nigerian content writer and storyteller, passionate about amplifying stories about the African creative industry. Outside work, Jacqueline's favorite pastime is watching rom-coms and pretending to be the main character in them. A true Gen-Z babe, she believes that soft work will always be greater than hard work, so she balances both.