Is Clay’s Music Vessel Cracking?

Posted: March 14, 2016 in News
Tags: , ,

More than once has it been said that Clay has a unique voice. She has that African feel to rock music and redefines it in her own unique style. The queen of rock (as she’s fondly called) has captivated most rock fans. She rocks the stage effortlessly and songs like “Ogadisinma”, “Potatoes”, “Down” and covers like “Jailer” and “Godwin” have kept us coming back for more. She reveals her debut EP is on the way however, she draws our attention with certain words which we cannot overlook or take in a stride.

clay new
Last week, a Facebook post rolled out from Nigeria’s top female rock artiste Clay, causing quite a stir. We at the Naija School of Rock tower decided to take this as a matter of urgency. Not only because it seems to be breaking “news”, but it can simply be referred to or interpreted as a breaking ranks of identity, feelings, conscience or better still – a news that will shake the rock music infancy and budding configurations in Nigeria, if she decides to re-clay her current mould by “turning left” or allowing her commercially driven consultants to have more decibels in her pretty ears.

Her Facebook post reads as follows:

“I am in a place in my career where am trying to find the perfect balance to rock and African pop. My business partner and producer @coldflamesbeats (tries to) brings out my pop side (not without a showdown) and I Clay would die a rockhead.”

Usually, the temptation is “brickly” strong to waive-off for a music artiste when theories of commercialization come to tell against an indebted music identity, but what happens to the grace of pioneers in a fresh field of endeavour (like she is)?

Moreover, when a question bothers and beats the heart like a sledge, it brings fear to the average rock -passionate and an aura of confusion within the circles of followership (except the end point is a niche better of course). But to smoothen the possibility of active anxiety amongst Nigerian rock-music lovers/followers, a better part of her wants to retain her full “Rock Diva” status, but we know that when money is at the other end of a rope in a tug-of-war, without the muscles of will-power, a crack is inevitable.

Okay, so let’s take a dash into history for a few seconds

The emergence of rock ’n’ roll was an event of great cultural significance. Several issues demand our attention. First, rock ’n’ roll was neither a “new”, nor indeed even a single musical style; second, the rock ’n’ roll era does not mark the first time that music was written specifically to appeal to young people; third, rock ’n’ roll was certainly not the first American music to fuse black and white popular styles.

The new audience was dominated by the so-called baby boom generation born immediately following World War II. It was a much younger target group than ever before, a large audience that shared specific characteristics of group cultural identity. These were kids growing up in the 1950s, a period of relative economic stability and prosperity marked by a return to socially and politically conservative ways. This was also the first generation to grow up with television; this new mass medium proved a force of incalculable influence.

The term “rock ’n’ roll” was first used for commercial and generational purposes by disc jockey Alan Freed. In the early 1950s Freed discovered that increasing numbers of young white kids were listening to and requesting the rhythm & blues records he played on his night-time program in Cleveland – records he began to call “rock ’n’ roll.

Clay goth


Now that we know it’s origin, it is surprising with full understanding, why this genre of sound is still suffering in Nigeria and why a full-fledged and thorough rock-breed artiste will face such conscientious exercise from her default musical nature.

She further said:

“It’s been a very long struggle, first of all going from just English lyrics to English and Ibo .a harder struggle to add pidgin(as I can’t speak naija patois well) to my songs, an even bloodier battle to be more ‘commercial ‘ (not that a lot of you notice the commerciality). I have fought, cried,walked-out on recordings, cut off phone calls just so I won’t be anything else…”

A war that seeks to clarify the  identity of a talent within and without can’t be more fiery than that especially when it becomes passionately fiery and emotionally draining.

In the past, we’ve seen many initially rock-driven artiste capitulate (to put it mildly) and make a 180 degrees turn from their early grafts. The crack and fall was so evident that it ridiculed the rock faith that you wonder why they bothered to venture into the emotion-filled genre in the first place. Names of such artistes  who have changed loyalty won’t be mentioned because the future is still unclear. It’s no news when American rapper – Lil Wayne confessed that he’s a “rock fan” – it brings on a wry smile to our faces.

“….But in the long run I realise that CLAY only becomes ‘better and better’ . I realise that I actually don’t just wanna be a rockstar but a ‘Nigerian’ Rockstar to the rest of the world . I realise that I can’t shy away from culture but I can take old culture and make something beautiful in music. I realise that maybe I can indeed find my self here in my roots than looking elsewhere. I realise… I realise….. I realise….That CLAY will always be moulded, remoulded and moulded.”

It is still too early to conclude, but will her crack reverse and re-mould? Her confession on realisation is not enough for her attorney to win her against the appellant of “jollof-music-syndicates” and the “I need to hammer” syndrome. We agree for all good intentions from Coldflames that money is key for the business, but to a natural like Clay, her vocal wiring, graphic engineering plus that rock diva status we see and fame in her may bleed for a less unique culture, a watered-down atmosphere of same-of-the-same beat making and Afro-centricism which is “pluto” away from her natural configuration and alignment. Just imagine Clay dancing like Yemi Alade, or you imagine that Evanescence-esque voice pitching like Tiwa Savage or stunted-for-the-sake-of-convenience for jollof reasons and reasoning or looking for the buttocks or waist to swing around like….. it’s simply incomprehensible at this stage of her professional life.

In recommendation, more work is key.

“…I realise that I actually don’t just wanna be a rockstar,” she explained. “but a ‘Nigerian’ Rockstar to the rest of the world.” Now, that is a commendable ambition. That is a healthy direction. That is realistic. However, we must also evaluate the subject here. As said earlier, Clay’s holistic artistry is foreign till date. Her physique and vocal eloquence is unique in Nigeria. It will take a monumental identity drift for her followers to take plus her own adaptability will be questioned. She has done covers on “Godwin by Korede Bello”, “I luv My Baby by Wizkid” which are songs in Afro-urban, but only the lyrics mattered, not the musicology.

First, It will be smart to programme a fan-penetrating tour. That will take investment which we believe won’t be so “expensive” if she approaches voluntary investors.

Secondly, she and her team should make research emergencies. Clay is not “designed” for jollof we’ll refrain from seeing her inappropriate in a different culture unbefitting her personality.

Thirdly, business is key. Her management should engage aggressive content push into the market and equally focus on her way-to-the-top P.R management schedules. She’s a quiet person no doubt, she MUST be un-shelled and re-unveiled like a new angelic bride with a different but yet unpopular genre of music with those indigenous contents her management are hastening to cook her into.

Lastly, her contents can waive between affection and inspirational (if not religious). Nigerians are easily penetrated with the God-factor. But she can be more inspirational with her lyrics – simple chorus lyrics and 2/4 beat make-up for the kick and snare drumline to wake up sleeping feet.

There are many recommendations to make. Sure, everyone is a coach, but the simple things mixed with aggressive pursuits of your own target for a popular identity pay off with time and most times – in time. Emotional involvement in humanitarian events, meeting the right FEW people and keeping your encouraging old friends make your efforts fruitful long-term.

So if Clay is facing pressure and sahara-level of heat to crack within her bricks, she shouldn’t water-down her contents. Instead, water-up with a water-tight plan to relaunch to re-build the art. Art and science have that in common atimes: Research – Remember – Review – Reform and Re-launch.

So guys, what do you think? Could this be a punch that Clay will deviate a little from rock soon? Are you psyched for Clay’s forthcoming EP? Let us hear your thoughts in the comment box below

  1. Menah says:

    She’s in that position where she’s got to choose between what she loves and what is more profitable. These days, it’s all about the benjamins. How many people are doing stuff just cuz they love it irrespective of the amount of money it’s bringing in? What happens to fending for yourself. Ah well, I pray God grants her wisdom to handle this the best way possible.

  2. Valerie says:

    I would not be surprised if it happened.. she would not be the first and certainly not the last if she deviated but, i must say that for a lot of us rock lovers out there, she was a breath of fresh air and the fact that we could identify with one female rock star who remained steadfast made us love her the more.
    Personally i would be sad if she deviates but then… it’s Her music, Her career, Her heart and in the end,… Her Business.

  3. gloverdeb says:

    The question that bogs my mind is: do you change who you are for the benefit you stand to gain?

    Clay said and I quote “I have always had an imaginary rock band named Clay even when I was in secondary school.”

    As Valerie says, it’s her life and her choices but I personally feel that rock music is a lot better than it used to be years back. There is more awareness of the genre and even a friend of mine who only listens to Naija music could ask me to send him Potatoes. It’s just a matter of a little more time, the money will come rolling in.

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