Dare to be different

African artists at Coke Studio Africa (Image courtesy of www.coca-colacompany.com)
African artists at Coke Studio Africa (Image courtesy of http://www.coca-colacompany.com)

African music is diverse with each country in the continent having its own distinct sound. While most artists would opt to do conventional music for the particular country that they represent, a few have veered off and ventured into different styles that make them stand out. I will however focus on Nigeria’s Patoranking for this article.

Nigerian dance hall artist Patoranking (Image courtesy of www.nigerianeye.com)
Nigerian dance hall artist Patoranking (Image courtesy of http://www.nigerianeye.com)

Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie popularly known as Patoranking is a 25-year-old Nigerian- Dancehall artist who got his first recording deal in 2010, but gained much recognition in 2014 after a remix to his hit single “Girlie O” featuring Tiwa Savage. Considering top Nigerian artists WizKid, Davido, Tiwa Savage and Yemmi Alade, I would describe Nigerian music as pop with an African feel to it. On the other hand, Dancehall, which is what Patoranking has embraced as his style of music is a genre of Jamaican music with a sparse version of reggae that entails the use of Patois language.

Watching this video, unless you know where he is from, Patoranking seems more of Jamaican than Nigerian. What stands out is that he not only embraces the Jamaican beats, but owns the language and culture expressed in the music video, making him believable. So good is he that he is now amongst the most sought after African artists for music collaborations, having worked with among others Nigeria’s Skales, Zambia’s Roberto, Ghana’s Stonebwoy and Uganda’s Jose Chameleon.

A lesson to learn from Patoranking:
I first I heard of Patoranking in 2014 with the “Girlie O remix”. A good first impression was made and I could not wait to listen to other Patoranking songs. Despite not knowing that he was in fact Nigerian and not Jamaican,I was drawn to his energy. Such is the kind of fan- base that every artist should strive to have. Fans who will support you irrespective of who you are and the style of music that you do as long as you manifest talent. Patoranking through consistency has pulled back his audience and ensured that they maintain their loyalty to him this far. That is how you survive as an artist with a non- conventional style.

On the Flip Side:

The longevity of Patoranking’s career will depend largely on consistency, his ability to constantly re- invent himself and persistence that will not allow Africa (and the world in general) at any point to forget about him. Patoranking would have to work twice as hard compared to other artists doing music that has already penetrated the African market, with the need to keep proving himself with every new song that he does in order to remain relevant.

That said, it takes a lot of brevity to venture into the unfamiliar knowing that humans are more receptive to what they know. Patoranking is indeed proof that being authentic is not going with the crowd but standing out in a crowd.

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