By: Muhammed Lamin Drammeh
“Gambian artists don’t have proper administrators that will be able to administer their craft and advise them as to what is playable in the market,” artist manager and music business consultant in the Gambia, D Jobz said as he outlined why Gambin music still remain less popular compared to artists from other countries in the Gambia.
Gambian music spectacle has seen some glimmer of growth over the years, however, despite the seemingly glittering fortune and headway in the Gambia music industry, foreign music continues to dominate Gambian media airwaves and night clubs. Gambian artists Binbunka and Chronic Bob as well as a music promoter and consultant, Dembo Jorbarteh alias D Jobz, shared their opinions about the dominance of foreign music in the Gambia and explained why Gambian music continues to linger behind compared to Senegalese and Nigerian music.
According to Binbunka, a female singer and the wife of singer Baddibunka, Gambian artists now produce quality music like those from Senegal and Nigeria. To Binbunka, many Gambians listen to Nigerian music because they chose to and not because of the bad quality of songs by Gambian artists.
She added that many Gambians prefer Nigerian music to Gambian songs because of the nature of clubbing.
“Nigerian music is a club type and the younger generation are well aware of clubs and partying, so they are familiar with those types of music,” Binbunka narrated.
On the side, Chronic Bob, another Gambian rapper who spoke to The Fatu Network, explained that Gambian music doesn’t have a wider market compared to other artists from different countries. This, many people including Gambians listen to those artists more than Gambians artists. He asserted that the Nigerian Afrobeat has taken over the music industry worldwide. He augmented that Gambian music riddim is not even recognised Internationally.
“We are moving but we are not yet there. Our genre itself should first be recognised. We need to do more work for our music to be internationally recognised,” he said.
The young rapper explained that it is sad that Gambian music presenters and DJs play more foreign songs than songs produced by Gambian artists.
Dembo Jobarteh, who is known to many by his sobriquet D Jobz, is a Gambian music promoter, artist manager and music business consultant. The outspoken D jobz said the Gambian music industry, based on the availability of crowds, has grown but business-wise, the industry is far from being on top.
Jobz, who at one time managed sensational Gambian rapper ST Brikama Boyo, said he doesn’t see the Gambian music industry as a developed enterprise in the business aspect.
“I have always said this. The music industry in the Gambia is partially developed. Is not fully developed because this is an industry where people depend entirely on gate-takings for survival,” he pointed out.
According to D Jobz, one reason why Gambian DJs and music presenters promote more foreign music is that Gambians have so much flair for anything international. He said Gambians believe that anything that comes from foreign is the best.
Jobz, in explaining the slow pace of Gambian music and the reason for the promotion of more foreign songs in the country, argued that another reason for it is that Gambian DJs and presenters do not have or understand the legislative aspects of the music business.
“Gambian DJs and presenters don’t know about the legislative copyright laws, infringement, and the realities surrounding copyright laws in the country. But because the copyright laws in the country have not been enforced, the DJs and presenters will of course continue to play more foreign songs in the country,” he asserted.
He pointed out the copyright act should be guiding Gambian DJs to be playing Gambian songs.
D Jobz agreed with Chronic Bob that Nigerian Afrobeat sound is epic and is the dominion in the music industry which is why it is controlling the music scene, another reason why many align, listen or enjoy Nigerian songs more than Gambian songs.
“For our music to be able to be considered an international level, there are so many factors that will be responsible to be in place. One is that the marketable genre has to be played by our artists,” he pointed out.
He added that for the genre to be adapted and consistent, Gambian artists need to have skills to maintain that.
Hardly, a year passes by without Gambians longing for foreign artists to come to the Gambia despite the crop of artists the country is endowed with. Numerous Gambians preferred to invest in foreign artists to come to the country rather than Gambian artists they have here.