There’s always something from back home that is in all of us, for all of us. Vector and Bez found it in 2016.
Home is where the heart is. Home is where you can always return; your safe haven, once responsible for your formation, but now ever present as a backup plan, which calls out to you, offers you rest and a completion of the circle of life.
We have all gone home at many points to ease our minds, and embrace nostalgia. We have returned to the streets that we used to run, and embraced our childhood memories, while wishing that we could go back to the way that things were. Many times, it’s just a wish. A fleeting, haunting feeling of and craving that never transcends into reality.
We are grown now. We have moved closer to the sun, closer to our deathbeds, and with each step, farther from home and all the joys that exists only in our memories. It is impossible to return home for good. We adults, we have moved on.
But in music, home never leaves. Home is still alive, still breathing, still ruling our consciousness from a distance. That’s why the songs of your childhood are still dear, and the tastes that we develop from home are always with us.
Musicians are normal people and they constantly long for home too. They feel the burning need to embrace the past, pick from it, and bring it into their future. That’s why a favorite topic in interviews is: Who were your earlier influences.
In 2016, two Nigerian artistes went back home. They dug deep into their formative years, and found ways to create music that is both contemporary, but possessing elements of their past influences.
“To understand the future, we must understand the past” Vector has maintained as he preached about the coming of the album “Lafiaji”. In his new album, the rapper seeks immortality for the cornerstone of his experiences growing up in Lafiaji (Lagos Island).
Vector grew up in the barracks on King George the 5 Road in Lafiaji, a place which serves as a microcosm of the world and the struggle to achieve on earth. During the growth of the young Vector, he experienced wholesome and stimulating events, which became parts of what created the zany rapper that has continued to polarise opinion; carnivals, riots, beef, love, worship, friendship, and most importantly, family, were the strongest points of these.
The rapper digs deep into that past, and simplifies it, enabling us to plough through his music and experience first-hand and personally, the various fibres and elements that made him. This is an invitation into Lafiaji, his first world, and cradle of his creativity. It is nostalgic, poignant and immersive.
While Vector was more experiential, Bez pivoted to sonic composition of home on “Gbagyi Child”.
The sophomore album from the Nigerian alternative singer Bez is a triumph that more than justifies the five-year break since his last outing, 2011’s revelatory “Super Sun”.
These are serene and uplifting tunes, with bursts of rock and possessive inspiration. It’s hard to think of a 2016 album that’s more compact and crafted with such attention to detail. And too few are as much of a complete enjoyment as these 13 tracks.
Bez first found success almost 5 years ago, with 2011’s “Super Sun”, a collection of romantic and fusion ballads that boasted the killer single ‘Stupid Song’, which remains an alternative classic. Over the ensuing years, he has toured and released follow-up singles, which was made with similarly minute precision, but was more complex and seemed more likely to be played in mainstream radio.
So I went for a poetry gathering, and somebody said the white people come, they take our art, and then they create something amazing from it.” Bez said of the inspiration for the project. “That struck me. So I said, why don’t I go back to my village, listen to the local music being played, and then sample that music. Then put the music into what I normally would create.”
Bez later shared the inspiration with Cobhams Asuquo, his creator in chief, and together, they travelled to his hometown Karu, a quiet village on the outskirts of Abuja, where they gathered the best local instrumentalists for a three-hour session of pure magic. The sounds were taken across the Atlantic Ocean, to New York for recording with a band, and then on to Houston (Texas), and then to Nashville (Tennessee), where the guitars, horns, and finishing percussive touches were applied.
That album, was arguably the best Nigerian full-length project of 2016. And it came from ‘home’.
These artistes made their home and its stories a part of the music and properly documented and shared it to provide life to the albums. The inspiration birthed the projects, and set the ball rolling for whatever comes after. The final product that we hear in the clubs, via the aux cords, the radio, and on TV is the bye-product of all that inspired artistry.
These artistes took us back home for their creative process, and created projects that should remind us of why home should never be left. There’s always something from back home that is in all of us, for all of us. Love, art, perspective and more reside in the past.
We should never leave home in our hearts.