Financial Times: Nigerian musicians inspired by deep cultural legacy

Credit: Joseph Okpako/WireImage

When ClassiQ, a singer and rapper born in Bauchi state, wanted to connect old Hausa music from northern Nigeria to his contemporary sound, he bought an MP3 player. He loaded on about 400 songs by Hausa music legends such as Mamman Shata, Alhaji Musa Dankwairo and Dan Maraya Jos.

ClassiQ listened to the tracks for more than three months and then invited into the studio a blind, traditionally trained guitarist, Mallam Musa, whom he had met two years earlier in a Lagos suburb. “Culture is a very important part of the north and no one has been able to pick up where the legends left off,” ClassiQ says. “So I wanted to bridge the gap.”

The result is an album, New North, that exemplifies a growing trend of musicians across Nigeria merging modern music genres — in ClassiQ’s case, rap — with the indigenous sounds of different parts of the country.