Just how big is Nigerian pop music in Morocco?
It is hard to ignore the immense reach of Nigerian music, also known as Naija music, across Africa and the Diaspora. Last year, some claimed that Kenya had a problem with Nigerian music, while on the other hand there are dance hall remixes of popular Naija songs. As an aspiring globe trekker with a heavy preference for African countries, this writer has become used to hearing songs popular in Lagos nightclubs blasting from speakers in Zanzibar, Accra, and surprisingly, Marrakesh and Casablanca.
Walking the streets of Morocco’s big cities, it is hard to miss the Naija tunes coming out of cars and being played on the streets. A Nigerian visiting Morocco will eventually get used to hearing “Shekini” played all the time, or may even be told to say hi to P-Square upon returning home. The most popular group there seems to be P-Square, one of the highest grossing Nigerian acts on the continent. P-Square has performed to a packed audience in Morocco’s 14th Mawazine festival alongside globally celebrated American acts like Pharrell Williams, Usher, and Jennifer Lopez.
One of the testaments to the popularity of Naija pop in Morocco is the parodies of Barbapappa. Barbapappa is a parody channel that has remixed popular Nigerian songs, including one by P-Square. Singing in Moroccan language darija and using local instruments to modify the beat, Barbapappa successfully transformed P-Square’s “Shekini” into “Hek Lili Nifi.”
North Africa is often seen as a separate entity from the rest of the continent, “sub-Saharan” Africa. However, the acceptance of Naija music in Morocco is one of the few examples of how connected Africa is. It seems it is in the arts that Africans from different cultures and countries can come together to appreciate music.
What do you think of the popularity of Nigerian pop in Morocco? Leave a comment below or reach me on Twitter @rafeeeeta