Overview Of: The Dying Breath of Zanku Is A Major Issue
Zanku has a gradual drop. Yet several of the well-known sons hesitate to execute him. They are involved in a battle already fought.
Zanku's dying, but without a battle, it's not going down. Many of the main supporters in the industry's "street edge" attempt to create a trend out of a fad. While it is a great, valiant endeavour, it is essentially pointless. Zanku does not have the variety, the rhythm, or the desire to extend to a community of music. The latest aftertaste of ethnic excitement is the most necessary thing to live.
The cost of Nigeria 's war in Zanku can be observed. This is not on the dance floor where it has grown and induced damage. Yeah, yeah, that's over. Yet now the fight is shifted to different locations. Journalists are threatened, musicians are ridiculed for their personal conversations by their colleagues and even Funke Akindele was drawn to them. Zlatan Ibile, one of the most distinguished and polarizing sons.
On the back of the Znku came to fame the Rappers Zlatan Ibile and Naira Marley, two of the main winners of the genre. Ibile, mainly, owned the genre and also translated 'Zanku' to mean 'Zlatan Abeg No Destroy Us.' After his dispute with Nigerian economic watchdog, the FCC, Naira Marley developed a cult following. That, along with his bangers in his high octane band. While, Zlatan lived heavily with the songs 'Bolanle' and 'Yeye Boyfriend,' until he developed himself in his career.
Zanku had a great run. Rising from the slums of Agege and backed by its electrifying dance, the crude sound quickly unseated its more raucous progenitor, Shaku Shaku. It brought with it, all the elements of a pop culture takeover. New musicians rose to public consciousness and became instant stars. Dancers like Poco Lee sprung from obscurity to the limelight. A corner of the city filled with innovators, each new record further entrenching their dominance. And the rest of the industry? Mainstream musicians fought each other on the charts, looking for ways to advance their careers by cashing in on the trend. Burna Boy was successful with ‘Killing Dem.’ Tiwa Savage tasted some of that shine on ‘Shotan,’ and Olamide chipped some gold on ‘Woske.’
Now, Nigerians have had enough, and contrary to what Zlatan thinks, haters aren’t making Zanku lose its flavour. The cosmos have decided the end is here. Just like everything else in life, music and pop culture operate on a cycle. It starts, it grows, it expands, its hits a peak, it declines, and it dies. That’s the cycle of life.
Unlike what most people think, music isn’t just vibes and endless nights of ‘turn up.’ Music is a product, which obeys all the laws of life. The same way Dangote makes cement, and Otedola made his fortune from oil, Zlatan is selling music as his product. They obey all the laws of business, life and more.
Economists will point to the Law of Marginal Utility as an explanation for Zanku’s demise. ‘Utility’ is an economic term used to represent satisfaction or happiness. Marginal utility is the incremental increase in utility that results from the consumption of one additional unit. The Law Of Diminishing Marginal Utility states that all else equal, as consumption increases the marginal utility derived from each additional unit declines.
Listening to Zanku is like drinking a bottle of soda to slake your thirst. The more soda you consume, the less satisfaction you will get from further consumption. Zanku was fresh when it arrived, and for a while, it slaked our thirst for new content. But the more we consumed, the less we wanted it. Right now, Nigerians rarely want a Zanku song. The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility has set in, and Zanku has to obey.
In the business of demand and supply, Zanku’s saturation of Nigeria’s market has resulted in a decline of demand for it. Market saturation happens when the volume of a product or service in a marketplace has been maximized. At the point of saturation, a company can only achieve further growth through new product improvements, by taking existing market share from competitors, or through a rise in overall consumer demand. Zanku artists need to improve their product. Demand for Zanku will not rise again.
Zanku has saturated the mainstream market and has no room for growth left. While the sound failed to evolve, the dance did the opposite. The dancing held it down for long. The first Zanku dance we ever did, looks way different from the one that is in vogue. The full-body workout. People created intricate combinations and improved on it to keep the moves fresh. But the music? It stopped growing long ago.
Also, Zanku proponents can continue to console themselves with the praise of a niche fanbase that will almost never go away. Saturation is relative in pop culture due to the existence of niche and mainstream spaces. The niche spaces—which in this case, is the ‘streets’—will take a longer time to achieve saturation because that’s what niche fanbases are made for. They are designed and built to hang on to fringe sounds. Zlatan and Naira Marley have had this for a while. They still have it in Agege. Saturation will take its time, but if the sound doesn’t evolve it will die there as well.
The mainstream market is rarely ever loyal to any musician. It exists mostly for mindless pleasure. It’s designed to include the niche and other members of the public who just want a good time with the art. A good time to the Nigerian mainstream means just connecting with the art, and the artist for as long as the musician continues to hit the sweet spot on that day. Zanku’s day is done, and the public is reacting to it.
Zlatan’s fight for the continuity of Zanku is an admirable one. While it shows a noble commitment to a formula that has worked, it’s time for the singer to open himself up and adapt to what’s happening. He isn’t the first street artist with a taste of mainstream success. Recent history will show us Small Doctor, Slimcase, Mr Real, Idowest and more who made a push with other street-grown sounds, but failed to maintain a run. The leaders of Shaku Shaku barely got anything of their own. They were tied up making collaborations with mainstream artists. By the time the market had become saturated, and their personal singles were flooding the market, the wave had hit the shores and dissipated. They didn’t get anywhere near the level of success currently being enjoyed by the Zanku nation.
Zanku has blessed us with many highlights, many moments to cherish, and its exit should be looked upon with gratitude and collective happiness. Fans, artists, dancers, and everyone else who profited off of it, ought to wave it away. Change comes with the fear of moving on. The last taste of a good time can leave residual sadness in its wake. But we should never hold on to a losing horse. It’s running it’s the course. Its race is done. And the final lap should be gracious and noble.
Zanku is taking its last breath. And with it comes a chance for change. Already, the public has begun to move away from it. Check every chart, the trend wave shows newer sounds surging ahead. You cannot stop the rainfall, but you can stay dry with an umbrella. Smart artists know that it’s hard to pivot from a good thing. But staying alive means a lifetime of self-improvement and change.
It’s time for them to get new vibes in. Change producers, or ask yours to upgrade. Nigerians need more than Zanku can offer, and they will head to the people who offer that. Zanku artists need to go find that new thing and push it with the same aggression and marketing power. They have numbers now. The present is spent. Sell them the future. Give them your new self.
And finally, as Zanku is dying, I don’t want to join it. Zlatan, Abeg No Kill Us.