Zanku is experiencing a natural decline. But it’s most famous sons are refusing to let it die. They are waging a war that is already lost.
Zanku is dying, but it isn’t going down without a fight. All of its chief proponents from the ‘street end’ of the industry are trying to do the impossible: make a genre out of a fad.
Even though such an effort is admirable, heroic even, ultimately it’s futile. Zanku has neither the range, the melody, nor the malleability to be expanded to birth a music culture. At most, what will remain is the momentary aftertaste of cultural adrenaline.
You can see the toll of Zanku’s war on Nigeria. It’s not on the dance floor where it was designed to flourish and do damage. Yes, it’s done that. But now the battle has been moved to personal spaces.
Journalists are being threatened, musicians are being derided by their colleagues for personal conversations, and even Funke Akindele has been dragged into it. All courtesy of one of it’s most illustrious and polarizing sons, Zlatan Ibile.
Rappers Zlatan Ibile and Naira Marley, two of the genre’s biggest benefactors, rose to prominence on the back of the Zanku. Zlatan, most especially, owned the genre, even interpreting the ‘Zanku’ moniker to mean “Zlatan Abeg No Kill Us.”
While Naira Marley built a cult-like following after his clash with Nigeria’s economic watchdog, EFCC.
That, coupled with his high-octane club bangers. Meanwhile, Zlatan lived heavy off of collaborations, before establishing himself with songs including ‘Bolanle’ and ‘Yeye Boyfriend.’
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.
Written by:- Joey Akan
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