The Growing Toxicity of Fanbases in the Nigerian Music Industry

The growing success of the Nigerian music industry is arguably the best thing that has happened to Nigeria in recent years. The Afrobeats scene has never been more vibrant than it is right now. Recently, Nigerian singer, songwriter and record producer Tems made headlines by being the first Nigerian artist to win “Best International Act” at the 2022 BET Awards. What more? She also won the award for “Best Collaboration” thanks to her performance on Wizkid’s Essence. Fireboy also made the whole nation proud by becoming the first African artist to perform on the BET Main Stage and the first Afrobeats artist to perform at Wembley Stadium.

With the successes of individual acts and the Nigerian music industry as a whole, the fanbases of various artists are stirred both positively and negatively. Burna Boy, Davido and Wizkid being some of the biggest bands in the country, have some of the biggest fanbases. Examples of popular fanbases in the Nigerian music scene are the Outsiders (Burna Boy fans), 30 Billion Gang or 30BG (Davido fans), Wizkid FC or Wizkid Fan Club (Wizkid fans), Marlians (Naira Marley fans ) and Ravers (Rema fans). These fanbases are extremely active in the Nigerian Twitter scene.

The fanbases are known for their rigorous, unconditional and unwavering support for their various “favorites”. You often see them creating groups, and more popularly, fan pages where they update the community on the artist’s latest projects and accomplishments, and encourage each other to keep streaming, downloading and buying the artist’s records. . Fanbases are generally very healthy spaces where people can come together to connect based on a shared love for an artist. But lately, we’ve seen some fanbases become embodiments of hate and toxicity.

It’s not news that as quick as fans celebrate an artist they love, they’re also very quick to tear down an artist they don’t like, support or, in extreme cases, don’t. don’t hate. We see this behavior among the fanbases of top artists who are involved in intense competition. The fanbases of these competing acts often look at things from a narrow perspective and usually only see things from their own perspective. Fans who engage in toxic behavior often think that by putting people down in favor of their “fave”, they are supporting them and doing good. This narrow-mindedness can be attributed to the blinding effect of fans’ love for artists and their music. This brings us to what is called the “Stan culture”.

All over the world, the “Stan” culture has become very popular, finding its way to almost every corner of the globe. The word is derived from Eminem’s hit song in the year 2000 Stan, which was about an extremely unbalanced and overzealous fan. The Stan culture is very entertaining but it is as contagious as it is enraged. It can be awkward and, in some cases, slightly disturbing. While stan culture has its positive sides; like the memorable way Buju fans helped him get a Zlatan feature, Stan culture also has a terribly ugly side.

Ranging from fights on social media, usually steeped in insults and occasional bigotry, to dozens of reports of physical fights between opposing fans and cyberbullying of fans just to enforce that an artist is the “greatest”, Stan culture can become dark in some extreme cases. We see rigged polls on social media, with stans blindly supporting their favorite artists against truth and common sense on various occasions.

Psychologists have described these obsessive behaviors as “celebrity adoration syndrome,” a type of parasocial relationship that occurs when admiration of celebrities turns into obsessive fascination and concern. Parasocial relationships are one-sided dynamics in which energy, interest, and time are extended to the object of obsession while they (usually a celebrity) remain unaware of the other’s existence. Although it is not a clinically recognized condition, it has been described as an obsessive-addictive disorder.

Last year, BNXN fka Buja received serious backlash from a number of fans when tweets he had posted years earlier were found online.. In those tweets, he referenced Wizkid, Davido, Mr. Eazi, Yemi Alade, Olamide, Timaya, and Rema in a way that many fans found disrespectful. More recently, a series of old tweets from popular Nigerian filmmaker and YouTuber Korty that expressed feelings that were not complimentary towards Wizkid have earned him insults and death threats. For tweets that were voiced as teenagers, that seemed a bit of a stretch.

Having an artist you love and are proud of is amazing. But when that love starts to cloud your judgment, blinds you to one of their misdeeds, or makes you put another human being down just to reiterate how much you love him and how amazing he is, then you have to take of hindsight. wondering if that’s really what it means to be a fan. Being a fan shouldn’t be about hate, especially when the competing artists themselves don’t have bad blood between them. At the just-concluded Afronation music festival, Wizkid took to the stage to express his love for his industry colleagues, in which he mentioned Burna Boy and Davido. “I want to tell you tonight, I have love for Burna Boy, I have love for Davido, I have love for everyone,” he said.

Although there is growing toxicity within the Nigerian music industry fanbases, it is important to note that not all members of these fanbases are toxic and there are still many weighted individuals within those fanbases that are there for the positive side of things like uplifting their favorites, and a sense of community. It is necessary to have an abundance mindset. Just because someone else is successful doesn’t mean others can’t. Afrobeats is finally getting the recognition it deserves and fanbases have played a huge role in bringing the industry here. Imagine all the possibilities if we all unite towards a common goal instead of trying to prey on someone from an opposing fanbase at every turn.

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