Quoting, Sampling and other Legacies
Considering the amount of new music sampling or ripping off older songs, perhaps we owe Psquare an apology?
The twins were much maligned back in the day when they were developing their style, so much so that critics predicted they will be gone soon. Now, four albums later they have defied the naysayers. They were not the only the only acts to be criticized for ripping off hooks from earlier popular music; the other group is Maintain but as the latter group are now defunct, Psquare takes all the muck and praise for in retrospect being ahead of their time.
Question is how were they able to do that?
There are no adequate answers to that; pop music is infamous for its lack of a manual: formula might work (Psquare), it might fail (Sisqo), invention might work(Sufjan Steven, Kanye West), it might not (Tuface’s Nigerian Unstoppable), reinvention might work (Madonna, Madonna, Madonna), it might not (Style Plus, Chris Cornell’s Scream). So the twins have benefited from this treacherous nature of pop music. They might never be critically acclaimed but it appears they can, like MIMS said, “Make a mil saying nothing on a track.” So perhaps critics are to play catch up to the music audience.
The problem however with Psquare is their need for respect; they apparently believe they deserve all the awards. This was mostly shown when they boycotted the hip hop awards years ago insisting they deserved the best album award. That particular award was won by Asa. Now anyone that had followed that news at the time must have marveled at how they could claim that with a straight face. How is it possible to compare the nutritional value of vegetable and fruits to the manufactured confection served at fast-food joints? That claim was funny then, now it is incomprehensible. While, it is understandable that every act wants recognition, sometimes people should just take what they get graciously. They have stayed true to that threat, never making an appearance since then.
A terrible situation for all involved. It was avoidable: if the organizers had made the criteria known, that is, had they said it was based on a level of aesthetic brilliance and not commercial appeal, Psquare will be grateful to receive a nomination. As it was, their argument was based on the premise that if one searched 5 apartments, one would find 4 or 5 Psquare discs and perhaps 1 or 2 Asa discs. A good but misdirected point. The award show caused the hullaballoo in the first place and Psquare had a right air its view.
But in the marketplace, where Psquare has its strengths, there has been no contest. Psquare bests Asa and several other artistes. still one often overlooked area is influence, where once again, Psquare ranks very high. Psquare’s query has been proven to be cogent when influence is considered. For all of Asa’s strengths, there have been few who have tried to emulate her, and fewer still have come close to her artistry. Whereas Psquare reigns supreme from the obvious like Bracket and Dipp the former is a direct descendant of the Psquare highlife phase, while Dipp is a throwback to the group’s R&B/Hiphop phase.
However the most telling aspect is that involving their initial formula. Early in their career, Psquare at different times copied copiously from popular American R&B acts and that move is the group’s most enduring legacy. Such that when you see any of the myriad of acts trying, mostly futilely, to remind audiences of a more popular track so that they can get a foot in the door before producing an original track, it is necessary to remember that Psquare started it first.
In recent years, even talented songwriters have used that formula. Banky W’s Ebute Metta is perhaps most memorable. To a lesser extent, there is MI’s breakout hit single, Safe which used lines from older popular songs owing its success to the artist’s brilliance as well as the lyrical familiarity of its verses. Sadly, for every obvious talent like MI, there are tens of mediocre artists paying their way to radio and bludgeoning the public with terrible music hoping to make it big with the formula inadvertently handed to them by the twins from the East.
What can one say? The gift really is the curse sometimes.