Who Is Really An A-List Artiste?

The Nigerian Twitter music community recently engaged in a serious discourse, which became a bone of contention among various users, each expressing a stream of different views, ideologies, and personal opinions. The discourse centered around the concept of “A List” rankings, focusing on artistes and acts considered to be in that elite bracket. While we’ve previously discussed similar issues regarding the hierarchy of music acts and the criteria determining their industry ranking, this particular debate bears striking resemblance to those discussions.

Wizkid and Burna Boy (2021)

The conversation persisted for an extended period, with a continuous influx of opinions. Participants presented their own lists of artistes they believed belonged in the A-list category, accompanied by their reasoning for inclusion in such an exclusive hierarchy. While it’s practically impossible to evaluate each list thoroughly, two predominant opinions emerged that significantly influenced the ranking of acts within the genre.

The first viewpoint emphasized a cohesive and meticulous examination of various achievements, including longevity, awards, sold-out arenas, influence on fan base, released albums/projects, and impact on culture. Conversely, the second perspective adopted a more simplistic and less comprehensive approach. It primarily listed the most popular acts of the current age as A-list, sometimes with a few criteria, but not as thorough or scrutinizing as the former approach.

Delving into the first viewpoint, which advocates for a comprehensive scrutiny of artistes before considering them for inclusion in the “A List” community, this approach indeed elevates the concept of the A List artist. It sets a high standard of achievement, reserved only for a select few who excel in specific criteria of judgment, as listed earlier. These artistes must have spent a considerable amount of time in the industry, accumulating a record of personal accolades, successful global shows, a strong and influential fan base, a quality discography, impressive commercial success on their projects, and a significant impact on culture.

Supporters of this argument argue that a comprehensive and cohesive approach to listing A-list acts is a wise path. It imbues the designation with a sense of exclusivity, a status that requires immense dedication and effort to attain. Moreover, meeting the listed criteria is no easy feat. Given this, this viewpoint holds considerable merit. In summary, the rigorous standards outlined by this viewpoint serve to uphold the prestige of being classified as an A-list artist. It acknowledges the substantial contributions and achievements of those who have truly made an indelible mark on the music industry and culture at large.

While the comprehensive listing approach presents a highly valid viewpoint, it also brings forth a set of cumbersome problems. One major issue lies in the perception that the bars set by this approach are excessively high, almost insurmountable for a significant portion of the industry. The sentiment of the limited number of artists who ultimately make the cut, primarily Wizkid, Burna Boy, and Davido, with a few others like Tiwa Savage and Olamide added, largely based on visible preference bias, echoes throughout the industry. Such a conclusion appears absurd, as it is implausible to suggest that only three visible A-list artists exist in the Nigerian music industry.

Furthermore, there arises the concern regarding the perceived inferiority of certain criteria. It poses a dilemma regarding which criteria should be considered significant enough to warrant an artist’s inclusion in the A-list. There are instances of artistes in the industry, such as Rema, who excel in various aspects but may fall short in areas such as the depth of discography or time spent in the industry. Similarly, emerging talents like Tems and Ayra Starr face challenges in determining their ranking. Additionally, artistes like ODUMODUBLVCK, who has a solid underground presence before transitioning to the mainstream, raise questions about whether his previous accomplishments should be disregarded due to these shortcomings in many criteria.

This dilemma puts the ideology of criteria into jeopardy, especially concerning legendary figures who have profoundly impacted the music scene and contributed to its current shape. Would they be sidelined simply because they lack international sold-out shows and awards, despite amassing numerous accolades locally? Similarly, what about talents like Adekunle Gold, Kizz Daniel. Blaqbonez, Victony, BNXN, and Oxlade, who are spearheading innovation but may lag behind in certain aspects? Do we rank these elites in B-class.

On the other hand, there is the laid-back simplified ranking system, which supports a less comprehensive and rigid approach to ranking, forming a more inclusive platform. As seen earlier, this approach offers an unbiased method favoring elite acts that might trail behind in an overly complicated categorization. The ideology is mainly based on the simple definition of “A List,” which is “a real or imaginary list of the most celebrated or sought-after individuals, especially in show business” (Oxford English). The simplicity and straightforwardness of this definition clearly contrast with the unnecessary lengthy process of the former system. This ideology presents a broader list featuring names like Rema, Fireboy, Asake, Adekunle Gold, and others.

Examining this ideology, it seemingly offers a solution to the over-complexity involved with the other ideology, but it appears to be the polar opposite of the same coin. The argument against it is a stark contrast to the former. In this system, the bar set is considered too low; the industry, in this case, deems such a shabby and all-inclusive ranking system inadequate to determine the foremost artists of the country. It also presents the problem of overcrowding among the foremost artistes we have to offer.

Some also point out the unfair judgments this approach might yield. For instance, do we rank an artist like Burna Boy, who has invested years and achieved so much through hard work and conscious efforts to hone his skills, in the same category as a Portable, who might also put in work but the disparity in talents and achievements is as wide apart as it gets? artistes like the stylized Big 3 under the query of this approach may need a separate category (A-list) because of the distance in their cohesive talents, influence, and achievements.

The debate continues and is still ongoing, with different lists of A-lists popping up, each including various names, all still boiling down to the formula set by these highlighted approaches. Personal nuances and other factors largely contribute to every ranking, but nonetheless, these interesting conversations offer a glimpse into the flourishing industry and how far it has come.

The continuous evolution of the music scene, coupled with the emergence of new talents and the shifting dynamics of audience preferences, ensures that these debates remain lively and relevant. artistes and fans alike engage in spirited discussions, passionately defending their favorites and advocating for their inclusion in the coveted A-list category. Ultimately, it’s the ongoing dialogue and exchange of ideas that propel the music industry forward, driving innovation, creativity, and excellence in every corner of the globe.

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