Somali people have a rich musical heritage centered on traditional Somali folklore. Somali songs are usually the product of collaboration between lyricists (midho), songwriters (laxan), and singers (Codka or "voice"). Bands such as Waaberi and Horseed have gained a small following outside of the country. Others, such as Ahmed Cali Cigal and Maryam Mursal, have fused traditional Somali music with rock and roll, bossa nova, jazz, and other modern influences.
However, the current state of Somali Music although hampered by a non existent uncooperative government has managed to flourish fantastically with an array of talented new singers such as Aar Maanta and Farhia Fiska coming to the stage. In addition, legends such as Nimco Yasin and Hassan Aden Samatar are still keeping us entertained. However, there are two issues that need to be addressed in Somali Music and it needs to improved. I hope to discuss these issues in this article whilst providing plausible remedies.
Singers Copying Lyrics
I think we are all aware that lyrics used in the past are being used again but what we are not aware of is its reason. What we seem to do is place blame on the singers themselves. Granted they may partially be to blame but what we have to understand is that there are hundreds of singers and not enough lyricists. We currently have a count of 330 artists at somali-music.com and this isn't by no means a conclusive number. The number of lyrists that we are aware of can be counted on our fingers. The ratio difference is too wide.
Simply put, we need more lyricists and a smoother collaboration process between singers and lyricists.
Somali Music Videos
Another issue is the production of Somali music videos. The majority of Somali Music videos comprises of the singer standing in front of the video camera and swinging from side to side for the duration of the song without any activity. There is no story in the music video, there is no change of scenery except for those computer generated graphics. If we compare Somali music videos to what the rest of the world produces we are far behind.
This is something that the majority (not all) of Somali artists have been doing for a while and this needs to change. Again, we can not say it's the fault of the singers it is more likely that the producers and technical producers not being as advanced technically as we like them to be. Having said this, there is a fantastic array of Somali music videos that are produced and directed well but these are in the minority.
Lack of Resources
It is evident that there is a lack of resources within the Somali Music industry. Many musicians do not see singing as a career. They dabble in it when they can but they do not see it as a full time career for them and this is because there isn't a large enough financial reward and media attention for them to pursue it fully as a career.
Lets put the lack of resources into perspective by comparing the Somali Music industry to the rest of the world. A music video that Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson produced for their song "scream" cost $7M. We can say for sure that this has not happened within the Somali Music industry, in fact the whole industries worth may be less than this. The blame here is with the Somali government or lack of government.
In the past, when a strong Somali state with a government existed, singers looked forward to performing in theaters such as the Chinese built Somali National Theater which gave potential musicians a source of motivation to sing at a respectable place and to become an experienced singer. Dance and vocal training existed for potential singers too. The same can not be said for today's potential musicians and it is evident in some singers dancing technique.
If we look at the past and use Saado Ali Warsame as an example, she is a fantastic dancer and a talented singer and a great basis to compare other Somali artists. If we have a look at some of her videos, we can see she is clearly talented and the video has been choreographed well by trained professionals. Abdi Salaad Beerdilaacshe also shows us his a skilled twist dancer!
It is true that some people are more gifted in dancing and can come naturally however dancing is something that can be learned and improved upon. It would be great to see a little more action and movement in Somali Music videos in terms of dancing. It is feasible to say that better music videos will highlight the singers ability to dance.
Although this article points out flaws in the Somali Music industry it does not in any way intended to be inflammatory. It is simply written from a group of people who admire Somali Musicians and want them to rise to the top. A negative light has been shone on the Somali Music industry, this is not to say its all bad.