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The Pros of Stan Culture in the Nigerian Music Industry

In 2000, Eminem released a song titled “Stan” featuring Dido. The song explored the nuances involved in parasocial relationships between artists and their fans. Since then, the word “Stan” has been popularly used to describe behavioral traits like obsession and full-on worship expressed by overzealous fans towards their artists. However, throughout the history of stan culture as an offshoot of fandom, while there have been toxic patterns fulfilled by desperate fans, there also have been healthy spaces curated by people from all over the world who share the common interest of stanning a particular artist, helping to promote their songs and amplify their identity as creatives. For example, there are global fan bases like Beyoncé’s “The Hive”, “Nicki Minaj’s “Barbz”, Rihanna’s “The Navy”; in Africa, Wizkid’s “FC”, Naira Marley’s “Marlians”, Davido’s “30BG”, Olamide’s “YBNL Mafia”, “DJ Cuppy’s “Cupcakes”, Burna Boy’s “Outsiders” and many others.

These fan bases are avenues where supporters can convey their dedication and love for their favourite artists by constantly streaming old and newly released songs, buying concert tickets, and actively rallying on social media against any bad press that their faves may be threatened with. Some even go as far as wholly extending their love and support for anyone that proves loyal to their faves just as WizkidFC did for Carter Efe, the comedian/artist who dropped a song rhapsodising over Wizkid’s presumed stress-free life. The song, captioned “Machala”, is currently balanced on the Number 1 spot on Apple Music Nigeria. In describing how influential and significant WizkidFC are, A&R manager, Bizzle Osikoya, says “Only person right now with a crazy fanbase is Wizkid FC. You know Wizkid fans will die for him”. He also concurs that Wizkid’s fans love him so much that they throw concerts in his absence, “slaughtering cows to celebrate him in Lagos, Nigeria and selling out merch to prove their loyalty”.

Truly, social media has revolutionised the dynamics constituting the accessibility of artists. With platforms like Instagram, Twitter, etc, artists are able to build a community of devoted fans and engage directly with them. In turn, fans are supplied with the space to experience even deeper versions of their artists. The collaboration between UK-based producer, Jae5 and Nigerian singer, Buju that was contrived by Buju’s fans and the success of artists who started independently can be ascribed to the power of fans. When Oxlade was set to drop his EP, Oxygene, he posted the artwork and social media was flooded with uniformed, unpolarised public displays of support for him as lots of people used the artwork as their display pictures.

Some of these fans even create fan pages to celebrate their adoration for their special artists. Social media accounts like EverythingBurna which is run by Ani Precious,

WizkidNews founded by Lang F with over two million followers,

 

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Olamide!, with over one hundred and forty-two thousand followers,

 

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and many others, are fan pages that are directed at promoting the visibility of artists, augmenting their success, and sensitising people to the glory of Afrobeats. Thus, artists leverage on the great love shown to them by their fan bases to solidify their art, streamlining what they produce according to the large demands for albums, live shows, and merch.

When the word “Stan” is mentioned, people recoil immediately as the series of images denoting stalkerish, attention-hungry, crazy fans flash through their minds. However, Stan culture can play out as more than a toxic phenomenon. Despite the fact that it has created a bad name for itself, it has more positive attributes that have fostered the recurring evolution of pop culture as well as the growth of many artists. Fans are a huge component in the journey of any artist. They are like the bedrock of an artist’s career. Naira Marley, in exalting his fanbase, stated in a tweet, “Omo Marlians fi gas person up mehn, dey fit push u push push u enter fire, dey no go follow u enter o but they go dey ur back. Ha I love Marlians”.

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