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Homecoming Brought the Diaspora Home

Homecoming verifies the viability of Nigeria as a mass music consuming market capable of hosting artists from anywhere in the world.

From the 15th to 17th of April, Lagos celebrated the Easter break with a twist. Playing host to what is quickly becoming the premier music festival for Gen Zers and younger millennials from Nigeria, Lagos was ground zero for the fourth edition of the Homecoming Festival. A marriage of musical performances, visual art displays, music industry panels and varying brand pop-ups, the festival’s return after a COVID induced hiatus provided a sensory overload. Maintaining the canon of bringing established and nascent UK acts to the continent where they share the stage with their Nigerian contemporaries, the 2022 edition looked to expand on the universe.

Kicking off in 2017, the Homecoming Festival is an annual quartet of fashion, music, sports and arts, thriving as a cultural exchange between Africans and the diaspora. Utilizing the trademark fairgrounds, Harbor Point, Grace Ladoja’s creation might have outdone itself with the lineup of talent. Artists from the U.K. and Nigeria shared the stage for what is perhaps the largest lineup of foreign artists on the cusp to grace Nigerian shores. Talent including; Lancey Foux, Central Cee, Liya, Raebel, S1mba, Wanni X Handi, Zinoleesky, Victony, Trill Tega, Teezee, Softmadeit, Smada, SGawd, Shalom, Prettyboy D-O, Poco Lee, New World Ray, Midas the Jagaban, Mayk, Magixx, Maison2500, Lojay, LAX, King Perryy, Kayode, BNXN, Boj, Black Sherif, Alpha P and the Ajebo Hustlers.

Besides the Nigerianization of the show – performances slated for eight did not begin till midnight, a consequence of years and years of both late-arriving concert-goers and late starting concerts – the attempts to distinguish the concert as a festival were aided by the variety of activities spread across the three day period. According to one attendee, “wholesome, just wholesome” encapsulated the experience adequately. Besides our affinity for poor time management, another aspect Nigerians notoriously skimp on at these events is the sound quality. This as well as the space management of the venue amply demonstrated the growth of Homecoming since its 2017 debut. Alongside the impeccable live sound quality were performances on a similar level – as is the norm in Nigeria, the proximity of foreign professionals invariably raises the bar. With almost seamless set switches, the talent utilized their time extremely well. Unfortunately not every performance reached the same heights – some dishonorable mentions include Maison2500 who yelled through his set and Raebel’s less than stellar vocals.

It was also a coming of age for a couple of acts but more than anyone else, Rema’s return to the same stage that he debuted on three years ago felt like a monumental achievement for Afrobeats culture. Naira Marley’s labelmate and signee, Zinoleesky also presided over the proceedings on behalf of his boss, another act that rocked the same stage in 2019. It is worth noting that most events never consider the mainland as a viable demographic and artists from these markets rarely get the same opportunities to perform at spaces such as Homecoming, however, the inclusion in the lineup this year shows a clear approach at ensuring representation for most available genres of secular music.

All in all, Homecoming verifies the viability of Nigeria as a mass music consuming market capable of hosting artists from anywhere in the world with even the slightest of fan bases. This realization promises to bring more acts to our shores in the coming years. Long may it last.

Featured Image Credit: KvngShotIt

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