Effects of Nigerian R&b Music on the Use of English Language in Nigeria

Effects of Nigerian R&b Music on the Use of English Language in Nigeria

Effects of Nigerian R&b Music on the Use of English Language in Nigeria


Abstract of Effects of Nigerian R&b Music on the Use of English Language in Nigeria

Due to the fact that English language is the official language of Nigeria, and Nigerian is a multilingual country, English language continues to grow popular every day. The Nigerian R&B with its high level of spread lately has contributed a great deal in influencing English usage. This research work has aimed to enlighten people on how Nigerian R&B music penetrates and affect their usage of English language. This research work has examined the various ways in which the Nigerian R&B music affects the use of English language using four randomly selected Nigerian R&B tracks. The result of the analysis shows that Nigerian R&B music introduces and changes a lot in English vocabulary.


Chapter One of Effects of Nigerian R&b Music on the Use of English Language in Nigeria


English language is the official language in Nigeria as a tool that facilitates cultural and linguistic unity in the country. Part of the area in which English language is used peculiarly in the country is music. R&B music originated from traditional Rhythm and Blues music. Today, the term R&B is most often used to describe a style of Africa American music originating after the demise of disco in the 1980s. Nigerian R&B culture started spreading in the 1990s with the likes of Plantashun Boiz, The Remedies etc. When the country witnessed proliferation of computer and cheap music editing software in the 21th century, Nigeria R&B artistes started achieving higher quality recordings that rapidly won over the Nigerian audience.

English language has been adopted as the language of the Nigerian R&B music. In spite of the fact that most Nigerian R&B singers use English language, they still try to identify with their indigenous languages. Nigerian R&B singers use their music as a medium of informing their listeners of the current event and liberation strategies, using alternate language understood only by those within the cultural network. Through the years, many of the words and phrases become integrated and used by listeners who had figured out the context and definitions of these words.


English is a heritage left behind in Nigeria by the British at the end of the colonial administration. However, it is now the language of government, business, commerce, education, literature, arts, the mass media, internal and external communication in Nigeria. In practice therefore, English is the only effective medium of communication among Nigerians from different linguistic backgrounds. Although English is the official language of Nigeria, it has not succeeded in replacing any of the indigenous languages. Three of the hundreds of Nigerian local languages (Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo) are often referred to as the major languages of the country; but few people speak more than one of the local languages.

The multilingual nature of the Nigerian society leads to many regional variations in their use of English because local languages have their accents directly or indirectly transferred to English language. So, we have the majority speaking the Nigerian English (NE) as it can be tagged, with different accents. The term “Nigerian English” has come to be recognised and accepted is referring to the legitimate subtype of English, which is peculiar to Nigeria.

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Rhythm and Blues music or R&B is a variety of different, but related types popular music produced and supported primarily by African American beginning in the early 1940s. R&B was first coined in 1949 by Jerry Wexler, who became prominent with Atlantic Records. The term R&B was used as a synonym for black rock and roll in the early and mid-1950s. R&B music embraces such genres as jump blues, club blues, black rock and roll, doo wop, soul, Motown, funk, disco and rap.

Today’s contemporary R&B music has a distinctly different sound than its forebears, focusing on pop beats and culture rather than the blues, gospel and jazz sounds of previous the generations. In the late 1940s and into the 50s, R&B groups consisted brass instruments and woodwinds, as well as drums, piano and vocals.


Nigerian music is extremely vibrant and lively. The popular music of Nigeria are highlife, afrobeat, juju, apala, hip hop (which includes R&B) and a lot more. As Nigeria culture is completely multi-ethnic, the music in Nigeria is influenced by a lot of traditions of different tribes. Hip hop which has gained worldwide popularity in the recent years is the most popular music among Nigerians today especially the Nigerian youths.


This research intends to show the relationship between language and the society by investigating the lyrics of the Nigerian R&B music. With the continues growth of the English language among the people of Nigeria, and language learning being highly influenced  by the socio-environment, the music industry in Nigeria is one of the greatest influence on language acquisition in the country.

Therefore, it is the aim of this research work to review the social effects of Nigerian R&B music on English language, so that at the end of this research, readers of this work will be able to have a visible assessment of the effect of the Nigerian R&B music on the standardization of English language in the country.


This study is being embarked upon because no study of this nature to the researcher has focused on the complexity of the effect of the Nigerian R&B on the use of English language in Nigerian R&B on the use of English language in Nigeria. A similar research work which the researcher came across is Babalola and Taiwo (2009), which focuses on code-switching in contemporary Nigerian hip hop songs. This research work will not only look into code-switching but will examine the ideological background of Nigerian R&B songs and relating it to the linguistic constructions employed as the medium.


In the research work, the researcher intends to place more emphasis on the analysis of pervasive lexico-grammatical properties of R&B music on the use of English language. The study is limited to the Nigerian environment alone. Because of space constraint and for explicit discussion, a maximum of four Nigerian R&B tracks will be selected and used as the data in this research work.


The method intended will incorporate the following components of linguistics/language in layers:

(i)                 Sampling and listening to some randomly selected Nigerian R&B tracks.

(ii)               Selection and analysis of some R&B musical lyrics.

(iii)             Evaluation of common expressions, grammatical construction, and lexical items in Nigerian R&B music.