Terry Apala Is On His Own Wave

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Illustration by Seun Ajibola

Nigeria has a fragmented and weak infrastructure for its music industry similar to other industries in the country. The widespread availability of the internet to both urban and rural areas has also made it easier for artists to launch their own careers with minimal assistance from an established company.  While the internet has eliminated the bureaucracy and bottleneck that exists in organizations, Nigerian artists resort to copying and trying to emulate the formula of another artist rather than creating their own wave. Terry Apala, the undisputed leader in a new genre of Nigerian music has created his own wave called Fuji Trap. He, not only created music that people want to listen to but also is blessed with a voice that is almost impossible to replicate through another artist.

Over the last twenty years, the music industry has experienced both positive and negative effects of the internet. Artists can connect with their fans more easily without the intermediary of a record label, however, this access has also led to weaker talent in the industry. Artists create similar sounds and are incentivized to create a hit record at the expense of creativity and originality.  On the other hand, Terry Apala is carving out a niche that will be difficult to emulate across the Nigerian music scene.

DMX was the first artist I can remember who's impact was made through his voice and his brand of rap music. The deep aggressive drawl was an instrument on its own and with the thumping beats of Swizz Beatz, there was no denying the impact he had and continues to have on rap music. Terry Apala reminds me very much of the legendary DMX.  Though the infusion two very distinct genres, Fuji and Trap, could not be anymore different, Terry Apala has discovered the sound that compliments his voice.

The name given to his sound is Fuji Trap, however, his Fuji form is better known as Apala – a percussion based sound with Yoruba roots dating back to the 1930’s. Secular Fuji dominated by the likes of Ayuba and Wasiu Ayinde are more widespread, while Apala music is enjoyed primarily by Yoruba Muslims. Trap on the other hand is street music from the southern United States that is currently the reigning Hip Hop sound. Today in the United States, if you want a hit record, make a good trap song. 

Apala and Trap have similarities in that they are both music that is organic and very specific to a group of people and a particular culture. Your voice also matters if you are to take on these two genres. Apala music requires a deep raspy like voice to truly connect with the Arabic and Yoruba roots, while the best Trap artists are the ones with a voice that can flow well on a heavy base and bouncy sound.

The fusion of Apala and Trap music is genius on the part of Terry Apala. It is an untapped space within the Nigerian music scene, which needs to diversify the sounds coming out of the country. Furthermore, Terry Apala’s voice instantly separates him from the crowded industry and his ability to mix both Yoruba and English in his music along with the Trap beats that is familiar to music fans in the United States provides him the potential for mainstream crossover. 

Ideas, MusicFemi Adeyinka