Listen: Nigerian writer Teju Cole has curated a soundtrack for a night out in Lagos

Nigerian singer Asa performing in Lagos
Nigerian singer Asa performing in Lagos
Image: AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
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Whether it is his 10-track listening tour of Mali—curated 2-years ago during the Northern Mali conflict—or a provocative mix imagining what a soundtrack for global terror might sound like, Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole is fond of using music as a tool to tell stories about places and their people.

Yesterday, the African music, fashion and culture site Okay Africa released a playlist curated by Teju Cole recounting a fictional night out in Lagos. Titled One night in Lasgidi, the playlist features popular Nigerian artists like D’banj, Davido, Burna Boy and Asa. It also features Ghanaian artists like Sarkodie. The playlist is accompanied by a short essay from Cole describing the varied music styles—including Afrobeats, house, hip-hop, dancehall, and pop—that are part of the pleasures of his fictional night out in Lagos.

In the short essay, Cole reflects on how contemporary Nigerian dance music has gained global appeal in recent times. With a music industry that produces over 550 albums of different kinds of music annually—as reported by CNBC Africa earlier this year—Nigeria’s music industry is on an upward trajectory. It is expected that the country’s entertainment industry could hit $1 billion by 2016.

Commenting on the playlist in a Facebook post, Cole makes an interesting point about the conceptions of “African music”.

“I think many people still have an idea of “African music” that’s quite different from what a lot of African people are actually listening to. My Lagos playlist is about the new Nigerian music. The music telegraphs, more efficiently than words ever could, the irrepressible cosmopolitanism, energy, and joy of young Nigerians.”

Cole, award-winning author of two novels, Open City and Everyday is for a Thief, has made his mark as a perceptive writer on wide-ranging issues who often uses innovative ways to tell stories—including orchestrating his followers into co-writing a 33-tweet story on Twitter titled Hafiz.

In an interview on literature and music with Charl Blignaut, a South African pop and culture critic, Cole said: “I’d be perfectly happy just tweeting playlists. Just being a radio DJ.”