We give Nigerian artists a lot of stick for failing to address political issues with their platforms. While that is the result for the majority, there have been glimpses of politicization of Afro-pop over the years and we look back at 5 times that artists who have had some element of relevance to our generation have gone against the norm and used their music to speak out or criticize the political situation in Nigeria.
Jaga Jaga– Eedris Abdulkareem
Let’s be honest, Eedris Abdulakareem is Nigerian music royalty. He was a member of boyband, Remedies (with Eddie Montana and Tony Tetuila) and was one of the flagship artists of Kennis Music, the premier record label of the early Noughties. He made rap (if it could be called that) viable and combined this with a hard edge of social commentary. And he’s never been shy to make his feelings known. There was that time he had an altercation with 50 Cent over what he felt was the inferior treatment given to homegrown artists in comparison to their foreign counterparts while the American was here on Nigerian Breweries bill. There’s also the unforgettable Mr Lecturer which satirized the grades for sex culture prevalent in Nigerian universities. For the benefit of this piece, let’s focus on Jaga Jaga which apparently earned him a rebuke from then President, Olusegun Obasanjo. Jaga Jaga and its video was a critique of all that was wrong in the country at the time.
Eedris Abdulkareem is easily one of the most outspoken people to have graced the Nigerian cultural circuit.
For Instance– 2Face Idibia
2 Baba’s tale as a political commentator is a multi-layered one. At different points in time he has been praised for speaking out and at other times he’s been chastised for stepping back. Most recently, in relation to February’s protests and his acceptance of gifts from corrupt politicians. On 4 Instance, 2 Baba spoke about how he’d approach governance differently if he was in a position of power but acknowledges his inability to act as he currently watches from a distance.
Se Na Like This– Wande Coal
Se Na Like This off Wande Coal’s classic, Mushin 2 Mohits offered a novel take on the need to join hands to take control of the situation in Nigeria. Wande reminisces of the good days that he’d heard about talking about the exchange rate (laughs in today’s rates), the days of good and efficient transportation systems and pondering if we’ll continue to exist in such conditions. If only Wande knew things were only going to continue going downhill.
Soke– Burna Boy
When Nigerians of our generation think of political tracks in the current climate, Soke is probably the most memorable one. As Mayowa Idowu puts it, no other song has accurately vocalized the troubles of the masses. Burna Boy channeling the late Fela Kuti makes a case for the lion’s share when he asks if we must shout to be heard and taken seriously by our government.
Alhaji Tekno’s final release in a phenomenal 2016, Rara, was his most socially conscious. It showed us Tekno’s more serious side and also made us realize he could sing about something other than Cassava. He throws subliminals to those who pilfer Nigeria’s resources and take them to other countries and also appeals to us to pay attention to the small things as opposed to being obsessed with huge and possibly distracting issues. Tekno also protests poor living conditions and speaks out on a feeling many IJGBs understand and relate to which is being excited to return home but seeing conditions drain one of all energy and leading you to desire a break from Nigeria as soon as you land in Murtala Muhammed. The video of Rara also shows the daily struggles of the average Nigerian and better contextualizes all Tekno sings about.