By Osa Amadi, Arts Editor
In 3 minutes, 42 seconds, Folarin Falana, popularly known as Falz, is able to expose the terminal illness of a country which prefers to hide its sickness like its president. The artist connects with young people speaking their language (rap and hip-hop) and playing their rhythm, even though the rhythm of the song does not fall within any of the two popular basic Nigerian rhythmic structures which revolutionized Nigerian pop music and gave it its international identity.
The strength of Falz’s This is Nigeria lies in the message of which the Nigerian pop music has largely been criticized of lacking. The work is a relief from the recurring message of ‘boobs, bum, bum and ‘I get plenty money’ which have dominated the lyrics of Nigeria pop music since 2007/2008 when it gained international recognition. True to his DNA, Folarin, sired by a lion, the radical Human Rights activists and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, could not have afforded to continue to sing about women’s boobs, bum bum and ‘I get money’ while the masses are groaning in pains and penury arising from bad governance and bad leadership.
Critics of This is Nigeria might argue that it is wrong for Falz to sing that everybody is a criminal in Nigeria. But the artist has already countered such criticism by branding himself in the song as a criminal too, just because he too is a Nigerian, even though we all know that Folarin Falana is not a criminal. The artist is simply mirroring how the international community collectively sees all Nigerians as criminals. This, in essence, calls for everyone, especially the good people of Nigeria, to stand up and join in the fight to rescue the country from those who are bent in plunging it to ruin. After all, when the air is polluted, everybody inhales the toxic air.
It is to Falz’s credit that in less than 4 minutes, he is able to chronicle Nigeria’s seemingly intractable illnesses, from the cock-and-bull story of a snake swallowing N36 million to youth unemployment, electric power failure, false prophets sucking the blood of sufferers and breasts of their female members, Fulani herdsmen, and the corruption-riddled Nigeria Police:
This is Nigeria. Look how I am living now. Everybody be criminal. This is Nigeria. Just because I am a criminal. This is Nigeria. I don’t have a job, and yet they want to know whether my (wrist) watch is original.
Where is madam Philomena who chop N36 million and said an animal (a snake) chop am.
(Then Enter False prophet): “I want you to raise your hands up now, because your miracle is on the way. Let’s hear you say ‘Amen!’ This is Nigeria. Praise and worship and singing is going on now. Pastor is putting his hand on the breast of the (female) member. He is pulling the thing now.
This is Nigeria. No electricity. But the people are still working hard. Yet they say we are lazy.
This is Nigeria, with plenty wahala sha. Herdsmen killing people up and down, carry people the massacre.
This is Nigeria. Come to my area.
This is democracy. Yahoo Yahoo (boys) don full everywhere now.
This is Nigeria. Look at my nation.
(Enter the Nigeria Police)
Policemen are seen arresting innocent university students instead of going to arrest killer Fulani herdsmen, bank robbers and other criminals ravaging the country.
It is only in Nigeria where you can take money contributed by poor church members and build universities which the poor contributors cannot afford to send their children to go and study. It is against the law of God.
Listening to this song and watching the video, one can comfortably argue that there is nothing musically spectacular or special about it. What then is the reason behind its wide acceptance? Is it just hype, as veteran Nigerian pop music pundit, Benson Idonije, would say?
Well, it could be a hype, but it could also be that the world has long been salivating with hunger, waiting for the new generations of Nigerian musicians to wake up to using their music to address the bloated rot which has persisted since the era of Fela and Sunny Okosun. Consequently, when Falz showed up with his courageous message, he was embraced.
This is a clear green light for contemporary Nigerian musicians. Music is a powerful weapon in the fight against socio-political and economic decadence. Nigerian musicians cannot afford to be preoccupied with ill-found love for women’s breasts and buttocks while their country is on fire. Well done Falz!
Folarin Falana, aka Falz, is a Nigerian rapper, performer, and songwriter. He began his music career while in optional school with “The School Boys”. He came to limelight after his song titled “Wed Me” (including vocals from Poe and Yemi Alade) won him an assignment in the “Best Collaboration of The Year” classification at the 2015 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. He was additionally selected in the “Best Rap Act of The Year” and “Best New Act to Watch” classes at the same event. Now, he has an autonomous record mark called Bahd Guys Records.
In 2011, he had a single titled “Waz Up Guy” and later “High Class” and “Cash”. On January 2, 2014, he was recorded in tooXclusive’s “Artistes To Watch in 2014”. On 30 May 2014, Falz released his presentation studio collection titled “Wazup Guy”.
On 31 January 2015, he released “Ello Bae” which won him a selection in the “Best Street Hop Artiste of The Year” classification at The Headies 2015. In 2016, Falz won “Best Actor in a Comedy Movie/Series” at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards for his part as Segun in Funke Akindele’s TV program, Jenifer’s Diary. In June 2016, he was voted the champ of the “Watcher’s Choice Best New International Act” class at the 2016 BET Awards.
On October 27, 2016, Falz teamed up with Simi to for “Chemistry”, a 7-track EP exclusively created by Sess. That was after he had already worked with Simi on two singles titled “Frame Question” and “Fighter”.