"If you no get money, hide your face"
On the recently-released collaboration with Olamide titled “Kana”, Starboy starts off his verse with a very clear statement on what broke men should (not) do at the club, “Ko l’owo lowo, o fe gbe sisi, you be zombie o, zombie”.
Loosely translated into English, it means “You don’t have money but you want to take a girl home, you’re a zombie (or dead guy, just because)”
Basically, Wizkid’s saying broke men like you don’t deserve girls. If you’re pained by this, then I’m inclined to be a bit surprised because nearly every Nigerian Afro-pop musician has said something similar before.
Most of Nigeria’s Afropop music is aspirational, and for good reason. Nigerians love a success story and most songs contain prayers for the listener to become one, or stories of how the singer once had one T-Shirt and one shoe but can now afford Gucci like nobody’s business.
The average afro-pop song is an offering of prayer, ambition and motivation. Ironically, Wizkid’s Ojuelegba is the perfect example.
On the other hand, though, Nigerian music does not like broke people.
In the same verse that says a prayer for wealth, a couple of lines are also dedicated to the broke young man who does not know his place.
Sometimes, the singer can barely wait before he begins broke-shaming.
Small Doctor’s Penalty may have been a song about girls? dancing? sleeping?, but that didn’t stop him from starting his song with this unnecessary attack on our self-esteem, “If you no get money, hide your face”.
A wise man once said being poor is the only crime in Nigeria, but I dare afro-pop rubs the poverty in your face and makes it feel like a disease.
Sometimes, it’s not even deliberate.
Davido may have just wanted to profess his love for Chioma Avril Rowland with the release of “Assurance”, but after Nigerians learned that the song came with the gift of an expensive Porsche, the conversation quickly shifted to what kind of assurance broke Nigerian men can offer.
While many have been content to appreciate yet another OBO hit, the song and the buzz around it have been transformed into a jab at broke men.
Next to tweets appreciating Davido’s faithfulness, you will find someone asking if a broke boyfriend is really a human being or whether it’s a good idea to love a man who can only afford to pay for Keke.
“Assurance” may not be the perfect example but Nigerian artistes have been blamed for glorifying wealth and setting unrealistic standards in their music that young men often attempt to attain via the wrong channels.
Last year, social media was abuzz when rapper Falz questioned the motives of 9ice who delivered a remarkable verse on Junior Boy’s “Irapada”, a song which seems to glorify internet fraud.
Yet, while it is important to discourage instances like that, we must also understand that artistes like Wizkid seem to be so bullish about wealth because the fear of being broke is what keeps them and many other young Nigerian men, ticking.
It’s easy to motivate a person to chase wealth by showing off what you have but in a society where respect is everything and no one wants to be shamed, what easier way is there to motivate you than to berate you for being broke.
It’s like when Wizkid said in Runtown’s “Lagos to Kampala”, “Even Solo tell me say I no go blow, but now I be boss”.
Nigerian Afro-pop singers may have a strained relationship with broke men but when they poke fun at their thin pockets or bad decisions, it’s mostly because they believe nobody should want to be in that position.
Think of it as Motivation by fear.
So, the next time Wizkid calls you a zombie for trying to enjoy the company of a beautiful woman, put the song on repeat and get to work.