Nobody expected this. No one stepped into this concert feeling like they were going to die by the warm hands of enjoyment.
But the moment we made the decision to attend Falz’s first headline show in Lagos, we had signed up for something that was too good for us, too heavy for us all to handle.
Falz is a great artist. He makes music like a sponge; he soaks the best and worst parts of life around him, pumps it full with humour, and passes it through a special artistic filter that garnishes it up, before squeezing it out as new material.
It’s a beautiful process that almost always works. And that’s why he’s got a career, a brilliant one that straddles the line between pop music and Hip-hop. He’s too pop to be respected as a Hip-hop artist, but also too Hip-hop to be tagged a pop artist. What this creates is a balance that has him with one foot in each door, amplifying his every move, and connecting him to larger audiences.
In simple terms, he’s got the cheat code. And he applies it without restraint.
His Falz experience was a scripted cinematic show. Falz brought a recorded movie to us, interspersing it with live scenes which carried us all along. There were two sides to it. Where a scene on the screen stopped, it picked up on stage, with a performance and drama.
The show commenced with DJ Crowd Kontroller, and Hypeman Shody working the crowd up. And when the show began, it was an introduction of his two alter egos – Brother Taju (a funny, listless and extremely annoying fool, who ruins things for everyone in the universe, including himself), and Barrister Folarin (A lawyer, which Falz would have been if only he listened to his parents.)
They were joined by actress Adunni Ade, who played a combustible character named Constance. The three were bad for each other, with Taju leading them into repeated episodes of trouble. Somewhere in the skit, Falz jumped from the rooftop of Eko Hotel and landed right on stage.
Starting off with 2017’s hit record ‘La fete’. Dancers ran around the stage, men with masked faces, bearing rifles, as he rapped “Have you ever been to Lagos, have you been with a guy from my city?”
Lagos came out to support Falz. The Eko Convention centre where it held, was filled to near-capacity. I met two guys who made the trip from Owerri, paid for flight tickets, lodged at a hotel in Victoria Island. Bought VIP tickets, and sewed a new Agbada.
Fam, he sewed a new Agbada, for Falz. Greater love hath no man.
Falz had a long list of backers, and each one came dressed for the occasion. For ‘Chardonnay music’, he wore a white tux, invited Chyn and Poe to share a glass of Chardonnay with him, while rapping about life and all its fine things. Yemi Alade brought her relationship problems to him with ‘Marry me’ and ‘Single and searching’. His cat-and-mouse game with Simi was also a prominent feature, while Phyno was instrumental in escaping the pitfalls of ‘Karashika’. There was space for Ycee to tag-team on ‘Something light’, and the ovation rang out for Reminisce on ‘Atewo’.
While Falz would never admit this in public, but M.I Abaga featured prominently on the show. The Chocolate City boss had tasked Nigerian rappers to make Hip-hop in a particular format with his record ‘You rappers should fix up your lives.’ Falz himself isn’t regarded as a rapper by Hip-hop heads in Nigeria. And so by extension, he’s a member of the gang M.I is speaking against. During the concert, a skit set in a courtroom showed Falz on trial for ‘breaking the rules of Hip-hop’. How did he plead?
As guilty as a puff-puff thief. And he did it with his chest.
The most touching moment was his recognition of his parents. Falz was born in Lagos State, to renowned lawyers Femi and Funmi Falana. He is an alumna of the University of Reading after graduating with an LLB honours degree in Law. But he isn’t practising. He gave his soul to making art.
“I can see Daddy and Mommy, my entire family. Give a shout out to my family,” he told the crowd, who cheered for the couple who provided us with such a talent. But Falz was not done. As he performed ‘Soft work’, he went close to his mother to say the immortal lines: “We came through in a Mercedes, Mama look at how we made it, a little liquor and some ladies, we dey turn up on the daily.”
I didn’t know how I felt about it. But it was a powerful moment. Perhaps, more powerful than Davido not standing down from singing his glorious diss line to Dele Momodu, his friend-turned-family-turned-foe-turned-raw material-turned-enemy-turned-friend again. “Mr Dele na my boy, Dele na my boy!” I screamed that out too. Who wouldn’t want a boy named Dele? Not me. I want all the Deles I can have.
At the end, this was a near-perfect show produced by Livespot renowned for ground-breaking concepts, and Bahd Guys Entertainment, the record label founded by Falz. Every part of the event came together, and Falz gave the best performance of his life on that stage.
It was enjoyed by everyone who attended. But no one enjoyed it as much as the bald old man with a silver beard, who sat a few chairs from me, singing ‘Soft work’, and miming like he drinks wine every evening made from grapes, hand-plucked from the sunny vineyards of Pamplona, Spain. That guy was soft and elegant. Perhaps softer than Falz himself.