In the final quarter of 2018, Nigeria saw a smash hit titled, ‘Able God.’ It came off the rise of the second wave of Nigerian street-hop sound that Pulse Nigeria tagged, ‘Shepeteri 2.0.’ Some people have also called it Zanku.
The sound was fast-paced, drum-heavy, percussion-based version of Nigerian Afro-pop. Most suitably, it excelled with rapped lyrics and contains infectious appregio or staccato melodies that feel suited to suspence scenes in Nollywood. ‘Able God’ was one of those songs and it was the appropriate comeback for Chinko Ekun.
At the 2019 Headies, it was named Best Street Hop song.
It also featured the self-acclaimed Zanku originator, Zlatan and Lil Kesh, who was enjoying a stellar end to 2018 after a string of powerful features. The song was a solemn wish for riches in a country that was recovering from a recession and a prayer to the maker to shower blessings, in a country of entrenched religious beliefs.
It was also delivered in Yoruba. Zlatan’s verse infamously contained elements that suggests that the wealth that he, Kesh and Chinko Ekun asked of God was of the illegitimate kind.
Zlatan rapped about how people should wake up and smell the coffee, buy a laptop and start engaging in internet fraud - colloquially called ‘Yahoo Yahoo.’
Even though the content of the song was explicit and problematic, Nigerians didn’t care. The sound of the song was so impressive that IJGB Nigerians went crazy over it throughout that Detty December period.
Nigerian singer and DRB Lasgidi member, BOJ even tweeted that, “Me I gats hear ‘Able God’ sha…”
Two years later, we have another song with a similar formula - it also features Zlatan. The song is titled, ‘Cash App’ by new kid on the block, Bella Shmurda. Originally, the song was released in August 2020, but after Olamide's 'Triumphant' with Bella Shmurda hit the market, it was re-released with Zlatan and Lincoln as featured artists.
While parts of ‘Able God’ were still more cautious and methodical - save for Zlatan’s verse, ‘Cash App’ is a more explicit version.
While ‘Able God’ was a prayer with relatively subtle hints of internet fraud, ‘Cash App’ is an outright appraisal of the internet fraud culture with vivid details that would make the average Nigerian ask certain questions about the internet fraud culture.
The song is so detailed that Shmurda, who made a record like ‘Vision 2020’ and the socio-political ills of Nigeria went into the throes and discussed the ways to defraud a victim.
He even discusses the real life of an internet fraudster in picture-esque detail as he sings, “Ice on my neck, ice on my wrist, many nights I never sleep…” Nigerian yahoo boys are known for their opulent show of wealth that’s evident in their fashion accessories and lifestyle.
They are known for working through the night due to time zones and time differences. The song also appraises the dreaded status of EFCC in that community and how violence could be the result of dishonest relationships.
From the perspective of a Yahoo boy, Shmurda sings, “T’o ba gb’owo mi ja, they will crush ya…” In Enlish, that means, “If you try to run with my [yahoo] money, my people will crush you…”
If ‘Able God’ was the prayer stage, ‘Cash App’ is a masterclass on how to make the money. It even gives you an idea on how to get the money from your victim or ‘client.’ With Detty December looming, 'Cash App' looks like the 'Able God' of 2020.
Some will criticize Shmurda's 'glorification' of internet fraud, but they need to remember that internet fraud is a microcosm and a symptom of the larger decadence in Nigerian society, just like drug rap and gang culture is only microcosm and symptom of the larger decadence in African-American societies.
Cash App by Square
The song then piques on the use of Cash App within that community. ‘Cash App’ is a mobile payment service developed by the Jack Dorsey-led P2P American financial services, merchant services aggregator, and mobile payment company, Square Inc.
The service is a p2p system that allows for easy transfer of funds. Its resonant product name, ease of use and marketing has given it a pop culture-resonant brand equity. In March 2020, music business analyst and founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie wrote about how Hip-Hop helped ‘Cash App’ grow faster.
This song will undoubtedly increase the popularity of ‘Cash App’ in Nigeria.
Will content ever supersede enjoyable music?
No. What is good music will forever be relative, but enjoyable music will never be limited to lyrical content - at least not for everybody. A lot of people say they prefer lyrics to production, but some of them are Yoruba people who enjoy Phyno’s music without understanding a word that he’s saying.
The point is; production is arguably of greater importance than lyrics. That’s why people with the strongest moral compass and even the ‘wokest’ IJGB person will jam ‘Cash App’ during Detty December.
That’s also why separating the art from the artist is a myth. Even people who clamour for canceling the artist with the art are some of the biggest lovers of ‘Able God’ and ‘Cash App.’ If what is wrong is wrong, they shouldn’t be enjoying songs like ‘Able God and ‘Cash App,’ innit?
Is Zanku really dead?
No. This record is a Zanku record by all means and it’s gearing up to be a huge song for Detty December. Zanku never died, like any viral subgenre or element of Nigerian pop music/pop culture, it only slowed down. The numbers also suggest that the Nigerian mainstream still loves it.
In the end, ‘Able God’ was a jam, and ‘Cash App’ is a jam. We shall put argument to the side and simply enjoy music…