A dearth of quality lyrics has always been a major problem of Nigerian music, but since the advent of Olu Maintain’s 2007 smash hit, "Yahooze," the mainstream appreciation of wealth in Nigerian pop music has heightened.
Over the 10 years immediately following that song, quality content has gotten worse by the changing tides that listening to music voiced in languages we don’t understand seems better for our children.
Before Yahooze though, there was the D’banj smash hit, “Mobolowon” which touched on credit card scam.
The following era saw the most hideous celebration of vulgarity by the mad merry band, Zee World, Damoche and Skally Mental. In some ways, those songs probably created the infamy of entitlement toward a woman’s body which our society now suffers from in rape and sexual harassment. What we ingest intellectually, impacts our thinking.
Now, there’s a granular glorification of all kinds of vices across Nigerian pop music. When they do not glorify fraud, they are pressurizing young men with songs about aggressive money making a la Victor AD's "Wetin We Gain."
Today, Twitter discussions have been centered around criticizing the new collaborative effort titled "Logo Benz” from Olamide and Lil Kesh. It’s been a bloodbath of criticism as Nigerians are laying the blame at their feet for the continued festering of quality control in Nigerian music.
On the one part, one would understand the Nigerian-millennial anger; they are tired of negative portrayal and stereotype in international media.
It’s gotten so bad the recently, a digital marketer, Al-Qwaiyy cried out that he was on the verge of closing a 7-figure dollar deal until his prospective clients discovered that he was Nigerian. Last year, Pulse did a breakdown of the problem of the criticism of veteran, 9ice by rapper, Falz over the song, “Living Things.”
Just last week, 100 Crowns act, Blaqbonez had a social media squabble with YBNL artistes and an affiliate, Limerick, Picazo Rhap, Yomi Blaize and Kayzmoore over performing a song laced with strong yahoo worship in front of packed teenagers at King’s College, Pulse also addressed on why glorification of yahoo and fraud in music is wrong and will never be right.
This time though, with how Olamide twisted narratives and made an anti-drug abuse anthem on “Science Student,” and then made a direct opposite, a brazen blood-money-ritual-fraud-yahoo worship on this new song, “Logo Benz,” some have tried to question whether Olamide and Kesh just made satirical social commentary of social vices and realities by telling these realities from a first-person perspective.
But first, what is satire?
A satire is simply the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
Could the song have been satire?
The song is brazen and the lyrics are a very explicit first-person take on blood money and the pant stealing or pant robbery culture that has engulfed Nigeria over the past few months. It has made people comment on the open market costs of female panties amongst ritualists, and made people kill their own fathers or made someone kill his mother to sleep with her corpse.
It’s been a wild time that a bright Delta State University, Abraka student, Elozino Ogege was killed by yahoo boys and a school security guard — they cut off her eyes, tongue, and breasts.
The only reason we could ever contend that this song could be a satire is the opening 25 seconds where Lil Kesh appeared to warn women that they spread their underwear outside at owner’s risk because people are stealing female underwear. It makes sense to contend that they were making music to describe the dire current societal realities.
We might also contend that the grotesque detailing of ritual killing and how Olamide said, “If money no enter, I go do blood money,” is just to further illuminate on the state of mind that ritualists operate in and the motive behind these killings and atrocities.
In this light, this could also explain how the first-person narrative is to illuminate on the ritualist’s/fraudster’s state of mind.
On the other hand, it was too expensive and sensitive to be believable
The problem is that while Olamide made the anti-drug abuse anthem, “Science Student,” and the accusation of yahoo appreciation on “Poverty Die” is speculative at best, his track record, alongside, Lil Kesh's is not impressive.
Lil Kesh was on "Able God,” a song which features a line or two that lean towards Internet fraud. On the assist Kesh gave Zlatan Ibile, for the sleeper hit, “Jogor,” he spewed some heavy misogynistic lines of how he will desecrate a woman because someone told him the girl likes, “long thing.”
Thus, it is then really difficult to defend the gamut of this song being satire or political commentary from a first-person perspective.
That said, the lyrics on "Logo Benz" were too sensitive and explicit
On the one part, the song looks like a well-timed publicity stunt.
It is sensitive times and topics of fraud and yahoo in music will always make the conversation. A song like this will sadly forever be a hit in inner-city Nigeria where realities are different and people either just digest music or accept these vices and celebrate them.
It is the Nigerian version of American or British Hiphop/Drill culture which glorifies gang violence, drug dealing, drug abuse, misogyny, sexual violence, lack of financial discipline and other vices. Just as British and American Hip-hop had their following despite rejection, criticism and stringent quality control on what is accessible to children, these songs still garnered a following.
Thus, while we rightly criticize this song, we sadly propel it to being a hit because inner-city Nigerians either just like Olamide and Lil Kesh, or they equally accept the song as their truth.
But on the other hand
is a terribly conceived and executed song from role models and they need to do better. Celebrities have a social responsibility to their listeners. Whatever their intentions were, most Nigerians are not imbued with the thought-faculty to see this song as satire and that makes what this song could create a really scary prospect.
Most Nigerians interpret things literally. If the song was also made for the purely what it could be commercially, from the inevitable publicity buzz it was going to create, then this was bad and maybe a little selfish.
In a world where you celebrities have a viral following, the content they churn out is destined to impact most of their listeners, just like Hip-hop relatively weaponized children toward gang culture, drug dealing, and other vices. We have seen it before, and sadly, we are seeing our own version unfold right before our eyes.
It is worse when our celebrities can then not care enough to make good content. Olamide is a staple of Nigerian music- one of the greatest rappers of all-time, with a discography to rival anyone else’s and - he should know better and equally do better.
Earlier tonight, Olamide appeared to weaponize the 'satire' and 'lighthearted' narrative from certain sections of intellectual Twitter, but the deed has been done. Lil Kesh has also responded.
Songs like 'Logo Benz' will not last on the streets but the negative effective it will have on impressionable young people will last a lifetime.
UPDATE: Olamide's statement