Free periods on the class timetable were sacred back in secondary school. Not the type of sacred that is associated with spiritual sanctity but the type that was associated with unbridled joy stemming from freedom. No teachers to tiptoe around, no seniors to babysit the class or juniors to overwatch à-la prep time. It was just a gathering of bunch of peers.
A lot of the memories of the events that happened during those free periods have gotten muddled up in my head over the years and there are some I can’t even remember at all. There are few that I can remember, mainly due to a trigger. One of those I recently remembered is watching two of my classmates bang out the drum pattern of Olu Maintain’s smash hit ‘Yahooze’ on their desks during several of those periods. They both had the beat break of that song to its essential science, even adding their own pieces of magic to make the song groovier.
The trigger to this memory traces to Falz’ recent comments on promoting fraud through music. Falz caused a (very unnecessary) ruckus on social media with his comments, with words flying around both pro and con his sentiments. The glorification of fraudulent acts has seeped into Nigerian music long before you (most of you reading this piece) and I were born, but it remained in the shadows.
Many people will roll their eyes at what ‘Yahooze’ (and the other couple of songs that came out in its wake) stood for and simply chalk it up to it being a damn sweet song. But there’s also this slightly old and damn sweet song rebuking fraud but for some reason, the negative narrative always seem to stick. There have been many opinion pieces and knee jerk reactions in support of Falz’ comments, but there is one question many people are ignoring: Will it ever stop?
Sensationalizing serious conversations is a specialization of our generation. The biggest drop off is that it allows for a very short attention span. We hit the hottest issue, get high off trading opinions about it incessantly for hours or days only to go in search of the next big (or small but blown to huge proportions) thing to drag about. The same thing is happening to this issue. The internet never forgets? More like: the internet selectively remembers after moving on.
Music is a business, man (word to JAY-Z). Just like any form of art, music needs its patrons and patrons expect profits or gratification of some kind. It’s not hard to notice that many of these patrons in the Nigerian music industry are glorified internet fraudsters and they probably will continue to be. Nigerians are respectful and have a thing about paying homage to their ‘helper’, hence the reason these patrons get props on these songs. The biggest Nigerian songs lean on beats and marketing, without regard for content. An artist has a jam with backing from a willing spender, it will become a hit.
The internet assisted in making Falz’s sub land at 9ice’s feet for his recent hit song, ‘Living Things‘. I have strong reservations about the song’s quality but hey, it’s his biggest hit since petrol was #87/litre. The fact that 9ice’s resurgence had to do with his glorification of fraud (forget this nonsensical reply) says enough about the flawed state of our morals. The fact that there are people bitterly against Falz’ statement (for whatever inane reason) further solidifies the grip of fraud on Nigerian music and inherently social life. A formerly prominent Nigerian rapper recently got convicted of fraud crimes and didn’t another entertainer get arrested for fraudulent behavior recently? Smh.
Personally, I want the glorification of fraud to stop at all levels, but you and I both know our society, we rebel then move on, which let’s face it is unlooking before accepting. Given the Nigerian public’s propensity of embracing ‘jams’ regardless of content, predicting that a huge single embracing internet fraud blows up really soon isn’t exactly farfetched. This time, I won’t be admiring the song, talk more of it’s break beat on a desk.
Words by Dennis, aka Jam Master D, aka @ayo_dennis.