Our music industry has a drinking problem. Whether you’re talking of Afro-rap, Afro-pop or Afro-trap, etc, these mainstream genres share a mutual drunkenness for glamorising and adulating a pleasure-seeking philosophy.  

In his 2019 song “E No Finish” Falz sends a cryptic message to his listener: “…This no be club song I no come to shout. Na real strong matter I wan talk about…” It was a clarion call to his fans to forego their banal tastes for a moment. He recognised that the times called for more thought-provoking performances – meanwhile, the industry, as usual, was bursting at the seams with music that featured gross sexualisation of the female body, and many other clichés. 

In that same year, Naira Marley’s controversial song “Soapy” took over the internet, becoming the talk of the town: people replicated its obscene dance (a simulation of a phallus getting stroked) without reservation. Children knew its lyrics offhand – a song campaigning for the rights of criminals to conjugal visits… It was all good though. Why not? We were vibing. The whole country should go up in flames to get us lit; one thing must kill a man – might as well let it be cruise!  

It has become a culture of sorts, especially amongst male artistes, to freely depict their use of marijuana. Burna Boy recently dropped a single “Last Last.” It became an instant chart-topper and a heartbreak anthem within many circles. It preaches the inevitability of heartbreak and the yearning for shayo (alcohol) and igbo (marijuana) to numb the pangs of a nasty break-up. 

The incorporation of his desire to drink and take drugs is probably an attempt to mirror the true realities of people who have endured a similar situation. The jocose lyrics and invigorating beats were probably meant to unite the heartbroken masses through this ubiquitous strife, however, the danger that lurks within those positive vibes is glaring – a subliminal stamp of approval on the usage of illicit drugs.  

The mainstream music of our time has indoctrinated the youth with escapist tendencies that far supersede normal. From Omah Lay’s “Free My Mind” to Joeboy’s “Alcohol,” and Burna Boy’s “Last Last” to Naira Marley’s “Marry Juana,” pop culture music has been enveloped by a tide of songs which celebrate the habit of chasing destructive thrills, and/or delusive contentment. The attraction of staying distracted, to the youth, is an opiate that compensates for all deep-seated traumas that bedevil him. Like Adekunle Gold, he just wants to be high. Through the lens of Nigerian music, the damage being done is shallow. In reality, all we’re really seeing is just its apparent depth. Falz’s Moral Instruction album, as a whole, was such a breath of fresh air. For the first time in a while, Afrobeats wasn’t urging us to lose ourselves in a dance, but to sit down and ponder over the complexity of our reality.

This article was written bSopuru Mamah; connect with him on Instagram via here 

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