The argument that Nigerian music is not the place to seek content is quite myopic.
To make this collection of Nigerian lyrics as authentic as possible, we have shied away from lyrical proverbs and remixed popular sayings. These are some of the most thought-provoking original lyrics we came up with.
Money slow to enter, money quick to go. – M.I, Money, 2008
On this classic song from his debut album, M.I sings a resonating hook about the irony of wealth. This is a thought-provoking statement that doesn’t only question the purpose of acquisition of wealth. It also makes the case for hard work as the most authentic means of acquiring wealth.
Workaholic be cool o, you no go carry money go heaven – Falz, Workaholic, 2015
I am a believer, I don’t need your monument– Seyi Shay, Healer, 2015
Seyi Shay’s album, Seyi or Shay is one of the pleasant surprises to come out of of 2015. The debut houses gems like this conscious number about love being a key to finding peace for mankind amidst religious wars and conflicts. To exemplify what she means, Ms Shay identifies a believer but refutes the need for a monument to prove it. The relevance of this line, however, stretches deep. All over Nigeria and the world alike, most of humanity believes in the need to make over-aching self-sacrifices in order to identify as a believer. These include stringent doctrines and a cluster fuckery of commandments passed from generation to generation. These rules have become landmarks we use to differentiate ourselves into factions based on our faith, ethnicity and class. What Seyi Shay recommends is the simplicity of love rather than grand monumental gestures like suicide bombings and genocides amongst others to prove our faith.
You and I know, we go never see tomorrow/How you treat today, will surely affect tomorrow/You and I know, that tomorrow is tomorrow/Tomorrow will sort itself out. –Blackmagic, Tommorrow, 2010.
So little Lucy turns sixteen, And like the movie she’s been seeing,She has a lover in her daddy. She can’t tell nobody ’till she makes the evening news.– Asa, Fire on the Mountain, 2008
Asa subtly but brilliantly touches on the issue of child molestation on the lead single for her self-titled debut album.
I want to be like Moses, take my people them to the promise land/But then I notice something. People wey try am don dey underground. – Sound Sultan, 2010.
Pastor’s house na him dey fine pass/my people they stay for poor surroundings/Pastor’s dress na him dey clean pass/E hard for my people for them to buy soap/Pastor na him dem give respect pass and dem dey do bad bad bad things” – Fela, Coffin for the Head of State, 1981.
Abami eda himself, Fela questions the role of religious institutions as the supposed opium of the masses, especially when the masses languish in poverty while religious leaders live in squalor.
Life is so simple but they make it complicated/ to be civilised, you don’t have to be educated – 2face, Spiritual Healing, 2012.
2face highlights civility to fellow humans as not necessarily having anything to do with education, but of kindness and humanity.
If you ain’t got money, Omo don’t show up/If you ain’t got cars, Omo don’t show up/Cause she’s all about the money – Wizkid, Fast Money Fast Cars, 2008.
So make I ask them all, How market? /Cos politics na big business/Boxers wey dem wear, get pocket/Cos politics na big business– Sound Sultan, Politics na Big Business, 2014.
On this Femi Kuti song which features 2face and Sound Sultan, Sultan notes the commercial nature of a Nigerian political sphere where politicians enrich themselves instead of serving the people.
See what is you want from me?/What is your expectation?/What is it you feel? What is it you think about me?/What is your imagination? /How do you see me, as I am God’s creation, but I am not the only one”
2face, Raindrops, 2010.
At the height of 2face’s baby mama drama(s) that rocked his career and nearly ruined his public image in the late 2000s, 2face sought redemption with the release of his 2010 album, Unstoppable International edition. The album featured deep conversational tracks like this where 2face reminds us that he is still human and bound to make mistakes, despite reaching an insurmountable level of superstardom.