Gbefun! Straight out the zoo.
Objectivity has been my crutch.
The veil of objectivity poorly fitted over my work has, thus far, assisted me to look my love in the eye without receding into my skin in contempt. However, for this relationship to grow I must look my love in the eye unshielded, and learn to love my reflection in them- gross as it may seem at first. This new series is not about objectively dissecting African art- to claim that I could objectively assess African anything would be the lie of a coward. The creative energy in my continent is shifting restlessly, fuelled by reckless talents hell bent on redefining their medium. This series is a celebration that I’m not alone.
Indulgent as it may be is there not some perverse release in the unabashedly toxic?
Naira Marley is a talented musician, and as much I wish more Nigerians would peak beyond his use of taboo, I am afraid this might defeat his purpose. It took me a while to warm up to his peculiar sound- and even longer to warm up to him- for good reason, calling his music an acquired taste would be understating how genuinely abrasive it is. Each song is delivered in a playfully sardonic monotone, this is often paired with a beat that sounds like the embrace of the apocalypse. It is an odd but hypnotic combination when it works -admittedly it doesn’t always- creating music that sounds and feels unbearably current. Current because, although Naira’s music ranges from genuinely funny to stupidly infectious (often times being a mixture of both) it is almost always foreboding. There is a sense of urgency in his music that is uncanny, reflecting a monstrous despair that is normally exclusive to love-craft novels- or the most creative threads on twitter. The song Opotoyi (Marlians)-one of my favourite songs of the year- for example sounds like the psychadelic soundtrack to the violent toppling of a corrupt government.
The soundtrack to the violent toppling of a corrupt government.
The simulation has been glitching
Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy when seen in a long shot. - Charlie Chaplin
The simulation has been glitching recently, that or the humanity experiment might be ending soon. Either way our collective consciousness seems to have reached the midlife crisis phase of its development- and in place of cars and tattoos we’re getting ourselves new nukes. Thankfully, as much as this is a series about great music-and how it can come from the most unexpected of places-it is also about perspective and perception. Ultimately, I find Naira Marley refreshingly hilarious. Not contempt in wallowing in the existential void we have found ourselves in, he makes music to laugh at it. The Nigerian cultural identity for as long as I can remember (definitely even longer) has been defined as much by so-called sacred taboos as by music. Watching Nigerians slowly and aggressively, resist the inevitable deconstruction of that identity out of existential dread is -as a Nigerian myself- tragic. It is also very funny.
It's also just really funny.
The world is ending, being profound is overrated.
Am I a Yahoo boy? The biggest hit song from Naira so far- another one of my favourite songs of the year- is a dance song about an artist being persecuted and arrested due to his social media perception. A scathing indictment of the Nigerian legal system, in true Naira Marley fashion it is also kind of stupid. It is a song where he compares himself to Nelson Mandela, a comparison so dumb that it is sad and disappointing that you can see where he is coming from. Soapy on the other hand, is a song from him that I actually find poignant. An uncomfortable piece of art that has its own equally uncomfortable dance step attached to it. The song is about how, denied the right to sexuality, men in Nigerian prisons resort to masturbating with soap as lubrication. I find this song is extremely gross, but also incredibly funny. This might just be my ego trying to rationalise my poor excuse for a sense of humour, but I honestly believe that it takes an insane amount of talent to be that funny and still have a point to make in under three minutes.
I must admit my own limited capacity here, enjoying the toxic seems much less fun for the second sex- although I will never really know.
I do not know how history will look at Naira Marley, he might just be a trend that I have fallen for and that will be discarded when his relevance expires. To be perfectly honest I am not sure I care; I have no profound point to make here, the world is ending and being profound is overrated, Naira Marley is making music to enjoy and laugh to. I guess the point of this article is to say that it is working- at least on me, and I have to believe I am not alone in that.