One amazing thing about Nigerian music is how, after you’re done nodding your head to the beats that sound like bar fights involving kitchen utensils and doing the Capoeira-style dances, you can relax and listen to the lyrics, which, a lot of the time, contain utterly terrifying backstories.
Let’s get into some of the more popular ones:
1. Styl Plus – Iya Basira
This song is about a buka, run by a woman known as Iya Basira, that sells food so good it ruins the lives of pretty much anyone who eats there. The song chronicles the experiences of a couple of people whose lives have fallen apart because of their addiction to the buka’s food. These people strongly believe that there’s juju at work so, in an attempt to stop Iya Basira and regain control of their lives, they call the police to investigate the buka. One officer is sent and the conversation that follows goes a little something like this:
Officer: “What are you putting in the food you sell that’s causing all this wahala?”
Iya Basira: “Sir, I ain’t doing nothing. God makes my food good.”
Officer: “Girl, please. I know you’re putting pussy water in your food. In fact, give me fufu and soup, let me confirm for myself that it’s not jazz.”
Iya Basira’s victims: “Wait. What?!”
As you can probably already tell, the officer is mesmerized by the food and he immediately forgets why he’s there, settling in for more wraps of fufu.
Then the song ends.
The characters don’t get their lives back and no one does anything about the buka with life-wrecking food. Even worse, it’s never made clear if juju really was Iya Basira’s secret ingredient.
2. Sauti Sol feat. Burna Boy – Afrikan Star
The first thing that bugged me about Afrikan Star is how the lyrics mention – more than once – that the girl (the Afrikan star) is the child of parents who each come from different African countries. I’m not sure why exactly they do this but I suspect it’s because they think it’s a valid explanation for her desirable physical features.
Anyways, the song goes on smoothly until this line drops:
“I wanna graduate from a STALKER to your LOVER.”
That’s when it hits you that the girl this song is about hasn’t even been approached yet. Everything that comes after that line makes the song seem more like the journal entries of a psychopath than a love song. It’s even more horrifying when Burna Boy drops these lines later on:
3. Wizkid – In My Bed
He named the song In My Bed so I figured it was yet another mildly gross song objectifying the hell out of women’s bodies. So imagine my surprise when I actually listened to it and my first thought was:
“Is…is this song mostly about necrophilia?”
Here’s the hook:
“I want your body sleeping in my bed ee
I want your body sleeping in my bed ee”
And that’s not all. After talking about how much the girl’s body drives him crazy, he proceeds to hail a bunch of famous rich people for some reason.
Is this song about a necrophilia sex cult where rich people pay to watch someone have sex with corpses and then the person has to hail all of them during the act?
Am I overthinking this?
4. 2Face – If Love Is A Crime
The fact that this song is a timeless classic often distracts from how much the main character suffered. First of all, she lives in a place where she’s constantly being asked out by sleazy guys she has to turn down:
“There’s been a lot of toasting A lot of guys have been up to her but she told them she was waiting.”
Then because she rejects them, they start gossiping about her:
“People started to say that she wanted more than Mr Right. They say she’s a fool for being uptight.”
Then there’s this line that reveals how information about her that should be private is somehow public knowledge:
“I can’t believe she’s still a virgin. Lots of guys have been up to her but there was no compromising.”
This song managed to romanticize the fact that this poor girl spent the better part of her youth fighting harassment left and right.