Nigerians have always used music as a means to either escape or reflect the times. As we gear up for the 2023 election year with campaigns kicking off as early as next year, we’ve pulled out some old songs that captured the reality of Nigerians then (and now). From Fela in 1977 to Wande Coal in 2009, these songs show that in terms of real change, Nigeria still has a long way to go.
1. Eedris Abdulkareem – Jaga Jaga
One of the most controversial political drags in Nigerian history, Eedris Abdulkareem’s Jaga Jaga was so powerful that ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo banned it from radios across the country. Released at a time when corruption was becoming the norm, 19 years later, this song still describes the current state of the country.
2. 2Face – E Be Like Say
An iconic song from 2face’s second album, E Be Like Say gives an accurate description of a typical Nigerian election year. In this song, he sings about being tired of politicians peddling the same lies every four years, just so they can secure votes. It’s an important song to listen to as we step into 2022, which is set to be a tense campaign year leading up to the general elections of 2023.
3. Wande Coal – Se Na Like This?
On his debut album, Wande Coal asked this very important question. Looking at the current situation of the country, we’re sure Black Diamond has a sense of what the answer looks like.
4. Black Face – Hard Life
Blackface may be known now as the guy who drags 2face to court now and then, but despite all this drama, his bop, Hard Life, has remained relevant over the years. Life was hard for Nigerians then and unfortunately, not much has changed now.
5. African China – Mr. President
This song is what we’d like to call iconic. Not only does African China throw shade at the justice system for going after poor people while allowing rich criminals to strut in peace, he also demands that all tiers of government sit down and do the job they were hired to do.
6. Fela – Sorrow, Tears & Blood
If there’s one thing 2020 taught us, it is that Nigeria hasn’t changed much since Fela dropped his 1977 hit, Sorrow, Tears & Blood. Continuing in his role as the artistic moral conscience of his time, Fela spoke about the brutality and corruption within the Nigerian security force. Over 40 years later, the same issues continue to plague this generation of Nigerians.
7. Sound Sultan – 2010 with M.I
Remember in the early 2000s when the Nigerian government kept hammering on 2010 as the year the country would finally get constant electricity? Well, 2010 was 11 years ago. Kindly raise your hands if you have constant power. We’re trying to check for something.
8. Asa – Jailer
On the opening song of her 2007 classic self-titled album, Asa reminds listeners that while she might be in chains, we (knowingly or unknowingly) are in chains too. A poetic way of telling us that breakfast will reach everybody, this song remains poignant even today.
9. PSquare – Oga Police
At the height of their stardom, PSquare released this song, chronicling two different encounters with the Nigerian police. Based on true events or false, these stories show scenarios young Nigerians today can relate to, especially when it comes to their interactions with the police.