These 5 Nigerian Songs Will Help You Figure Out Adulthood


April 24, 2019

Nowadays, Nigerian music is getting accolades as the hot new flavour on the global stage. If you listen to popular commentators like Ebro Darden, there’s something about Nigerian music makes you want to dance. But behind all those danceable rhythms and melodies, some of our music is also deeply introspective.

Good luck listening to a Brymo song without questioning your place in this world. It shouldn’t be surprising – for centuries, our music was mostly used to pass down oral tradition and the wisdom of the old ones (whatever that means).

And if you’re wondering just how much of today’s music is the stuff of life lessons, these 10 songs offer the kind of wisdom you need to find your way through adulthood.

  • M.I. – Money

For most people, adulting starts when life wants more money from you than you have. And no song captures the average person’s relationship with their finances quite like M.I’s “Money” off his debut studio album, “Talk About It”. Like MI says, “Money is the key if you want life to chill”. Even when your major focus is not ‘chills’, but career or some noble pursuit, M.I reminds you that “Money is the Juice to produce some skills”.

The entire song is a story of his own relationship with money from childhood which is why you should to his guidelines with dealing with it- “Some money can break you if you’re so unfaithful/Don’t love her too much because she will forsake you/Some give her everything and shower praise/But what a **tch, money never stays”

  • Fela Kuti – Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am

Abami Eda’s 1972 classic is one of the most unusual of his songs. For one, it’s a lot calmer than you expect and it continues to feel the soundtrack to a counselling session till the end. It makes sense because Fela is teaching one of the most important life lessons; emotional intelligence.

Okay, so some explanation is needed here. Yanga primarily means arrogance but it could also be used to refer to rude behaviour. See where this is going? Fela paints stories of people letting their yanga put them in trouble; my favourite is one of a landlord asking a tenant who has just his wife, his financial security for rent. Wetin he dey find? Wahala. Learning to pick your battles and when to fight them is a big part of growing up.

  • Sasha – Adara

The first lady of Nigerian rap made this song at her coming-of-age; in 2008 as she was leaving the label that raised her, Trybesmen to start a new journey at Storm Records. Like most young people, Sacha questions all of her decisions up to that point considering she didn’t hit the heights she expected with Trybesmen.

Adult life is an endless case of ‘gbas gbos‘ and just when you think things are going great, new challenges often show up to knock the wind right out of your sails. Sasha reminds us, speaking as her mother, you need to remain steadfast – “Keep Your Head Up, Don’t You Cry” and even when you feel limited, “Put your work in and let God do the rest”. Things get better.

  • Adekunle Gold – Ire

Adekunle Gold’s music is an ode to bygone folk musicians whose songs could be translated into an extra chapter in the Book of Proverbs. I’m talking icons like King Sunny Ade and Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey. If you’re new to his music, Ire is a good place to start. Made in the memory of his late sister, Ire pretty much explains how life is less within our control than we like to think.

Everyone wants success and good tidings and we are often convinced that the grass is greener on the other side. But if you will believe Mr Gold, the grass is greener where you water it, and trust to grant you goodwill. Now screengrab this paragraph and read it out verbatim to your son on his 18th birthday to win his respect forever.

  • Darey – Pray For Me

Adulthood is actually a journey and this song by Dare shows how literal it can get at times. Not everyone can mature on their own terms and for some, it takes some self-awareness, rebellion and risk to do it. In Dare’s story, the main character leaves home without his father’s blessings to earn his place in the world. Over the 3 minutes, Dare writes letters home, acknowledging the weight of his decision and asking for his father’s blessing.

The chorus “Pray for me” asks the father to forgive his son because this journey was necessary and the latter “just had to take a chance”. In the end, the song is a positive story about victory against all odds and the weight of the decisions we often have to make as we come of age. You learn to make your own choices and live with them – and that’s as literal as adulting can get.

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