While I can confidently say Kizz Daniel has no bad song, I also think it’s time I (and the rest of you) admit that some of his lyrics are problematic AF. There, I said it.
Despite being one of the few artists everyone, their mums and aunties can bond over, thanks to his infectious hit, Buga, Kizz Daniel is building a reputation for sprinkling weird lyrics that range from cringe-worthy to downright disturbing. His latest single, Cough (Odo), is the latest addition to the Kizz Daniel “inappropriate lyrics” library.
Like Barnabas, Nesesari, Lie and Poko, Cough (Odo) has all the makings of a Kizz Daniel hit. The song finds him singing about what he knows best — love. But most importantly, the lyrics are simple and repetitive enough to stick to your brain after one listen. The problem is, after all the “odoyewus” and plans to carry his love away, Kizz decides to sing some lyrics that just don’t sit right with me:
It’s easy to notice a narrative in which Kizz is not willing to give this lover he’s singing about the option of refusing his advances simply because he’s done some shit for her — coming through when she was heartbroken and buying her friends dinner.
And just when I thought I was crazy and overthinking the song, I saw this tweet:
The wild part is this isn’t the first time Kizz Daniel’s lyrics have raised questions about consent and sexual harassment.
In 2017, Kizz Daniel’s Yeba was everywhere, and I was obsessed. From wedding receptions to the club, Yeba was THAT song. But, after the initial gragra of the song dwindled, people finally started paying attention to the lyrics and noticed the now infamous “Uncle, stop touching me” and “Sorry, madam” lines that painted the scenario of a man touching a woman inappropriately.
The line, which has now been removed, was added like a skit, but there’s nothing funny about it. It makes light of sexual harassment, which often leads to rape, a big problem in a country that reported over 11,000 rape cases in 2020 alone. Kizz Daniel’s tweet defending the song also reads like a last-minute re-interpretation of its narrative to save face. But the truth is, we don’t need men to sexually harass women and then apologise. We need men to not harass, period.
As if the drama from Yeba taught him nothing, in 2019, Kizz Daniel came back with not one, but two songs with problematic lyrics. There was Fvck You, which had a challenge that added kerosene to the Tiwa Savage/Seyi Shay beef, followed by another club hit, Pak N Go.
On Fvck You, Kizz Daniel is heartbroken after his lover cheats on him. So what does he do with the little dignity he has left? He slut-shames her like there’s no tomorrow, calling random names and singing, “Ashawo come be your hobby”. While I understand many people may not find this song weird, the idea of resorting to slut-shaming when it comes to women will always make me uncomfortable. Why is that the first thing Nigerians think of when we want to call out a woman?
Fvck You might be divisive on the problematic scale, sure. But no one can tell me the “When will you marry ye, until your bobby touch your belle o wey man no wan collect?” line from Pak N Go doesn’t raise a few eyebrows. Mine are way up right now.
There’s the obvious conversation surrounding body shaming. For years, women whose bodies don’t fit a particular box have been made to feel less than, and the line “until your bobby touch your belle o wey man no wan collect” supports society’s view that women’s bodies are only acceptable when it appeals to the male gaze. There’s nothing wrong with having the type of boobs he sings about and no, it doesn’t always come with age. With his lyrics, Kizz Daniel pokes fun at these women and tries to make them believe they’re unattractive simply because he thinks men won’t want them.
In an ageist and profoundly patriarchal society that rates women based on their marital status or ability to attract a man, the lyrics from Pak N Go are harmful and careless. Kizz Daniel prides himself in making songs about love that target a large female fanbase, so it’s a bit jarring that his lyrics pressure said fanbase to settle and conform to society’s expectations of getting married because their biological clocks are ticking.
Is Kizz Daniel doing all of this on purpose? Maybe, maybe not. He’s the only one who knows for sure. Either way, these lyrics leave a sour taste on the tongue. And even if it’s just banter, it speaks to how, as Nigerians, we tend to dismiss and trivialise body or slut shaming and sexual harassment. These are not “ha ha” conversations. They require a certain level of nuance, and Kizz Daniel has failed time and time again to bring that to the conversation.
There’s a lot to say about the consequences or lack thereof for celebrities who step out of line through their art or personal lives. We’ve seen comedians like Basketmouth and Bovi make jokes about rape and homophobia, respectively, without any consequences. Singer D’Banj was accused of raping a young woman in 2020, but he’s still bagging awards and serving as a judge on one of the biggest reality shows in the country.
Then we have the one and only African Giant who was allegedly involved in a shooting and intimidation case early this year. Before that, Burna was reportedly involved in a sexual assault case, casually revealed in a back-and-forth with Ghanaian rapper Shatta Wale early this year . But still, nothing has been done to properly investigate or punish him for any of these things — at least publicly. It’s almost as if making good music absolves him of any wrongdoing. After all, he’s our very own Odogwu.
I’m not trying to be self-righteous here. I still listened to Burna Boy’s 2022 album, Love Damini (and even reviewed it). I also listened to Kizz Daniel’s Cough (Odo) after complaining privately to my friends about Yeba. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do better. I’m not asking everyone to pick up torches and cancel anyone since cancel culture doesn’t seem to work in Nigeria. But we need to find a way to hold our celebrities accountable or at least admit when they fuck up.
While we have bigger fish to fry in Nigeria heading into an important election year, nothing stops us from calling out art that does more harm than good socially. Sis, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. Getting rid of a song or lyric may not solve all our problems of sexual assault and harassment or turn Nigeria into the Garden of Eden, but, damn, it’s a good place to start.