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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Concert Fever (Not sure what this is about but I like it)

I really like Kanye West's music and I am pained that I will be out of town during his upcoming concert in Lagos. It is the sort of concert I would attend as it is doesn't sound like it will be an over priced, elitist, preening hole of over aged teenagers who haven't got the foggiest idea about who it is they have come to see. Okay so maybe I have been one of those clueless, (not over dressed sha) concert goers at least once before. Here is what happened.

Some summer morning two years ago in London whilst on holiday with the omowe (the academic, my BBF) the relentless suitor called "hey fumy (na oyibo) I've got two VIP tickets for you girls to the sold out Johnny Legend concert in Brixton tonight, do you want to go?" Now a little background, the relentless suitor has been in pursuit for the past four years and I would marry him just to get him off my back if he were not such a handful. There can be no other louder, crazier, completely, guilelessly thick-skinned human alive.

Miserly, Jewish and wealthy, I believe his attraction to me is the fact that "fumy is not an invoicer". I just think he is an aging geezer with jungle fever but he can be good party company, besides he wont take no for an answer so he is a recurring decimal in my life known with degrees of irritation and affection to my family, friends and frogs.

One of his things is to act more black and Nigerian around me and since I can be completely clueless about certain aspects of pop culture, I took the Johnny Legend ticket offer as one of his wannabe black and cool aspirations. Yes to my utter shame, I had no idea who Johnny Legend was; neither did the omowe who had once called Jay Zeee, Jay Zed and thought Ciara was Clara misspelled.
I told the suitor to call me back in an hour and called the oracle in Lagos. After the initial amusement at our ignorance, he orders us to haul our backsides over to Brixton and see the biggest new talent in town. We remained unconvinced and told the suitor to arrange to leave the tickets at the box office.

By evening, we decided, what the heck, we'll go see the concert, if we don't like it, we'll go to our favourite Ritzy cinema in Brixton to chill out.
The concert was packed but we remained impressed and oh the shame, went across the road to Kentucky Fried Chicken eating giant fried drumsticks. An hour or so after concert kick off, we casually strolled in and took our vantage position seats.
I am even more ashamed to tell you that as we watched Johnny do his thing and saw the frenzy and excitement he was generating, I firmly remained unmoved whilst the academic, always the cooler and more reasonable one warmed and opened up to the power and seduction of a new generation teddy Pendergrass.

Perhaps it was a carry over of the resistance to the bullying suitor but I refused to engage with Johnny Legend's music until as recent as three months ago after the omowe who by now had his two albums and a beautifully shot concert DVD persuaded me to just listen to his debut album. So one Sunday morning speeding down the 3rd mainland bridge, I popped in the CD and was hooked. What an amazing collection of songs and true original talent, totally refreshing. What an idiot I have been. The story is that he was so disappointed with the way the Nigerian concert went, he might not come back this way again but the good news is that (at least as at early this year), his girlfriend is Nigerian and he is such a gentleman that he insisted on sneaking off to see her folks in Ibadan regardless of his tight schedule, sebi, he will come here o pay dowry.


Strangely it was the omowe who gave me first notice about Kanye West, she had gone through a "fiddy" phase, even getting "caught playing it in her office by one of her students. That phase ended when she properly listened to what he was saying and for me when I saw the credit card swipe through a video vixen's cheeks in his video. The art began to grate. I read Time magazine's Kanye cover and thought, well Kanye does love Kanye doesn't he but I wanted to find out what he was about so I bought the college dropout and caught the bug. Last week, the oracle ripped the latest Kanye CD at jazz hole on Awolowo road and we continue to be fans. Being pro female, the omowe and I do have some sort of issue with the apparent disrespect of women but we are also lovers of art and the creative freedom to distort, magnify or contort mores, images, ideas and words with intellect, wit and imagination. I am aware that this is usually work done by very smart people and the context is perhaps better understood by older or/and more enlightened minds. The converse is the effect it may have on less tutored, younger and/ or impressionable minds. It is a thin and precarious line to walk because even though I get the joke with a line like "l aint sayin she a gold digger, she aint messing with no broke nigger", or the flagrant yabis of the workout song or even the personal conflicts laid bare in Jesus walks, I don't think my daughter as yet gets it and I am concerned she might celebrate those mores and think it is the cool way to be. On the other hand, I firmly believe in free expression and I fully accept my responsibility as a parent to educate my daughter about what is real and what is not and how to get the finer points of subversion without the necessity to immerse one's self in it. I of course have no idea if I will succeed but I know it would be a bleeding shame for the world never to have experienced the art of Kanye West or even Eminem. The same is true for Dbanj's tongolo, Femi Kuti's Bang bang bang, and Olu maintain's Yahooze. It is not a great work of art but it is a good 9ja pop song and can be read either as celebrating the 419 culture or just something that resonates with the aspirational Nigerian spirit. I have heard talk of not dancing to it because it encourages 419ning but I dare you not to move to the beat when you hear it (remember ijo shina in the early 90s?), if after listening to it, you do start 419ning, you were always a butt lazy, criminal minded so and so.

I agreed that there should be some control in airplay of certain music. Some others which are just done for the sake of shock, sensation and commerce, should be rightfully binned but all those irreverent but talented souls who walk the thin line between art and offence should be let alone unless and of course they cross that line. So who's got Borat's news book?

8 comments:

tope said...

:)

it's 4:46am in my part of the world and i like that i'm going to bed right after reading this. God bless you, Funmi! you really do light up the world in your own way.

sleep deprivation makes me emotional, LOL...

Eunice said...

Maybe it's d end of day drag... just about going home n thot i shud glance... I'm feeling dizzy after reading this... lol... check back wen my eyes are not half closed or shud I say half open? Have a good one.

Eleniyan said...

Funmi,

nice stuff, however, I disagree with your thots on yahoozee. i agree it is a melodious song; however i won't dance to it just as i won't dance to any song promoting raping of women, armed robbery, embezzlement, corruption etc no matter how melodious it is.

i guess the success of that song reflects the state of our nation, we don't place so much emphasis on morals, we are quick to celebrate "success" even when we know it was achieved through corrupt and immoral means.

i read on the net that Olu played before the president and of course got a presidential handshake, i don't know the song he played for mr president but if it was yahoozee - then i will argue that mr president has desecrated the office for future presidents (note future not past presidents), after all Obasanjo openly endorsed Adedibu as the father of pdp.

i have no issues with Olu, i guess he is a young man who took advantage of his people's mentality - i think he said something like that on your show. i hate the game not the player.

Adeoluwa said...

@ eleniyan - I dont get the issue with Olu Maintain and Yahooze. He has said the issue is not about 419. Where in the song lyrics does it talk about 419?

Like he said on Funmi Iyanda's show - he said the song is about working hard from Monday to friday and you owe it to yourself to live large and relax at the weekend. I really dont get what the fuss is about.

Sherri said...

I like John Legend a lot
as for Kanye, i like his music and i easily see his intelligence in his lyrics but, he comes accross as being corky and egocentric.

yahooze is satirical and a mirror to our society for the thinking mind. my only issue is, knowing fully well that most people do not understand simple straight forward language, how then can we expect them to understand a satire?

earlier in the year, the youth pastor at my church in a bid to motivate the youths preached a sermon denouncing the lyrics of "ordinary people"
my boyfie had to literaly hold me down!
i did get a chance to tell him and his audience later that, extraordinary should really mean more ordinary(the dictionary writers goofed)
if we are all kings and queens who are the subjects?
don't we usually determine something is ordinary after it has exceeded our expectations?
does ordinary mean useless?
oxygen is common in the atmosphere, is it useless?

of course,i got mostly weird looks. Lol

Iyaeto said...

Good point Adeoluwa.
John Legend and Kanye West are very talented young men. I was at that John Legend concert and I enjoyed every bit of it.Kanye has the highest number of nominations for this year's Grammy.

Nigerican said...

Kanye in Naija... that's awsome. Lol @ Clara instead of Ciara , guess its an honest mistake huh but still a funny one.Enjoyed u're blog as usual.

About my demon, God works in mysterious ways ... our professor asked us to grade our group members and we all gave her a "D" :). Have a great weekend!

2ndCorin5:17 said...

Borat has a new book? LoL.. I'm going 2 look for it in Barnes and Noble, lol!!!

I love this posting!