A view on a few items on television in the past month.
Of course politics was the most common topic on local television this past month. What can I say? Election is za zeitgeist! Jonathan won, the senseless riots won’t change it, the courts won’t either. Close to the election I sensed a landslide. Not necessarily because of the political calculations made by those who know and those which claim to know, but because of the overwhelming manner of his campaign. Before the elections, the man had tens of adverts on all available media; my dreams were perhaps the only space he didn’t conquer as that has been suffused by species of a different gender and of more attractive stock. Finally, the self congratulatory NTA with its claim of being the largest network in Africa could prove it and they excelled putting their Oga on every programme so that it was 1 GEJ ad per 3 regular ads. By the time INEC shifted the elections the stations couldn’t have believed their stars and would have loved another cancellation. Luckily, for the rest of us Jega came through.
Eventually, the man’s dominance on television was mirrored by his sweeping victories, victories borne on the wing of incumbency, celebrities and the very catchy tune: Goodluck to you, Goodluck to everybody, good luck Nigeria eh! (That song must have been hard for a songwriter that cares about semantics, where to capitalize the g’s, when to space the words making up the man’s name etc.) I remarked to a friend that a voter might be supporting Buhari but on approaching the booth, the mind might just play a small trick as he/she subconsciously whistles the tune and carried on the wave of a half remembered lyrics and an easy melody, thumbprints on the space beside the umbrella.
Yes, manifestoes are great, grand even. But music can be intense and nothing beats an easy-to-whistle melody.
Muna and the Music
Speaking of music, I caught the Soundcity Top Ten Countdown on one of those days and saw the Waje video for So Inspired. The song features Munachi Abi (or Muna) who’s trying to go hard this been one of several songs I have heard her rap. In fact, she’s featured on two songs on the countdown, the other is Tha Suspect’s I no send you remix. I’d visit that song later.
The song’s video is pretty and has a message. Like anyone knows, those two things are never quite pulled off in Nigerian videos, not together anyway and this is no exception.
The video opens with an abusive husband? (Boyfriend? Lover? ) in the process of inflicting a black eye on a woman, he shouts but doesn’t quite hit her suggesting perhaps he’s through with his business. Soon she flees the place as a dodgy voiceover relays a motivational speech I didn’t catch. The beat kicks in and voila! there’s Waje singing while somewhere in the background, Muna’s gams can’t escape the lens as she sways waiting for her verse and when she gets her cue she attacks the camera ferociously, decked in a skimpy commando gear with war paint under her right eye perhaps to deemphasize her beauty. Is it important, you may question. And the answer is: it is.
It was Zadie Smith the British novelist that remarked in a review of V concerning Natalie Portman’s performance that, “She crumbled under her beauty”. It’s a sentiment that almost captures Muna’s desire to transcend modelling and forge a career in Hip-hop. However, Muna, which is a grossly unwieldy name, doesn’t crumble as much as is defeated by her beauty. Such a beauty cannot be taken seriously as a rapper, except she spits the impossible line which so far I haven’t heard. That is not saying she raps poorly on this track. She doesn’t. The point is, she needs something to distract watchers and cosmetic war paint is not going to do it. Ghostwriter, anyone?
There’s hope still: director Darren Aronofsky gave Portman a role that she could stand up to. Muna would be hoping for same. It might not matter if she couldn’t be seen.
So believe it, it is true: Video killed the Radio Star.
Eni Duro’s Absence
At different times, I have been appalled by the songs on the countdown. This time I am shocked by what they’ve left out. I am not going to whine about the short run of Darey’s The Way you Are. What I don’t understand is how Olamide’s Eni Duro wasn’t topping the list or at least on the countdown.
Clarence Peters gets the most airplay these days and that is deserved, he has put together some fine videos but I get the feeling his run would end soon, like DJ Tee’s. The cause being the same elements can’t be rehashed ad nauseam. What he needs is a reinvention.
Which is exactly what DJ Tee has done with Eni Duro, he has produced the best indigenous music video on television today. He borrowed the basic idea from J. Cole’s Who Dat, mixed it with Olamide’s lyrics and produced a video as gritty and playful as the song’s lyrics. It was not shot in a studio with a rich palette of colours but on the streets, which takes considerable skill as the cinematography cannot be tweaked as precisely as a makeshift studio can.
And there’s that last scene with the man- DJ Tee- in a worthy act of self indulgence. He gestures on a laptop screen as a bare foot half naked kid closes the PC and walks away.
Priceless, just priceless.
©2011 Oris Aigbokhaevbolo