Categories
music News

FOLARIN FALANA GAVE US MORAL INSTRUCTIONS AND CANCEL CULTURE MADE YOU MISS THEM

It’s been over a year since multiple award winning rapper, actor and comedian, Falz, released his fourth studio album titled Moral Instructions.

 

I call it the most relevant body of work by a Nigerian mainstream artiste since the 2010s began. Why? Unlike the regular content we are often subjected to, which entail lusting over the opposite sex, love for money, self-appraisal and the likes, it did involve issues faced in Nigeria, ranging from corruption, security issues, police brutality, rape, religious fanaticism, internet fraud and transactional sex. The latter which had people almost hang his head upon release of the fourth and most talked about song off the album, Talk,which actually dropped a few days before the entire album was released. The song had a line “instead make you work, you dey find Alhaji, you come turn your body to cash and carry”, which allegedly, was a straight shot at sex workers, popularly known as “runs girls” amongst Nigerian youths. This caused some uproar on social media app, Twitter, which has been one of the most powerful tools of the 21stCentury. Falz has always been one to air his opinions, regardless of backlash. In 2017, he got into a feud with veteran singer, 9ice, where he called him out for allegedly glorifying  internet fraud and money rituals after the release of 9ice’s hit single Living Things.

Prior to the release of Moral Instructions, he had released music to speak against the ills of our society, and of course, he got some backlash again. In 2018, he bagged one of the most controversial moments in his career when he drew the anger of Muslim Rights group – MURIC, upon the release of his highly acclaimed music video, This Is Nigeria.

The video depicts approximately all the societal problems we face in Nigeria as he sings about them. What got MURIC’s attention was the “negative” portrayal of the Fulani tribe as it showed a man dressed like a Fulani suddenly abandon his guitar and proceed to beheading  another man, and also the use of female dancers wearing the Muslim female regalia, Hijab. According to the organization’s director at the time, Falz’ video has promoted ethnicity and tribalism. It has divided Fulanis against the rest of Nigeria. The artiste went on to explain that the act of the man dressed as a Fulani depicted the killings done by the Fulani Herdsmen which have been a bane to our existence for quite some time now. Also, the girls in Hijab dancing the ‘Shaku Shaku’ dance depicted the Chibok Girls who have been in Boko Haram custody for some years now. But MURIC wasn’t having any of that as they gave Falz a 7-day ultimatum to take down the video or face legal actions. They eventually withdrew the ultimatum, but sadly, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commision (NBC) ended up placing a ban on the song saying it had “vulgar lyrics.” Another song that would do justice to his “activist” status is his 2017 Child Of The Worldsong off his 3rdalbum, 27. On this one, he speaks against sexual violence against the girl child, he tells a story about a girl who had everything going smoothly until she got sexually abused by a close family relative and things turned upside down for her.

x

MORAL INSTRUCTIONS

The beauty of this album to me is the sampling of Afrobeat creator and music legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, on some songs off the album, while fusing his Afrobeat sound with some HipHop. Fela was known for his activism and fight against corruption and social injustice in the Nigerian society. He often called out corrupt officials in the top tier of government and voiced out his opinions through his music. Since his death in 1997, there have been comparisons between various artistes and him, because a couple of them use his sound. Some of them claim to be offspring of the music genius and create aliases that are related to him. But the truth is, there has been a lack of politically and socially conscious music, especially in the 2010s. Speaking to Aljazeera, Professor Onyeji Christian of the Music Department in University of Nigeria had this to say about the current era of music:

“There is a total deviation from the moral and social relevance of Nigeria music. We left music that tackled problems.”

These lots want to be Fela, they want use his sound, but not pass on his messages. As mentioned above, we have been subjected to music which entail lusting over the opposite sex, love for money, self-appraisal and the likes. Some of them even contain placeless lyrics and end up being meaningless music. The goal is just to vibe. These artistes lack the revolutionary spirit Fela had.

Falz seemed to have gone off the radar after his feud with Muslim Rights group, MURIC. Then he returns stronger with single, Talk, which was followed by the album, Moral Instructions. He had teased fans a few days to the launch of the album by releasing art covers and merchandise designed by the legendary art illustrator, Lemi Ghariokwu who used to work for the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Falz’ return is quite similar to Fela’s return to the music scene after he was severely beaten by the Nigerian military and his mother – thrown out of a window, causing fatal injuries, upon the release of his smash hit Zombie album which was a withering attack on the Nigerian military in 1977. Fela returned stronger with two songs – Coffin for Head of State and Unknown Soldier, which was a direct attack on the military ruler, Olusegun Obasanjo.

Before the release of the Moral Instructions album, Falz was yet again getting backlash on Twitter, for allegedly taking a shot at “runs girls” on his single, Talk. It re-awakened criticism towards the rapper as he has always shown his disgust for transactional sex. But for his persecutors, he has no business with what other people choose to do with their bodies.

“Falz is canceled”

That was the trend at the time. For those not familiar with what the “cancel culture” means, I’ll give a brief definition from Wikipedia. It describes a form of boycott in which an individual (usually a celebrity) who has shared a questionable or controversial opinion, or has had behavior in their past that is perceived to be offensive recorded on social media, is “canceled”; they are ostracized and shunned by former friends, followers and supporters alike, leading to declines in any careers and fanbase the individual may have, at any given time.

Falz had in previous times spoken about the various societal ills faced by Nigerians daily, but a couple of individuals would throw a blind eye to  that and decide to major on the minor. For every time there has been an uproar over sexual violence in the country in recent times, there has been the “what is Falz saying?” question. Hence, his “person wey I fight for go turn around to fight me, you tell your doctor you enjoy the headache. Kill the messenger, throway the message” line on song, Amen.

Falz’ Moral Instructions is unarguably a politically and socially conscious masterpiece. An eye opener to the political and social injustice in Nigeria, a wakeup call for fellow artistes and listeners to speak up against the corruption and cruelty carried out by members of the political class in our society. But cancel culture made you miss it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.