Tag Archives: “Government Money”

Hausa rapper Ziriums releases album “This is Me” and music video single online. Lyrics included here.

Ziriums performs “Hausa Fulani” at the 2010 Savannah International Movie Awards in Abuja (c) Carmen McCain

Barka da sallah! Happy Eid, everyone!

For a Sallah gift to yourself, consider buying and downloading, Zirium’s new album “This is Me”!

Readers may remember my previous posts, an analysis of the song “Government Money” and a translation of an interview in Aminya, on the Hausa rapper Ziriums, whose satirical “Girgiza Kai” (“Shake Your Head”) was banned by the Kano State government.

Having started his musical career in Kano, collaborating with Hausa entertainers like Adam Zango, Abbas Sadiq, Billy-O, Alfazazi, Osama bin Music, and others, Ziriums was featured on CNN in August 2008.  Ziriums moved to Abuja in 2009, where he collaborated with Abuja-based musicians Yoye, S. Solar, T-Rex, and others. His contribution to S. Solar and T-Rex’s song “Government Money” helped turn a Nigerian version of Busta-Rhymes “Arab Money” into, what I argue is, a  subversive  piece that critiques the corrupt money-obsessed culture of Abuja. Ziriums has performed at the pre-parlour music festival in Niamey, Niger, at Kano’s British council, at Ceddi Plaza in Abuja, and the Savannah International Movie awards, as well as other locations. He is also featured in Saman Piracha and Alex Johnson’s upcoming documentary Recording a Revolution.

Now Ziriums has released online his own album, “This is Me,” named for the track he released as a single music video about a month before. I think Ziriums may be the first Hausa hiphop musician or even contemporary Hausa musician to have released his album for sale online. (There is a sampler of other Hausa hiphop and popular music available for free at dandali.com, put together by the brilliant and prolific Hausa popular culture scholar Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, which includes songs by Billy-O, Soultan Abdul, Abdullahi Mighty, Menne, Lakal Kaney, Neba Solo, and the “traditional” musician Dan Maraya Zamfara [actual name is Babangida Kakadawa].) Ziriums’ album, This is Me, is available for purchase (for those with credit cards) on on itunesmyspace, and amazon (UPDATE 10 September 2010, the amazon link I originally included is for the U.S., but you can also buy the album at amazon.co.uk and I imagine other national amazon sites. Just search for “Ziriums”). I bought the album from Amazon.com and it downloaded just fine (though very slowly on my internet here in Nigeria. You can also listen to a clip of and buy  “Vamoose,” the song he performed with Yoye and Sunny Man from the “Take Over” mix album. It is track 10.)

When I asked Ziriums how those in Nigeria, without credit cards, could access the album, he told me he is planning to soon release it on cd in Nigeria, but hoping to make capital from the online purchases before the pirates can get a hold of it. He also told me that he released the album online, because no one could censor material online, as they had censored “Girgiza Kai” from the radio and later banned it, unless they literally blocked the website from every browser in Kano. The songs can be listened to in their entirety on Zirium’s myspace album page. (Ziriums noted that several of the songs were by other musicians, but, as he had featured in them, he had gotten their permission to include them on his album. This includes one of my favourites, track 3, “Murja Baba” by Alfazazee, featuring Ziriums, Murja Baba, and Maryam Fantimoti; the songs in Fulfulde Ziriums sang with Tasiu;the song “Muyanata” by Osama bin Music, Zirium’s younger brother, on which Ziriums featured alongside Abdullahi Mighty, Shaga, and Ontos. “Kano ta Dabo,” was sung by Ziriums, Billy-O, and Adam Zango, when they formed the group Northern Soldiers)

During a July 2009 interview with Saman Piracha and Alex Johnson, where I was also present, he talked a little bit about the album he hoped to release and his struggle with censorship in Kano . I was given permission by the filmmakers to transcribe and post on this blog what he said:

“Maybe they are going to ban it as well, but I’m sure it is going to be on internet, my myspace address, my facebook address, and it is going to be on Bluetooth […] Bluetooth is the fastest way we use to spread our message. Because they will not air our songs on their radio stations. I can remember the time I finished “Girgiza Kai, the one they banned. I took it to radio stations; they played it once, you know. From the censorship board, they wrote a letter to them, you should not play this song again, you understand? And they stopped airing it. And from that day, no one aired my song again and later now they banned it. I think Bluetooth helps us a lot because I can put it on my phone. My friend will listen to it and say oh give me and I’ll push it to him. Then through that, it will go all over, all over, not even Nigeria, not even Kano, not even Nigeria, itself. It can go anywhere. Because now if I put it in your handset you carry it to the US. […]  I’m going to release my album.  I’m working on it. And when I finish it, maybe probably it is going to be sold in Kano. We’ll see how I will go behind the national constitution. I’ll go there and stand and use it. Because I am a Nigerian as well. Since Timaya and P-Square can sell their album in Kano, why not I? Why? Why can’t my album be sold in Kano?  I must censor it? Who said so? I will not do that? I’m looking at myself as Timaya and P-Square and any damn artist in the country. I’m looking at myself as the same thing as them. We don’t have any differences. The only difference is that they have their albums outside. People know them. You understand? They have the opportunity that we couldn’t get. If I have the opportunity or the chance they have, I could have reached or I could have passed their level. So my album is going to be sold in Kano insha Allah. With censors or without censors.

To learn more about Ziriums, visit Zirium’s myspace page. Two of his music videos can also be watched at his youtube channel. Ziriums also has a Facebook fan page and a ReverbNation account. [UPDATE 13 September 2010: And in a meta-moment, I'm quite delighted to see that Free Muse has picked up on this post....]

I may include more analysis of the album at a later point, but for now, so that readers can get a taste of his music, I will include Zirium’s hot new music video “This is Me,” including the lyrics and a translation, partially by me, partially by Ziriums, and partially by Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu. I will also include the complete lyrics to “Girgiza Kai” and the translation I did with Ziriums back in February 2009.  Ziriums’ “twisting” in Hausa has a punch that isn’t quite comparable with anything else in contemporary Nigerian hiphop, and I suspect it will take him far.

Enjoy

[NOTE that this video is embedded in this post under Fair Use laws for review purposes.]

“THIS IS ME

(Thank you to Ziriums for providing me with the lyrics in Hausa of the first two verses. He and Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu did the translation of the third. I’m also grateful to Osama bin Music, Zirium’s brother who helped me correct a few of the lines My translation is very basic and flawed, and corrections are welcome. )

[UPDATE: 26 April 2012, Ziriums has sent a few small corrections to the translations, which I have made here. It is now vetted by him.]

INTRO:

ASSALAMU ALAIKUM – ASSALAMU ALAIKUM

Peace be upon you – Peace be upon you

YARA KU FITO HIP HOP,

Kids come out to the Hiphop

MANYA KU FITO HIP HOP

Big guys come out to the hiphop

YARA KU FITO HIP HOP,

Kids come out to the Hiphop

MANYA KU FITO HIP HOP

Big guys come out to the hiphop

CHORUS:

THIS IS ME –ZIRIUMS X4

NINE NAN – ZIRIUMS X4

(This is me, Ziriums)

RAP 1:

BA’KO BABU SALLAMA MUGUNE KU BIYO SHI DA ‘KOTA,

The guest who does not greet with sallama is evil, chase him away with a stick.

NI NA AJE GARIYO DA ADDA NA DAU ‘KOTA TA MIC,

I dropped my javelin and my machet, I took up the mic (stick)

DA FARI SUNANA NAZIR

To start with my name is Nazir

BN AHMAD HAUSAWA LUNGUN KWARGWAN

Son of Ahmad Hausawa from Kwargwan neighborhood

YAYAN OSAMA BN MUSIC

Big brother of Osama bin Music

AH’ SHUGABAN TALIBAN NA HIP HOP A K-TOWN

Head of the Taliban of Hiphop in K-town

REVOLUTION ZAN NA MUSIC NA ANNABI SAY ALRIGHT (ALRIGHT x3)

It’s a music revolution. All who know the Prophet, Say Alright (Alright x3)

NINE INNOVATOR NA RAPPING DA ZAURANCE TWISTING DA HAUSA

I am the innovator of rapping with twisting in Hausa.

NINE MAI SUNA BIYAR TSOFFI SU KIRANI DA ‘DAN TALA

I am the one with the the five names, the old folks call me Dantala (a person who’s born on Tuesday)

MANYA SU KIRANI MUHAMMADU HAJIYATA TA KIRANI TACE NAZIR,

Other grown-ups call me Muhammadu, Hajiya (my mom) calls me Nazir

NIGGAS SU KIRANI DA ZIRIUMS

The Niggas call me Ziriums

SANNAN ÝAN MATAN GARI IDAN SUN GANNI SUCE NAZIRKHAN

Then the girls of the town if they see me, they say Nazir Khan

TO DUK KU KIRANI DA ZIRIUMS (ZIRIUMS. NI NE ZIRIUMS, ZIRIUMS)

TO, all of you call me Ziriums. (Ziriums. I’m Ziriums. Ziriums)

SUNCE WAI BA ZAN IYABA LA’ÁNANNU MASU HALIN TSIYA

They say I “supposedly” I can’t do it, that’s what the spiteful gossips say.

‘DARA ‘DAIRI YA ‘DIRU ‘DAIRA HATTA ZANANTU ALLAN YA HURA (BALA)

I through my kite up and up i cant even see it- it falls down (Arabic)

KOMAI NISAN JIFA ‘KASA ZAI FA’DO KAJI TIIIIIIM

Everything that goes up, will come down, you hear me (Tiiiim- a sound of falling rock)

YAU GAREKA GOBE GA SOMEBODY,MAI LAYA KIYAYI MAI ZAMANI-AH

Today it is your time, but tomorrow somebody better will come along.

CHORUS:

THIS IS ME –ZIRIUMS X4

NINE NAN – ZIRIUMS X4

(This is me, Ziriums)

CHORUS

RAP 2:

IM HUSTLING TAMKAR ‘DAN ACA’BA DARE RANA HAR SAFIYA

I’m hustling like a d’an achaba (motorcycle taxi driver), night and day, until the morning

DAMINA SANYI DA RANI DA DARI HIP HOP NI NAKE SO

In the time of the cool rains and in the hot season and in the night, it’s hiphop that I love

I WILL NEVER RETIRE NEVER GET TIRED,COS IM ROLLING LIKE A TYRE

I will never retire, never get tired, cause I’m rolling like a tyre

GABA DAI GABA DAI MAZAJE NA HIP HOP(SAI MAZAJE NA HIP HOP)

Go on go on all you hiphop guys (you hiphop guys)

DUKIYA MAI ‘KAREWACE,MULKI MAI SHU’DEWANE,HANYA MAI YANKEWACE

Wealth comes to an end, power passes away, the road is cut off

SAI MUN HA’DU CAN FILIN ‘KIYAMA ANAN NE ZAKACI ‘KWAL UBANKA

Let’s meet there in the place of Judgment, there you’ll suffer like you’ve never suffered before

BA ÝAN SANDA BA JINIYA-GA ‘DAN BANZAN GO-SLOW

No police to escort you, no siren, you’ll see a terrible go-slow

CAN GEFE GUDA WALAKIRI DA SANDA MAI ‘KAYA KAI MISTAKE YA TUMURMUSAKA

There to the side the angel of hell with a rod of thorns, if you make a mistake he’ll beat you stiff.

SANNAN DUKKAN GA’B’BAN JIKINKA DUKA SUNE ZASU BABBADA SHAIDA

Then all the joints of your body, all of them will give testimony

RANAR BABU P.A DA LAWYER BALLE ÝAN BANGAR SIYASAGGA MASU

That day there will be no P.A., no laywer, much less those gangsters of politicans who

SHIGA GIDAN REDIYO SUYI ‘KARYA DAN ANBASU NAIRA,

Go into the radio house and lie to get naira (money)

INZAKA FA’DI FA’DI GASKIYA KOMAI TAKA JAMAKA KA BIYA

If you’re going to say something, tell the truth, in everything walk in the way of your forebearers

ALLAH BAIMIN KARFIN JIKIBA BALLE IN TAREKA IN MAKURE

God didn’t give me a strong body, I could have attacked your neck,

AMMA YAIMIN KAIFIN BAKINDA HAR YA WUCE REZA A KAIFI

But he gave me a sharp mouth, sharper than a razor.

YES I’M SAYING IT.

Yes, I’m saying it.

CHORUS:

THIS IS ME –ZIRIUMS X4

NINE NAN – ZIRIUMS X4

(This is me, Ziriums)

Third Verse

(translated by Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu (to the part about Dala Rock), after that it is translated by Ziriums, himself. Both Ziriums and Prof sent the translations to Alex Johnson and Saman Piracha for a documentary on Hausa hiphop, Recording a Revolution. Translations used by permission of filmmakers. I’ve made a few very small edits to both translations for a more informal feel)

CAN NA GANO FACE MAI SIFFAR LARABAWA

Then I saw a face like an Arab beauty

NA CE MATA ZO TA TAKA

I said to her, come on let’s dance

TA CE BA TA TAKU DA TAKALMI

She said she doesn’t dance with her shoes on.

SAI DAI IN TA TAKA A SANNU

But she will dance slowly

TATTAKA A SANNU

(Go ahead) dance slowly

AMMA KUMA KAR KI GIRGIZA

But don’t shake your body

DOMIN IN KI KA GIRGIZA

Because if you shake your body

RUWAN KOGI ZAI AMBALIYA

There will be a flood

SAI BARNA TA WUCE TSUNAMI

More destructive than Tsunami

HAR DUTSEN DALA YA TARWATSE

Which will destroy Dala Rock.

(From here translation by Ziriums)

TATTAKA KI TAKA RAWAR DON TAKU KI TAKE TEKU,

Dance, Dance my type of dance, so light you dance on the ocean-top

TAKE TAWA KISA MUSU TAKA TAMU AKE TAKAWA TAKA

Step like me ‘cause it’s our type of step they want to dance.

TATTASAI TANKWA DA TUMATIR ITA TASANI TONON TANA

Chilli pepper soup and tomatoes make me dig for earthworms

TATTABARU TARA NE NA TARE TUN RAN TALATA MUKE TAKAWA,

I gathered nine doves. We’ve been stepping out since Tuesday

(The following stanza is an old Hausa poem (according to R.C. Abraham’s dictionary) sung for a “children’s game of prodding heaps of sand to find things hidden there.” Zirium’s brother Osama bin Music explained that the game includes catching the hands of one on whom a twig falls. Ziriums left it untranslated, but I’ve translated the latter part, which I think I’ve understood correctly. If I haven’t please correct me!)

GARDO GARDO –GARDON BIDA

ATTASHI BIRE –KAMANIMAN

GYARAN FUSKA –DA WUYA YAKE

ZAN KAMA KA –

(I’ll catch you!)

KAMANI MAN

(Catch me, then)

KAMANI MAN

(Just catch me then)

CHORUS

THIS IS ME –ZIRIUMS X4

NINE NAN – ZIRIUMS X4

(This is me, Ziriums)

Shout outs:

Ziriums Intersection, giant beatz, Pro Okassy,Dekumzy, Solomon, Korex, Solar

In the house man You know what I’m saying?

Osama bin Music, Pastor Dan, Yo, this is Intersection,

Giant beatz K-town, baby.

Daga Kano, Bahaushe, Yeah Ziriums kar ka manta da sunan

From Kano, a Hausa, Yeah Ziriums, don’t forget the name


To listen to Girgiza Kai, which was banned by the Kano State Government, check out track number 4 of the “This is Me” album.

Girgiza Kai….

.. ..

Ehen. This is Pastor Dan productions. Ziriums…

.. ..

Mai dokar bacci, ya bige da gyangyed’i.

The one who says sleep is against the law is the one nodding off…….

.. ..

Kar ku taka. Ku girgiza kai kurrum.

Don’t dance. Just shake your head…..

.. ..

Girgiza girgiza

Shake shake….

.. ..

.. ..

Chorus:….

Girgiza kai/ Girgiza kai. Girgiza kai. Girgiza kai.

Shake your head, shake your head. Shake your head. Shake your head…..

.. ..

Girgiza kai. Girgiza kai. Girgiza kai.

Shake your head. Shake your head. Shake your head…..

.. ..

Girgiza kai. Girgiza kai. Girgiza kai.

Shake your head. Shake your head. Shake your head…..

.. ..

1.

Kai karku taka kun san an hana.

Hey, don’t dance, you know they banned it. ….

.. ..

Gwamnan garinmu ran nan. Shi ne ya hana.

The governor of our city here. He banned it…..

.. ..

In ka ji kid’a ya yi dad’i. Girgiza kai kurrum.

If you hear a good beat, just shake your head…..

.. ..

Eh, In ka ji kid’a ya yi dad’i. Girgiza kai kurrum.

Yeah, if you hear a good beat, just shake your head…..

.. ..

Chorus….

.. ..

.. ..

2.

Kai tsalle waka a gidan giya.

Hey,[stop] jumping and singing in a bar….

.. ..

In an kafa doka. Ku bi ta daidai wisely.

If they make a law, make sure you follow it wisely

.. ..

Eeeeh, an hana. Eeeeh, sun hana.

Eeeh, it’s against the law. Eeeeh. They said it’s against the law…..

.. ..

Chorus….

.. ..

3.

Kai ku daina arufta an hana.

Hey stop roughriding, it’s against the law…..

.. ..

Kyale tukin maye sassauta, an hana.

Stop drunk driving. It’s against the law…..

.. ..

Eeeeh, an hana. Eeeeh sun hana.

Eeeeh, it’s against the law. Eheheh, they said it’s against the law…..

.. ..

Chorus….

.. ..

.. ..

4.

.. ..

Kai mai tauye mudu an hana

Hey, you, who weight your measures. It’s against the law…..

.. ..

Algus a cikin wasko, ai shi ma an hana

You, who thin down food. It’s against the law…..

.. ..

Eeeh an hana. Eeeeh, sun hana.

Eeeeh, it’s against the law. Eeeeh, they said it’s against the law…..

.. ..

Chorus…..

.. ..

5. (RAP)

.. ..

Wanda duk ya hana mu sana’a

Anyone who keeps us from working….

.. ..

Ya Allah ka zuba musa maruru sittin da bakwai

Oh God, send him sixty-seven boils….

.. ..

A ta karshensa shawara da basir mai seedling

In his rectum, give him yellow fever and piles. ….

.. ..

Sore throat ya ..kama.. mak’oshinsa.

May his throat catch fire

.. ..

Likitoci su kasa ganoshi.

May doctors say they can’t find what’s wrong. ….

.. ..

Da Dala da Goron Dutse

So Dala and Goron Dutse [hills in ....Kano....]….

.. ..

Da gidan birni da gidan k’auye

The house in the city and the house in the village….

.. ..

Na hada na cusa a gajeran wandon mmmhmmhmmm

I put ‘em together in the underpants of his mmhmmmhmmm ….

.. ..

….Bari…. d’aya ne.Ya ji labari. ….Bari…. d’aya bai san komai ba.

One side knows what’s going on. One side has no idea…..

.. ..

Eeeh an hana. Eeeeh sun hana.

Eeeh, it’s against the law. Eeeeh, they said it’s against the law…..

.. ..

Come on.

.. ..

Chorus….

.. ..

.. ..

6.

Mmmmmm, waka ba gadona bace.

Mmmmm, I wasn’t born into singing. ….

.. ..

Dan malam ne ni k’yank’yank’yan wasu sun sani

I’m the son of a complete Islamic scholar, everybody knows…..

.. ..

Kar ku ce min na k’i halin malam samsam kurrum.

Don’t tell me I don’t have character…..

.. ..

Na yi karatun boko har da na addini, kwarai.

I’ve done Western education and religious. Oh yes…..

.. ..

Samartaka ce na kad’ana domin zamani.

It’s the way of the young. It’s the beat of our time…..

.. ..

Eeeeh an hana. Eeeeh, sun hana.

Eeeh it’s against the law. Eeeeh, they said it’s against the law….

.. ..

Chorus 2X….

.. ..

.. ..

End

(c) Lyrics: Nazir Hausawa
Translation: Carmen McCain

“Government Money” a remix of “Arab Money” by Supreme Solar, T-Rex, and Ziriums

A few months ago I wrote a post on 11 songs that had been banned by the Kano State Censorship Board in Kano. This memo prohibiting the sale of the songs, photographed by documentary filmmaker Alex Johnson, was posted at the market where cds are sold.

11 Songs banned by the Kano State Censorship Board. Photo (c) Alex Johnson

The third on the list of songs that were banned was “Girgiza Kai” (“Shake your head”) by Hausa rapper Ziriums, which was not officially released but uploaded to his myspace page. In “Girgiza Kai,” Ziriums, warns those who hear his song,

“Kai karku taka kun san an hana.

Hey, don’t dance, you know they banned it. ….

.. ..

Gwamnan garinmu ran nan. Shi ne ya hana.

The governor of our city here. He banned it…..”

Instead you should just

“Girgiza kai.”

“Shake your head.”

He also satirically uses the proverb “Mai dokar bacci, ya bige da gyangyed’i.” “The one who says sleep is against the law is the one nodding off…” to critique

“Wanda duk ya hana mu sana’a”

“Anyone who keeps us from working….”

(You can listen to the song on Zirium’s Myspace page, and read the lyrics and an English translation here.).. Already having left Kano for Abuja when the song was banned, Ziriums has hooked up with other Abuja-based musicians, Supreme Solar and T-Rex, to continue his controversial rapping on a larger national scale. Intersection Entertainment has recently released S. Solar’s “Government Money”, (featuring T-Rex and Ziriums),  a hilarious take-off on Busta Rhymes’ and Ron Browz’s notorious “hit”: “Arab Money.”

You can view “Government Money” here. Please note that all the videos embedded in this blog post are being done so under FAIR USE laws for review purposes:

Both the original “Arab Money,”  and remake of the Busta Rhymes’ tune contain wildly offensive portrayals of Arabs and Islam. (The remix featuring Lil Wayne, P. Diddy and even self-proclaimed Muslim Akon, is even worse, and uses actual verses from the Qur’an as the chorus.) The Wikipedia article written about the remix of the song notes that the chorus is “Bismillāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm. Al ḥamdu lillāhi rabbi l-’ālamīn”;  “In the name of Allah (The God), most Gracious most Merciful. All Praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds.” This chorus is intoned behind the American rappers making dramatic poses , flipping bling, and rhyming about their wealth. The Wikipedia article continues to point out that Busta Rhymes uses the Islamic greeting “As-Salamu Alaykum Warahmatullah Wa Barakatu.” “May Peace and blessings of Allah(The God)be upon you” (A Greeting), to rhyme with “While I stack another billion and give it to the block fool.” Similarly Diddy says ““Al hamdu lillah” ( “All Praises to Allah”) to rhyme with: “With my billions pilin’”

Watch the original “Arab Money” here:

And the remix here:

Obviously, while self-consciously funny, the song is sacrilegious and insulting to most Muslims (though if you read through the comments on youtube or various lyrics websites there are occasional self-proclaimed “Arabs” who take pride in it). I could focus my whole blog post on this issue; however, since this has already been done multiple times (here, here, here, here, here, and here) and since I’m more interested in how S. Solar, T-Rex, and Ziriums rewrite the song in the Nigerian context, I’d like to look more at what seems to be Busta Rhyme’s conscious intention, which seems to be a celebration of bling—exemplified in what, with blinding cultural chauvinism, he calls “Arab money.” He and his fellow musicians are not affected by the recession, he implies, they just move on to the “Arab money,” which “Arabs” know how to respect:

Prince Alwali, Bin Talal, Al Saul
They respect the value of my worth in Maui, Malaysia
Iran and Iraq, Saudi Arabia!

Indeed, in an MTV article, Busta defends himself by describing the way the song was recorded:

[Ron] picked up the phone, and I was like, ‘What are you saying on this joint?[…]

When Browz explained to Busta that he was, in fact, saying “Arab,” Busta was elated.

“I was like, ‘This is genius,’ ” he said. “Just the timing of this. The fact that the recession was crazy. Fortune 500 companies left and right are needing bailouts. I was like, ‘You ain’t hearing none of that going on with none of the people in the Arab community or Arab culture. None of that.’ I was like, ‘You know something? This is a great record to inspire people to incorporate wealth in their vocabulary [my emphasis], because rich has become the new broke.’ ‘Arab Money’ — it felt right. Let’s take something from a culture that has exemplified the rich qualities of spirituality and economic and financial stability for thousands of years. They’ve instilled that in their kids for thousands of years.”

Busta ostensibly praises the “rich Arab culture,” yet the “culture” he claims to admire is an Orientalist fantasy of gold-glittering caves and harems of nymphomaniacs, tied to earlier colonial grabs for land, wealth, and power. At time code 1:54 in the first video he brags that he is

sitting in casinos while I’m gambling with Arafat,

money long now, watch me purchase pieces of the almanac.

Both versions entwine exoticized presentations of supposedly “Arab” moneyed lifestyles with the standard  hiphop hymn to wealth, materialism, money, and women—clichés exemplified in 50 Cent’s “I Get Money,” among many others.

These clichés have been adopted (with more or less irony) in Nigerian pop music. (Examples  feature Nollywood-like Lagos settings with plush leather couches, sleek clubs, wine glasses, expensive cars, and scantily clad (often light-skinned) women. See Faze’s Need Somebody,  P-Square’s “Do Me, I Do You,” Dbanj’s “Booty Call,” or Style Plus’s “Call my Name.”) These popular songs exemplify the “Nigerian dream” of  making it big and partaking in the glamourous party-world  of Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Maitama, or abroad. In fact, before Intersection’s “Government Money,” Olu Maintain had come out with a track named “Arab Money,” as well, likely inspired by the Busta Rhymes video although he doesn’t seem to have shot a video for it yet. The chorus involved the repeated phrase “I go spend Arab Money, just spend Arab money,” alongside wistful tracks about going “to Abu Dhabi, where we can walk freely.”  In this track, there does seem to be more self consciousness about the representation of wealth than much other Naija-pop, as can be seen in the observation that in Dubai “recession no dey there” and  in this exchange at timecode 3:04 between Olu Maintain and Bondo Krazzy:

Olu Maintain: On second thought, there are some things money can’t buy [....] You know what I’m talking about?

Bond Krazzy: Hei, Mr. Olu, money can never buy love, Mr. Olu.

The Nigerian music/music videos I find most compelling play with a more self conscious reference to wealth as it is related to corruption and give ironic nods to the particularly Nigerian innovations in 419, from the celebration of the yahoo yahoo boys in Olu Maintain’s Yahoozee, which features row upon row of big hummers to the more self-consciously satirical “I Go Chop your Dollar”  by comedian Nkem Owoh (who in a twist of fate was recently kidnapped by entrepreneurial criminals in  what has become the hottest new way to “chop money” Apparently, Owoh was released when his family forked over N1.4 billion.)

Watch Yahoozee here:

Watch, “I go Chop your Dollar” here:

With “Government Money,” Intersection musicians Supreme Solar, T-Rex, and Ziriums follow in this satirical tradition: Rewriting Busta Rhyme’s hymn to moola, these Abuja-based musicians echo the “celebration” of money, but with an ironic edge—rapping not of the wealthy lifestyle attainable to them as musicians but to those Abuja Big Boys who are eating “Government money.”

In the tradition of “Yahoozee” and other videos where flashy cars become symbols of power, sexual prowess, and wealth, Supreme Solar raps about his “new Range Rover” leaning against the glossy side of the jeep. The camera zooms out to focus on the license plate, which says FG Kudi, (for Federal Government Money). The use of “Abuja” here is a metonym for government, politics, and all the “promise”of money that Abuja offers those who come to Nigeria’s airbrushed capitol where the poor (or even the simply “middle class”) are swept out to the crowded outskirts of the city. To participate in the lifestyle, then as T-Rex says

What’s the access here?

We aint makin bucks in excess

Having stocks and investments

But to me it doesn’t’ make sense

To make the excessive “Abuja-style” money, one must go a bit further than stocks and investments, “Duping NGO’s for Virgin dough” and other shady transactions.

What most creates tension between “Government Money” and the original “Arab Money,” taking the tune beyond the “Yahoozee” genre (pushing it more in the direction of Eedris Abdulkareem’s funny but incisively critical “Mr. Lecturer”),  is the inclusion of Ziriums, a Northern Muslim from Kano state, with his Hausa chorus “Mu ci kudin Abuja, Mu ci kudin gwamnati” (Let’s eat/spend Abuja Money, let’s eat/spend government money”) and his fierce spoken commentary at the end of the song. Interestingly (even uncomfortably), Ziriums’ chorus in Hausa is used where in the “Arab Money” remix the Qur’anic verses are used, layering on popular Nigerian conflations of Arab/Muslim culture with the Hausa-speaking north, both imagined and real. By the second day the video had been posted, there was already a comment by user “injustice2mankind” saying, “That fool Ziriums is killing me with his attire…note the arab neck scarf on his agbada….so funny.”

Ziriums featured in “Government Money” by Supreme Solar

Where in the American version, there is a blasphemous use of the Qur’an to rhyme with verses about the love of mammon, in this version, Ziriums’ chorus takes the “Arabic” sound and turns it to a satirical first person boast about “devouring government money.” Here, he subversively links Busta Rhymes et al, and their blasphemous use of Islamic creed to support debauchery, with those “Big Men” who use religion (whether Christianity or Islam) as a cover to justify their scramble for the “national cake.” That is, the very elite who tend to self-righteously decry the “immorality” and “cultural imperialism” of hiphop as a genre are the very ones whose personal habits tend have the most in common with the gold-plated lifestyles of those American artists.   Dressed in a Big Man’s babban riga, Ziriums and the other two artists take on the personas of government contractors and professional fraudsters, blurring the boundary between the two.

“Cin kudi” (literally “eating money”), the Hausa phrase that parallels the pidgin phrase “chopping money,” reflects both the everyday language of Nigerians when they speak of corruption and the concept in popular culture that corrupt leaders are both metaphorically and literally consuming the wealth of the nation: taking “a chunk of the national cake,” “duping NGOs,” taking their “contracts’ tax”. These conquests make T-Rex “hungrier than ever,” invoking images seen in political cartoons of monstrous fat bellied leaders who as in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s novel Devil on the Cross are in a competition to see who is the greatest thief and robber. If T-Rex’s stomach is burning and hungry,” and “grumbling funny” in hunger for more assets, at the end Ziriums goes into a fierce tirade:  “Yunwa, Talauci, […] Don haka, dole mu ci kudin gwamnati, kudin Abuja, dole mu kwashe .” “Hunger, poverty.[…] This is why we must consume government money, Abuja money, we must spend it.” On one hand, he echoes Nkem Owoh’s narrative in “I Go Chop your Dollar,”

“I done suffer no be small. Upon say I get sense Poverty no good at all, no Na im make I join this business 419 no be thief, it’s just a game .”

On the other hand, Ziriums points out that Abuja money and government money, in fact, belongs to everyone in the country—If there is hunger and poverty, then ordinary people must also have access to the nation’s wealth.

Nigerian hiphop is often criticized for merely mindlessly copying American rap. I have no doubt that some may point to the Intersection’s ripping of the production and “sound” of Busta Rhymes “Arab Money” as an illustration of such “unoriginality.” However, the transfer, at least in this case, profoundly changes the song: adding to, subverting, and commenting on the original. “Government Money” ends up being not just a critique of corruption among Nigeria’s wealthy elite, but also a parody/critique of the mindlessly obscene celebration of bling in “Arab Money”—and of the exoticizing colonization of other parts of the world in the Busta Rhymes tune and so often found in American hiphop. (See for example: Ludacris’s “Pimpin All Over the World,” countless beach scenes in the Caribbean, or Nigerian rapper Eedris Abdulkareem’s beef with 50 Cent over a seat on an airplane, about whom he said “You cannot treat me as a second and or third class citizen in my own country, I will not take it from anybody.”)  When to a background of the chanted Qur’an, P. Diddy [wearing two cross chains] raps “Fuck the recession. I’m still investin, I’m about to buy Dubai, and swim in the shark section,”  P. Diddy seems far more akin to the arrogant Swiss-bank account holding government swindlers of Nigeria than these young, upcoming but still moneyless Nigerian musicians.Thus, “Government Money” blends the ferocious critiques of oppressive society found in politically conscious rap with a parody of the glossy sexed-up materialistic hits most popular on MTV.

There are a few things to work on, here. The video is busy with graphics and, while featuring other artists who are not actually participating in the music is in keeping with the original “Arab Money” mix, here it is just confusing.  If the song becomes popular enough, it would be great to have a re-mix video. But it is fresh, funny, and this talent is real. The “Unassailable” S. Solar, the “Extraordinary” T-Rex, and the “Revolutionary” Ziriums, as the video titles them, are musicians to keep an eye on.

And to watch again without having to scroll back up:

Here are the lyrics. Thank you to Korex of Intersection who provided me with the complete corrected lyrics of the verses in English and to Ziriums who corrected my Hausa transcription of the chorus before I posted. (Correction to English made 25 November 2009–and with access to the full lyrics some of the analysis may change… stay tuned… lol)

Lyrics:

The Goose, da goose, is loose in the building.

T-Rex,

Ziriums,

Haha

S. Solar

Chorus (Ziriums):

Naira zamu kashe, mun fito

(We are out to splurge on Naira)

Mu mun fito, mu kashe ‘yan kud’i,

(We’re out to splurge a little money.)

Muci kudin Abuja, muci kudin gwamnati

(Let’s spend Abuja money, let’s spend government money)

Repeat once

Supreme Solar

Verse 1: I appear anywhere with the new range rover
Check the Tints so intense, FG plate number
Can’t stop, coming like a rain, lots of digits in my company name hey, money ain’t a thing
So much money that the bank can’t hold
Too many properties that we can’t disclose
What’s your bank’s name, i’ll call the CEO
When my NGO’ll holler back and make the black case close!

Chorus: Ziriums

T-Rex

Verse 2: More than a slice, I’ll take a chunk of the national cake
Get the ration and break.
Before you know that the transaction is fake
i’ll be in another state
Hooking up another bait, Duping NGO’s for Virgin dough
Cop a lotta paper
Breaking contacts and contracts
It’s a strong task. If there’s a window of opportunity

[Crack]
I’ll make the walls crack, give the guns back
And I’m hungrier than ever, get the cheddar, tell rihanna to get that ugly ass umbrella.
I’m loving the weather, and its Government Money.
I’ve gotta vendetta, I’m gonna be robbin them, sonny.
There’s no time for fumbling,
I’m burning and hungry, feel the mic on my belly
You hear it rumbling funny?

Chorus: Ziriums

T-Rex

Verse 3:What’s the access here?
We aint makin bucks in excess
Having stocks and investments
But to me it doesn’t make sense.

S. Solar:
Yeah, like Solar, calls it out of the PH [Port-Harcourt]
3 series Beemer, cruising back to the ‘A’ [Abuja]
Bankin on them papers that we packed in the case
Cause that’s how we get the papers that we stashed with the Feds

T-Rex:
I see them crackin the safe with skills can wait
Musta chills and chase still…
lock up the bills than Gates
S. Solar:
Go through a couple of milli? no we be down with a Billi
Like a billy a billion… nigga for real, no really we get it

T-Rex:
Too bad we get the credit unrated, then set it(….)
All you you relics are heading for debit
And that is your verdict
S. Solar
Bam
Baby pick up the bags and clothes, lets make a final break before the black case close.

Chorus: (Ziriums):

Naira zamu kashe, mun fito

(We are out to splurge on Naira)

Mu mun fito, mu kashe ‘yan kud’i,

(We’re out to splurge a little money.)

Muci kudin Abuja, muci kudin gwamnati

(Let’s spend Abuja money, let’s spend government money)

Repeat once

Ziriums speaks over the chorus: Ziriums, T-Rex, Solar, Korex….Dole mu (….) kudin Abuja, wallahi tallahi, yunwa, talauci,yaudara (?) mutane, Don haka, dole mu ci kudin gwamnati, kudin Abuja, dole mu kwashe…Mu saye gidaje musu, Mu saye motoci, Mu aure mata yan gwamnati. Kawai abin da zamu yi. Habba… Intersection… Ba wani kudin waye waye…Ni kwarai,  (….) Kudin gwamnatu, masu gidan rana ehheh

(I haven’t finished transcribing/translating Zirium’s monologue at the end, so if anyone hears the rest of it, I’d appreciate the help. Thanks!)