Tag Archives: Nigerian music

Sazzy’s lyrics and an article “In Memory of Sazzy: the music lives on”

I’m sorry I’m only just getting to this, but here is the column I wrote in commemoration of the rising star Sazzy (Osaze Omonbude), who died too soon at age 26. You can read the article at Weekly Trust online, or you can read the hard copy here by clicking on the photo, which will take you to a large copy of the article as published with photos etc. The acknowledgements were left out of the published version, but I’d like to thank Alkassim Abdulkadir, the Coordinator of Guild of Artists and Poets, for gathering and writing the section on GAP, including the comments from Yoye and Lindsey. The photos should also be credited to Korex Calibur of Intersection Media.

While I was writing this, I listened to as many of Sazzy’s songs as possible. I thought the best way to commemorate his life would be to quote his own words, and although a lot of those quotes ended up getting cut out of the final version of the article,  I thought I’d share the transcripts I made of the lyrics of at least three of his songs here.

The first one I’ll post here is the first Sazzy song I ever heard. When our mutual friend Korex posted the link to Sazzy’s music video “Doubt,” on Facebook, I spent about two hours pressing replay. The self-reflexive pidgen, the electronic electric guitar, the voice, and overall production was like no other Nigerian music I’d heard before.

Lyrics to “Doubt”:

Verse 1

Shey na me be dis or be na someone else?

Shey na me dey hear, or someone else is there?

Shey na me dey talk, or someone else dey yarn?

Shey na me dey work for here?

Shey na me dey sing or someone else dey sing?

Shey na me compose, or someone get de beat?

Shey na me dey rise, or someone’s raft discreet (CHECK)

Shey na me get this song….

Chorus:

I don dey doubt myself again, oh X 3

I don dey doubt, I don dey doubt

Verse 2

Shey I get talent, or I be just copycat?

Shey I get the skill, or I scramble like rat?

Make I come to know, or make I drop am flat?

Make I stop to chase this dream.

Shey my voice is good, or is it really bad?

Shey my style is cool, or is it really sad?

I get confidence, or shey na me dey dance?

Shey na me get this song.

Chorus:

I don dey doubt myself again oh X3

I don dey doubt, I don dey doubt

I don dey doubt myself again oh X3

I don dey doubt, I don dey doubt

Verse 3

I don really understand

Wetin dey worry me today oh

I don’t know but what I know is that

Tomorrow go be a better day.

Revised Chorus

I no go doubt myself again oh X3

I no go doubt, I no go doubt X 4

I no go doubt, doubt, doubt,

[skatting]

My next obsession was with his perfect techno breakup song “Anymore,” which you can listen to on his Myspace playlist.

Lyrics to Anymore

Verse 1

Baby, if

You ever know

The things I do

Just for you

You love me right

You treat me good

With all your heart

you say I’m cool

But if instead

you treat me wrong

You treat me bad,

black and blue

The sea is red,

my heart is far

You say it mean and that ain’t true

CHORUS:

Is it because I’m foolish in love

Is it because I’m stupid and blind

Tears from my eyes, and it feels so wrong

Baby, I can’t do this anymore

I can’t hold, I can’t hold, I can’t hold

(Doodoodoo)

This anymore

I can’t hold, I can’t hold, I can’t hold

(Doodoodoo)

This anymore

….

(Doodoodoo)

This anymore

….

(Doodoodoo)

This anymore

Verse 2

I’m back again

To the song

To my self [?]

I’m back to you

Back to my phone

To your name

To your love

Which —[?]

But it’s all a pain

You’ve made your plans

I have no name,

Nothing for you

And I’m so ashamed

We could have been

something more

something more than you…

CHORUS:

Is it because I’m foolish in love

Is it because I’m stupid and blind

Tears from my eyes, and it feels so wrong

Baby I can’t do this anymore.

I can’t hold, I can’t hold, I can’t hold

(Doodoodoo)

This anymore

I can’t hold, I can’t hold, I can’t hold

(Doodoodoo)

This anymore

….

(Doodoodoo)

This anymore X6

Here is his striking final piece, a music video of his hit song “Mr. Chairman,” briefly featuring Supreme Solar. His friend and creative collaborator Korex Calibur directed and edited the music video, which was finished after Sazzy’s death. The end result is very powerful. You can feel the tense energy coiled like a spring in Sazzy. He did not live long, but he seems to have crammed his short life full of music and friendship. In the increasingly rapid editing towards the end of the piece, you can also sense the grief and passion with which Korex edited this final music video.

Mr. C

Aha aha oh

Uh huh, oho (….) [skatting]

Verse 1

I’m the realest, I’m the coolest, I’m the newest, I’m the (best)

I’m the freshest, I’m the cutest of the chain

I’m the (nicest)

Ima  king, Ima prince, Ima man

Ima (nigga)

You should know that I’m a (killa)

Run them over like a (trailer)

Ima note, Ima chord, I’m the keys

Ima (south)

Ima script, I’m a play, I’m a show (Entertainer)

Number 1, number 2, number 3 (….) (ten)

I’m all aboard, do you understand?

CHORUS: If you see me outside, oh

Just call me Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman

Verse 2

I’m a singer, I’m a rapper, producer (extraordinaire)

I’m the bass, I’m the drums, I’m the snare, Ima (shaker)

I’m your sister, I’m your brother, I’m your mother, I’m your (father)

I’m your friend, I’m your (lover),

I’m your wife…

Ima seargent, Mr captain, Ima colonel general

Ima bullet, Ima gun, Ima tank, Ima (sub)

I’m the shit, I’m the piss, I’m your scent, I’m your (body)

I’m all aboard, do you understand?

CHORUS: If you see me outside oh

Just call me Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman,

Verse 3

I will like to suggest now, make you start to dey feel this

….

I said I would like to suggest now, make you start to dey feel this

Then feel me

CHORUS: If you see me outside oh

Just call me Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman X2

Just call me, Just call me, Mr. C, this star, […]

Finally, after his death, Sazzy’s friends, Uche the African Rockstar, Yoye, Lindsey, 5 Mics, Bugzy, and Snappy put together a tribute piece, “Yesterday, which can be listened to at NotJustOk.com.

“YesterDay”

Sazzy, always on the beat. (Not Just Ok.com)

Peace, man, ….

Chorus: Seems like yesterday I just got news you went away, but there aint no way you’ll fade away. To me, I remember how we used to be. X2

I used to think you have all the time in the world.

I feel so sorry for your girl

because she was your African Queen.

You made it in this African scene.

Oh, why?

We can’t begin to ask all these questions.

I never had a chance for me to mention

the kind of real person that you are.

No doubt that you were meant to be a star.

We’re gonna keep connecting wherever you are.

And even though you’re gone, you will never be far.

Oh Sazzy, why sazzy? I know your family, because I’m your family.

And the Almighty God has put you down to rest.

Until it is my time, I will keep you in my chest.

No matter what they say, to me, you are the best.

To me, you are the best.

CHORUS X2

You were a close friend, but now you’re so far away.

My heart bleeds, shedding tears, I kneel down and pray.

I pray the Lord your soul to keep

At heavens gate, I pray God gives you the key

We ask for his blessing, but what’s better than this?

Leaving this cruel world full of envy and greed

I shed a tear on my rhyme book

You know me Stay Positive C, the cup is half full

You always knew the answers

And if you were here

I would have asked you

Because in this wrong man, I see no good

Sazzy, you were so good.

Producer Extraordinaire

Mr. C, I salute

Never overrated, maybe underpaid

You were a trend-setter, man, you paved the way

Now much has changed, still trying to take your place,

But you were real to Death…..

CHORUS X2

Ok, it was like a joke when Gang hit me with the news

For DJ Atta said it too, and it hit me like the blues.

— tears over the phone, hearing my brother cry

Give me some broken bones

You invited me to your house, I couldn’t find my way there

Now I’m at your house, and damn you aint here

My conscious killing me. I should have been here more often.

Now the Ray Bans couldn’t stop the chairs from dropping

You kept fighting this sickness. I know you’re resting now

No more hospitals and drugs, just angels in gowns.

This boss ain’t enough to express how I feel

Sazzy, Mr. Chairman, God bless ….

CHORUS X2

Yeah, everybody put your lighters on

As we say farewell to an icon

Damn, but your music still lives on

We feel your presence in our hearts

Even though you’re gone

Yeah, I wish I never had to write this verse

I wish I never had to say “Sazzy, rest in peace”

Cuz you were loved by the streets

Forever in our hearts, Sazzy,

Rest in Peace

..

Well, well, …..

Whhhhy? Why?

Sazzy, (boom) Everybody feel your pain

But one day, we …

But one day, we wan make Zion…

CHORUS X2

Yo, Sazzy, we’re gonna miss you

I got all a your friends to come and talk to you

Because even though you’re gone, they’re gonna be talkin to you

Representing you

You’re the gospel, put it down.

Lindsey’s singing on the hook

And 5 Mics is doing it too.

Yo, Yoye, I know you’re feeling it, dog

Yo Bugzy, what’s up man, yo Snappy

Everybody’s in the crew man, we’re all gonna miss you,

We’re all gonna miss you, yeah

Because I’m the African Rockstar,

It’s because of you

And everytime I’m doing, we doing it for you

We’re never gonna forget you

Everybody awaits you.

Yehaw

Everything, It seems like yesterday

Whoohhi

It all seems like yesterday, ya’ll

I can’t say no more, man,

Just keep resting, dog,

You still live in our hearts

Yo, peace.

Music is who he was: Rest in peace, Sazzy

 

Sazzy (c) Intersection

 

I’m not sure where I first heard Abuja based producer Sazzy’s (Osaze Omonbude) music. I imagine it was when Korex of Intersection Media posted a link on Facebook to his music video “Doubt,” an addictive angst-filled track, with the cry of “I no go doubt myself again, oh” in the chorus. His techno track “Anymore” is equally angst-filled and danceable. I was hooked.

On his Facebook page, he described his sounds as

‘’indie-afro-hop done by aliens trying to be human’’. He also has no limitations on genres. “If it sounds good, I’ll do it”. [...] “I just want everybody to grow with me day by day as I take over the world”.

So, when not long after, Sazzy sent me a friend request on facebook, maybe because I had been posting the video all over my wall, I responded:

July 17 at 2:31am
thanks for the friend invite. i’ve had your song “doubt” on a constant replay loop for the last 2 hours. you’ve got mad talent. take care.

He responded with gracious words (and a little advertisement):

Sazzy Omonbude July 17 at 2:41am Report
Thanks for accepting. Wow! thanks a lot, really great to hear that. Really appreciated.
I got a new international dance single. Will love to give you the link, so here it is
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH_yYH-JmhoAnd pls dont be a stranger. 

Sazzy

The track he sent was perhaps not quite as contemplative as the others, but it was definitely danceable.

So this past Saturday morning when I signed into facebook and started seeing status updates from Abuja-based friends, saying “Sazzy, rest in peace,” it shook me. It was shattering news. I didn’t know him. We exchanged those messages and may have exchanged a couple of lines of Facebook chat, I can’t remember now. But I had gone to his page only a few days before to wish him a cheery “Happy Birthday.” I had listened to his tracks again. I hadn’t known him in person but I had known his friends, I had known his music. What does one do, what does one feel, when a facebook friend dies, someone at this level of acquaintance, new to history, whom you may have never met but whose updates you regularly see and who may have also seen your updates?

On his myspace page, he looked forward to the future:

”I really do believe with GOD, Hard work, Patience and Persistence you can achieve anything in life and I do hope all my aspirations and dreams shall come to pass. This is just the beginning for me, loads more is yet to come, music is about to change”.

And as a young talent gone too soon, his death is reminiscent of the death of rising star Dagrin only half a year ago. Now, Sazzy’s last update on Facebook seems a sad foreshadowing:

Sazzy Omonbude Hey thanx for all d birthday wishes….bin a bit ill bt thanx all d same

He had just turned 26. He had sickle cell. And he made mad good music.

 

Sazzy (c) Intersection

 

Yet, his “beginning” has become his legacy. The internet is chock full of his traces. He left behind a dance track list on his myspace page and reverbnation page (he’s currently listed as #5 on the Abuja charts), a youtube page with two videos, a twitter page full of banter, a facebook fan page that is slowly filling up with tributes, and one mix album “The Take Over,” for sale online, with some of the most promising new Nigerian artists, including Sazzy’s “Mr Chairman.”

A whole flurry of other blogs and new have written obituaries and tributes to him.  Olamilde Entertainment gives a short biography taken from his myspace page:

Sazzy born Osaze Omonbude in Nigeria, Oct. 15 1984; he had a good client and fan base in his country. His intention was to his wings internationally. As a child, he grew up listening to mostly international acts like The fugees, Notorious B.I.G, Jay-Z, Nas, Madonna, Shade, Fela and loads more. Since then he has always had a dream to sing and produce internationally, “let everybody here what I have to say’’. With a strong love for Good Music in any genre and a free mind in creativity, Sazzy was the type of act music needed. ”I really do believe with GOD, Hard work, Patience and Persistence you can achieve anything in life and I do hope all my aspirations and dreams shall come to pass. This is just the beginning for me, loads more is yet to come, music is about to change”.

Among the other sites to cover his untimely passing are modernghana.com,nigerianfilms.com, Linda Ikeji’s blogCampus HeatNigerian Entertainment Today, Abujacity.comLast Plane to Lagos, Bella Naija, and 360 Nobs. Not Just Ok, posted a tribute song by his Sazzy’s friends Uche the African Rockstar, Yoye, Lindsey, 5 Mics, Bugzy, Snappy. [UPDATE 5 November 2010: You can read the article about Sazzy I published in last week's Weekly Trust here]

[Update 30 October 2010. Yesterday, Sazzy’s  friend Korex Calibur, whom he worked with on music videos, posted Sazzy’s final music video, a brilliant piece, which makes you realize just how much we are going to miss him….

On his myspace page, Sazzy writes,

”Every time I write or produce a song, I think outside the box and do not get caught up in music of the day or time. I make music straight from the heart. Music is who you are, I can’t be somebody else.”

And if music is who Sazzy was, he’s left a large part of himself behind in this world to comfort those who loved him.

Respect, Mr. Chairman. We will miss you!

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

11am Press Conference for Sani Danja’s new organization NIGERIAN ARTISTES IN SUPPORT OF DEMOCRACY, Bolingo Hotel, Abuja, TODAY

I’ve been travelling and I’m backlogged on posts for about a month (including posts on the Savannah International Movie Awards and the Zuma Film Festival), so I’m going to start with the latest first and work my way back:

Kannywood star and founder of NAISOD Sani Danja at the NAISOD Press Conference, 10 May 2010 (c) Carmen McCain

11am Press Conference for Sani Danja’s new organization NIGERIAN ARTISTES IN SUPPORT OF DEMOCRACY, Bolingo Hotel, Abuja, TODAY

Last week while hanging out with Kannywood artistes who had come to Abuja for the Zuma film festival, I went with some of them to meet up with Kannywood superstar Sani Danja. While there, he told me about an initiative I’ve heard rumours of for some time but which I had heard no details on until this point. Sani Danja told me that the political conflict in Kano between the film industry and the government has instigated him and other artistes from Kannywood and other parts of Nigeria to become more politically involved, resulting in the formation of an organization, Nigerian Artistes in Support of Democracy (NAISOD). His vision is to create a platform under which artistes from all over the country, not just the north, can 1) advocate for themselves and protest the sort of arrests etc going on in Kano, 2) more generally support democracy a) through non-partisan support of candidates (from any party) they think will support democracy in the upcoming elections, b) through creating awareness, internally (rather than externally through NGO’s etc) motivated, about other social issues such as HIV awareness or peace building. Danja felt that with the influence artistes have through their large fan base, that it was their duty to become involved in more creating social awareness. For more information on the organization, see their website: www.naisop.org

Sani Danja and other artistes in the organization are holding a press conference today, Monday, 10 May, at 11am at the Bolingo Hotel, Abuja, close to the Ship House/U.S. Embassy. I am not involved with the organization, but, as researcher/freelance journalist thought that the idea of artistes forming organizations to be vocal about political and social issues both an interesting and a potentially quite positive development. Of course, there are concerns here: How will the organization keep itself accountable from supporting the highest bidder? Is it possible/positive for an organization made up of many artists to speak with one voice in support of political figures? What criteria will they use for support of their candidates? Must every artiste involved in the organization be in support of a single candidate? There is a certain amount of fuzziness in the goals, which could make it difficult for them to take bold action.  However, democracy in general is a work in progress, as is any fledgling organization. I am generally quite skeptical and cynical about celebrities and their social causes, especially as regards Hollywood celebrity’s obsessions with Africa. But in the case of Nollywood and Kannywood, I think such indications of social awareness and feelings of social responsibility from within is actually a positive development. NAISOD may not end up being the most influential organization, and there may be others that come up, but artistes, whether we as critics like it or not, actually have a huge fan base and a great amount of power to speak to that fan base. More than anyone else, filmmakers and musicians probably have the power to propel the “masses” into action. As such, I think that it is useful to publicize ventures like this, as well as to give constructive criticism that will help artistes become more precise and effective in their goals.

I will try to put up more information after the press conference today.

Interview with Hiphop artist Ziriums in this week’s Aminiya

Mujullar Rayuwa, Aminiya, 16 April 2010

"Nazir Ahmad Hausawa: Ganawa da Fitaccen Mawak'in Hausa na Zamani"

This week’s Aminiya newspaper featured an interview with Hausa hiphop artist Ziriums, whose collaboration with Supreme Solar and T-Rex, I have written about earlier on this blog. The interview in Hausa (with my translation) is copied below. To read the interview on the Aminiya website, click here and to hear some of Zirium’s music, click on his myspace page, here. [[UPDATE 31 August 2010, You can also buy his new album "This is Me" on itunesamazon.com, and myspace.]]

The interview opens with an introduction that I will not directly translate. I have directly translated the rest of the interview, but keep in mind that I likely have made at least a few small errors. I welcome corrections. If you have any, please leave them in the comments section, and I will fix the translation. In the introduction,  Bashir Yahuza Malumfashi, the interviwer, talks about how as time brings new types of music the old is not left behind. The new music, too, can give sermons and teach lessons.

Malam Nazir, idan za mu fara tattanawa, zan so jin amsar cewa, wane ne Nazir Ahmad Hausawa?

Kamar dai yadda ka ambata, sunana Nazir Ahmad Hausawa kuma an haife ni a ranar 5 ga watan Fabrairu, cikin shekara ta 1980, a Unguwar Hausawa da ke cikin karamar Hukumar Gwale, Jihar Kano. Na fara karatun share fagen shiga firamare a 1983, a Galadanchi Nursery School. A 1984 ne na fara karatun firamare a Gwale Special Primary School, inda na yi shekara biyar na dauki jarabawar zuwa sakandare. A cikin shekarar 1990 ne na je Gobernment Junior Secondary School Warure, inda daga nan na dauki jarabawa zuwa Senior Secondary School Gwale. Bayan na gama a 1997, na tafi Kwalejin Share Fage Shiga Jami’a ta Kano a shekarar 1998. Na yi shekara biyu a nan, inda bayan na kammala, na fara karatu a Kwalejin Kiwon Lafiya (School of Hygeine), inda bayan na yi shekara biyu, ban kai ga yin jarabawar karshe ba, sai na bar makarantar, saboda na samu gurbin karo karatu a Federal College of Education, Kano. Na fara karatu a can, daga shekarar 2001 zuwa 2003, inda na kammala. Wannan shi ne dan takaitaccen tarihina.

Malam Nazir, if we may start, I’d like to hear you answer this question: Who is Nazir Ahmad Hausawa?

As you have mentioned, my name is Nazir Ahmad Hausawa. I was born on 5 February 1980 in Hausawa area, Gwale Local Government Area, Kano State. I started school in 1983 at Galadanci Nursery School. In 1984, I started primary school at Gwale Special Primary School where I spent five years before I took the exams to go on to secondary school. In 1990, I went to Government Junior Secondary School, Warure, which is where I took the exams to go on to Gwale Senior Secondary School. After I finished in 1997, in 1998 I went to University preparatory College of Share Fage. I did two years there, and after I finished, I started my studies at the School of Hygiene, where after I had spent two years, I left the school before I did my final exam. This is because I had gotten admission to Federal College of Education, Kano. I started my studies there from 2001 to 2003, where I finished. This is a brief recap of my life.

Ga shi ka yi fice a fagen shirya wakokin zamani, ko yaya haka ta faro a rayuwarka?
Ka san cewa mutane sun ce ita waka baiwa ce, to lallai ni na amince da haka, cewa baiwa ce. Na fara waka ne a sanadiyyar yawan sauraren wakokin da nake yi, haka kuma mahaifina shi ne Sakatare ko kuma a yanzu shi ne Odita na kungiyar Usha’un Nabiyyi, masu wakokin yabon Annabi (SAW). Su ne suka fara kafa kungiyar mawakan yabon Annabi a Jihar Kano, inda suke tara mutane suna zama suna rera wakokin yabon Annabi, kodayake su ba su hadawa da kida, wakar kawai suke yi, sai dan tafi da hannu da suke dan yi a wani lokaci. Tun ina yaro, mahaifin nawa kan tafi da ni wajen da suke wannan zama na bege, kuma tun daga lokacin nan harkar waka ta fara shiga raina.

Ok, so you’ve come out as a modern musician? How did your life bring you to this?

You know, they say that singing is a gift, and I agree with that—it is a gift. I started singing because I was always listening to music. My father is the secretary or actually now he is the Auditor of the Usha’un Nabiyyi Group, those who sing in praise of the Prophet (PBUH). They were the first ones in Kano State who established a group of praise singers to the Prophet. They would assemble people to sit  and sing praises to the Prophet. They didn’t combine it with drumming, they would just sing acapella. Every once in a while, they will wave their hands around [?]. Since I was a child, my father would go with me to the place where they would sing of their longing. And since that time, the love of music entered my soul.

Za mu iya cewa a harkar waka, kai dan gado ne ke nan?

To, haka din ne, amma shi mahaifina wakokin yabo yake yi, ni kuma na zamani nake yi. Daga baya ne sai muka kafa wata kungiya ta mawaka, ni da abokina Ali Jamilu a nan unguwarmu, Hausawa. Mun samu wannan kwarin gwiwa ne saboda yawan sauraren wakokin Turai da muke yi, wanda haka ya sanya muka kafa wannan kungiya, wacce muka sanya wa suna ‘kungiyar Nigogin Yabon Ma’aiki.’ Muna yin wakokin yabon da salon nan na Rapping, amma wakokin addini ne, ta salon kwaikwayar wakokin da suka yi fice a kasashen Turai. Kamar akwai wakar Boyz II Men, mai taken End of the Road, wacce muka canza ta zuwa wakar yabon Manzon Allah, inda ake yi mana kida da mandiri, mu kuma muna rerawa. Da farko sai aka rika yi mana dariya, ana kushewa, cewa wane ne zai ji irin wannan wakar yabon, ta salon Turanci? Amma dai ni daga nan zan ce na fara waka sosai. Daga nan ne na hadu da Alhaji Hamisu Iyan-Tama, inda na je ofishinsa, inda na kalli wani fim mai suna ‘Badakala’ wanda su suka shirya shi. Daga nan na fara sha’awar harkokin fina-finai da sauran harkokin nishadantarwa irinsu. A nan na hadu da su dan’Azumi Baba Cediyar ’Yangurasa da su Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino da sauransu. Ni a lokacin, na yi sha’awar in fara fitowa a matsayin jarumi a fina-finai, amma saboda kankantar jikina a lokacin, sai aka ce ba zan iya fitowa a wannan matsayi ba, sai idan ana bukatar fitowar yara, za a sanya ni. Daga nan na zama dan aike a ofishin Iyan-Tama, inda ake aike na kamar sawo abinci ko daukar janereto idan an je daukar fim, da sauran hidindimu irin wadannan. Muna cikin haka sai dan’Azumi ya rabu da Iyan-Tama, ya bude nasa ofishin, wato R.K Studio, ni kuma sai na bi shi. A lokacin ne ya sayi abin kida na zamani wato Piano/Yamaha. A kan wannan na’ura na fara koyon kidan zamani da kaina, har ma na fara iyawa. Daga nan muka samu matsala da shi dan’Azumi, na bar wurinsa, na yi zaman shekara daya ba tare da na yi wannan harka ta kida ba. Na koma makaranta ne sai na hadu da su Salisu Mu’azu, lokacin sun bude ofis din Lenscope Media a Kano. Ya kira ni ya ce in je in fara koyo, inda na je na fara koyon kidan kwamfuta a wurin Ibrahim Danko. Ni ne Bakano na farko da ya fara koyon kida da kwamfuta a lokacin. Da tafiya ta yi tafiya ma, sai aka bar mini kamfanin Lenscope Media na rike shi ni kadai. Ka ji yadda aka yi na fara waka kuma na shiga harkokin kade-kaden zamani.

Could we say that you have inherited your music?

You could say that, but my father sings praises [to the Prophet] and I sing modern music. After some time, we started a singing group, me and my friend Ali Jamilu, in our neighborhood, Hausawa. We did this because we were always listening to Western music,,which is what made us establish this group. We named it “The Nigga’s Who Praise the Messenger.” We were doing this Islamic praise-singing in a rap style. But although they were using the style we learned from Western music, they were religious songs. Like the Boyz II Men song, “End of the Road,” we changed to become a song in praise of the Prophet of God. The mandiri beat would be done for us, and we would sing. At first, everyone was laughing at us and didn’t have any use for us. They said who has ever heard this kind of Islamic praise in a Western style. But from this time, that’s when I really started singing. After that I met with Alhaji Hamisu Iyan-Tama, when I to his office because I had seen a film named “Badak’ala” which his company had produced. From there I became interested in the film industry and the rest of the entertainment industry. This is where I met with ‘Dan Azumi Baba, Ced’iyar ‘Yangurasa, Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino, and others. At the time I was interested in being an actor in films, but because I was very small then, they said that I couldn’t appear as an actor unless they needed children, then they would cast me. After that I found employment in Iyan-Tama’s office. They would send me to buy food or carry the generator if they went on a film shoot, and other services like these. I was going along like that, when ‘Dan Azumi left Iyan-Tama and opened his own office, R.K. Studio, and I followed him. At that time, he bought a new kind of instrument, the Yamaha piano. It was on this machine that I started teaching myself how to produce beats, until I started being able to do it. I ended up having a problem with D’an Azumi, so I left his place and spent about a year without doing anything with music production. I returned to school until I met with Salisu Mu’azu, when they opened the Lenscope Media office in Kano. He called me to come learn, and this is where I started learning how to produce music with a computer together with Ibrahim Danko. At that time, I was the first Kano-man who started learning music production on the computer.  As time passed and people left Lenscope Media company, I was left alone holding on to what I knew. [?] So now you have heard how I started singing and how I entered the contemporary music industry.

Wace waka ce ka fara yi a rayuwarka?
Tirkashi! Kana nufin tun ina yaro ko kuwa dai bayan na shiga harkar? Lokacin da na yanke hukuncin cewa na zama mawaki, wakar da na fara ta farko ita ce, ‘Kano Ta Dabo Tumbin Giwa.’ Na yi wannan waka ne tare da Adam A. Zango da kuma Billy O.

What is the first song you did in your life?

Tirk’ashi! Do you mean since I was a kid or after I entered the industry? When I made up my mind that I had become a singer, the first song I started with was “Kano ta Dabo Tumbin Giwa.” I sang this with Adam A. Zango and Billy O.

Maganar alabe ko faifai fa, ya zuwa yanzu ka shirya alaben wakoki guda nawa?
Ina da alabe guda daya da na gama shiryawa, wanda na sanya wa suna ‘Kyandir’ amma ban kai ga sakin shi kasuwa ba. Yana dauke da wakoki ne a kan soyayya ta matasa sai kuma waka guda daya da na yi kan Arewa. Na yi kokarin nuna cewa mu ma a Huasa muna da salon wakoki, wato ba kwaikwaya muka yi daga Turawa ba. Wato muna da su tun da dadewa, a yanzu dai mun zamanantar da su ne kawai.

So, let’s talk about your album or record. How many albums have you produced?

I have one album that I’ve finished producing, named “Kyandir” but I haven’t released it to the market yet. It’s comprised mostly of songs on love, and then there is one song that I did on the North. I tried to show that we Hausa have a style of singing that we didn’t copy from Europeans. We’ve had this music for a long time and now we are just modernizing it.

Cikin wannan lokacin, masu sana’ar kade-kade da wake-waker na fuskantar wani kalubale ko kuma abin da wasunku ke ganin kamar takurawa daga Gwamnatin Jihar Kano, me za ka ce game da wannan rashin jituwa da ke tsakaninku da hukuma?
Wannan badakala dai tana faruwa ne saboda wasu mutane da suke ganin kamar sun fi kowa ilimi, sun fi kowa sani, kai ba ka iya ba. A matsayinka na mai basira, mai fasaha, shi sai ya zo ya yi maka jagora, ya nuna maka ga yadda yake son ka yi abin da ke cikin tunaninka.

So during this time, musicians are facing pressures or what some of you see as restrictions from the Kano State Government. What can you say on the lack of harmony between you all and the [censorship] board?

These problems are occurring because some people think they have more knowledge than anyone else, they know more than anyone else—[saying] you aren’t able to do this. In your position you are talented and skilled. Then he comes and says he will guide you and show you how he wants you to do what you already know. [?]

Ba ka ganin wannan kalubale daga gwamnati zai iya dakushe muku azama?
Sosai ma kuwa, wannan abu ya dakushe mana azama kwarai da gaske, domin idan ka kalli harkar, da dama daga cikinmu mun dauke ta sana’a, mun dauke ta a matsayin hanyar cin abinci, wasu kuma sun dauke ta a matsayin kamar wani abu na iskanci. Ni ba na cikin wadanda suka dauki wannan harka a matsayin iskanci. Ni na dauke ta ne a matsayin sana’a, domin kuwa albarkacinta ga shi na zama Injiniya mai sarrafa sauti (Professional Sound Engineer). Na yi kwas a birnin Paris na kasar Faransa, na yi kwas a Ingila, ga shi kuma a yanzu ina aiki tare da BBC. Na samu wannan daukaka ne duk albarkacin wannan harka da wasu ke ganin kamar iskanci ce, mu kuwa muka ce sana’a ce.

You don’t think this pressure from the government could hinder your progress?

Sure it can, this thing has really, truly hindered our progress.  Because if you look at the industry. It is the opportunity that some of us have to take up a profession. We take it as the path to earn our daily bread. Others take it as a way to live immorally and get into trouble.  I’m not among those who are in the industry to be immoral. I take it as a profession. I have been blessed to become a Professional sound Engineer. I have done a course from Paris, France, and I’ve done a course from England, and now I’m working with BBC. I have found opportunities and all the blessings of this industry that some see as mere immoral living. But we say it is a profession.

Me ne ne  sakonka ga al’umma dangane da wannan sana’a taku ta kida da waka?
Kirana ga al’uma shi ne, ka ji, ka ki ji, ka gani, ka ki gani. Duk abin da aka ga matasa mun taso muna ta yi, a yi mana kyakkyawar fahimta, a daina yi mana kallon cewa mu ’yan iska ne, wai muna bata tarbiyya, wai muna kaza-kaza. Ko ana so ko ba a so, idan mu an hana mu wannan harka, an danne mu ta karfin tsiya cewa ba za mu yi ba, to fa sai an sayi wakokin Timaya a Kano, sai an sayi wakokin P-Skuare a Kano, sai an sayi wakokin Dbanj a Kano, wanda lalatar da ke ciki ta ninka sau dari fiye da namu na Hausa, balle ma wakokinmu na Huasa babu wani abu na lalata a cikinsu. Wasu na cewa ai su wakokin su Timaya da Turanci suke yinsu, to a tuna fa, wadanda ke saurarensu a Kano sun je makaranta fa, suna fahimtar duk abin da suke fada. Ga shi kuma ba a hana sanya wakokin nasu a gidajen rediyon da ke Kano ba, har gobe ana sanyawa. Amma wai namu saboda da Hausa ne, ga shi nan ana hanawa. Don haka, ina kira da cewa, ya kamata a bi mu a hankali, ba a yi mana karfi-karfi ba.

What is your message  to the readers about  your music profession?

What I have to say to the readers is this: whether you hear or you refuse to hear, whether you see or you refuse to see. Everything that is seen as a profession, we have introduced it and we are still doing it. Understand us very well and stop looking at us as if we are rogues, or that we are spoiling the upbringing of children, or we are doing this and that. Whether you like or you don’t like, if we are kept from this industry, if we are weighted down into destitution by those saying, we aren’t allowed to do it, well, then people will buy Timaya’s music in Kano or they will buy P-Square’s music in Kano , or Dbanj’s music in Kano, which are a hundred times worse than our Hausa songs. And there is not anything bad in our Hausa songs. Some are saying, oh, that Timaya’s songs are in English, but remember, those who are listening to them in Kano have gone to school, they know what’s being said in them. And those songs haven’t been banned from the radio stations in Kano. Until tomorrow they will keep playing them. But ours, supposedly because they are in Hausa, they ban them. So, I am saying that they should take care how they treat us and not be too hard on us.

French Ambassador rejects the conditions of KS Censorship board for lifting ban on music festival, Punch Reports

Today’s Punch carries an update on the recent cancellation by the Kano State Censorship Board of KAMFEST, the annual music festival hosted at the Alliance Francaise. [It took my browser a long time to open the Punch link. If you can't get it to open, you can also find the article by Oluwole Josiah at Online Nigeria, unfortunately not credited...]:

The French Embassy has said it would not accept the conditions given by the Kano State Film Censor Board for lifting the ban on the annual music festival known as KANIFEST.

It also said it was unsure of staging the annual festival this year or next year, as the position of the Kano State Government would determine the fate of the festival.

French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jean-Michel Dumond, told our correspondent in an exclusive chat on Monday that discussions with the officials of the censorship board revealed that they were targeting one of the participating singers who was said to have criticised the board for banning music within the state.

He said the board wanted the singer to be withdrawn from the concert, but that condition was not acceptable to the embassy.

“We don’t want to be involved in that kind of situation where it has to do with this person or that person. Ours is to ensure that we promote culture and get the festival to benefit the people.

“If it is reduced to an individual or dealing with one person or the other, we are not interested in that. We have been discussing with the officials of the government, and we do not really have anything to do with the censorship board,” Dumond said.

He noted that the Kano State Governor was not aware of the decision of the censorship board and would be seriously disappointed at the turn of events.

To keep reading the Punch article, follow this link.

When I heard about the closure of the event on Saturday, I was told by filmmakers the rumour that the reason the event had been shut down was because popular Hausa singer Maryam Fantimoti, called the “the box of songs” by Hausa comedian Ari Baba (as cited in FIM Magazine, July 2009, p.41)  was slated to perform. (Maryam was also one of the finalists in Partners in Transforming Health in Nigeria in 2009). In a July 2009 interview with Fim Magazine, Fantimoti responded to a question about registering with the Kano State censorship board (my translation in italics):

Ana ta zuwa ana rijista da Hukumar Tace Finafinai ta Jihar Kano. Ke kin je kin yi kuwa?

People are going to be registered with the Kano State Film Censor’s Board. Have you gone?

Ban je ba, kuma ban yi ba, domin ni dai ba kamfani ne da ni ba, koyaushe ina gidan mu; in ka ga na fita an bugo waya ne ana nema na sannan in fita.

I haven’t gone, and I haven’t registered, because I am not with a company. I’m always at home. If you see me go out, it’s because I have been called [to work], that’s when I go out.

Ai ba kamfani ba, wai a matsayin ki na mawakiya tunda mawaka ma duk su na zuwa suna yi.

Not that you are a company, supposedly it’s supposed to be done because you are a musician, since all the other musicians are going to do it.

Ni ban sani ba, domin ban ga takarda a rubuce ba, kuma ni komai nawa cikin tsari na ke yi. Kai, ni tun da na ke jin mawak’a, na ke jin labarin su, ban tab’a jin an ce Shata ko Garba Supa ko D’ank’wairo ko Hassan Wayam da Barbani Choge sun yi ko suna da rijista ba. Shi kenan kuma don mu aka raina sai a ce sai mun yi wata rijista?

Me, I don’t know, because I haven’t seen anything written on it; everything I do is done properly and in order [NOTE: the translation of this last sentence could be off.] Kai, ever since I have listened to singers and heard news about them, I’ve never heard that [a list of older "traditional" Hausa musicians] Shata or Garba Supa or  D’ank’wairo or Hassan Wayam or Barbani Choge were registered. So, now we are held in contempt unless we go and do some registration?

[Note, that on the question of individual registrations for musicians, writers, or filmmakers, Director of the Kano State History and Culture Bureau (a Kano state government agency which helped plan the music festival), Ali Bature opined, when I asked him, a few days ago, that there was no such specification in the Kano State censorship law. The entire censorship law can be found in the library of the Kano State History and Culture Bureau for those interested in looking through it. If this interpretation of the law is correct, Maryam’s understanding that it was only companies that were supposed to register with the censorship board would be correct.)

Although Maryam Fantimoti was not able to perform at the music festival that was shut down by the Kano State Censorship Board, you can hear her singing along with DJ Yaks on his song “Rukky,” one of the songs featured (timecode 12:09) during the recent 26 February interview VOA did with DJ Yaks. ” (The link to the sound file is here–the written interview here.) “Rukky” can also be found on DJ Yak’s myspace page. (Please note that DJ Yak’s music is not for sale in Kano.) I will link to any other of Maryam Fantimoti’s music I can find online, as I find it.

She is also the female voice in the songs featured in the Hausa film Zo Mu Zauna

Update: 3-day international music festival cancelled by Kano State Censor’s Board

Daily Trust, 1 March 2010, p. 7

In an update to my last post, I spoke briefly today with Alain Service, the director of the Alliance Francaise in Kano, and he confirmed that the Kano State Censor’s Board sent a letter to the Alliance Francaise about two hours before the three-day KAMFEST music festival, an annual event that has taken place at the Alliance Francaise for the last 6 years, was to begin. Service said the letter told them to stop the festival. He claimed that the letter gave no other reason for cancelling the event other than saying that they had no right to hold the event without informing the Censor’s Board.

There were also brief articles in the Daily Trust and by AFP about the cancellation of the three-day event, which was to feature artists from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and France.

The AFP news report says:

Sharia police ordered the closure of an annual music festival funded and organised by the French embassy in northern Nigeria at the weekend, local officials and diplomats said on Monday.

“We have banned the music festival for the reason that we were not notified and our permission was not sought,” Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, head of the film censorship board in the northern Kanoregion, told AFP.

The French embassy said they had been told they could not stage the event at the local French cultural centre as they did not have prior authorisation.

“Following a notification by the Kano state censorship board, the Kano festival of music is cancelled” the French embassy said in a statement emailed to AFP.

The embassy has organised the three-night KANFEST music festival for the past six years through its cultural centre in Kano, featuring performances from Nigeria and other African countries as well as French musicians.

It seems strange to me that the Kano State Censor’s Board had the power to halt the event, when another Kano State agency, the History and Culture Bureau had helped in planning the event. One person I spoke to at the Alliance Francaise said that she thought the Censor’s board was limited to censoring films, but that since the event was cancelled at the Alliance Francaise she had heard that the censor’s board is saying that even performances at weddings have to gain permission from the censorship board ahead of time. When I asked the director of the History and Culture Bureau, Ali Bature about the relationship between the two state agencies, he said that the History and Culture Bureau had a “cordial relationship” with the Kano State Censor’s Board and had in fact been instrumental in helping to found the board in 2000 as a way to protect filmmakers and allow them to continue making films after the establishment of shari’a law in Kano State. He did, however, note, when I asked him, that there was no legal basis in the Kano state censorship law, for the individual registration of artists. He said the expectation was that guilds would be registered with the censor’s board but that individual artists were the guild’s responsibility. A copy of the entire Kano State Censorship law can be found in the Kano State History and Culture Bureau, for anyone who would like to peruse it. According to film industry practitioners I have spoken to, censor’s board workers on multiple occasions(one such occasion is described in one of my March blog posts) have visited locations of films being made in Kano to check whether each member of the cast and crew is individually registered with the board. Although I was not able to confirm this with Mr. Service, the rumour I have heard from multiple sources is that part of the reason the Censor’s Board shut down the event was because Maryam Fantimoti, who is not registered with the Censor’s Board, was slated to perform at the event.

[[UPDATE 3 March 2009. In an article in today’s Punch, “France Rejects condition for lifting ban on Music Festival,” [If you have trouble getting the link to open, you can also find the article copied here] Oluwole Josiah reports:

French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jean-Michel Dumond, told our correspondent in an exclusive chat on Monday that discussions with the officials of the censorship board revealed that they were targeting one of the participating singers who was said to have criticised the board for banning music within the state.

He said the board wanted the singer to be withdrawn from the concert, but that condition was not acceptable to the embassy.

“We don’t want to be involved in that kind of situation where it has to do with this person or that person. Ours is to ensure that we promote culture and get the festival to benefit the people.

“If it is reduced to an individual or dealing with one person or the other, we are not interested in that. We have been discussing with the officials of the government, and we do not really have anything to do with the censorship board,” Dumond said.

He noted that the Kano State Governor was not aware of the decision of the censorship board and would be seriously disappointed at the turn of events.

Josiah also reports that:

The French Embassy has said it would not accept the conditions given by the Kano State Film Censor Board for lifting the ban on the annual music festival known as KANIFEST.

It also said it was unsure of staging the annual festival this year or next year, as the position of the Kano State Government would determine the fate of the festival.]]]

Today, I passed by a roundabout near the government house several times, and the banner advertising KAMFEST was still there, flapping abandoned in the breeze.

Happy Islamic New Year 1431!

Happy New Year to all of my Muslim friends in commemorating the 1431st year since the Prophet’s Hijra. Allah ya ba da zaman lafiya.

And in other topics, here is my song obsession for the day. Nazifi Asananic’s “Dawo Dawo” (“Come back, Come back”) as featured in the Hausa film Garinmu da Zafi. (Forgive me for not italicizing. My laptop mouse is broken and I have a hard time highlighting things anymore…)

“No One Can Tell Us How to Live”:Interview with Sani Danja in Sunday’s Leadership

There is a great interview that Solomon Nda-Isaiah and Kucha E. Jeremiah did with Hausa film and music star Sani Danja in this week’s Sunday Leadership. Since I can’t find the online version of the article, I will post a photo of the hard copy here and a few excerpts from the interview. This article comes from Leadership Sunday, November 29, 2009. Pages 46-47. (Unfortunately, after posting I realized that the text is not big enough to read. To read, you might have to download the photo and read in a photo viewing program.)

In the article Sani Danja talks about his music and film career, his activites as a Glo ambassador, and his opinions on the recent actions of the Kano State government on Hausa filmmakers.

Here are a few excerpts. To read fully, you may have to download the photo:

When being asked about the reasons he decided to relocate to Abuja, although having offices in both Abuja and Kano, Danja says

“The thing is, there are so many rules and regulations guiding the industry in Kano. They are numerous; we have been stopped from doing any shooting or film-related activities in Kano for like six months and now they are telling us that you’ll have to get an office, have a minimum capital of N2.5m, employ a secretary, and the rest. There are so many things. If you sum up everything, it would be close to N8 or N10m. Somebody that has been stopped from work for like six months, where do you expect him to get such money? Even if we were allowed to do the movie, how much do we get out of it? It is but chicken change, yet we pay taxes. We pay government tax, yet they have never built anything to support us. They have never contributed anything to the filming business.

In response to the management of two offices in Abuja and Kano, he replies:

There’s always division of labour in a company. You have other people who look after different aspects of a company but most of my operations are directed from Kano. My parents have taught me obedience. I don’t want to fight the government. If the government says it doesn’t want this, I’ll have to stay aside. There are other states ready to welcome us. They want us to come and are always ready to open their doors to us. We don’t sell our products alone in Kano, we sell it all over the world. Everywhere you go, you see our products. Not only in Kano, Kaduna, Abuja, or Niger, they are everywhere, so for us to be stopped in one place is not a problem. You have to boost your own image. Because we want to live peacefully with everybody, that is why we had to acquire two offices, to broaden our horizons.

When asked if he had any advice for the government on disciplinary measures against filmmakers, Danja says:

First of all, they’ll have to look at it from this angle; filming is a business, and in every business, when you invest your money, you’ll think of better ways to get your money back. They should have it at the back of their minds that moviemakers have invested in their movies. One cannot be an investor while another comes to forcefully direct him on what to do. It is very impossible. If you want to direct somebody or tell him what to do in his own business, invest in the business.

As the government, they have the money and they can invest to boost the industry, they can afford to spend on every producer (at least twenty to thirty million) then tell the producer: “this is the type of film we want you to produce and we would pay you”. But in a situation where the government does not do that and you take pains to invest in the business, and they come tell you: “remove this, do this and that,” that would be impossible to obey. You have spent a lot of money, running into millions of naira, and at the end of the day, someone sits somewhere to tell you to: “Remove this. We don’t want this and that.” Those could be interesting parts that make your movie sell. How do you think that would work? I would advise the government to think again. They should know that these are people who acquire the resources invested in the business independently. They didn’t go to bother anybody or steal. They do this to keep their soul and body going, and they pay taxes to the government at the end of the day. I think the government needs to support us so that we would bring more money to them. We can be made role models for others who have already engaged or wish to engage themselves in one dubious act or the other to know that it is not only by engaging in criminal acts that you can make it in life. There are legitimate ways to better one’s life.

The government should not just sit down, creating rules and laws that would cripple our activities at the end of the day, without minding the effect it would have on us. If the son to any of the government officials were involved in something like this, they would have thought of better ways to handle it. The worst part of it is that any of our members who happens to make any mistake would be sentenced to jail. For example, if you record an album they don’t like, they won’t even try you. All they would do is to jail you or frustrate you by refusing to renew your revenue. They take you to jail without trial in the end. It is inhuman. We are not criminals. Even in armed robbery cases, they grant them bail. Here we are, honourably engaging in legitimate business. [...]

“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!)