By William Ikhianosimhe Orbih.
I should have done a piece on the Grammys, except that I don’t care about that award—maybe until the day that I win it (year 2067; even though, I would have to first learn how to chant the parts of Mass).
I should have done a piece on the Grammys, except that I am beefing the organizing committee—whoever they are—for snubbing some of my favorite artists throughout history. Just think about some of your favorite artists who have never won a Grammy.
I am thinking aloud, you may want to think with me. Think about Tupac Shakur and his arch-nemesis Biggie. Despite how much they revolutionized hip hop with their beats, lyrics, beef, and deaths, Grammy evaded them.
I heard it took Tupac less than a single studio visit to compose and record some of his greatest hits. That man was a box of poetry. Think about Bob Marley and Diana Ross. Think about Nicki Minaj, all her talent—and all her shape.
Think about Abba Gold and your fondest Christmas memories. Think about 50 Cent, and his evergreen album, Get Rich or Die Trying. How come it did not win 7 Grammys, even with all those back-to-back hits?
Think about Nas, whose song, ETHER, humbled Jay-Z for an entire year. Only God knows how many times Jay-Z looked into the mirror wishing for thinner lips. His record 21 Grammys still does not erase the fact that Nas once murdered him.
The fact that Kanye literally pissed on the Grammy last year and won it this year, and as a gospel artist too, is a mystery and marvel. Well, for my love for eccentric Kanye and his JESUS WALKS (one of my best rap songs ever!) I give up some of my beef against the award choosers. His recent award ties him with Jay-Z on record 21.
I should have done a piece on the Grammy, except that I do not think it has much to contribute to the renaissance Africa desperately needs and which my pen is committed to. It is undoubtedly beneficial to the careers of winners: Africa giant, Whizzy, Queen Tiwa, Femi Kuti. I am happy for them.
I am also happy that some of the songs being celebrated have rich pro-African themes. BROWN SKIN GIRL, for instance, is an eternal classic, celebrating the perfection of the black/brown African skin.
Also, no doubt, these winners have put Nigeria on the global (maybe American) map. These are things worth pointing out and celebrating. But there is no necessary correlation between these and Africa’s renaissance.
For Africa to be reborn, she must learn to seek and place self-validation over external validation. Nigerian artiste X winning over Nigerian artiste Y does not necessarily mean that X is better than Y. Often, it simply means that to some unnamed white ear, X sounds closer to the so-called “art ideal” of the white ear than Y. Do you get the point I am making? No further comment on this.
Beyond these reasons above and the fact that I spent the weekend grading 32 papers, each averaging about 1300 words (I am a Teaching Assistant to one of the most meticulous and compassionate Professors ever), I did not get to think of the 63rd Grammy because something else caught my attention during the weekend. I am talking about CROWN OF CLAY, Vector’s new rap song featuring Mr. Incredible himself, M.I.
Just so you all know, M.I is my favorite Nigerian rapper. No other rapper comes close—maybe Olamide, Phyno, and Falz the Bahd Guy. And just so you all also know M.I and Vector have been beefing, and M.I literally destroyed Vector’s past, present and future in his last year’s diss track VIPER. I am surprised that Vector is still alive and breathing (Biaaaaassss).
It is obvious that they have put their beef behind them for a more honorable cause, that of calling forth Africa’s renaissance in their own little way. In my humble opinion, CROWN OF CLAY should replace the school anthem of all Secondary schools across Africa for the next one month or until the message sink into every young Africa mind. There should be some editing though; some of the contents are not so decent for young impressionable minds.
Ignoring those needless additions, Let’s talk about some golden lines, first from Vector’s verse and afterward, from King M.I. Vector rapped: “I am Africa and blessed.” To be Africa is to be blessed. Right now, I am ashamed of the geographical expression called Nigeria, but not of my Africanness. I am from a bloodline of Black Kings and Queens. I am proud of my African heritage.
Now to M.I. It is so special that his verse is dedicated to Africa’s “black queens who birthed black dreams from their black hips and covered us with black wings.” M.I also informs us that the ancestors are starting to speak more loudly. What are our ancestors telling us? “We are all sinners, but God was in us before they sent us on slave ships.”
This needs reiteration. There was God in Africa before the advent of Christianity and Islam. Igbos have Chukwu, Yorubas have Olorun, Etsako people have Osinegba (the transcendent one). All different names for the one true God.
Logically speaking, there can be only one true God. We may name him differently. Many may worship “wrongly.” Yet it is the one true God we all hope or attempt to worship. For M.I, “this means that our village is our holy ground. Our traditions and our names they all are holy sounds. The wealth [including our sacred traditions] that was in our continent was stolen up.”
M.I did not leave without some brutal questions. Who the hell is Mungo Park? Some white-supremacist shit told us that he discovered the source of River Niger. How??? River wey our ancestors been dey fetch water from?
We desperately need to reconsider, or at least, edit the history textbooks used in our Secondary Schools. We need to replace Mungo Park heroics with those of the likes of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Jaja of Opobo, Ewuare the Great.
Finally, the chorus from Pheelz: “nothing shakes the strength of a black man [and woman].” This is so true. If black strength was not solid, slavery, colonialism, and neocolonialism would have completely crushed it by now.
Yet through all these, we Africans remain Twice as Tall. Of course, this is my shy way of saying congrats to #burnaboy aka OluwaBurna—Nigeria’s biggest winner at the recent award. I no dey beef am. As M.I will put it, “no beef on my mind or mohican”