Sex, love, fun: What else is youth for? The new EP from teenage newcomer Ayra Starr covers all these topics.

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Mostly, she is revelling in it or suffering from it, in the opening track ‘Away’. but on one song ‘DITR’ (diamond in the rough), she offers commentary on what one assumes is the dangers of juvenile intoxication.

Across these songs, Ayra Starr displays an impressive level of vocal control. And if she has written the songs she sings, then it must be said that the newcomer is an astonishing talent. At 18, she has the chops of a semi-veteran. Naturally, a part of the success of what comes through on Ayra Starr’s self-titled project is due to Don Jazzy’s artistry. …


For some time it seemed as though it would be impossible to get up to 10 films worthy of inclusion into any serious list about good movies from Nigerian cinema. Well, so it was.

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The usual trick is to include poor films in their year-end list just so it gets to 10. I won’t be doing that; I can’t be doing that. My own trick is in the headline.

As I was saying, it has proven impossible to get up to 10 really good movies this year. That is for two reasons: Nollywood is still not producing enough films of quality and for most of the year, our cinemas were shuttered, truncating many a filmmaker’s plan. This, of course, meant that the internet became even more of a snatcher of our attention — as though that wasn’t the case already. This is why the list below is a mix of Netflix and the big screen. …


Every so often, I think about a line from a piece by the Nigerian author Tola Rotimi: “Families are everybody’s first war”.

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Recently, I had cause to remember that line when I saw Introducing the Kujus, a new film that could have been based on just line.

At the start of the film, which is stylised as ITK, two siblings Maugbe Kuju and Mausi Kuju, played by Timini Egbuson and Bisola Aiyeola respectively, conspire to bring the rest of their family together for their mother’s remembrance. It’s more of the latter’s idea but any guy with an elder sister knows how these things work when those sisters get an idea that must come to pass. …


There is a subtle shift of modern Nollywood romantic comedy from family to work. Well, maybe it’s not a shift but an expansion.

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For many years the most important thing in the life of a heroine was the family: her mother urging her to get married, her potential in-law hassling her about the quality of her wife material.

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As the economy has dwindled and entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship dominates work discourse, Nollywood is taking notes. A few years ago, In Wedding Party, it was the family unit blocking marital happiness. In the new film Kambili (subtitled, The Whole 30 Yards), the obstacle to marital bliss is work — or, rather, the heroine’s resistance to work. …


The new Davido album, A Better Time, is not as good as his previous album, A Good Time. The tunes are less arresting and the songwriting is more or less at the same level.

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That is not to say the new album is bad. It’s a decent body of work and even as it pales compared to its predecessor, it has its strong moments. By now, everybody and their grandmother has heard FEM, the hit that was released before the album showed up. It is the first song of the album — as a result, it is an incredibly strong opener. …


This year, the new Rattlesnake falls into the same type of trap as last year’s Living in Bondage did: the filmmakers think of cinematic storytelling in today’s Nollywood as excursions of glamour.

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But where Living in Bondage had a decently cohesive script to work with, the screenplay for Rattlesnake (subtitled The Ahanna Story and also directed by Ramsey Nouah) has too many gaps.

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It wants to be a political film but doesn’t seem to stand for anything pointed. It wants to be a character study but doesn’t invest anything of weighty psychological consequence in the characters’ back stories. It wants to be a thriller but lacks the genre’s inventiveness. It wants to be a romance but has too many other things going on. …


Quick question: Can women be friends? Yes? No? Maybe?

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Well, Old Nollywood would say an emphatic “no”. It had an interesting definition for women: Witches, husband snatchers, and devious creatures operating in opposition to one another.

But over the past few years, the industry has been rehabilitating its ideas of womanhood. They may not know it but the women in a story like Jade Osiberu’s Isoken were pretty much rebels just by existing in a film where they were friends.

In the quite delightful Finding Hubby, a film directed by Femi Ogunsanwo and based on a series of blogs by the author Tunde Leye, we meet three friends, all women, all cordial. Even as the film shows one major disagreement, which almost tilts the film into Old Nollywood territory, most of the interactions between the young women are not unlike the interactions between young men — just with less noise. …


The last time I wrote about Kunle Afolayan’s movies I lamented his decline from the heady days of The Figurine to the rather piss-poor Tribunal. (The website has taken down the piece, so look out for my book.)

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I am happy to report some good news: his new film Citation is an improvement on Tribunal and even Mokalik. The bad news is that Citation never comes close to Figurine.

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In the new film, Moremi, a postgrad student, and Professor N’Dyare, her lecturer, offer differing accounts of a sexual incident at their school’s senate’s hearing. It’s the classic he says, she says. …


I have been in a bit of a funk over the past few weeks. There have been a bunch of stuff that I have wanted to write about but just couldn’t. I couldn’t stay in one place long enough to set down the thoughts I have had — at least not in the elegant or propulsive (or at the minimum, the half-decent) way I think I like to write. …


I am yet to decide if one of Fela’s gifts to Nigerian singers is perverse. He combined some of the most tragic things put in a song with some of the most danceable tunes.

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Today, many of our artists make music that is incredibly danceable. There are not many Nigerian songs that are tragic but when that does happen, the songs are still danceable. At least in the case of the new Burna Boy song, ’20 10 20’.

The title gives away what the song is about: the brutal events of 20 October at the Lekki tollgate. It is an impressive single that conveys Burna’s apparent sorrow at the shootings. He goes from lamenting the plight of Nigerians and then addresses that night directly: “20th of October 2020/You carry army go kill many youths for Lekki”. …

About

Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

Nigeria’s most acclaimed writer-reviewer. Business: www.criticsandbylines.com.

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