It has to have been in 1998 or 1999 I forged a relationship with a classmate based on the music of DMX. Two kids in a secondary school rapping lines from It’s Dark and Hell is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of my Blood. I have no idea where Luqman is today — but I hope that, like me, he remembered those class breaks filled with the music of DMX. Misery loves company, so I hope he felt some grief upon learning of the death of DMX.

At the time, I had just started becoming a rap head…


In La Femme Anjola, the director Mildred Okwo inserts Nigerian elements into the noir genre — or maybe it’s the other way round: she inserts noir elements into a Nigerian story? No matter. What is clear is that the film is a cocktail of Nigeria and noir. What’s even better is that the film is made with a level of care that is hard to find in Nollywood. It’s so good to look at and easy to get caught up in.

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Much of that is down to the casting, Jonathan Kovel’s good-looking cinematography, Kelechi Odu’s production design, Yolanda Okereke’s costumes…


Around 2am today, festival director Tabitha Jackson and other members of the Sundance Film Festival, the biggest independent film festival in the United States, kicked off the awards ceremony for 2021. The comedian Patton Oswalt was on hosting duties.

Since the coronavirus had upended everything normal about festivals, instead of receiving an invitation to a hall somewhere in Utah as I did last year, I clicked a link to catch the entire event live on festival.sundance.org, the site that had brought me films from the festival since 28 January.

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One of those films was Lizard, a short film directed by…


This time last year, I was in the US. In Utah, to be precise, to which I had been invited by the Sundance Film Festival.

It was cold, cold, cold and as with all film festivals, it took some time to understand just how the mix of programmes work. I can’t say that I succeeded before the end of the festival. I was invited again this year — but as you know, coronavirus has happened, so it’s a virtual thing. Every day, I wake up, put on my laptop, open the festival.sundance.org tab and go through the programme. The difference…


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…


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…


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…


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

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…


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…


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.

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…

Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

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

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