#BuhariHasWon and the Political Punditry of Kizz Daniel
Nigerian pop music gets a bad rap. It is immoral. Its songwriting is weak. I agree, I agree.
A significant portion of my work as a music critic has chronicled the ways it fails to show the best of Nigerian creativity — except, of course for its assemblage of sounds, a thing done by its producers, those workers of sonic miracles.
And yet, I have often said the pop music of any people is a kind of reflection of those people. Nobody should be shocked that a country in love with money and filled with churches perennially makes anthems of prayerful songs about money. In other words, no one should be surprised Nigeria produces Nigerian pop. Songs like ‘God Win’, ‘Able God’, and ‘Wetin We Gain’ have used this formula to find success. It is worth noting that none of the artists responsible for these hit songs — Korede Bello, Chinko Ekun, and Victor AD — are anything close to Nigeria’s top-level artists, a detail that gives off the idea that the success is not about the artist; it is about the song.
This wasn’t supposed to be a post about Nigerian music’s twin obsessions: God and cash. I had another pair in mind when this started: Kizz Daniel and Nigerian politics. I am pretty certain my preceding five words have never been combined in that manner before, but stay with me.
For weeks, I have been listening to the Kizz Daniel sophomore, No Bad Songz. (I am not even sure we can call it a sophomore since the man has changed his name since his debut. But let’s not go down that rabbit hole…)
Anyway, I have been listening to No Bad Songz and I am close to concluding the man made the best mainstream pop album last year. He just hasn’t promoted the album well enough. As with his first album, NBBS should put him in the awards conversation when the time comes but his failure to do some high-level marketing for the body of work will hurt his chances. He is the rare artist today who can be rewarded for his singles and his albums. Broadly speaking, the main trouble with NBS is that it is too long. This is a bad trait Mr Daniel has inherited from his colleagues.
Like those colleagues, Kizz Daniel records many songs while carefully nursing an erection. This gives rise to such songs as the recent single ‘Madu’, where he says he has plans to “shift your womb”. But he has a moment of sobriety on the song ‘Ja’:
“Election dey on.
They say go and get your PVC.
Dem swear for you or swear for me.
Who we want e no dey win.” — Kizz Daniel
In the weeks leading to the elections, the sequence of those lines struck me as unusually political in how it seemed to capture voter apathy. That feeling intensified when the differences between the numbers of registered voters and the actual voter-count proved to be quite wide.
Now with President Buhari’s reelection all but confirmed, I am thinking of those lines, the last one in particular, not as political commentary but as prophecy. For anyone with a phone and some internet, it was impossible to miss the anti-Buhari posts, tweets, memes. And for clear reasons. He had reneged on or the issue had gotten worse than he met them. To be sure, his rivals were hardly ideal. One recalled the apocryphal Balzac aphorism connecting great wealth and evil. Others were little more than a bunch of clowns with fluent English and fancy degrees. But maybe the country would have benefited from change, any change. But look: Who we want e no dey win.
Listen to Kizz Daniel’s Ja in full below. The lines quoted above can be heard at the 1.05 mark.