Sex, Niniola, and the men of P-Square

The P-Square break-up could have killed the careers of the twin brothers. It hasn’t. Why?

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The guys understand that pop music likes familiarity and, as individuals, have merely continued where the group stopped. There might have been a chance for reinvention but that would take them to build an audience when there is a sibling to beat.

As it stands, Rudeboy seems to favour the more traditionally Nigerian sound the group sometimes had; Mr. P has doubled down on the group’s more foreign influences and its dance-driven videos. In other words, Rudeboy took the last iteration of P-Square. Mr. P went back to P-Square around the time of ‘Senorita’.

The main change for them is that as solo acts, they seem more eager to collaborate with their colleagues. In January, Rudeboy had a song with Phyno and Olamide; Mr. P has Niniola feature in his delightful new video for ‘One More Night’.

If you are familiar with pop music, that title might tell you something else that Mr. P has taken from his P-Square days: He is still making songs and videos with very clear references to older songs:

  • The title is the same as that of the Phil Collins 1985 hit.
  • An echo repeats a line from Kool & the Gang’s ‘Get down on It’.
  • A chunk of the video’s choreography comes from Michael Jackson videos.
  • At the end of the first verse, a Marvin Gaye line from 1982’s ‘Sexual Healing’ appears.
  • You would find the shaku-shaku and zanku dance moves in any number of recent Nigerian videos.
  • As a corollary to the above, one dance combination is almost exactly as it features in Olamide’s video for ‘Woske’.
  • The video’s last major dance step is from Missy’s 2002 hit, ‘Work It’.

And yet, the video is hard not to love. The choreography, the set, the art direction — nothing is original here but everything is enjoyable.

The one original thing comes from Niniola. She takes a verse, steals the show lyrically and provides a locus of dance and sensuality to the video. The spine of the beat is typical house music, the sound that made her name. And, of course, the song is about Niniola’s favourite topic: sex. Within her verse, she goes for the Nigerian pop act’s most famous class of metaphor, food for sex. Her body is “like tomato” at one point. Then there is this:

What exactly is “balanced diet” as used by Niniola? Let the inquest begin. The last time there was something new in the food-sex corpus was back in 2016, when Tekno introduced “cassava” to the culture. “Balanced diet” would not be as successful but this doesn’t mean we should call off the investigation.

Since Mr. P’s exit from P-Square, he has become more flamboyantly sexual in his lyrics, as though he has only recently become an adult. ‘One More Night’ is the clearest departure from the coy ethos of P-Square — even so, it is an homage to the pop music tricks he learned back when he sang and performed, to great success, with his twin brother. As they say, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

If the twins never get back together, it would be nice if Mr. P does more songs with Niniola, especially if he intends exploring his newfound sexual liberation. She’s better at it and infuses his bag of P-Square tricks with a brand of originality he couldn’t find with family. Charity might begin at home — but you usually have to leave home to find sex.

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

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