10 Politically Conscious Records For The Elections
Nigeria’s political history has inspired many of our artists to craft records that adequately represent the country’s state.
Clarence Mac Ebong
●7th March 2023
Nigeria’s electoral season is here again, and as usual, it comes with its own set of controversies. Tensions fly and the heated atmosphere does take a toll on Nigerians. The country’s political history has inspired (sometimes, from a place of annoyance) many of our artists to craft records that adequately represent the country’s state at certain times. From issues concerning terrorism to the development across the country, here are 10 politically conscious records that you should add to your rotation this period.
“Wild Wild West” – M.I. Abaga (2010)
At the time MI 2: The Movie was released, M.I Abaga was approaching the peak of his powers. This coincided with the period of Boko Haram insurgency in the North as the situation started heating up at the turn of the 2010s. Being a Jos native, MI penned an emotional tribute to a situation that plagues his kin, and the country, till today. On “Wild Wild West”, he sings, “better get your gun, better get your vest/’cause in J-Town its the wild wild west, down here everyone curse, no one bless/nobody care, nobody notice”. The country’s insecurity is a pertinent theme in the country’s post-colonial fabric.
It was a common promise from the Nigerian government that the country would have an uninterrupted power supply by the year 2010. This promise has since been left unfulfilled. Sound Sultan’s treatment of the issue was a special one as this conscious record became a smash hit in the country. The issue of power supply is only a microcosm of a bigger problem: the government’s lack of accountability to its people.
“Outside” – Phillyblack (2022)
Rap has always been a conscious genre. Even though Nigerian rap has experienced a shift towards braggadocio and flexing culture, you could say that it is difficult to flex in a country that isn’t set up to cater to your needs. A search for better basic amenities has given rise to mass emigration and japa culture. Phillyblack speaks on this over Kuraye’s cracking trap beat, as he raps “all man dey japa/government hoarding the power while poverty yakpa/all man wan submit the aza, do anything climb the political ladder”. There hasn’t been a better description, in simple terms, of the situation in Nigeria at the moment.
Eedris Abdulkareem was a breath of fresh air for Nigerian rap music before the transition to a Westernized sound around the mid-2000s. He was as political as they come and stood firm on his opinions about the state of life in the country at the time. “Nigeria jaga jaga, everything scatter scatter” are some of the most iconic lyrics in Nigerian music history simply because it, unfortunately, cut across different eras of post-colonial government.
“Tanana” – The X3M Collective (2023)
The X3M Collective of X3M Ideas had a satirical approach toward the state of the nation. Instead of pointing out the ills we witness in society, they decided to look through a different lens. They sing about a country that works and caters to them; a country we all want to see. This ties into the aspirational theme of their 2023 project, The XPERIMENT. The song starts off with a policeman complimenting a young man’s tattoos and dreadlocks before they go on to sing, “this country too soft/tear rubber, nothing too cost/the roadi too sweeti, tanana my body, nothing too spoil”
“End Sars” – FIKKY (2020)
Political tensions in Nigeria hit their peak in October 2020. The #EndSars movement sparked a new level of consciousness and involvement in Nigerian politics, especially amongst the youth. During one of the protests, a young man named FIKKY did a freestyle that went viral on Twitter. Producer Adey then reached out to the young rapper to formally create the record. “End Sars” is a catchy record that adequately reminds Nigerians of their struggles and the massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate.
“Hey!” – AYLØ (2022)
AYLØ mixes spiritual and political consciousness on this record. It is uncharacteristic for Nigerian artists to go on COLORS with a political outlook, but AYLØ did and made it sound sexy. He speaks on the #EndSars massacre, as he sings, “…bodies dawg/shoot ‘em all, shoot ‘em all, that’s what they thought/and so they did it, and till date, they beat the law/i mean they are the law, so what the fuck is going on?”
“O Wa” – Falz, Tekno (2023)
Over the years, Falz has made a name for himself as one of our more conscious artists. He blends it with a party-boy lifestyle and persona which gives him a balanced view of life in Nigeria. He crafts yet another record that displays the troubles that Nigerian citizens face. The video for “O Wa” depicts many of the country’s current issues in a tasteful way.
“Police & Thief” – Yung L (2021)
Yung L’s “Police & Thief” speaks on police brutality. The song, off his 2021 project Yaadman Kingsize, concisely explains the scenarios that the youth experience in the hands of law enforcement. This extends to the actions of political parties as well. He sings, “…and some ah carry broom, some nah umbrella/and if you want talk, dem go Sarowiwa”.
“Reality” – Prettyboy DO (2020)
While Prettyboy DO does not directly speak on political injustices in “Reality”, he still discusses the unglamorous parts of Nigeria. He makes us conscious to a truth we already knew but sometimes tend to forget. “Reality” sounds like it comes from a place of frustration, carrying shades of Timaya’s “Dem Mama” and performed against the backdrop of a catchy, dancehall beat produced by Princeboom.