In the song Um Rika, Wale discusses how is parents immigrated to America and adjusted to the new society and environment and how he balances his traditional Nigerian values and American culture. In Wale’s first verse, he talks about how his parents came to America with little money & settling in the DMV area. He talks about how his father had to work as a taxi driver to provide for his family and generally get by. He further describes how his father met his mother and the birth of his older brother. Wale also discusses how his family had a low income & how they struggled to pay their bills. Wale explains how his family moved from DC to Maryland to avoid the occurring crack epidemic and to live a safe life. He talks about how is parent’s discipline molded him into the man he became and show his gratitude for it.
In the next verse, K’naan describes his upbringing and how it was similar to Wale’s. He talks about growing up in Mogadishu and living in the city during the Somalian civil war. He talks about defending himself and witnessing people die from fighting. He mentions how his mother gets a visa to go to America. He then mentions how some Africans move to America and forget their culture.
The next verse talks about how Wale’s parents worked low paying jobs, mostly given to immigrants, in order to survive. He also mentions how critics enjoy his music. He talks about how he sees life in different perspectives: his American side and his Nigerian side. He further talks about whether or not his father regrets getting a visa to come to America & how people cherish “gangstas & not teachers” meaning that wealth is valued over hard work & genuine values in America’s society.
In the final verse, K’naan talks about how he and Wale became wealthy from rap. He also says that other rappers in the industry claim to be tough, but are only faking it. He continues by talking about his life in Toronto and his rap sheet.
About the song
The song portrays the lives of African immigrants and their struggle to adapt and survive in a new land. There is also a comparison to the urban inner city of America to the slums of Africa, in the sense that both deal with social & political inequality, violence & poverty. This comparison creates a common ground between Africans and African Americans, forming a bond. It also shows African music and hip hop influence each other (given the instrumental sample). The beat used for the song has sounds similar to African music.