Nina Simone has famously been sampled by several American heavy weight rappers such as Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Common and many more. Nigerian rapper Erigga, also known as Paperboi, took a note from the greats and included Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let be Misunderstood” to serve as the background on his track “Death Bed”.
While Erigga and his producer used Simone’s memorably eerie voice on his song, when rapping he stuck to a language commonly used in his home country- Pidgin English. Erigga’s music video mainly takes place in dark room with only a bathtub, while he mourns the loss of a lover holding a bottle of brown liquor. His opening chain rhyme was dependent on the word sabi, which roughly translates to “to know how to”.
“Ask someone to drown my sorrows when you sabi swim
Mind strong anyhow like say he sabi gym
For where I dey even devil sef no sabi sin
I don dey do slow way before you sabi gym”
Food has long history of playing a huge role in African American culture, often acting as a glue to bring together families on major holidays or serve as an edible representation of the diaspora. One can reflect back on seminal songs like A Tribe Called Quest’s track “Ham N’ Eggs”, or “Bread and Butter” by The Roots which both rely on references to soul food.
In “Death Bed” Erigga mixes American popular culture with his home country’s traditional dish meat pies, with the line “I rather have my codeine quench am with meat pie”. References to codeine can unfortunately be attributed to American rappers for glorifying the concoction of codeine syrup and xanax.
However, Erigga later switches up his flow as the music video moves from the bathtub scene, and Nina Simone’s voice in changed to a harder, faster beat. Erigga now raps shirtless while wielding a baseball bat in front of an abandoned house. Despite alluding to American culture throughout his song, Erigga has been quoted several times stating that he wants to distinguish himself from his American counterparts by creating music primarily in pidgin so that his audience can relate to his words.