Fela Anikulapo Kuti: Visionary, artist, freedom fighter, human rights activist, and pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre. However, this blog post isn’t about the great icon but rather about the huge hole he has left in Nigerian music scene which has now finally reared a contender capable of filling that chasm. Enter “Falz” Folarin Falana: artist, actor, songwriter, and lawyer born to famous Nigerian lawyer-activist Femi Falana, who also at some point represented the maestro Fela. Falz recently dropped his fourth studio album Moral Instruction on January 15, 2019. Falz (also known as Falz The Bahd Guy) has established himself in recent years as a creative force to be reckoned with and has dropped several mixtapes and four albums since his debut album in 2014.
Falz is one of the few in a Nigerian music scene where the mainstream wave is focused on beats and catchy lyrics with no substance, a true deviation from the Afrobeats genre Fela started and popularized. Able to hold his own, Falz reminds many of Fela through his songs which are entertaining but addresses a myriad of social issues in Nigeria. In 2018, Falz dropped a cover of Childish Gambino viral song This is America but focusing on Nigeria which he called This is Nigeria. It currently has 16 million views as of the time of publication which is remarkable despite the radio ban on it in Nigeria. The song examines many of the harsh everyday realities Nigerians live in and have become accustomed to. These include government corruption, poor electricity, drug addiction, Boko Haram, herdsman attacks ,and low food production etc. The video begins with a speech from Femi Falana describing Nigeria as “operating on a predatory neocolonial capitalist system which is fueled upon on fraud and exploitation and thus will yield corruption”. Also notable was the fact that the video was released a few days before June 1 which is celebrated as Democracy Day in Nigeria and marked the 19th anniversary of democracy in Nigeria.
Falz has become the voice of the people in a nation where many are afraid to address these issues for fear of retaliation by the government; Fela himself was arrested, jailed and beaten by the police on several occasions. He has also shown that socially conscious music can sell and needs to be expressed more so conversations can be had about these issues for change to happen. Despite the radio ban because the NBC decided the lyrics “This is Nigeria, everybody be criminal” was too vulgar, the video gained international awareness after media mogul Diddy shared it on social media while the hashtag #ThisIsNigeria generated thousands of tweets.