In 2018 American rapper Childish Gambino took the world by storm with his hit song This is America. The premise of the song and the video is him rapping about the violent contradictions of what it means to be black in America. His video is heavily focused on gun violence.
A short while after Gambino released his song, Nigerian rapper Falz released his one version of the song called, This is Nigeria. Falz’s version of the song focuses on the harsh realities of life in Nigeria. The video for This is Nigeria follows the same premise of the one for This is America. Falz is shirtless and there is much background happening but Falz is front in center to try and distract from the rest of what is going on. When it comes to Nigerian rapper Falz, he often uses pidgin English.
Nigerian Pidgin English is English based pidgin and creole language is commonly spoken across Nigeria. Pidgin is commonly used in hip hop songs on the content because so many people are familiar with it. For this song, in particular, it helps Falz get his point across that he is trying to make.
In African many artists tend to rap about politics and the poor systems of government. Falz highlights, Colonialism, drug addiction, corruption, internet fraud and much more.
Falz calls out the Nigerian government in the verse:
This is Nigeria, Never ending recession o, When looters and killers and stealers are still contesting election o, politicians wey thief some billion and billion e no day go prison o, Police station day close by 6, Security reason o
For someone that doesn’t understand pidgin English, this can be extremely hard to understand. In doing research and breaking it down myself, I found out he’s calling out politicians that have been accused of stealing from the government. Corruption is a big problem in Nigeria.
I think the way rappers use language in their songs and videos defiantly plays a large role in how it is perceived by audiences. Falz using pidgin English made it so that this song and video can truly be understood and touched by Nigerians. Just like it would be easy for a black American to watch Childish Gambino This is America video and early understand what is going on, Falz did the same for Nigeria. When something is created in a language you are most familiar with, it makes it easier to understand the body of work. This is Nigeria is Falz’s most viewed and most talked-about video to date. He easily reached the masses that he was looking for in not only Nigeria but other parts of the world as well. When you create something of this caliber, it makes others interested and it makes them want to tune in.