24 November 2018

Kenya: Elders, Close Your Ears and Move On, Dirty Lyrics Are Here to Stay

opinion

Bongo Flavour star Naseeb Abdul Juma is expected to perform at Thika Stadium on Saturday next week and, if he does stick to that commitment, it will be a major event for music lovers in this country.

Diamond Platinumz, as he is fondly known by his growing army of fans, is no stranger in Kenya.

Indeed, he launched his first album, A Boy From Tandale, in Nairobi on March 14, which means Kenyan fans have a soft spot for him.

He is a phenom; a veritable fireball of energy and a first-class stage performer with remarkable dancing skills.

But he has one major weakness which is dirtying his name but making him millions of shillings; the lyrics to his songs are becoming increasingly vulgar and obscene.

UPSTAGED

Unless he shapes up, he will soon be upstaged in popularity by any one of the upcoming musicians he has mentored over the years.

The appeal in the shock tactics he tends to use to sell his records through Internet streaming services, as well as live performances, will definitely wear off the moment he succeeds in sacrificing art for filth.

Indeed, one would hope he does not start off his Thika show with his latest bongo hit, Mwanza.

One does hope also that those who are over 50 will not linger long after Kenyan musicians like Bahati, Ben Githae, Tony Nyadundo, Loise Kim and a few others have pranced on stage and left.

This is not the kind of song you want to listen to in the presence of your son or daughter.

The refrain to its lyrics is so cringeworthy that they are unlikely to attract many in that age bracket.

Incidentally, it would be interesting to hear that particular ringtone in a crowded matatu.

UNPRINTABLE HOGWASH

For those uninitiated, Mwanza is a very good song cluttered with unprintable hogwash.

On the face of it, Diamond and Rayvanny are singing the praises of a one bus-stage town known as Nyegezi in Mwanza Region.

Now, shorten the name Nyegezi, make it the refrain, and then hear what happens.

Sometimes, although I am dead set against any form of government censorship, some things can be too much.

The government may have banned Mwanza, but there is no use banning a song when it is all over YouTube and other streaming platforms. Although it appears the two collaborators have been prevailed upon to amend the refrain, it is already too late.

The dirty refrain has already caught on.

FILTHY LYRICS

There is a long history to filthy lyrics in popular music.

When you listen to the kinds of things they say in hip hop today, it is lucky you won't understand half of the innuendos and double-entendres involved.

But gross lewdness in music did not start with rappers, though fellows like Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Ying Yang Twins, and Ludacris as well as divas like Ciara, Lil' Kim and Nicki Minaj, are in a class of their own.

My favourite among them is Lil Wayne, though.

I admire how Weezy can counterpoise absolute smut, racial slurs and misogyny in one "song" and get away with it, grinning all the while.

In a song like Love Me, every stud is a nigga to him, and every woman a bitch.

This is interspersed with many four-letter words describing in detail what he intends to do to the bitches in question.

CONSERVATIVE

In that respect, folks like Diamond are actually mere tots in the game, but then we in Africa are still very conservative, and it will take some time before we can accept degeneracy as an art form.

In fact, it is a blessing that lyrics by our composers are merely suggestive rather than pruriently explicit.

There is a universal, even historical, connection between music and sex, although opinion differs as to why these two go together.

Evolutionist Charles Darwin avers that music as a form of expression was first acquired by mankind for seduction purposes, thus implying that those who did not make beautiful music stood little chance of winning mating partners.

Others say that music and language started as one, but along the way, they split when people turned to expressing emotions like love, lust, joy, and sorrow through music, and meaning through the spoken word.

SLAY QUEENS

Whatever theory is correct, and there are many, it is clear that musical skills have a knack for attracting the female of the species, hence the many groupies throwing themselves at successful musicians, not to speak of the so-called slay queens who carry panties to concerts and throw them at the feet of the same musicians.

That is an indication that dirty lyrics are likely to appeal more to the younger generations, which means that we are not hearing the last of songs like Diamond's Mwanza.

What we can conclude is that the only way out is for the older generation to close their ears and move on.

After all, they had their day belting out explicit circumcision songs while under the influence, or even turning perfectly harmless lyrics into lewd social commentaries during Mugithi nights.

These aberrations have now become increasingly tolerated.

Mr Ngwiri is a consultant editor. [email protected]

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