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Non-fiction

A Close Shave

Bidemi for LL 3

It was the weekend of Thanksgiving. As an international student with little ties to the U.S, I had nowhere to go for the holiday, so I went home with my roommate, Osafa, who lived in Jackson Township, New Jersey. On the Friday of Thanksgiving, she invited me to visit her friend, Joana and her family. Apart from the fact that I wasn’t busy, I agreed to go because Osafa had told me that Joana’s parents were of Caribbean descent and I wanted to see how non Africans celebrated Thanksgiving.

When we got to Joana’s house, we were met with Joana and the family dog, Roger at the door. Combined with the fact that Roger was blind in one eye and the fact that I was bad with animals and a little afraid of dogs, he made me uneasy. Once inside, we were greeted by Joana’s parents. They asked me the usual questions: What was my name? What was my major? Where was I from? Once I told them I was from Nigeria, they were quick to tell me that their church had an outreach program for the needy with a church in Kaduna (a city in Northern Nigeria). I remember wanting to tell them that while this was all well and good, I did not know much about Northern Nigeria and I knew even less about Kaduna and I had only been there once. I also wanted to tell them that I did not feel comfortable with their association of Africa and Nigeria with poverty. But I didn’t. I ignored my instincts and the warning bells going off in my head. I reminded myself that this was polite company, where my opinion mattered little, especially over such a trivial matter.

Joana’s mother offered us food. They had macaroni and cheese, leftover turkey, pound cake and yams that reminded me more of sweet potatoes than the yams that I was used to. Still, it was a good meal. While we ate, Joana’s mother tried to start a conversation. Joana and Osafa were mostly preoccupied with their own conversation, so I was left to carry the conversation with Joana’s mother. Joana’s mother and I talked about many things. I tried to talk about things back home and relate that with the conversation. I wanted her to see that we weren’t that different and so far, I thought I was succeeding that. That is, until Joana’s mother asked me:

“So how often do you talk to your parents since they’re back in Nigeria?”

This was a question that I didn’t quite understand.

“Um…I talk to them every week, really. Sometimes we use Skype”, I replied.

“Oh. Isn’t that difficult though?”

“Not really. It’s just Skype”

“Well, where do they find a computer and internet to use? Isn’t that difficult?”

Honestly, the first word that came to my mind was wow. I was dumbstruck. This was someone that I thought I shared common ground with. This was someone who had just told me about her values and ideas, her childhood and even her experience as a student at a Historically Black College. This was someone who I thought really understood where I was coming from and here she was asking me if we had computers where I came from.  The first thing I wanted to do was painstakingly explain to her that if my parents could afford to send me to a college here without financial aid, it would cost twice the amount a regular student pays multiplied by whatever the exchange rate was, they probably had Wi-Fi, a laptop and phones. I really wanted to set her straight in the rudest way possible, but I didn’t. This was partly because I was still in shock from what happened and partly because I couldn’t be rude in polite company. Joana’s mother was the mother of a friend of a friend, so I had to regard her as the mother of a friend and I couldn’t really go off on my friend’s mother. Also, while I was still internally dealing with the shock, my brain had kicked into auto-pilot and I had continued the conversation like nothing happened. I remember explaining to her that Nigeria was more advanced than she thought and that was it. The rest of the night became a blur.

The first people I told were my parents. They laughed so hard and then my dad said: “I hope you set her straight”. For the next few days, the incident stayed on my mind and I found myself pondering on so many things. Why did Joana’s mother ask such a thing? Was she being deliberately condescending or did she make the comment out of ignorance? Did I respond appropriately to the situation?  Was I overreacting about the whole thing in general?

After a few days of mulling the near-disaster that was that Friday night, I very lamely, asked Osafa: “Did you hear what Joana’s mom said on Friday about the computer thing?”

“Yeah, Joana’s mom can be really stupid sometimes. Just forget about it. I was going to say something but you handled it pretty well.”

And there I sat, completely justified and satisfied by the fact that Joana’s mother had a tendency to be stupid about many things in general and that her comment had probably been harmless.

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The Generational Problem

Bidemi for LL 4

Earlier this week, I was poised on a couch with a cup of Teavana Peach herbal tea in hand, watching a television show that my friend had stumbled upon on Hulu about a 40-year-old woman who had lied about her age to land a job. Although the show’s premise was great and the show itself felt funny and fresh, it got me thinking about how millennials are portrayed and have become generalized in media and popular culture.

The standard definition of a millennial is someone who was born anytime from the early 80s to the very early 2000s. So it basically doesn’t matter whether you grew up before memory cards became a thing or after. As long as your birth year falls into the category, you are a millennial. If you do fall into this category and didn’t know about it until now, I would like to personally welcome you to the club. Now, let’s talk about how the world thinks you’re probably a Taylor Swift quoting, Beyoncé worshipping,  ironic

Now, let’s talk about how the world thinks you’re probably a Taylor Swift quoting, Beyoncé worshipping,  ironic moustache wearing, chai latte sipping, a non-binary delinquent who does nothing all day but tweet, plays video games and talk about the mystifying benefits of practicing tantra and drinking kombucha.

Now that is a very one-dimensional way to look at an age demographic that spans over twenty years and encompasses people from all races and religions but we use generalizations to classify groups of people we don’t really understand and the generalization mentioned above is what the word “millennial” has managed to conjure up. Having said that, it should not come as a shock that millennials are currently being blamed for destroying everything under the sun. According to God-knows-who, millennials have successfully ruined the American wine industry, hotels, the napkin industry, the Mc Wrap, the movie business, running, the Canadian tourism industry, crowdfunding, retailers, the golf industry, democracy, handshakes, the European Union, cereal, call center productivity, vacations, the Olympics, bar soap, America, office life, the Mexican internet, light yogurt, the Big Mac, gyms and grocers, to name a few things.

So, why are millennials taking the heat for everything? The answer to that question lies in some very long sociological discussions that could easily turn into a thesis paper but the short version is that millennials are not actually destroying everything, it only seems that way. As Karl Mannheim wrote: “The continuous emergence of new human beings…teaches us both to forget that which is no longer useful and to covet that which has yet to be won.” What the older generation sees as a destruction of everything they hold dear is actually just a new generation radically “forgetting” the ways of the past in order to make way for the future. It has always been done, it is just more apparent and may be more painful because of the presence of the internet and our constant need to document our collective experience.

I know this may be hard to believe but millennials don’t hold weekly meetings to plot how to ruin everything. The vast majority of us are just trying to make sense of the world we were unwillingly thrust into. So how about we stop blaming millennials for ruining everything?

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Pop Culture June: On The Black President

fela

              Artist, activist, misogynist, revolutionary. These are just a few words commonly used to describe one of the greatest antiheroes to ever grace the face of the Earth. Fela Anikulapo Kuti was born Fela Ransome-Kuti in 1938 to Funmilayo and Israel Ransome-Kuti. He rejected Ransome as his name, calling it a slave name.  Instead, he took on the name “Anikulapo” which literally translates to “He who carries death in his pouch.” This name change represented his rebirth as a social justice warrior, his rejection of everything the “white man” represented and his disdain for anyone who chose to oppress his people and anyone who went along with said oppression.

              The 1970s saw a young Nigeria under military rule struggling to pick up the pieces of the Civil war and establish herself as a force to be reckoned with. The 70s also saw Fela and his band-The Afrika ’70-speaking out against the actions of the military government using a combination of jazz, funk, highlife, psychedelic rock and West African folk music that was dubbed “Afrobeat”. The masses loved Afrobeat; it was new, it different but most importantly, it was bold and Fela’s brand of bold was just what Nigeria and the world needed. Needless to say, the officials of the military government were not great fans of Afrobeat. Even though he was labelled a menace and a criminal, Fela’s steps didn’t not falter in the slightest and he continued to make his mesmerizing music.

              It wasn’t just the military government Fela spoke out against. He called out the complacent behavior of Nigerians just as much as he did corrupt leadership. He was the people’s greatest critic and champion. He openly criticized Nigerians’ blind faith in religion and their abandonment of their traditional culture. Nigerians were suffering and smiling and it frustrated Fela to no end to see once great African civilizations forcefully put together and reduced to sheep.  With that frustration, he wrote songs like “Colonial Mentality”, “Beasts of no Nation” and “Shuffering and Shmiling” that basically struck middle fingers in the face of the Nigerian public and government and the masses loved him for it.

             What do you do to someone who was woke way before it was socially acceptable, who married twenty seven women to make a statement, who rejected every symbol of oppression of the African people, who would not stop calling out the government that repeatedly threw him in prison, who formed a commune and a political party in his backyard, who was unapologetically himself all of the time? You call him “The weird one.” You give him his own Broadway show. You label him a madman. You make him an icon and a legend. Fela was one of a kind and the world knew it. He might have died a long time ago but the fire he lit in our hearts continues to live on as it will for years to come.

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The Revolution Will not be Televised

black panthers

“The revolution will not be televised” is a song/spoken-word track written and performed by the legendary Gill Scott-Heron in 1970. Although the song managed to evade mainstream success and recognition, Heron successfully coined the legendary phrase that continues to have an impact on popular culture till today. My version of this song is a pastiche and an homage to the literary genius that Heron was. I wrote this piece using current pop culture references to prove that Heron’s poem is especially relevant today. Here’s a link to the original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGaoXAwl9kw

You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out
You will not be able to lose yourself on lean and
Skip out for beer during commercials
Because the revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be televised
The revolution will not be brought to you by Google
In 4 parts without commercial interruption
The revolution will not by brought to you by Netflix and
Will not star Jennifer Lawrence and Tom Cruise or Bugs Bunny and Madea
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
Thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother

There will be no picture of you and Willie Mae
Pushing that cart down the block on the dead run
Or trying to slide that television into a stolen ambulance
There will be no videos of pigs shooting down
Brothers on Youtube
There will be no ad campaigns of Kylie Jenner
Strolling through a protest in a red, black and green liberation jumpsuit that she had been saving for the right occasion
The theme song will not be written by Sia
nor sung by Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift,
Selena Gomez or the Chainsmokers

The revolution will not be televised
Will not be televised, will not be televised
The revolution will be no rerun brothers
The Revolution will be live

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Event: “EDAN I” – Hezekina Pollutina Label Night – Abuja

unnamed-3
Hezekina Pollutina Records is headed to Abuja for the very first Label Night outside of Vienna! We have teamed up with the lovely people at BANTU STUDIO to bring an evening of live electronic music and dancing! As usual, its an eclectic mix reflecting diverse music styles but pulled together by raw authenticity and heart-centered approach to dance music. Live performances by Tay Iwar (Bantu) and G.rizo (Hezekina Pollutina). Supported by @ DJ Adx (Love FM) & DJ Ify (House 33). File under: Highlife, Electro Boogie, House & Rnb!
Hezekina Pollutina Label Night – Abuja
Casa Linda, Saturday May 20th, 2017
“EDAN I”
Electro – Disco – Rnb – Highlife
Tay Iwar LIVE [ Bantu ]
G.rizo LIVE [ Hezekina Pollutina ]
DJ Adx [ Love FM ]
DJ Ify[ House33 ]
Supported by Bantu Collective
Door:  2500N
Time: 9pm til
Casa Linda, No. 6 Takwa Crescent Wuse II, Abuja
Facebook: hezekinapollutinarecords
Soundcloud: hezekinapollutina
About TAY IWAR:
Austin ‘Tay’ Iornongu Iwar (born June 9, 1997), better known as Tay Iwar, is a Nigerian recording artist, singer-songwriter, sound engineer and record producer. Raised in Lagos and Abuja, he began creating music at age fourteen. After Co-creating Bantu Collective in 2013, Tay released his debut compilation, ‘Passport’, in April 2014. Although it was under promoted and performed poorly upon its release, the album became a sleeper hit and helped Tay garner commercial standing.
According to Sounds.ng, Tay’s sound is “a melodramatic mix of alternative RNB and psychedelic hiphop. Basically, Tay is a super hybrid of a hurting Drake, a drugged-up The Weeknd with the emotions of Trey Songz.
Why you should care about his music?
The singer has a great vocal range and lyrical depth. These are two things we don’t see very often in the ranks of male Nigerian artistes. With the impending burnout of the nyansh lyricism Nigerian music has been eroded with, Tay is definitely the beginning of another one of many revolutions we have witnessed in Nigerian music.
Without a  doubt, this is a simple case of support now or famz later.”
Tay Iwar – Spiritual (Lyric Video)

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About G.RIZO:
G.rizo (nee Ihu Anyanwu) is a singer, producer, and DJ based in Vienna and Abuja. She has been involved in the electronic music scene since 2001. In 2010 she started releasing music on her own label imprint Hezekina Pollutina Records.
Specializing in pop and funk-based dance music, G.rizo has a versatile range with over a decade of musical excursions in electro, disco, techno and house. With an eclectic palate, and an asymmetric interpretation of dance music, G.rizo, as put by Negative.ch, “provides dance music for sophisticated minds.”
Haven released singles for a decade as a vocalist (on labels such as Codek Records, Gigolo Records, Citinite) and featured on releases by super talented producers (In Flagranti, Patrick Pulsinger, Alexander Robotik, Donovans, Maximilian Skiba, Dubblestandart, Disco Doubles, Gerhard Potuznik, and I-Wolf), the release of her self-released “Active Methods EP” in 2014, with its single “Its Happening” (which Spex Magazine described as “80’s mythical futurism”), gave a hint at G.rizo’s potential as a producer and song writer.
Live shows are where G.rizo shines – exuding pure visceral energy, and getting sullied up by good old sweat and raw emotion. She will go from crooning to rapping in a minute, veering through different funk-based prisms. During the last few years, her live show has progressed to include more live playing specifically keyboards, controllers and effects.
G.rizo occasionally performs live in a band formation with talented Vienna-based musicians such as Dominik Traun (keyboards) Jakob Schneidewind (bass), Sixtus Preiss (drums) and Derek Roberts (vocals). Whether she’s playing solo (or with a band) at a G.rizo show, you can expect big funk and big fun!
G.rizo – It’s Happening

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About DJ ADX:
Adeola A. Adebowale also known as DJ ADX Da Big Don is the head DJ at 104.5 Love FM Abuja.
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About DJ Ify:
Ifesinachi Comedy Nwanyanwu is a self taught visual artist. His practice focuses on repurposing waste into art to promote the dialogue on environmental sustainability. He started his professional career as a visual artist while studying crop production at the Federal  University of Agriculture Markudi, Benue State. For the past 16 years, he has been a full time studio artist and curator. He is the founder and director of House 33, and also the curator of One Environment, a hybrid platform promoting art, science and technology to empower sustainability.
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Stand to End Rape Initiative presents the HERE Exhibition

STER – Here Exh

Stand to End Rape Initiative in collaboration with The Initiative for Equal Rights and the Revolving Art Incubator present the HERE Exhibition which is open from April 30th till May 14th at the Revolving Art Incubator, 2nd Floor, Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The HERE Exhibition Opening Event held on 30th of April and feature conversations with guest speakers; Titilope Sonuga, Arit Okpo, Amanda Ihemebiri and Jon Ogah, and spoken word. The exhibit was created by Jumoke Sanwo of the Revolving Art Incubator. Jumoke also served as the artist for most of the exhibited photos. Yagazie Emezi is also an artist whose works contributes to the exhibition.

Media perspnality Arit Okpo at the HERE photo exhibition

The HERE Exhibition is a platform for sharing the stories of survivors. The goal of the exhibition is to empower survivors of sexual violence to break the silence and regain their freedom. The photos in this exhibition draw inspiration from real places where rape has occurred disrupting the stigmatization people who are violated in those locations face. It makes use of photography that blatantly hits on the facts and realities of what survivors have and are going through. The exhibition images brings hidden stories of sexual violence to the spotlight. It’s a clear banner that says to all “Rape can happen anywhere & is never the fault of the victim” and says to the victims “Your experience is not the end if you. You can still live a full life”. Sexual violence draws strength from the silence. The silence emboldens perpetuators and suppresses survivors. The exhibition also serves as a fundraiser for a rehabilitation center where women and girls will be sheltered, while we are helping them to reintegrate into the society. To this end, HERE Exhibition close event will be marked with an open auction.

 

Yagazie Emezie

Yagazie is a documentary photographer from Aba, Nigeria.  She holds dual degrees in Cultural Anthropology and African Studies. She is a contributor to Everyday Africa and has been commissioned by Al-Jazeera, Lagos Fashion Week, New York Times, and Refinery29. She has also been featured by Huffington Post, MTV, Format Magazine, NY Magazine’s The Cut, Afropunk, Models.com, The Guardian (Nigeria), New York Times and Vogue. In 2017, she was a participant of World Press Master Class, West Africa. Her ongoing project Relearning Bodies is based documents how trauma survivors left with significant scarring adapt to their new bodies, as well as the role their socioeconomic class and community plays in this adjustment. Yagazie is currently based in Monrovia, working on a project around education for girls in at-risk communities in Liberia.

Jumoke Sanwo

Jumoke  is  an  Artist  out  of  Lagos,  she  uses  Photography,  Text  and  Video – Art  as  her means  of  expression.  A  graduate  of  English  Studies  from  the  Obafemi  Awolowo University  in  Nigeria,  She  continues  to  push  the  envelope  with  her  unique  take  on  the lifestyle  of  Africans  with  projects  that  celebrate  the  rich  cultural  diversity  within  the continent.  Her  works  address aesthetic  concerns  as  well  as  concerns  on  identity and mobility. In  2011  she  embarked  on  a  historic  road  trip  from  Lagos  to  Addis  Ababa  as  part  of  the Invisible Borders Trans African Photography Project. With this project she explored the concept  of  borders  and  barriers  within  the  Continent,  challenging  the  limitations  of free movement and trade. She dedicated the last 6 years engaging the discourse of promoting a united African State through a focus on mobility and Trans African exchange. She was invited  by  the  Olusegun  Obasanjo  Foundation    and  The  African  Union  (AU)    to participate in an African Youth Forum tagged “Accelerate Youth Employment in Africa” recommendations of this forum was presented to African Heads of State  during the 22nd AU summit in January 2014 in Addis Ababa

 

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Captain Calabar

Cap square

The comic is designed to deliver hard graphic action, comic humour, and a touch of the satirical, whilst showcasing the beauty and artsy nature of Nigeria and Africa one issue at a time.

Three dynamic creators, Timehin Akinde, Abasido Akpan, and Joshua Akpan are responsible for CC. As architecture students, they were obsessed with creating something to showcase Nigeria’s artsy settings to the world. Looking at the vastly underdeveloped comic industry in Africa, they found application for design and devised a means to infuse beauty into the story. “Heroes that speak our language!” While both Akpans handled the art, Timehin worked as the chief writer for the series. Art meets storytelling!

Methodically, Akbar Comics plans to unfold a Comicverse laden with heroes of varying cultures and nationalities. Captain Calabar isn’t just a comic, it’s a movement. The goal at Akbar Comics is to create a lasting African comic book universe made by Africans and to redefine the art form whilst opening doors for fellow African creatives.

Issue #1 – Page 2

The first issue of Captain Calabar is already COMPLETE! Comedy, action, art, colours, letters and mild perversion are already on the page and ready to go! However, funding is required for production costs associated with making issues #2 onwards.

Issue #1 – Page 18

To pledge and find out exactly what your funds would be used for visit the link below

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2003961482/captain-calabar

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The HERE Exhibition

STER – Here Exh
The HERE Exhibition seeks to empower survivors of sexual violence to break the violence and regain their freedom. The photos in the exhibition highlight places where rape occurs, thereby disrupting the stigmatization that people who are violated in such locations face.
The use of imagery (photography) is strategic as it creates a body of work that literally hits close to home; reflecting the reality of how close survivors often are to their abusers.

The exhibition also serves as a fundraiser for a rehabilitation center where women and girls will be sheltered, while we are helping them to reintegrate into the society. While at the center, they will be empowered with life skills to enable them to become economically independent of their abuser in cases where this occurs at the home front.

HERE Exhibition Opening 30th of April
Featuring conversations and spoken word
About The Speakers
Titilope Sonuga
Titilope is an international award-winning poet, writer, and performer.
She won the 2011 Canadian Authors’ Association Emerging Writer Award for her first collection of poems, Down To Earth. Her poetry also afforded her a meeting with the late poet and activist, Maya Angelou. She was a speaker at Tedx Edmonton in 2014. Titilope was the first poet to appear at a Nigerian presidential inauguration, at the May 2015 inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Arit Okpo
Media Entrepreneur
Arit is a highly versatile Content Producer, Presenter, Event Host and Writer. She has produced and presented programs such as current affairs show The Crunch, travel show Destinations Africa; politics show Naija Politics and cooking show Chefrican, all on the Ebonylife TV platform. She is an experienced event moderator and has hosted events such as the African Higher Education Summit (Dakar 2015), the Next Einstein Forum (Dakar 2016) and many others.
About STER
Stand to End Rape (STER) Initiative is a youth-led not-for-profit organization advocating for the promotion of sexual reproductive health rights (SHRH) and speaking against sexual violence. Since June 2014, we have advocated for rape survivors who can’t speak about their ordeal due to stigmatization.
Our belief is that an enlightened community will see the need to end rape and victim blaming once and for all.
Our goal is to create a society where women and men, girls and boys no longer have to live in fear of rape and all forms of sexual violence.Since her establishment, STER Initiative has supported over 200 rape survivors in Nigeria, engaged in projects/community outreaches, being featured at International Conferences and was recently featured in Guardian Nigeria as one of the 16 leading women-led organizations changing the lives of Nigerian women and girls.
The collaborators
The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) is a Nigeria-based registered non-for-profit organization working to protect and promote the human rights of sexual minorities nationally and regionally. TIERs is committed to bringing about a society that is free from discrimination and harm on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. It works towards this goal through education, empowerment, and engagement with the many publics in Nigeria. It was founded in 2005 as a response to the discrimination and marginalization of sexual minorities in both HIV prevention programming and mainstream human rights work.
The Revolving Art Incubator is a place set aside for artists to share ideas, experiment and engage through art projects, performances, talks, and exhibitions. RAI is an alternative art space as well as a platform which encourages creativity and exchange. It provides artists with unique opportunities to create works using its incubator space as a catalyst to foster creative thinking and expand artistic expressionism. RAI serves as a platform for art development all across genres and redefines artistic growth ad sustainable art practice in Nigeria. Through its experimental projects and workshops, it pushes art to its role as a catalyst for societal growth and development in Nigeria.
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Distorted Images

Offering prayers for a lost soul stuck here writing.

You see only the white things and every bitter truth is hidden inside of me.

I’m choking on my tears, this guilt eats me alive and leaves me feeling nothing but utter bitterness.

I wish you knew, I wish you saw how broken I was without you.

Maybe the prayers will be answered and my soul saved but for one night please don’t go away.

Sit by me, I have no one else, the sands of time buried them all.

You’re all that’s left and I sit across from you staring with regret as I ponder on the love we shared.

Sincere and beautiful; I felt safe, alive.

Now all I see is an army of dead bodies chasing me in my dreams, brain thirsty men running around like headless chickens.

I am one of them trying to escape, looking for a paradise where I can hide, where I can stay.

My mind no longer hushes when I go to sleep, I need to end this…

Hey mum it’s me.

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Suté Suté Suté

Terna Iwar, Bantu

Funny title for my new interview, you guessed right it’s with Sute. This played out like a story, line after line of “bars” narrating Sute’s world, life, art and vision.
He shared his very relaxed, reflective and far yet reachable understanding of different topics and perspectives.

It’s entertaining being in the world of a rapper, I felt connected to his art as it’s one based on telling his world as it is, using poetic lines and words which exploits with meaning enriching your imagination with whatever he whisk’s up.

Our discussion was refreshing, honest and open, it began with some introduction.

(The entire conversation happened via Twitter DMs, transcribed by Adedayo Laketu for Lucid Lemons.)

Sute: Hey Man.

Adedayo Laketu: What’s going on brother?

Suté: I’m good man just the daily grind, love what you guys at Baroque Age have been up to, fully considering moving to lag just to catch the vibe. (haha)

AL: That’s incredible man, y’all at Bantu keep me lifted. You and Tay keep it spiritual all day brother. Lol, Lagos is the vibe man.
I’m missing it too, not in Lagos at the moment.

Suté: Bless brother, thanks.

AL: So, tell me about Sute?

Suté: Well my earliest memories all have to do with music. My dad has the biggest CD collection I’ve seen until today and is big into Jazz so there was always music playing in the house. I remember plenty waking up to the hi-fi in the living room literally blasting Jazz, r&b & soul music. He’s also a saxophonist so I can say the music part of me comes directly from him. I was born in Makurdi, Benue state in 1992 and we move to 1004 estate in VI in 1996 and we lived on the 7th floor there (top floor). I just remember thinking this must be New York or something cause when we reached the top I had never been anywhere that high up in my life at that point. So my first impressions of Lagos was that it was this larger than life place. The whole music part of me started at 7 though when my dad enrolled me at MUSON centre in Onikan and I started on the piano there. That was like home away from home for me cause I was there every Tuesday and Thursday after school and I spent most of my summers there cause they had these summer music camps, so I played classical piano from 7 till about 12 when I met this Beethoven piece that just frustrated me and because of the music I was listening to at home (jazz, r&b etc.), classical music just wasn’t doing it for me anymore, then I switched to the sax at about 12 trying to jazz things up and around the same time I found hip hop. The first rapper that really caught my attention was Eminem and he’s basically the reason I rap cause I had really not heard anyone like that ever in any genre.
I went to Dowen college and I was in the school band the entire time there and did music in WAEC also and I remember recording for the first time in like jss3 with the voice recorder on those old windows laptops. Around the same time, I found fruity loops and that was a major “wow moment” like I can control all these sounds. Then it elevated to using audacity in like ss2 with my friends at his house, I got the program off him and recorded a mixtape in ss3, haven’t stopped making music since then really.

AL: What’s appealed you to rap as your forte?

Suté: Rap sounded like freedom to me, the ability to really voice what you were feeling and be direct about it appealed to me. and hip hop culture generally gave me a confidence boost especially when I was younger because it made me feel like everyone’s voice could be heard.

AL: What does rap mean to you in the context of being an African from a third world nation in a new age trying to create something the world will understand?

Suté: I see rap as a musical language that allows you to be a lot more direct with whatever message your music is carrying so musicians use it when they want to be very clear about their message. I don’t see rap as the culture, hip hop is the culture, rap is just a style that anyone can use for their music. I’ve been listening to a lot of prince’s stuff from the 90’s when he was trying to be more direct and he a song where he is rapping the whole time called ‘Pope’, I feel like Africa has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to telling our own stories and that’s the major benefit of rap because it allows us to be very direct in describing our social situation in the 3rd world and our lifestyles and be very direct about it. That’s why Jelí is the way it is even, I was hoping people would ask questions like what is Badagry? Where is it? Why is it relevant? What is a Jelí even?

AL: Were you disappointed when you didn’t get the feedback you hoped your art will spark and how did this affect your art and how you communicated your content using rap?

Suté: Well tbh, in the end, I’m a musician, so my satisfaction is finishing the song and making sure it’s honest and I don’t think past that. But also the feedback I think was more than I expected. Before I made Jelí I hadn’t made anything that sounded like that and I probably won’t make anything that sounds like that after. I believe in evolving and there are so many sounds to explore.

AL: Tell us about Jelí and how it helped you shape your sounds moving forward into subsequent bodies of work.

Suté: Jelí was how I felt in 2013 coming back home from Uni in Ireland. We had just started Bantu collective and were riding this neo-African wave so the tape fed off that. So it’s one storyline from top to bottom like a concept tape about that journey of leaving where you are (Nigeria for me) for whatever reason and returning, and all the emotions you feel through that process – struggle, pain, joy, frustration (at Nigeria being the way it is), hope all that, my sound before Jelí wasn’t Afrocentric really so I was reclaiming my identity in a way. Tay did most of the production except for walls of Benin that I produced myself.

AL: How do you balance being a producer and a rapper?

Suté: I really don’t create those divisions in my head about it or put myself in one box at a time cause it’s all just creating music and those two things are extensions of that. And I think it’s the same for most creators these days, where you have to learn multiple skills to enrich your work.

 

       Rap sounded like freedom to me

AL: How important is hip-hop culture and your work in evolving the change across the new age we’re creating in Africa?

Suté: Well I don’t know how important my work is that’s for everyone else to judge. I think hip hop culture is necessary though because of how disruptive it is, another reason I fell in love with hip-hop culture is the DIY nature and how it teaches not to wait on anyone cause you can go and get it yourself if you want. It’s also the voice of the youth and you can’t possibly have a new age without the youth involved. And most importantly it’s a culture, so it affects more than music and that powerful. As far as getting the message of youth out there hip hop has proven to be able to do that the most effectively time and time again. So the ethics of it like not giving up, fighting for what you want, speaking truth to power, all things that are necessary for a cultural revolution are in hip hop. In the end, youth always win.

AL: What inspires you to keep creating amongst the challenges we all face as young new age Africans in a broken society?

Suté: It’s the love for it and I believe in the healing power of music and art. If difficulty was a reason to stop doing something you’re passionate about then nothing will get done. So personally I expect the challenge but it’s all worth it as long as I’m doing what I love to do. The art is more important than the artist or the challenge because it lives forever and keeps inspiring people.

AL: From your perspective, tell us the story of how Bantu was formed?

Suté: My brothers (Terna & Tay) and I started Bantu Collective in 2013 as an art collective as a platform for high quality ‘neo-African’ work cause we saw there wasn’t really a platform for young creatives to express themselves freely without being boxed in. We invited a few friends to join us, Painterabe, Idara, Charles Mike, & Isioma. The idea is to work together on projects and support ourselves creatively. The first project we did was Painterabe’s exhibition at Terrakulture called “Culture Shock’ and we’ve been vibing and growing since then

AL: What does the term “New Age Africa” or like you’ve said “Neo Africa” mean?

Suté: I think we use the term just to differentiate ourselves from the mainstream image people have of Africa, that’s the old Africa, in the new Africa we’re culturally progressive, innovative, historically aware all that.

AL: You’re quite conceptual in your art, how do you pick the themes and social or personal issues you talk about?

Suté: It is however I’m feeling in that moment really, as long as it’s an honest emotion then there are people out there that can relate to it. I just stay in the present and have fun with it and usually they all sort of end up relating to each other.

    In the end, youth always win.

AL: What do you want your sound to say about you?

Suté: I just want people to feel something when they listen to the music and hopefully they feel good. I don’t really have any expectations about what it says about me cause these songs can’t ever paint a full picture. everyone takes what they want from it and will have their own interpretations and that’s fine.

AL: How would you define your sound and blend with rap?

Suté: It’s all about fusion. So far the rap has been more or less constant but I’m always looking for ways to blend different styles and have fun with it. So on one project it can be afrobeat percussion with electronic instruments on another it’ll be trap drums and r&b chords, the next might be funk & highlife. Whatever the sound is, the rap goes over it and if I need to communicate something differently I might sing. so it’s all fusion. I feel like being a rapper doesn’t stop you from exploring different sounds.

AL: As you move forward, what’s your vision for your art, life and mind?

Suté: I want to be able to live without regret, that means I have to spend time doing the things I love, with the people I love. It’s really about the simple things for me. So the art will keep evolving as I keep growing as a person.

AL: Are you working on anything presently, if you are can you tell us about it?

Suté: Right now I’m trying to work on videos for songs like Mainland Cruise, Oceans, Vapors, Zone One & Juno off my last project Visions. And I just started working on a project for this summer but I’m keeping that under wraps for now. In between I’m just going be releasing songs, you can expect something before this month is over for sure.

AL: You move between Lagos & Abuja, both cities are cultural titans for the Nigerian youth, how has this affected your blend of music?

Suté: I grew up in Lagos, did my primary & secondary school there and I was a day student so I really got to feel the city and the energy there so I carry that with me everywhere I go. I started living in Abuja after my I finished my undergrad in 2013 and Abuja’s gift is the space to be as individual as you want and I’ve come to realise that’s priceless. So I feel like Abuja has definitely given me the freedom to create & experiment how I want without the sort of pressure to conform you have in Lagos. But I love both cities. Sometimes I talk about Lagos in my songs and people ask why when I’m living in Abuja but I spent most of my life in Lagos and I still know that city more than anywhere else.

AL: What’s been on your mind?
Is there any social issue you’d like to talk about?

Suté: I’m really into history and I think one of the reasons it’s difficult to build a future in Nigeria is because most of us have no idea about our past. Even this neo-African movement we have now isn’t any different from what Wole Soyinka, Fela, Ben Enwonwo and the types were doing in the 60’s with art. So if I was to lend my voice to any sort of social issue it would be educating ourselves on our history. I know most people think history is boring lol but I think it’s so much fun because no idea is original, it’s never what you do but how it’s done. So yeah, history is cool! We have musicians that have achieved so much fame internationally but Nigeria has no idea about them.

AL: Anyway you want to use your art to aid this?

Suté: That’s part of what Jelí was. But to be honest that’s the role of educators in naij. My music is meant to uplift and inspire. I’m willing to lend my voice to educators/historians who have the real job of teaching this stuff so it sticks. I have some projects in mind outside of my music to spread that information in a way that it can be received and absorbed but that’s still in the works.

AL: With the quality of new age sounds and steady acceptance of African sounds globally, how do you feel/react to this as a new age artist with big dreams?

Suté: It’s exciting man and it’s like validation of what we thought when we started Bantu Collective. If you keep doing good work it can’t be ignored. If we all just remain consistent and remember that it’s because we are all unique that this is happening then we can keep this going on and build an industry for ourselves in Naija, more collaboration more growth.

AL: What are you most proud of so far in your art?

Suté: hmm, probably releasing Visions because I produced all the songs on that except 3 songs. So I was really able to completely represent myself musically on that and that’s when I really took control of my sound.

AL: What have you been listening to lately?

Suté: Afro-funk/rock, lots of funk from across the world all around that 70s/80s era – and sometimes I just shuffle my library and whatever comes up.

So if I was to lend my voice to any sort of social issue it would be educating ourselves on our history.

AL: What’s your view on Chance The Rapper’s come up as an independent mind without any label, how do you feel the new age can relate and learn from this?

Suté: It’s a great encouragement for people who have been on the independent route for a while. Over here we almost have no choice but to achieve as much as we can while being independent cause there’s no one to help us but ourselves.

AL: What do you feel about woman empowerment and the new age finally giving room to more female rappers?

Suté: I think it’s really cool and necessary to broaden the conversations we hear in songs and get a new perspective.

AL: Last words of consciousness.

Suté: Let your vision come from an honest place, block out all the noise and negativity, tunnel vision and work towards it. The goal of life is happiness and focusing on your honest passions is one sure way to live that.

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