Nigerian rapper Falz, born Folarin Falana, caused an international stir this weekend after releasing his own version of Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” video.
Falz’s “This Is Nigeria,” much like Childish Gambino’s original, is laden with symbolism and cultural references, and acts as both a searing political critique and social commentary.
Where “This Is America” spotlights racism, gun violence, and police brutality in the US, Falz, the son of prominent lawyer and human rights activist Femi Falana, highlights various abuses of the Nigerian people at the hands of both the government and citizens, including police brutality, in his cover.
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"This is Nigeria, no electricity daily-o, your people are still working multiple jobs yet they talk say we lazy-o," Falz raps in the video, referring to comments made by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at a Commonwealth event in London last month in which Buhari implied his country’s young people are lazy.
From rampant corruption among government officials and law enforcement — including the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which Amnesty International has accused of violating human rights — to the terrorist group Boko Haram’s attacks on school girls, Falz powerfully points to a need for change.
"The primary motivation [for making the cover] was to trigger an awakening among the Nigerian people about the numerous political and social ills that we constantly face as a country,” Falz told CNN via email. “And more importantly to spark a reaction in the positive direction," he wrote.
And while other attempts to cover Childish Gambino’s song and provocative video have fallen flat, people online, including producer and rapper Diddy, are praising Falz for using his artistic platform as a tool for political activism.
Falz doesn’t get the respect that’s due him as a rapper. He’s arguably one of the most insightful, most thoughtful rappers out Nigeria in a while. #thisisnigeria is brilliant and is what rap should be, reflect the culture. Respect!✊— Baba Ibeta!!! (@Thereal_TommyB) May 25, 2018
#ThisIsNigeria is deep on many levels but nothing touched me more than the parent who paid SARS to get his son out & left someone else’s child to be brutalized. That’s us: we solve systemic problems for ourselves alone when we know millions have to navigate the same injustice— Ayisha Osori (@Naijavote) May 26, 2018
I’m pleased that we still have artists like @falzthebahdguy and @2faceofficial_ talking about governance issues. Since the death of Fela, not many musicians have used their voices for the public cause. @falzthebahdguy’s #ThisIsNigeria is brilliant!— Dr. Joe Abah (@DrJoeAbah) May 26, 2018
In #ThisIsNigeria, Falz used humour and a very creative concept to address the most pressing issues in Nigeria. This is what most people are afraid to voice out.— Iseunife The First (@Shawnife_) May 26, 2018
This is what we need to see more of in Nigeria. Music with a real message.
My favourite part of #ThisIsNigeria was when @falzthebahdguy said: “You never end recession o, When looters, killers and stealers are still contesting elections o”. I agree completely with him. We need a new kind of leadership.— Kingsley Moghalu (@MoghaluKingsley) May 26, 2018
Should there be any threat or oppression towards @falzthebahdguy based on his socio-political awareness message as articulately expressed in #ThisIsNigeria I will be standing with him and this might just be what we need to trigger the Revolution. We are Ready.— SEGA L’éveilleur®🚨 (@segalink) May 26, 2018
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