I keep sneering at the words of these oloshis who give me solemn and sagacious looks born of their deep-seated belief that my lungs would soon turn black and my life would keep getting shorter for the pleasure I get from this thing. Is life that predictable? I smoke, therefore I am doomed to a short life-span; and to their mind all who die young are of the more terrible sinners. They are the same fools who think you would only be rich and prosperous if you give your seed to one of these celebrity pastors.
Life is more mysterious, and we all know that. How I wish it could be easily read and understood as my too-know critics believe it to be.
I get this thing from the garden at the back of my house. Yes, there is a garden, and I don’t know why this plant gets so much bad press despite the fact that God made it and it is equal to all the other herbs and vegetables and fruits. A plant is a plant!
I take the plant and a few beers; they help me better than that boring song by Infinity that says the world is not such a hard place. Some have even hinted that I get my inspiration under some addictive influence, and I’ve heard that talk that I am shy and gentle guy in my sober state. It has been said that I am a tame guy who just goes wild after a few puffs; I’ve even heard that every appearance before a studio microphone is preceded a smoke.
Most of those things are said by ignorant fools who know so little about me but are so sure of their wealth of knowledge because of my face on the television, my songs on the radio, and pictures in the newspapers. They have so much confidence in the myths and fictions that is usually added to the slim facts by journalists in the print and electronic media.
Okay; maybe I have a bad mouth. A stormy childhood, a terrible father who curses as easily as a bird chirps. I guess this would account for my much condemned manner of speech. If I were to have a totem it would be a parrot; a child should not be blamed for repeating what is said and heard.
Yes I am angry with my father for leaving mother and I blame him for all the years she spent under the sun and in the rain, hawking walnuts and bitter kola, shouting her lungs out to get attention in an already noisy motor park, getting offers of sex for a fee from sneering men with rotten teeth.
It was always humiliating! Those times when I would walk home from school and see this dirty, sweating woman who would call me Layiwola and my classmates would snigger. In the beginning, my first year in school, I was Layi, which was a bit fancy. But when it became known that one woman with an Akure accent who hawked at Owo garage is my mother, even my attempt to rebrand myself as Lay in my senior class was a failure.
I happen to be so smart enough, blessed with the uncommon skill of putting my curses in appealing rhymes that the fans love. I enjoy what I do. Who wouldn’t enjoy cursing his enemies? What is hip-hop without haters and rivals? I will slay them with the words of my mouth. I got that from the bible.
I enjoy what I do. Believe me it gets better for an angry man if there is a channel to express the venom, instead of bottling it all in. Now even those who mocked me in my secondary school days would proudly say that Lee Z was their classmate in school. They could add a few lies that would tell of their closeness to this award-winning bad boy. How is that for winning? They would call the name that had been mocked, and I bet their girlfriends or wives or children hum Lee Z’s lyrics.
And my son? How does he feel about this whole thing? Sweet child, innocent child. When you were his age did you care much that your father is rich or popular or got the latest car? If a child eats and plays with toys and with other kids and has a place to sleep; that is life! Don’t complicate things by saying he is proud of his father. A bricklayer’s child, a prostitute’s son, a shady politician’s daughter, would be proud of their father or mother, if he or she delivers the goods. I am a responsible father! Fees gets paid, he easily gets more than enough food and drinks, as you can see from his rosy cheeks. And he has so much fun, toys and computer games; and he’s got the love of a father.
And the nonsense I read in the newspapers about Pastor Onyeachonam saying I am a bad role model because I had a child out of wedlock and because I had a bikini party to celebrate his birth.
What the fuck is wrong with Pastors? Do they have to comment about everything? I read a bit of the bible and I doubt if Jesus had to comment on everything! When sweet Jesus perceives that someone’s motive for seeking his views is not pure, he would not allow such to entrap him with words. Now we have pastors who want to be marriage counsellors and financial advisers and legal advisers and self-help gurus, all in one piece.
Onyaechonam with his fake accent, calling God Gahd. Dude should just teach the bible instead of competing with pop stars for the latest fashion accessories and cars. Dude should leave the drama for actors. Which bible is he teaching now? The same Jesus who said his kingdom is not of the world? I know a bit of the bible.
I appreciate the love I get from my fans and so much has been said about bikini party. So what the hell? I should become some pathetic dweeb because I am now a father? I should start living like the Dalai Lama because I want to be a role model? Dude, you can shove your role model shit up your ass! My son was not at the party! I just did the party thing to entertain friends and fans and I understand a few enemies came around. But I am not a mind reader; you won’t exactly see horns and fangs somewhere in the head of these haters.
I am a hip hop artiste for God sakes! My party cannot be like Onyeachonam’s church service; I can’t wear suits like ACLC folks.
Who gives a damn about haters? Not me! I will just smile, sit on the balcony of my house or at my favourite roadside bar, and drink to their freedom of speech.
And I don’t want anyone to come running to me when I go out with my child, thrusting papers and white shirts at me, asking me to sign autographs. Where the hell do you think this is? The USA? Autographs count for shit here! This is Africa, it’s a no brainer but some people hardly use that thing upstairs! Autographs doesn’t put food on the table and it can’t do any good when years go by and some other artiste starts topping the charts.
I am not afraid of the transitory nature of this fame thing; I am not one of those rappers with lyrics about topping the charts forever. I may be drunk with Hennessy, Moet & Chandon or Dom Perignon; and I might have eaten so much of the Most High’s vegetables that makes you high. But I am not high on fame. So fuck off with your flattery and if you are so pissed off don’t buy my next album.
I’ve been told that anything would sell here if it has a beat that makes you move your body, and my producer talks about a formula and he tells me all I have to do is stick to the raw honesty that made my first album a huge hit.
I am sticking to the simplicity of being just a father to my son, I don’t want him to be all clouded and engulfed in this fame thing; so leave us alone in our private moments, please. When you see us together, anytime, anywhere, those father and son moments, when you see those – even if you are naturally inconsiderate because you are so selfish and all you see is an opportunity for a picture with me so that you can post it on social media – please reconsider because of my words. Think about the young boy and keep off. Please keep off. Please is how far I can go with being nice. If you don’t respect yourself I may knock off one or two teeth out of your mouth, I may give you a bleeding nose.
I know what could happen if you make me do that: the judge would charge me for assault and make me pay a fine and pay for damages. Record sales are high and there wouldn’t be a difference between what I would pay and the price of a meat pie. You would bear the bulk of the loss. It would be painful for me that my son would see his father act like a savage, but savages are quite entertaining in the twenty first century. Haven’t you heard of that savage lady with skimpy outfits? I wonder what Pastor Onyeachonam would think about her. She is even married.
My mother would remind me that I look so much like my father, especially when I read about societal decay in the newspapers. I am amazed at my greatness, and like a one man army my lyrics can be so powerful; powerful enough to cause social decay! Holy rollers, happy clappers, pathetic dweebs and a whole army of boring people trying to lay claim to relevance would point accusing fingers at me.
I have been subtly given the attention of a devil, taken as the devil responsible for social rot; whatever that is. When girls walk around confidently with skirts that barely cover their underpants, and blouses that show more of their breasts than it conceals, I am the devil that gives them this catchy idea. And the cultists hacking themselves to death in our universities? That must be my lyrics too. And that eighteen year old idiot whose ex released her nudes on Twitter, the one she sent when she was still lovestoned? I bet that would be me too.
No one bothers to say that people should take responsibility for their actions! No one frowns at a fan that slavishly follows musical videos and song lyrics. Why is it my fault when people are hare-brained?
I read those things once in a while, in the newspapers and blogs and I watch the TV news. It is not easy to watch without sending curses at these confident accusers; this gets my mother wide-eyed and she tells me to take it easy, reminding me that my father began his drift to alcoholism just like this.
She tells me that my father sees real and imagined enemies in everything that goes wrong in his life and that, she says, is the fastest, steepest, ride to madness.
It is this madness that has got me three MTV awards, and two BET awards, five Channel O awards and a MOBO nomination. Not that I give a damn about awards, God knows I wouldn’t have gone to those places if my manager had not insisted. He talks about perception. He says an artiste is made by the media who provide the platform and present the artiste to the audience. I should not be seen as biting the fingers that had been feeding me. Even a mad dog knows the limits of its madness, he tells me, but I doubt it. A mad dog is mad and it flares its nose and barks and chases without discrimination. Maybe not. I’ve never seen one.
No one ignores a mad dog; that I know.
Enough about dogs. My shows are always sold out, my songs are downloaded by millions, I have a large fan-base beyond the shores of Nigeria; I don’t get endorsements from these big companies because of the curses- who gives a fuck? You don’t like the skinny guy in baggy jeans with gold chains and tattoos. You think your daughter’s hymen gave way because of my lyrics, and you think your boy got his love for smoking from his time with my lyrics.
Some say Jesus is Lord; to some people the Lord is Mickey Mouse. To each one his own.
Dance to the beats, or get angry and switch off the radio, join Professor Briggs and her every-furious women’s movement trying to ban me by their protests and marches, join the feminist coven, I don’t give a shit; but forget about silencing me in democratic Nigeria.
It’s fucking called freedom of speech.
Feyisayo Anjorin is a filmmaker. His writing has appeared in Brittle Paper, Bella Naija, Litro, Kalahari Review, Bakwa, and African Writer. He is also the author of Kasali’s Africa, The Night Dead Girlfriend Called, The Stuff of Love Songs, and One Week In The Life of A Hypocrite.