Monday, February 18, 2013

X-Raying Ice Prince’s Aboki

Hip Hop in Nigeria has gradually grown from something that was largely alien in the 90s to a big mainstream show today. At every stage in the journey towards acceptability, there were individuals who worked hard to push the music genre to a wider audience. Today, it is the turn of the Choc Boys drawn largely of J-Town in heart of the nation. One of them is Ice Prince whose latest project is a single titled aboki.

When Ice Prince released aboki, I just waved it aside because of the title which is a local Hausa vernacular that means a ‘friend’ I have that tendency for one to feel that local vocabulary doesn’t fit well in Hip Hop. The audio and video of aboki reminded me, once again, that a guy with the right talent will always find a way to get it right. That is what talent is – an unusual ability to do something. Just a word cannot create an impression that music should in the mind of a fan. It takes the song with the usual modules such as the lyrics and the poetry, the flow, the beats, melody and the feel. Currently the Choc Boys rule the nation and the continent when all these are taken into consideration.

Ice Prince has given another piece of entertaining material to engage fans but has also shown he has a sense of maturity and responsibility. Hip hop has always been viewed as the business of adolescents who don’t know the pains of society. This is a misconception for people outside the periphery of the art. Ice Prince has shown this with his new single. Nigerian has always been, sadly, two nations in one. The northern and the southern halves have always reflected that remarkable cultural contrast. It explains why Nigerian music artistes from the South always consider it necessary to do a song that the northern fans can relate to. Style Plus, Dare ‘Art’ Alade, Onyeka Owenu, Tuface, Faze and many others all have  songs made primarily to appeal to the northern fans. Aboki is the latest of such songs. In the song, Ice Prince is heard calling the names of prominent northerners and referring to them as ‘his guys’ or friends. To get the northern fans to really appreciate the song, the video shows him wearing a white Arabic type of wear and works bare foot in a beautiful and sprawling desert landscape. As usual, the magic in the song is Ice Prince’s extraordinary fervor, poetry, flow and flamboyant flair, compelling one to hold his head between his hands.

The authorities since the military era have often spent money to air documentaries in foreign media organizations to get the world to understand the Nigerian nation better but to no avail. Even during the era of Dora Akunyili as Nigeria’s Minister of Information, there was the ‘Re-brand Nigeria’ thing aimed at changing the attitudes of Nigerians with the sole purpose of correcting the modest appeal of the nation abroad. One thing that contemporary music has done to the Nigerian nation is getting the world to understand, better, the kind of nation Nigeria is. Ice Prince, from previous projects, has already made his contribution towards presenting the right face of Nigeria abroad. His popularity in Africa, Europe, North America and Asia measures the remote perimeters of his role in rebranding the nation. Growing political differences between the North and the South of Nigeria with remarkably bitter outcomes has, unfortunately, tended to push the two regions further apart. Thus well meaning Nigerians consider it a duty to work towards healing the cancerous situation. The song, aboki, is, without a shadow of doubt, an effort to mend the social division created by political repulsion of the two regions.

While hosting the victorious Super Eagles at African Cup of Nations of 2013 on Tuesday 11th, 2013, Mr. President, Goodluck Jonathan, acknowledged the fact that Nigerian youths have, through music, created a good image for the country abroad. The victory of the Super Eagles, according to him, was another demonstration of what the youths can do for the nation, this time, through football. The Super Eagles members were given financial rewards and national honors. The truth however is that music, more than football, is silently chasing away the darkness around the nation. It is time the authorities begin to give national honors to music artistes and not just footballers. When this begins, Ice Prince should surely not be forgotten. Aboki deserves to win an award.

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