A Nigerian rapper’s take on ‘This is America’ has been banned
Rapper Falz’s ‘This is Nigeria’ — a snarky, cynical parody of the Childish Gambino song, has been banned by the country’s Broadcasting Commission.
After Childish Gambino’s “This is America” went viral back in May, droves of copycats around the world have mimicked the track with local variation. There are versions of “This is Serbia,” “This is Brazil”, “This is Iraq”, and “Esto Es España” on countless random websites and YouTube channels.
Falz, a Nigerian hip hop maverick who calls out corruption, nepotism, state repression and police negligence in his recent “This is Nigeria” song, is ruffling feathers amongst Nigeria’s governing elite and especially Islamic demagogues. His vid depicts dictators, street violence, snake handlers, exorcisms, F-SAR forces and Nigeria’s everyday tribalism. It resembles scenes described in Robert Kaplan’s seminal essay ‘The Coming Anarchy’ only done in an artsy, pomo sort of way.
In our hyper-connected, interdependent global commons, “This is America” has basically become an imitable polemic for artist-activists to address a range of cultural issues and social grievances. Themes like hypocrisy, poverty, racism and economic disenfranchisement are legion; youths around the world are protesting via video art and other means, skewering corrupt authorities and subverting rotten institutions. Because of the track’s obvious political bent, these multiple remixed versions are easy targets for crabby autocrats from Abuja to the Levant.
Nigeria’s Broadcasting Commission has major qualms with the song’s premise — that Nigeria’s government is majorly malfeasant and totally shady (um, duh!). One line in the song is particularly vexatious – “This is Nigeria, everybody be criminal” — and has rubbed the authorities in the wrong way. Big cheeses in Abuja are saying that the line is “too vulgar” and cannot be aired. A ban has just been imposed.
The ban reportedly stems from complaints issued by the Muslim Rights Concern, a prickly Islamic advocacy group, who object to the video’s portrayal of the Fulani tribe and its depiction of women dancing and donning hijabs. Evidently the visuals have “the potential of causing religious crisis of unprecedented dimension.”
The track has also received a more conventional snub — that some fans consider it little more than a rip-off of Childish Gambino’s infectious groove. Falz responded to these criticisms in a video saying, “Dude, that is the point.” Although the ban in Nigeria restricts local and national airplay, the interwebs has made it extra-viral with over 13+ million views and counting.
Peep the “This is Nigeria” video below. It lifts the lid on Nigeria’s iffy underbelly and explores the Third World wobbles and precarious social fabric of Africa’s most populous country.
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