Falz: Receive Your Immoral Instructions
I was in that room when Falz made the statement, “I detest transactional sex.” I was the person who recorded that video and released it on the internet. Was Falz wrong to state a personal opinion? Did he misfire with his candid truth about his preferences? Did he make a mistake?
I love Falz. I love his art. I love his brand. He makes music that has always been multi-layered. His raps, his endless forays into the grey areas of storytelling, and the courage to carry through with music that provides more than just a good feeling is a dying art. From his debut album, ‘Wazup Guy’ through ‘Stories That Touch’ and ‘27’, listeners have had a sense that this is a journey that we are all on, with the man. Two songs off of his ‘27’ album – ‘Child of the world’ and ‘Confirm’ carried a lot of weight because they touched on the perils of transactional sex and internet fraud (Yahoo Yahoo). The former struck deep because he made it a single, and invited the world into his mental space.
The complaints against him are rife. Falz stands a trial on social media every day. The accusations sit on a spectrum of righteous activism and woke indignation. At one end, you get the lighter stuff like ‘focusing on the women, rather than their masculine patrons.’ The heavier stuff comes with a lot of names. He’s been called a misogynist, a willing ambassador of patriarchy, and a popular ally to the crushing mentality of stigmatization and public victimization affecting most vulnerable women in the society. He gives feminist a willing outlet for their crucial activism and provides social justice warriors celebrity fodder for their righteous palpitations.
He knows this. At the private listening for his new conscious album, ‘Moral Instruction’, when asked by his younger sister, Foladele, about the accusations of slut-shaming, in the presence of his father and mother, he didn’t skip a beat. He grabbed the mic, and uttered the words: “Wow, feminists in the building…” before explaining that the reason for his focus on the women mostly affected by it. “Shamelessly, I will continue to say it; I detest transactional sex,” he said. “It’s my pain, it’s what I believe in, and you will continue to hear it in my music.”
Feminists hate this view. They argue that all sex is primarily transactional, and women have the right to do whatever they want with their bodies, without the towering figure of Falz calling them out on it. They also state that he is missing the point of it all. That is, the demand and supply of commercial sex exist for each other, and that highlighting the marginalised suppliers of sex is unfair if the men who demand it get a free pass. His response is that if you engage in transactional sex, and make yourself a commodity, then it leads to the hated objectification of women. One begets the other.
Add that statement to the video of ‘Child of the world’, and you can see Falz’s blind spot for men. It validates a lot of the arguments against the artist and his approach. Although, he admits to “severely mocking” the Aristos and purchasers of commercial sex on his single ‘Regards to your mumsi,” it isn’t comparable to his focus on women. In saying that he focuses on the gender and demographic predominantly affected by this plague, he is right. We can all admit that although men sling their genitals for money, this part of the world has more women in the profession. Disputing this is erroneous wokeness. Denying this is worse; It’s an affliction of self-deceit and unintelligent mental gymnastics.
But why are we focusing on this issue alone? Why is this our hill to die on? Why are our fangs bared over this and not all the other issues addressed on his album, Moral Instruction?
Falz has a great album out. “Moral Instruction,” his 4th studio album is a conscious masterpiece, executed in the best fashion. From production to arrangement and content, Falz scores highly in creativity, entertainment, education and inspiration. Channelling the spirit of Fela Kuti, and sampling some of his records, the singer set out to release 9 tracks that speak truth to power, and to all of us. Internet fraud, religious deception, degradation of social graces, police, endless political, tribal and religious violence, and more, find themselves highlighted and addressed through the album. It’s the first time a ‘pop’ artist could stake his next career move on this. And yes, it did cot him money and time to get the necessary sample clearance from Fela’s family and the companies with the rights in the US and France. Add to that, 9 album artworks were created by Lemi Ghariokwu, the same man who made 26 album artworks for Fela’s projects. At the album listening, Gahriokwu admits that the project didn’t come cheap.
“Moral Instruction” is crucial for a lot of reasons. It sits perfectly in this time and season; It’s another election year in the country, the state of security is probably at an all-time low, Nigeria has the highest concentration of poor people, and the number of the nation’s out-of-school kids continue to shoot upwards. Most importantly, it marks the most potent release on social commentary made in recent years by an artist who has a lot to lose by staking his next career move on this. Unlike numerous musicians, Falz hasn’t only shown that he exists in the same time and country as his fans and supporters, he’s actively contributing to making our life better. This is one of the best use of voice and celebrity. Argue with your bias and your neglect of knowledge. Have you even listened to the album? Did you crank that album before you cranked up your bias against Falz?
I have read journalistic think-pieces on this issue. Many seem like a listless, opportunistic attack on the man. I read one by a hack, which expressly called him a misogynist with nothing to back it other than conjectures, woke mental exercises and arguments that sit flawed. Another journalist called him a ‘beer parlour banterer’. All of this because someone listened to our pain, and found a way to make it into an album.
Nigerians are inherently hypocrites. This behaviour is consistent across all spaces and spheres. In the music community, it’s law. We’ve seen this happen on countless occasions. If you follow fan complaints about the content of our music, you will think Nigerian artist ever makes music that possesses value beyond entertainment. Social media is filled with numerous examples of fans screaming for conscious music. They ask for truth, they ask for leadership via music, and they ask for a representative voice. But two things happen when they get this wish: They either don’t listen to the music, or they begin a campaign to shoot down the messenger.
It’s mostly because we can’t handle the truth. We are too far gone in our ways and mindset to have anyone challenge it, or point us towards the light. Our egos and broken moral compass can’t handle a little tutoring. For many, calling for ‘meaningful music’ is an exercise of our vanity. It makes us look and feel cool. We lie to our vanity when we make these requests knowing fully well that what we are seeking isn’t higher art. It makes us feel good and cool to lambast Lil Kesh on social media, but stack our personal playlists with pop music. One lady once requested on twitter, that we should focus on IQ-enhancing music from Nonso Amadi. When asked to provide a line of his music which has, in effect increased her IQ, her silence was very loud. Crickets. Everywhere crickets.
We argue about demand and supply working together in other areas. In music, it’s true. Musicians don’t see our wishes. They see our behaviour. We call for sonic diamonds, but gravitate towards filth. Yes, filth. We love it. We stick our noses in it, roll in the dirt, and come out screaming “that was fun.” And the next day, we are back on Twitter calling for what we will never touch. And if we do try to touch it, it is to pass it through our misguided wokenes and find ways to . We deserve our popular art. It’s a mirror to our soul and impulses. It is us!
Moral Instruction is what we all ask and cry for daily. It is here now. The truth is staring at us. But we will most likely not touch it. It’s nice, it’s shiny, it’s biting. But we don’t really like it. We prefer to have our Immoral Instructions, served on a platter of dance, and filled with “Shake that ass, Odoyewu.”
That is where Falz is a criminal. All we need is for someone to inspire our asses, not our minds. We all want to shake something. Not our poisonous mentality and our inhuman inclinations. That’s too much work. Our priority is in our backside. Please, let us shake it in peace. Immoral Instructions fall on you, and you and you. Let the congregation say…Odoyewu!