‘I am a Wha? I am a Wha? I am a Nigerian!’ It’s with this slick rip-off of Eminem’s Slim Shady alter ego that Terry Tha Rapman kicks off Lagos Stori Plenti, an album of up-to-the-minute urban sounds from Nigeria’s capital. Tha Rapman’s jaunty pastiche is as flashy as the ‘fake designer clothes’ he rhymes about. But underlying the track, there’s a deeper message.
Living in a society characterized by systemic corruption and poor social services is not easy. ‘Do you trust Nigerians?’ asks Tha Rapman. ‘Kinda people who are rugged and resilient, shady like Sicilians.’ Small wonder so many of the 14 songs on this compilation are big on corruption.
Lagos Stori Plenti is a welcome addition to a national discography that’s represented in the outside world by nobody else but Fela and Femi Kuti and Tony Allen, undeniably brilliant though they are. Assembled by the German-based Out Here label, this album is an adventurous one. Its interest is broad: reggae lite from Nutty & Wharfy’s ‘Give Me A Chance’; an Afrobeat-influenced ‘Niger Delta Jam’ from DeDe, and gangsta moodiness from Modenine and OD on ‘419 State of Mind’. The last is a reference to the penal code that outlaws those scamming emails that Nigerian gangs seem to do so well. Fraud? ‘We call it getting dough from greedy victims abroad,’ raps OD. ‘Gawd blimey! All that money I saved up! I’m finished!’ squeaks the voice of one of the victims. Lagos Stori Plenti has, amongst its breadth of music and languages, a less hopeless view of the city it focuses on.Louise Gray