Sound Sultan’s ‘Mathematics’ was probably the last time a Nigerian artiste took the entire country on a nation building course in a classroom from the comfort of their homes.
Buying into this idea, Falz didn’t hesitate to harness the guiding powers that comes with the four walls of a classroom; hence, using it as theme for his ‘Moral Instruction’ listening party which held recently at the Landmark Towers, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The ‘Moral Instruction’ album is a follow-up to 2016’s collaborative extended play (EP) ‘Chemistry’ with afro soul singer Simi.
Comprising nine tracks, the theme centres on issues as politics, corruption and equality. Generally, it leans towards the activism that defines Fela’s body of work, with each track possessing strong afrobeat flavours with a touch of contemporary hip hop influences.
This move taken by Falz on a more grandiose scale by way of an album is an extension of the forerunner track ‘This Is Nigeria’, a politically and socio-culturally controversial track that grasped the attention of many with its blunt messages.
“Now is the time. Now, more than ever, we need to wake up. Now is very, very vital in terms of the political climate, how bad things have gotten.
“Now is the time, and that’s why I decided I’m not going to delay this anymore. I will go for it, speak my mind.” a resolute Falz said explaining the reason behind the body of work.
Three tracks on the album: ‘Follow-Follow’, ‘Amen’, and ‘E No Finish’ directly sample works of the afrobeat king. Preceding the album release, ‘Talk’ assumed first single status. The track mirrors closely the messages addressed on ‘This Is Nigeria’ viral track released in 2018.
“It is more than an album for me” Falz said explaining the essence of the album. “In my opinion, it is a movement; it is a re-education, it is a re-orientation. It is us learning and unlearning some things – and very important things, I think.
“Quite obviously, we have lost the plot as a people; as a country… and I think any day we complain about the state of affair, and how we need to move forward, but the real deep-rooted problem is miseducation. So, this album aims to re-educate and re-orientate.”
The theme for the listening party saw a good number of invited guests in their school uniform costume, thus making it a nostalgia trip for most present in the hall suffused with fresh wood scent that emanated from the newly fabricated desk to mark the occasion.
To heighten the throwback effect, guest were gifted with stationary materials and served ice-cream from a vending bicycle.
While it was all fun and memorable, the play of each track brought about a level of reawakening. Hearing Falz on different tracks on the album marked a dramatic shift from his hilarious ‘Sweet Boy’ persona.
Filled with passion and fury, he remarked on his use of profane words as a channel to pass down his message to his audience in a Felaesque manner. Also, this approach helps brings Fela’s legacy closer to the new generation of music lovers who weren’t opportune to see him perform live.
Fela’s influence didn’t stop at the music, it continued into the art work for ‘Moral Instruction’. For the album, Falz worked with renowned artist Lemi Ghariokwu to create album covers for all nine tracks.
Ghariokwu, a long-time Fela collaborator notable for creating 26 Fela album cover designs over a period of three decades admittedly stated working closely with Falz on the album, helping him transform his visions into visual art forms in just a month.
Fela is notably one of the controversial artistes to emerge from Africa owing to the unapologetic messages infused in his music. In the same light, the ‘Soft Work’ singer had his fair share of troubles recently with the controversies that trailed his album moments following its Tuesday release date.
A statement he made about transactional sex didn’t go well with feminists nationwide. Many professed feminists accused him of misogynistic tendencies in handling the issues of transactional sex in his music; stating his ease of slut shaming the females whilst addressing the male counterparts as sweet boys.
One can only wonder why Falz attracts such controversies in recent time. Perhaps he has been inspired to be the next Fela, or it may be a cheap stunt to extend his longevity in the music scene or just his hunger for equal rights and justice. Time will tell.