The Nigerian Music Industry, Artistes and The Yahoo Boys

Musicians are the new Yahoo Boys

False? Possibly, but there is some merit to this statement that causes worry on an unprecedented scale.

The recent arrest of singer Naira Marley and Zlatan Ibile has brought the conversation of Yahoo boys and musicians to the fore again with the internet and Nigerians in general pretty divided on the topic.

Naira Marley

Why it’s scary that some musicians are in support of cyber crime is simply the platform they have.

Musicians have a large platform and if they are seen to be supporting such a heinous social vice, then the youth are in trouble.

Take a look at 9ice who in 2017 was accused of praising Yahoo boys in his song, ‘Living Things’, on his Instagram he has over 300 thousand followers, many of them impressionable youth who can see this as an endorsement of this way of life.

9ice yahoo boys controversy

Naira Marley is even worse as he has over half a million followers on his Instagram and if someone like that who sings ‘relatable songs’ and is seen as ‘omo onile’ (son of the soil) is making statements like “All you guys, all the money in your pockets, all the money you spend, you think it’s the government that is making the money go round?” what hope do we have?

Naira Marley is hardly the first musician to praise social vices and Yahoo boys mentality, huge behemoths of the industry such as Olamide and Lil Kesh are also complicit in this behavior with their song ‘Logo Benz’ being much maligned for its perceived messages which seems to glorify ritual killings and blood money.

The song caused a storm on Twitter with a user @youngichu, tweeting “’Story for the Gods’ – Rap . Science student – drug abuse. Poverty die – yahoo (Internet fraud). Logo Benz – Ritual. Olamide really is not only trash but a liability to Nigeria’s journey.”

Olamide and Lil Kesh Yahoo Boys controversy

Is he wrong?

Olamide is a fantastic talent and a charismatic personality, but are his talents best served this way? One could argue that he is simply singing about what is going on around him and while this is a valid argument, it could also be asked ‘Can’t he do better?’

Sure, sing about the societal vices around you, but also frame your message in such a way that it doesn’t seem to be glorified. Look at Falz for example, he is just as popular and while he also sings about societal vices (just take a look at ‘This is Nigeria’ and ‘Child of the World’) it is also clear that he isn’t endorsing any of the societal ills in these songs.

The Naira Marley situation is really sad and it reminds us that the singers and celebrities we look up to (people really shouldn’t look up to celebrities to be honest, but it is an unfortunate reality in our country and our world in general) are the ones perpetuating this ill upon us.

What’s worse, when people try to speak out against Yahoo Boys, you see that they are faced with a deluge of criticisms from cyber crime apologists who list government incompetence, lack of jobs and infrastructure as a reason for cyber crime (just look at the Noble Igwe Scandal) and they spout nonsense such as ‘The Yahoo Boys are like Robin Hood’… Poppycock!

It’s an unfortunate situation. It’s one thing to have an incompetent police force, a corrupt government and a nation out to kill you, it’s quite another when the entertainers who are meant to be one of you are now the villains themselves.

God help us all.

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