Hot Takes: Afronation, Elsa Majimbo and Misogyny in the music industry

Tami talks all things women, women and more women

It’s officially March, meaning Women’s History Month is here again. Although I don’t subscribe to the idea of only honouring, championing, and celebrating women one month in the year (please I am begging these brands to stop), it’s always a great time here at the NATIVE because I get to run wild on my agenda to put women on and nobody can complain about it. And if they do, then it’s safe to say that it’s going straight to management and good luck to that person.

Over the weekend, I hosted another episode of Native Sound Radio and this time, I got to talk about women for the two-hour radio show and listen to a DJ mix by a female DJ. We spoke in great length about the role of women in the music industry, listened to our favourite African women in music, and chopped it up about topics that concern women from fast-fashion brands stealing from small Black-owned brands and Love Island South Africa not casting any dark-skinned people in the premiere episode of its new show. It was refreshing to sit down and engage in these interesting topics with women like me including Damilola and Mide, and it’s what I’ve always loved to do: learn from and teach other women.

For this week’s Hot Takes column, I’m taking the reigns to school you guys on all things Elsa Majimbo, the Kenyan comedian that has become Black Twitter’s greatest joy, the #FreeMeghan movement, Afronation returning in the summer, and misogyny in the music industry. Enjoy!

What I’m listening to: Women 

This week, you guessed it I’ve been listening to women. Not just because it’s Women’s History Month, but because this is just what I’ve always done and it’s been the music I’m most drawn to in my twenties. Last year, I wrote a piece about how women make music that captures the breadth of our experiences in a patriarchal world. Whether they intend to or not, through their music, we get to see and hear our experiences represented by those with a platform as they shine a light on how we navigate this world. I’m always down to listen to women who provide me with therapeutic levels of excitement, given the consistent gloom of the past year.

This week, I curated a short playlist of songs by women that I’m currently listening to on loop. From Tems’ afro-reggae “Damages” , Tia Corine laying down her expensive demands on “Chanel” and South African singer, Tyla’s Pop/R&B infused amapiano sounds “Getting Late”, right down to Amaarae’s slinky raps on “CELINE” and Flo Milli’s ruthless kiss-offs on “Beef Flomix”. These are all young female artists existing entirely in their own lane across the music industry, audaciously speaking their truths and examining their experiences as women in an androcentric industry.

What I’m watching: Ginny and Georgia

Over the weekend, while recording episode 4 of Native Sound Radio in time for IWD, our HBIC and someone I can call my incredibly talented friend, Damilola, recommended a series to me that I had almost written off after watching 10 minutes of the first episode. Netflix’s latest teen drama ‘Ginny & Georgia’ had been making rounds on social media last weekend, with a hilarious soundbite of a conversation between a Chinese-American and a biracial Black-American making its way through our timeline.

Although I thought the show was yet another case of light-skinned problems (aka not my business), I decided to give the show another try after the stellar recommendation and I have to admit I’m warming up to it. I want to be like Georgia when I grow up because how has she been through half the shit she has and still managed to forge a good life for her two children? She may not be the exemplary mum by a long shot, but she certainly does her best to provide as a single mum–despite her worrying methods. Plus there’s a lot of good-looking men on the show and I am not mad at that one bit. Think ‘On My Block’ meets ‘Euphoria’ and I’m certain you’ll get this show.

What’s hot on TikTok: Tyla

19-year-old South African singer, Tyla is taking the music scene by storm. But she’s also racking up pretty impressive views on TikTok and making a case for how the app is crossing over the hottest pop, R&B and rap songs to the mainstream. I’ve recently started following Tyla on TikTok and she’s very entertaining to watch. Her debut single “Getting Late” which has now amassed over 1 million views on Youtube was treated to a quirky TikTok dance challenge and the singer wasted no time in encouraging other people to follow suit as she released a detailed choreography video. You can check out her content here.

Elsa Majimbo is winning

Last year, Elsa Majimbo was the crisp-eating, straight-taking, comedic star of the Covid-19 lockdown and while this year, not much has changed, as the young superstar is still doing all that, the Kenyan comedian and “15x chess champion” is now best friends with two sonic powerhouses and cultural figures who are revered around the world. Yup, that’s right. Elsa is probably on Rihanna and Beyoncé’s finsta and I am not mad at it.

A black woman is winning and she is winning big at such a young age, this is the stuff of dreams. Whether she’s making funny sketches on TikTok and Instagram, or delivering a Cautious Clay-produced ASMR bop titled “Snack Queen” or announcing the imminent drop of a collection with, Valentino, Elsa seems to be constantly booked and busy. I love to see it. Location: On our necks

Afronation may be coming to Portugal this summer

After postponing the second arm of its Portugal festival last year due to the global health pandemic, Afronation promised to return in 2021, ignoring calls for refunds from many of its guests who had purchased earlier tickets. As of now, there have been no new concerts or live show experiences, even though many have turned to digital mediums to remain engaged with fans who were social distancing at home.

Well, it seems like Afronation know something we don’t know about the end of the panoramic, because they have just announced, yesterday, that the summer festival will be held from the 1st-3rd July this summer, a few days after the UK goes into a relaxed tier of the lockdown as announced a few weeks ago.

While the likelihood of the concert holding still looks slim, we’re not trying to hold out too much hope that this summer will see the world returning back to its regularly scheduled programming, especially when many of us are yet to be vaccinated. Currently, the Covid-19 pandemic is being administered to citizens around the world in phases (excluding Nigeria because our government sucks) and it may very well be that this summer’s hottest item will be evidence of the 2-shots administered from the vaccine. In any case, I think I’ll let you guys go first and test the waters and then we go again in 2022.

The British Monarchy and their racist past (#FreeMeghan)

“My regret is believing them when they said I would be protected,” these were the words said by the former Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle to Oprah Winfrey during their interview on CBS in the late hours of Sunday evening. Meghan was referring to the British Royal family, the Windsors, ruled by Queen Elizabeth who is Meghan’s husband, Harry’s grandmother. Just as many people suspected, the interview was both explosive and enlightening as the couple went into detail about their experiences with the Royal family and the Firm–the clandestine organisation reminiscent of ‘Scandal’s’ B 6-13.

While they graciously carried out their royal duties since their courtship and marriage, Harry and Meghan especially have been subjected to the harsh and often-times damning wrath of the British tabloids. Behind the scenes, the couple was in the midst of a  mental health crisis which found them dealing with the long-established culture of control and racist thinking that has shaped the British monarchy for many centuries. Their lack of protection for Meghan while she was slammed in the tabloids and on social media eventually took a toll on the former actress while she was pregnant with her first son, Archie, and she reached a critical point in her mental health journey where she was seriously considering ending her own life. Although The Firm was made aware of the gravity of the situation that Meghan was dealing with, they didn’t give her the help she needed and she was told that it would cause more conversation about the Royal Family. The couple first moved to Canada, then to America where they couch surfed with Tyler Perry before buying their own property in LA with the vex money Princess Di left Harry.

Now, while it’s easy to criticise Meghan for ignorantly marrying into an archaic and notedly racist establishment and expecting that they would protect her, that fails to acknowledge how many Black people (especially ones who are biracial) hold onto small faith in institutions in hopes that their proximity to whiteness would save them from institutions that have historically harmed us. It’s a reminder that none of us are immune from oppression and rather than seeking to join or get a seat at a table at these racist institutions, we should be seeking to scatter them and end years of oppression and violence. For dark-skinned Black women, what Meghan Markle is dealing with is textbook misogynoir at play, and we can’t dismiss her own experiences which nearly led her to end her life. In any case, I’m all for seeing the toppling over and destruction of these archaic racist organisations so really both the British monarchy, the Commonwealth and the Firm can get TF asap!!!

Drake’s Scary Hours 2′

Written by Debola Abimbolu

The anticipation for Drake’s coming album, ‘Certified Lover Boy’ has been building since it was first announced during a DaBaby concert in 2019. Though he promised to drop the album by summer 2020, the pandademic forced him to push back the release while he adapted and released ‘Dark Lane Demo Tape’. The album got pushed back again following speculations that it will be available by January 2021, but he explained that he had to focus on recovering from a knee injury. But rather than leave us with nothing, the 6 god in his benevolence has gifted us with another surprise release, ‘Scary Hours 2’, a 3-track tape that follows the first ‘Scary Hours’ EP released in 2018, which featured “God’s Plan” and “Diplomatic Immunity”.

‘Scary Hours 2’ shows Drake isn’t just unstoppable; he’s also flexible. The world might not be ready for a full-on triumph anthem from Drake while the pandemic is still going on, but who can resist when he steps into his role as a self-aware rapper with a lot of haters. With guest features from Lil Baby and regular collaborator, Rick Ross, ‘Scary Hours 2’ is a solid project that will be remembered as one of the more notable releases from his already impressive catalog.

The 3 tracks, “What’s Next”, “Wants and Needs” and “Lemon Pepper Freestyle” find Drake tracing familiar territories, although this time, the old yearnings acquire a fresh glow of top-notch hip-hop production. Where before, he came on as a friendly singer/rapper willing to please everyone, he can now make self-aware brags like “Now I got it all/ And bein’ honest, I don’t really wanna talk about it/ And if I didn’t have it, wouldn’t wanna sulk about it”. Although the bars are compelling as always, he seems like he’s pulling his punches or perhaps saving the best lines for Certified Lover Boy. ‘Scary Hours 2’ shows that Drake is still in the best form of his life and he’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Misogyny in the music industry

Over the weekend, a Medium post was shared on social media, it was from a blog called Music InduSTREET run by a user known as @JollofDiary who had recently interviewed a former artist manager who no longer wished to work with female artists in the Nigerian music industry. This ex-manager claimed that had noticed that it was difficult to manage female artists in comparison to their male counterparts for a number of reasons, including lateness due to makeup and wardrobe preparations, the inability to hop on a bike to show venue because she was a woman and the unwanted advances from male music industry stakeholders which they were unable to deal with. The ex-manager went into detail about how these advances from OAPs and industry professionals left him scarred because he had never witnessed such firsthand before.

The post set off a chain reaction where women (and certainly anyone with a brain) challenged the ex-manages reasons providing evidence as to why female artists were far more competent to work with than men. Not only were the reasons entirely rooted in misogyny, but they also showed male privilege as the ex-manager was able to make the decision to separate himself from harassment and unwanted advances when women go through this every day of our lives. Simi and the well-respected lawyer, Foza weighed in and spoke out against how prejudiced people are towards female artists when there’s no difference managing both. Simi also spoke out about her experiences in the Nigerian music industry and how both the labels and audiences would try to pit female artists against each other for no good reason, setting off a much-needed conversation on how women are able to stay afloat and make their music in an androcentric industry.

Barely hours after this conversation, producer, Samklef showed exactly why the industry is ten-times harder for women when they are endlessly sexualised. After a snippet of Wizkid and Tems on set of the music video for “Essence” in Ghana was shared on social media over the weekend, many fans and listeners began tweeting insidiously, exclaiming that they were annoyed that the singer had consistently chosen not to reveal her body. “Everybody can’t wait to see Tems yansh. Me sef dey wait. Who dey wait with me,” Samklef’s now-deleted tweet read, as he boldly sexualised the singer who has explicitly said that she chooses to keep the focus on her music and her lyrics. Samklef was corrected by several people on social media including Simi, who all tried at great length to show the producer why his “joke” was disgusting and unwanted. To defend himself, Samklef insulted Simi, posted an old picture of her attacking her for coming after him because of her looks. He also claimed that ex-BBN housemate Erica had performed sexual acts on live television but now, it’s no longer being talked about because time has passed and it’s not a trendy issue. Again, he continued to show his lack of understanding for a woman’s agency and autonomy showing that he clearly didn’t respect women if he believes it’s his prerogative to make jokes about sexualising a woman who has taken agency over her right to not show her body.

I need people to understand the message behind the music, not just seeing one sexy, hot girl, who can sing,” Tems had told the NATIVE in her interview for the NATIVE 004 cover story, explaining how she’s dealt with years of harassment because she was more curvaceous than others. Now, in her twenties, and entirely on her own terms, the Rebel Gang leader is saying definitively that she wants the music to come first before anything else, that’s her agency, that’s her right because it is her body. Same way it. is Simi’s body and Erica’s body, these are grown women who have a right to their agency and can choose to do whatever they want. It’s not our place as a society to chastise the women who dare be sexually confident and revealing with their body and in the same breath sexualise women who don’t want that attention. This Women’s History Month, if you can learn anything at all about women’s experiences and our lives, I implore you to start with this: “Our bodies, our prerogative!”.

Featured image credits/NATIVE

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