Hot Takes: Mr Money In America, National Honours Award & the Dark Side of TikTok

Buhari has been a bad boy...again

It’s finally October, and Black History Month is here once again. For many Africans in the diaspora and some of us back home, Black History Month is a pivotal time in Black culture where we honour the triumphs and struggles of Black people everywhere. Celebrating and amplifying Black identities will always be an integral part of the NATIVE‘s mission, so Happy Black History month to all who celebrate.

We’re slowly coming to the end of a busy year, and this only means the detty December period is rolling in any time soon. This year, I’m looking forward to attending as many shows, and of course, crossing over to Ghana for the fun there as well. For us at the NATIVE, December also means end of year lists and ranking some of our favourite artists and projects this year. Revisit past editions here. For today, however, I’ll be focusing on Asake’s US tour which had a bumpy start in Baltimore, to TikTok’s ever totalitarian ways of making money.

What I’m Listening To 

With the year end rolling in, there’s an insane amount of music in circulation right now. Just a few weeks back, CKay released his debut album ‘Sad Romance,’ and I’ve been hooked on it ever since. My personal favourites include “By Now” and “Lose You” which features Ronisia. Other than those two powerful singles, the album itself is an honest portrayal of a toxic love story which is interspersed by alluring sounds and otherworldly production. 

Outside of the album, I’m fawning over a couple of other standout releases including “Xtra Cool” by Young Jonn which is at the top of the Apple Music Charts in Nigeria at the moment, and “Likkle Riddim” by Joeboy which already has the makings of a hit single.

Asake & Nigerian Show Culture 

A few months ago, 2022 breakout star Asake announced his debut USA tour, and a UK tour for the following month. News of the tour was received with rave reviews, as fans clamoured to purchase tickets for the concert and took to social media to share hilarious memes about memorising the singer’s Yoruba-inflected lyrics. It would not be the first time that Asake would enjoy similar levels of viral success, as the YBNL singer has been building key cultural moments with his music, which has led to many drawing comparisons to some of his stylistic forefathers in Afropop including 9ice, Olamide and more.

Officially kicking off on the 22nd of September, Asake’s ‘Mr Money With The Vibe,’ tour has been well underway for less than a month and already, fans are complaining of logistical issues, shoddy security personnel and alarming ticket resellers. Recently, at the Baltimore leg of his US tour, held at the Patapsco Arena, fans and concert-goers complained about the lack of organisation at the event and Asake’s brief stint on stage. Upon further investigation, it was alleged that one of the security personnels present at the concert had their gun stolen from them, leading to the immediate exit of the singer from the arena. In a now viral video, Asake can be seen departing the venue with speed as he is accompanied by a spate of security guards.

It’s not all been bad. Through its near month-long run, Asake’s tour has witnessed some very remarkable moments, which has endlessly been captured by fans and supporters of the artist on social media. From bringing a baby goat on stage to raunchily grinding on female attendees, there has not been a dearth of entertaining moments from the singer’s first-ever tour. However, given it’s his first, there are bound to be some mistakes.

Fans from all across the diaspora have expressed their displeasure at the show’s logistical plans, including the outrageous prices of the tickets, the small and clandestine venue locations and the lack of correct and proper planning. A good example of this would be the announcement and rollout for the singer’s UK arm of the ‘Mr Money With The Vibe’ tour. Since the first London date was announced, fans have come out in throes to express their displeasure at the ticket release rollout, from its pre-release fiasco to its outrageous resellers.

In my opinion, although Asake continues to rise to the upper echelons of Afropop, it’s clear that he still needs space to grow: he’s literally learning how to be a popstar from scratch, no matter how prepared for this moment he may have seemed. It’s also worth noting that many Afropop stars started performing on their home turf before taking their tours internationally but Asake flipped the script and took his tour abroad first. He’s clearly still perfecting his winning formula, and I’m sure the Nigeria tour will be the best one we’ve seen so far.

Buhari has been a bad boy…again?

Earlier this week, the President of Nigeria, President Muhammudu Buhari conferred national honours awards on a talented spate of deserving Nigerians from dominating and leading conversations, both locally and globally, from a range of fields and industries. Among the recipients were author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, singer Teni the Entertainer, Ezra Olubi, the chief technology. officer and co-founder of Paystack.

While many of the videos to arise from the award ceremony centred around Buhari’s mortifying look at Ezra Olubi as he shook his hand and accepted the award, others have also shared scattered thoughts and feelings about young people accepting such level of awards from the very government who failed to protect us barely two years ago. For many Nigerian youth, October is a month of mourning as we remember the devastating occurrences of the EndSARS protests and October, 20 2022.

Two years later, many of us still carry a lot of trauma and anger from the violence inflicted on young people merely for protesting for a better Nigeria, which is could be why people are apprehensive of awards such as this one. While there’s no right or wrong answer to this, we can’t erase the fact that people felt real pain from being let down by the Nigeria government and the armed forces, and in a month of remembrance such as this, many could have seized this moment to pass across a message.

Due to its ever-evolving variety of social, political and economic issues, Nigeria has a constant fixation with messiahs, ideal figures that represent the sort of leadership required to turn around the country’s fortunes. However, it would be unfair to ask anyone to single themselves out as a messiah particularly when many of us witnessed first-hand how women of Feminist Coalition and those who were active during the protests were punished in the weeks and months following its end.

The dark underbelly of TikTok

Since its entry into mainstream popular culture as a mainstay, illegal and unfair business practices have plagued the video streaming app, TikTok. The most recent being the investigation launched by the BBC Eye into TikTok’s dark underbelly of profiting off homeless families and children in Syria. According to the research found, the company has middlemen who work with agencies in China and the Middle East who grant indiscriminate access to families and children from lower-income backgrounds.

These agencies are part of TikTok’s global strategy to recruit live streamers and encourage users to spend more time on the app. As a result, children and young people use the app for several hours as they solicit for gifts and money but in return, they are only given 15% of this earnings. Reports further state that TikTok acquires 70% of these earnings while the middlemen take 35%, leaving the families and children with next to nothing. 

This is so heinous it is unbelievable to begin unpacking this one. This is clearly a case of corporate greed and irresponsibility and it should not be overlooked. Many of these families will only partake in this because there are hard on money and need to take care of themselves and their children. As a company, if you want to render help to the helpless, you should do so from an altruistic point of view and without expecting any returns. To target a country such as Syria were many are war-torn and displaced is the height of callousness and TikTok should pay heavily for this.

It hurts even more knowing that TikTok has now become a viable way for artists and creative entrepreneurs to earn an income online and place themselves in the eyes of their desired audience, but there’s no sweeping something as dark and twisted as this under the carpet. More people should call out TikTok and boycott the app if they refuse to fix up.

Featured image credits/NATIVE