AV Club: Mr Eazi’s “Tilapia” short film is both surprisingly unimpressionable and meaningless

We picked Tilapia apart and found nothing

Mr Eazi has mastered the laissez faire approach to life and it has leached into everything he does, especially his career as a recording artist. After half a decade of trudging in relative obscurity, he finally stumbled on a zeitgeist in Nigeria, championing a slower approach to afro pop. Nigeria was suffering from ‘frenzy fatigue’, as artist after artist put out minutely different iterations of the same frenetic song. Eazi was catapulted to stratospheric fame and his sound became the thing to mimic.

However, as he rides this wave, we are beginning to suspect that this ‘chillness’ that has his craft isn’t as deliberate as it originally appeared. That a man cannot be bothered to emote more energy than necessary means audiences can only approach the music with a single-minded reciprocity, taking everything else as lightly as Eazi presents it. The gag is, Mr. Eazi wants to be taken seriously. He wants audiences to rip apart his mellow slurring vocals for the meaning of life, he wants his ‘vibes videos’ to serve as audiovisual compliments to his nuanced music, and he wants to be seen as a visionary leader of the new school, taking the West African pop to places it never reached a priori (or so he says).

Even as his latest project, Accra to Lagos—a collection of unhurried love songs where he occasionally celebrates lifestruggles for airplay, in addition to a tour, Mr Eazi has been releasing videos off the project anyway. “Tilapia”, the latest visual cut from the project is released as a retro short film set in rural Ghana. Though Eazi refuses to call it a music video, (talk less of a ‘vibes’ one as he’s tagged other videos from Accra to Lagos), “Tilapia” comes with all the shrewd Eazi-esque tropes you would expectslow motion shots and long camera pans across faces of a small cast, and the African landscape. All of Mr Eazi’s insouciance is still contained here, even as the video opens with an eponymous “Based on a True Story” tag.

The trueness however becomes debatable when the first scene of the video kicks off with Mr Eazi awaking from sleep. This runs parallel to the story Mr Eazi told at a recent live concert about his night as a hungry man who was left with nothing but two fishes for dinner. Into the bargain he states “because say I dey wear fine cloth, no be say I no dey hustle”, this served as a precursor spoken word to the performance of  “Tilapia” that night. On the adjoining short film however, a love story between two people is languidly detailed to stress a point that is non-existent, even as the video occasionally cuts to clips of the fishing process as if to hint a bigger thematic tie-in (that never comes).

In a manner that is almost typically Mr Eazi, “Tilapia” was most probably intended as a representation of African subsistence: a man, his lover and the fish they share together. The result however begs questions the “Skintight” singer really cares about appropriately representing the average man he professes to champion. A retro theme is used with no context, his fishing expedition could have been left out without diminishing the film’s cinematic value. It’s never clear if Mr Eazi is comparing his lover to the Tilapia fish or if it is truly a metaphor for something else, perhaps the people behind the film thought no one would think that far.

Mr Eazi has crept up the charts with his laid-back style as a craft and art form. Not that Mr Eazi can’t make the grade with this style, it just allows him pass off an evidently lackadaisical attitude to presentation. And the results often come with pieces like “Tilapia” where the seemingly grand idea is failed by atrocious execution.

Take a moment to watch Mr Eazi’s “Tilapia” short film below.

Featured Image Credit: Youtube/Mr Eazi “Tilapia (Short Feem)”

Fisayo is a journalist who thinks writing is hard and reading too. But her journey somewhere reveals, words are like pawns on chessboard when writing. She wants to see, create and share with the world, experience & communicate these experiences. Tweet at her @fisvyo

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