Naira Marley is the anti-hero Nigeria needs in his video for “As E Dey Go”

Bringing a street-hop swagger to protest music and providing a new rallying cry for a generation

The past month has been rife with recurring accounts of sexual assault and gender-based violence all over the country. Women all over the globe have come out to name and shame their abusers, and social media has been busy dismantling the societal attitudes that enable this behaviour.

It seems as though Naira Marley with his latest single, “As E Dey Go” has lent his contribution to the cause, by taking a clear stance against sexual assault, and presents himself as the hero who will make these wrongs right.

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The video for “As E Dey Go” is set in a run-down and abandoned building, which is typically known as a getaway for wrongdoings in our society, our own version of a trap house. Naira Marley’s notoriety allows him the room to fit into this scene, and has spent most of his career passing social commentary on the oppression young Nigerians face. This could be lost upon listeners, as it takes a critical listening ear to get past the bouncy zanku-ready beats, primes for the dancefloor. For “As E Dey Go”, his new single produced by regular collaborator, Rexxie, he maintains this form while delivering a message of social advocacy.

Rexxie continues to find innovative ways to make ‘Zanku’ beats as he blends melancholic flute harmonies with the dance-driven street-hop sound. Thanks to that sombre layer of instrumentals, we hear a more intense Naira Marley than we’ve got before. Right from the opening lyrics, “Sey eti je eba yo ni(Have you overeaten?)/ E se ni le gbe body?(why won’t you move?)” he speaks authoritatively as he orders listeners to get on their feet just before he delivers threatening lyrics at an unnamed person.

With this Director K video, Naira Marley is essentially saying abusers are not welcome amongst Marlians, and he gives very graphic and bloody depictions of the terrors waiting for those found guilty by the Marlian court.

Naira Marley channels the edgy delivery of gangster rap to make a conscious rap song that’s appealing to fans of street-hop. “As E Dey Go” is an urgent call to end the societal attitudes towards assault and rape culture, and even though the song and video retain Naira Marley’s gang-life -glamourising tales, he uses the imageries of gang violence to drive home the point of how serious the issue is. In addition to the threatening lyrics, the video shows him as an anti-hero who chased down someone who is caught in the act of assault and then beating him up for good measure before going on to burn down buildings to send a message to anyone else who will try it.

Naira Marley’s brings a street-hop swagger to protest music and the result is a new rallying cry for a generation. With lyrics that show no mercy to the opposition and a video that ties the blatant show of power with a timely and progressive message, “As E Dey Go” reveals why Naira Marley is regarded as one of the top acts in Nigeria; a cultural phenomenon who although he’s often laughable, refuses to be complacent about society. It might be coming at a when the protesting voices have started to grow quiet, but Naira Marley’s inherent gravity as the president of the Marlian fandom is up to the task of reigniting passionate protests against rape and other violent crimes against women.

Watch the video for “As E Dey Go” below.

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