Days after Naira Marley and Zlatan dropped the controversial “Am I a Yahoo Boy”, they both got arrested on the 10th of May by the EFCC for charges related to cyber crime and fraud. A few days later, Zlatan Ibile got released, while Naira Marley remained in custody, and was going to remain there for a month, during which he was arraigned in court for fraud and finally released on bail.
“Am I a yahoo boy” sparked a lot of controversy, prior to the release of the song, Naira Marley had gone full throttle, justifying internet fraud and went at anyone who was ready to counter his views. It was a relief to everyone with any shred of morals left, when he got arrested for financial crimes.
I personally felt like his arrest was needed to send a message across to the teaming youth population who have somehow gotten so brazen with internet fraud.
Naira Marley's arrest is very much needed to bring some sanity into the heads of many Nigerians youths.
Your fathers did fraud & were very discreet and covert, because they knew it was a crime and didn't want to get caught.
The ones of today do it and rub it in your face.
— adeda (@tosinadeda) May 16, 2019
As it is common in music globally, most musicians tend to put out music about certain life experiences (Like going to jail) as soon as they come out of it. Music is very much relatable and deep when it’s personal. As soon as Naira Marley got released, I started craving new music from him, just to hear his experience about his time in custody. Unlike what Zlatan did on “4 Nights in Ekhotiebo” where he went ballistic, dropping straight bars and fire. Naira Marley decided to make his into a dance track called “Soapy”
In recent times in the Nigerian pop culture scene, songs have been pushed and made popular with dance routines. This is a style that has worked for many artistes from Olamide, Zlatan, Lil Kesh, just to name a few. The pop culture market is very large and has a way of influencing the young generation in Nigeria, little wonder why everyone wants to have a piece of that niche.
On the 19th of June, Naira Marley finally gave his fans a glimpse of what was to come when he dropped a 1-minute video on his Instagram page, with a verse that clearly spoke to his travails in custody for over a month, albeit in a very cocky way, but are we surprised? He has always been the outspoken and fearless type, sometimes can be borderline loose mouthed and dumb. The full track later got released 9 days later.
“O te se ile bo, yahoo ni Babalawo, ole ni everybody, eni le mu sha ni barawo”
Typical of people accused of wrong doings, in this case internet fraud, Naira Marley reiterates that everyone is thief and only those who get caught are guilty. That’s the same blackmail many Nigerians use on others when they get caught doing a wrong act, the slang these days is “Nobody Holy”. Some even go as far as quoting the popular saying of Jesus in the holy book; “He without sin, let him cast the first stone”. But the truth is that what is bad is bad honestly and Internet fraud is bad and should be condemned.
Back to the music;
“O fe se ika fun mi, mi o l’ogun, mo ni Quran, mo den se adura mi, bi mo sen se adura mi ni Allah n’gbo adura mi. A ti lo a ti de, eni ori yo lo d’ile, eni ba loh lo ba de, igba tin pada de nise ni wan de mi l’ade”
Here Naira Marley in his zone, laid back, direct and cocky with the lines. He speaks about how his enemies meant him evil (they always have haters), how he has no other power asides Allah and got free by prayers with his Quran while in custody. It’s said that difficult times always get men close to their maker. He goes ahead to brag about how he got out of detention and got crowned a king by his fans. While in custody his management released two songs “Why” and “Opotoyi”, both songs ended up doing crazy numbers online, with “Opotoyi” clocking a million views on YouTube. Perhaps this made him feel really loved and important, hence the crowning him a king line.
“K’ade ko pe lori, ki bata ko pe lese, ki awon ota mi kan lese”
Like the famous greeting of kings in the Yoruba culture, Naira Marley eulogizes himself saying that may his days as a king be long, and may his enemies break a leg. That line ends the first verse of the song, in summary I got in, I stayed with God, I got out a king and there’s nothing my enemies can do about it.
The hook of the song also has a message, Naira Marley likens the prison to “Inside life”, and he goes ahead to sing about how the conditions of every inmate is quite different. While everyone may be there together, the conditions are totally different. “Inside life awon j’eya, awon kan chop life”.
Then comes the controversial chorus, the one that has got everyone talking, the one that put him at the top of the twitter trends table in a few hours after the song got released. Like I explained some paragraphs ago, many times artistes put out songs with dance routines, to help boost the virality of the music. “Soapy” is no exception, few hours after the song was released, Naira Marley did a video with the controversial dance that can be likened to the masturbation dance.
I just knew this soapy dance by Naira Marley was going to be silly 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/xhI5RELgKo
— adeda (@tosinadeda) June 28, 2019
“Joh soapy, kirikiri joh soapy, joh soapy, Ikoyi prison joh soapy, joh soapy ninu cell EFCC wan joh soapy”
Prison rape is a global problem and there’s the common saying “Don’t drop the soap” that’s often said by inmates in cells, which can mean don’t get vulnerable, it’s also an indirect way of telling a man that he’s likely to get raped in prison. I’m inclined to believe that Naira Marley was passing that Naira Marley was passing that same message in his chorus, albeit in a very witty way, and with a ridiculous dance to go with it. But isn’t that what entertainment is all about?
“Aja fe dino d’ekun, kekere ekun o man se egbe aja, won be ni, ma foh, awon naa o fe wahala”
The second verse begins with a glaring shade at the EFCC (I believe) or perhaps his haters, a dog waiting to attack a lion is only seeking trouble, because even a small lion is not the mate of a dog. Make of that what you wish, but that’s a clear shade.
“I just want to make mama proud, they want to make mama cry, mama you aren’t gonna cry no more, ti e ba sukun gan, e sukun ayo, e ba mi joh e ba mi yo, pe oro mi ja s’ayo”
Naira goes on to say he just wants to make his mama proud, but his enemies would rather his mama cries. Promises his mama she won’t cry no more, except tears of joy. He goes ahead to tell his fans to rejoice with him that he finally got out of prison.
My take; contrary to popular beliefs and opinions I’ve seen on social media, “Soapy” is a brilliant song with a message to Naira Marley fans and enemies alike, a song that speaks about his time in prison, how he got close to God and finally got out. Unfortunately, though controversial choruses and dance routines have proven to be reliable tools in making songs go viral, it also has a way of making the message of the song get lost if people fail to see beyond the surface.
I remember how I had to convince a friend back then that Brymo’s “Prick no get shoulder” was a metaphor, and that the song was actually a deep song with a meaning. It’s art, the ability to play with innuendoes and be witty and still pass a message, is what makes music what it is.
This is the case with “Soapy” and Naira Marley, many people already have a bias opinion about him as a person which is clearly related to him being an alleged fraudster, so they clearly refused to see beyond the virality tactics deployed to boost the popularity of the song.
The beat is sick as usual, Rexxie is arguable one of the producers of the year. Naira Marley doesn’t disappoint with his delivery. If there’s anything he has going for him, it’s his ability to jump on the right beat, and make a banger. Soapy is not an exception.
Naira Marley is definitely having a great year musically.