It’s been less than a week since Falz released ‘Moral Instruction’ — an album that he hoped would seal his place as an activist-performer by drawing parallels with and inspirations from Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti.
Prior to the album release, the rapper released the single ‘Talk’, which in addition to being a brilliant social commentary, also served as a good springboard and publicity that generated buzz around ‘Moral Instruction’.
And even though a verse, wherein Falz classed ‘runs girls’ alongside corrupt politicians, initially raised a few eyebrows and head-shakes, it wasn’t enough to dim the strong excitement around ‘Talk’ and his new album. Alongside the striking art by Lemi Ghariokwu, strategic marketing and the songs on it, the album and the efforts put into it was poised to cause a ripple, to change the game, to generate important socio-conscious and political conversations.
Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on how you see it), the loudest ripple and political buzz it generated was about gender.
While ‘Moral Instruction’ was meant to be an important body of work, critiquing Nigeria’s political class and their failures in a Fela-esque fashion, it simply boiled down to being another bullet in the never-ending and sometimes one-dimensional, but important, internet gender wars. Thereby making Falz new work less potent, less powerful and less buzzy than it was when it was first announced.
Through his well-avowed opposition to sex work, Falz has inadvertently distracted from the goal of the album: which, seemingly, was to ridicule corrupt leaders, make the government uncomfortable, use the power of music to reach people and galvanize change.
Sadly, the aftershock of him talking about why he hates ‘transactional sex’ has drowned every political ding, vibration and sustaining echo the new album should have had.
As a result of his publicly-declared abhorrence for paid sex coupled with accusations of slut-shamming, while conveniently overlooking the men that keep them in business, ‘transactional sex’ has dominated online conversation over the last few days.
True, Falz has the right and freedom to hate or like ‘transactional sex’ but ultimately, in the face of current discussions about women’s rights, toxic and hegemonic masculinity, it is up to him to decide which is important: political activism in the mould of Fela or the ‘goal-distracting’ consistent labelling as misogynistic slut shamer.
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