You know Lagos, that is true.
Born and bred in it, you call it Las Gidi even if you don’t quite know how that name came about.
Lagos, to you, is not quite a state, it is a city, a state of mind. You may not know that there was a time when the Kings of Lagos used to be buried in Benin City, but you know about Molue, BRT, prehensile conductors and how to hop down from a moving Kombi bus. You also know how to flag down a rickety taxi and how to bargain a cheaper price.
But since this is a music column, lets see how much you know Lagos by her songs.
10. Lagos–Teni The Entertainer
Melancholic and low tempo, this lesser known song by one of the raves of the moment, hardly reinvents the places and moods of Lagos, but it professes love for the city in a way that is achingly nostalgic.
9. Eko–Kizz Daniel
Abeokuta boy Kizz Daniel tries for a contemporary ditty but falls short in both inventiveness and invocation. His methods and failures are similar to Teni’s but there is a magic in his voice and that repititive throbbing of the snare on the beat.
8. Lagos Party—Banky W There was a bit of a dilemma. Ebute Metta or Lagos Party, but one trumped the other. Banky’s biggest hit is a good place to start your musical journey through Lagos. There is always a Lagos party and it is the best of its kind, be it a graduation party, a house-warming party, a birthday party, a welcome home party, a burial reception party, a my-dad-is-ten-years-gone-let-me-remember-his-passing party. Even the non-yoruba tribes have embraced the Owambe culture which account for a couple of billions yearly. Indeed, ain’t no party like the Lagos Party.
7. Lagos vs New York—Keziah Jones No wahala. Keziah Jones is moniker for Olufemi Sanyaolu, the Blufunk guitarist who is much more acclaimed in the West than at home and this song, off his Nigerian Wood album, comparing Lagos and New York is a classic. The comparison is not a new concern really, but the acoustic approach is quite meditative and will be appreciated by a certain kind of Lagosians. They know themselves.
6. Stylee—D.J Jimmy Jatt, Mode 9, 2Face, Elajoe
As he tells it in his book, Avant Garde, Jimmy Jatt invented the word Las Gidi and isn’t it just fitting that he also owns one of the modern classic songs about Lagos. Stylee, with 2Face, the city’s greatest male vocalist passionately crooning, and Mode 9, the city’s most consistent lyricist flowing, is a delight even now, with a thumping percussion and a picturesque video. In short, they lionized the Lagos hustle.
5. Eko Ile by Yinka Davies
I still remember that video. A young and youthful Yinka Davies singing to the back drop of Lagos metropolis, calling Lagos home in piercing shrills and nostalgic rhythms. Lagosians feel that way about the city, especially when they have been away from it for a while. The city is like a snort of illicit drug that you may withdraw from if you stay away for too long.
4. Rough (Lagos Blues) by Tyna Onwudiwe
Who remembers African Oyinbo of blessed memory? She did have a contemplative song (done in the 80s) chronicling several scenarios about different Lagosians having it rough. The chorus goes – you gotta keep your head together so you don’t go insane, it is rough, it’s so rough.
3. Lagos Jump by Third World
A certain kind of Lagosian will be familiar with this song. The kind that enjoy listening to live music, the kind that attend the huge (now rested) concert called Afropolitan Vibes. They are sure be familiar with that delightful cover of Lagos Jump by Ade Bantu and his Agbero International Band, and they also get the acrobatic rights to leap into the air!
2. Go Slow by Fela Kuti
Yes, there is Gidi Traffic on Twitter but there is also the Great Lagos Traffic that creeps on us at regular intervals when there is a programme at the Camp, when there is a fatal accident on the Third Mainland Bridge or when the president and/or his wife turn up in Lagos. Fela, the prophet, sang about it in the 70s and he quips rather humorously, if go slow catch u for ur house, o le make e niyen!
1. Eko O Gba Gbere by Chris Ajilo
With numerous covers in its belt, Ajilo’s Eko O Gba Gbere is still the master piece about Lagos. It begins with that nostalgic blare of horns that is indeed timeless. It describes a city that is both loved and feared in equal parts. Lagos is many things to the many people who call it home and nobody makes that point clearer than Chris Ajilo