Have you been paying any attention to the controversy generated by Olamide’s new song, Science Student? In the said song, Olamide sings about drugs and the dangerously colourful cocktail people create from these drugs. I hadn’t yet heard the song as I was dragged (without warning) into the story by Don Pedro Obaseki when he tagged me in a video on Facebook. I wasn’t able to respond because the responses in the comment section were extra shocking. They were deliberately flippant and ignorant. Most of the people, believe it or not, dismissed Don Pedro’s concerns about the song. Instead, they queried why he wasn’t devoting his time to supposedly more important issues like the Benue killings, among others. There were a few who were more concerned about the fact that Don Pedro had disclosed that he was recording the video while in traffic on Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos.
Well, the issue has refused to go away. I have since listened to the song, Science Student. As to be expected, it sounds very catchy and even if you don’t understand Yoruba, you’ll dance Shaku Shaku, to your heart’s content. Nonetheless, Olamide has come out to say that people got it all wrong, that the song is in fact an attempt to dissuade drug abuse. He also asks those who don’t understand Yoruba to get help with translation. Fortunately, you’ll find a full translation of the song online which is what I relied on.
I don’t think there is any translation that will hide the fact that Olamide was rather soft on condemning drugs, and even he agrees. He explains that it’s because he doesn’t want to come across as “harsh or rude” because his background helps him to understand the struggle those people have with drugs. Let’s buy this explanation that he’s not promoting drugs, but what’s with the encyclopaedic exposition on drugs? It’s like a crash diploma course on the types of drugs available on the streets. With the way the song sounds, I am willing to bet that more people are going to search for the names they hear in Science Student than will run away from drugs. How hard is it to say, even if it’s at the end of the song, ‘Say No To Drugs’ or something? Why are our artistes’ explanations about the lofty meaning of their songs always longer than the songs themselves? You do not need an epistle to say ‘don’t do drugs,’or do you?’
Olamide is not new to controversy. I recall that Abdulkareem Baba-Aminu, a journalist and friend of mine, accused Olamide a few years ago of encouraging date rape in his song, Story for the gods. Even though I had heard the song, I didn’t take Abdulkareem’s accusations seriously. I thought it was a stretch. As you can imagine, many people must have felt the same way I did.
However, there’s some truth to what Mr. Baba-Aminu said. Just before I started writing this, I listened to the song again. It’s hidden under all kinds of slangs, still the import of the song roughly says: ‘I want to have it. Do I need your permit? I have drunk Dogonyaro and Monkey Tail. I want to do, she nor fit wait, say it’s getting late, says she’s getting faint, story for the gods…’
Before anyone raises the argument of how Fela or other artistes have done worse, let’s not get facts twisted. It doesn’t matter who or how many people have done the wrong thing; what is wrong is wrong. Since we are comparing musicians, Ebenezer Obey sang words to that effect, didn’t he? And where are all those people condemning songs about yahoo boys?
Olamide is fast coming across as someone who lives in his own reality. During his last show, Olamide Live In Concert, the Internet nearly broke because he had allowed a certain Yomi-SARS to perform at his show. You’ll recall that there has been sustained agitation for scrapping of the police anti-robbery squad, SARS. The most vociferous voices against SARS are people from backgrounds and age Olamide should supposedly be able to relate with, yet he didn’t see anything wrong in providing Yomi-SARS with a platform.
Olamide needs to think seriously about his public image and his place as a role model. Before then, can our law enforcement agents leave critics of the government and investigate cases like this?