The influence of Falz in the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria is one that can’t go unnoticed.
His voice has been one of the strongest in the campaign which seeks an end to police brutality in the West African country.
Falz has been seen at some of the protests addressing protesters and demanding the Nigerian government to reform the Nigeria Police Force.
In the videos that he posts on social media, as well as his speeches on protest grounds, one could sense his passion for human rights activism.
He has already written an open letter to the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, requesting a reconstitution of the governing council of the National Human Rights Commission in Nigeria.
The Influence of his parents
Falz comes from a lineage of renowned lawyers and activists.
He was born Folarin Falana on October 27, 1990, to Femi Falana (a human rights activist) and Funmi Falana (a women’s rights activist).
Falz, like his parents, is a lawyer. He graduated from the University of Reading with an LLB and was called to the Bar in Nigeria in 2012. Falz reportedly practised law for two years before turning his attention to music full-time.
In an interview with The Guardian Nigeria, Falz stated that he was “influenced” rather than “forced” to become a lawyer.
“I think growing up in school, friends would be calling me lawyer because they knew that my dad and my mum were lawyers… so I think that directed me towards that path.”
Addressing societal issues in his songs
Falz might not be fighting for the rights of people in court, but he is doing that through his songs.
“I don’t want to make a song just because… I try to preach and teach with my music. I think it’s about making music with substance,” he said in an interview.
His songs often reflect the views of his father, Femi Falana, as well as, addressing the ills of society.
Falz’s songs like Child of the World, Confirm and Wehdone Sir touches on issues of sexual harassment, internet fraud and the rise of wealthy megachurch pastors.
However, he became very popular for social commentary in his songs when he released This Is Nigeria, a cover of American rapper Childish Gambino’s This Is America.
In the song, he addressed a lot of issues including bad governance, corruption, internet fraud and drug addiction among Nigerian youth.
Interestingly, he also addressed the issue of SARS, police brutality and oppression of citizens – a problem which his father, Femi, is very passionate about as a human rights activist.
The song was later banned by Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), claiming it had vulgar lyrics.
But this did not deter Falz as he went on to release the album Moral Instruction in 2019. The album consists of songs like Talk, Hypocrite, Paper, E No Finish, Follow Follow and Jonny which addressed similar issues in This Is Nigeria.
“I feel like a lot of artists stay away from making content like this. But I have decided that if we have to change the mentality, then we need to be bold, we need to be brave. The album is movement, a re-education and a re-orientation. Quite obviously, we have lost a plot as a people, as a country,” Falz said prior to the release of Moral Instruction.
The influence of Fela Kuti
Aside from the influence of his father, Falz is also influenced by Fela Anikulapo Kuti who is regarded as the ‘King of Afrobeat’. Falz was only 7 when Fela Kuti died.
The influence of Fela is evident in most of Falz’s songs. He sampled three of Fela’s songs in the Moral Instruction album.
Fela also used his songs to criticise military dictators, corruption and other social problems, resulting in him being arrested on several occasions and beaten by soldiers. Fela was jailed in 1983 by President Muhammadu Buhari, who was then a military head of state.
Interestingly, Falz’s father was once the lead lawyer of Fela Kuti.
Also, the cover art of Falz’s Moral Instruction album was designed by Lemi Ghariokwu, a renowned artist who designed most of Fela Kuti’s record artwork.
Nigerian journalist Wilfred Okiche describes Falz as the inevitable evolution of Fela Kuti’s activism.
Joey Akan, a Nigerian music journalist, also describes Falz as the embodiment of Fela Kuti’s revolutionary and rebel spirit.
It is, however, important to note that Falz clearly sees music as a great tool for human rights activism, mirroring his father, Femi Falana, and Fela Kuti.
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