“Music has the power to move us and to change us. Yet today’s music mostly does not seem to have the same earth-moving, society-shaping effects as that of the past. Much rarer are the antiwar sentiments of composers like Bob Dylan of the USA. The anti-apartheid and government-challenging lyrics of musicians like South Africa’s Miriam Makeba and Nigeria’s Fela Kuti have largely been exchanged for party-hard, live-the-rich-life lyrics.” – according to United Nations
In today’s digitized world, music has become even an even more integral part of our lives: we listen to it on our drive to work, when we go to parties, while we study, when we exercise, and in so many other settings. Yet in the most critical times, when the need arises for activism to bring down much needed societal change, we see fewer and fewer people on the streets taking to the streets with picket signs which bear profound lyrics from the songs of the day. In a generation of musicians focused on feel good and party music, Stonebwoy towers above his peers. The Afro-dancehall, Afrobeats, Afro-pop and reggae superstar is well known for his inspirational songs, focusing on good governance, poverty eradication, and spreading good cheer through positive messages with even more delightful melodies.
If ever there was a time when the world needed musicians like Stonebwoy, that time is now. 2020 has proven itself to be one of the most bizarre and tragic years in recent history, with tragedy and grief sweeping across the globe and its continents unendingly. From the truly horrific COVID-19 pandemic which forced countries to shut borders and order lockdowns, to protests against police brutality in the USA and Nigeria, among many other sufferings, the atmosphere has never been more prime for messages of hope and positivity.
His most recent studio album- Anloga Junction, which was released during COVID time, was warmly received by a severely ravaged world with messages from songs such as “Strengh and Hope” – a vibrant prayer which reminds listeners to keep faith and not despair even in the midst of adversity when all seems lost. Indeed, the message from this song resonated so well that Stonebwoy was called upon to perform it for the COVID time virtual concerts organised by global powerhouses such as Billboard, the African Day Benefit Concert hosted by Idris Elba, “Bathroom Sessions” organised by Clash Magazine to help Water Aid UK in their fight against the gobal pandemic.
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In recent times, during the ENDSARS PROTEST organised to call for social change in Nigeria and to protest bad governance and police brutality, several of the protesters found comfort in the repertoire of Stonebwoy, through his songs like Suit and Tie which decries corruption, and more especially Run Go- a song which laments how African leaders are failing to satisfy the simple demands of their electorates and how that is leading to African youth to flee its shores in search of the proverbial greener pastures.
As some part of the lyrics says; “Tell we where we gonna run go, After making our motherland a bitter place to live. Tell we where we gonna run go, Wen dem say we have to pay for the oxygen we breathe, Answer me now Mr. big man. You no see everybody want to go run go up foreign no, Simple life, is all we want life. Give me food, give me clothes, give me love and give me shelter shelter, ‘Cus simple life, is all we want life”
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To the Nigerians, Congolese, persons from Cameroonian descent, the combination of the lyrics of the song, rhythm and instruments have established a group identity, stir strong emotions, engage audiences and amass people to take action to demand for their due right to live as citizens and as matter of fact, “Run Go”. Top Nigerian celebrity and award-winning musician, Davido, tweeted some lyrics extract from the song, as a way of adding his voice to the campaign. Other social media users also quoted Stonebwoy’s lyrics in their posts addressing the issues affecting Africans.
Without a doubt, Stonebwoy’s lyrics have been relevant in 2020 and will find themselves being used long after he is gone – an enviable legacy for any artiste