I watched Kemi Adetiba’s “King of Boys” & I Like I

It’s a superbly good film. This is not a review, per se, so I won’t dwell on the plot but will talk about a few things that impressed me — and ones that I find unforgivable.

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When a film presumably parade “random” stars for the heck it, it usually signals a red flag. I say “random” because when a cast list shows names that aren’t usually associated with film (or theatre), one suspects that a producer is betting on the sensational to pull some numbers, or maybe just using cameos for effect. It was my initial feeling when the movie poster for “King of Boys” parades rappers Reminisce and Illbliss — and — after I saw it, fuji legend Kwam 1. I was like, well, it’s fashionably a good marketing idea to use known faces — from culture — to add to a film’s stature.

The film follows the blueprint of a gangster story. A lead character is introduced and the audience must decide, based on their moral compass, whether the character is deserving of condemnation or commendation. And being at the mercy of the director, the audience would struggle to reconcile empathy with indignation. Spoiler: The ending feels like a prank on an overly critical, overly cynical, moralist. (At one point, the film reminded me of “Third Word Cop,” except that the grunge and grime of that Jamaican story are replaced with some gloss and a nice colour-coding from an editor that probably knows how to use filter to enhance “dark” story). But Eniola (Sola Sobowale) isn’t Ratty. She’s a ruthless politician and kingpin of a clever network of gangsters who run things at the highest level of Naija organized crime. And since we’re talking Nigerian crime, all the components are here — politics, dollars, the diabolical, sleaze, family business, and NCCC (Of course, you know where that came from).

The main lure of the movie is its authentic handling of its twists and turns. (But I promise not to dwell on the plot).

See this woman called Sola Sobowale, ehn! I don’t even know what to say. She’s a God! (Ok, let’s not offend the offendables. She’s a Gosh)! One watches her and anticipates when she’s going to launch into her signature theatrics — that no-nonsense, no-frapapa identity that makes her a delight to watch. And there’s plenty of it in this film. As the King of Boys, she carries herself with measured charm, staring enemies down to submission, throwing the Sobowalesque bluster around and making it hard for one to assume that she may indeed be different in life from the character she portrays. Some scenes are forever etched in my head — how she suddenly mellowed after yapping at a deceitful politician, how she mesmerized a customer at her fabric shop, the hilarious one-second of a mogbe-mokun-modaran moment of staring at a bouncer after her son and daughter turned against each other. And that scene, of what looked like her impending death — the dialogue with arch-rival, Makanaki (Reminisce), and the confrontation with the American. Gosh, Sobowale is a God! (Unnecessary disclosure — in my line of job, I tend to be on set with Nigerian celebrities. But me and my brand of Ogunlowo-ego rarely get celebrity-struck to take selfies with them. But now, I regret never stealing a moment to take a picture with Sola when I was taking her through a script. This is how ego ruins opportunities!)

That guy, Reminisce. The guy is ipata-raised-to-power-100. Excellent Mafioso actor.

But, people of Gosh, I cannot forgive or forget the scenes where a ram is killed and a chicken is dismembered!!!! I can’t unsee those scenes!!! Just when I was already rooting for some foreign nods, then I saw those. Where’s PETA?

And then, the representations of white garment church by the seaside, alongside traditionalist are uncharitable. Aren’t we tired of mocking these people’s ritual forms? May Gosh forgive all of you storytellers — including Wole Soyinka and his famous prophet character and the silly memes.

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(That’s a lovely trailer poster destined to be iconic. If the bloody red and arrogant fonts don’t register on memory, Sola Sobowale’s mean mugging against a noir will do the trick).

An Appraisal of the Nigerian Creative Renaissance

This is such a good (and almost-balanced) appraisal of the Nigerian creative scene. I say almost-balanced because, while extolling the elements that a foreign and high-culture audience can relate with, it ignores two critical components of the Nigerian creative space - the unbridled creativity stemming from the “streets” and the dynamics of business. So far, the street culture - with the exception of traditionally upper-class-upper-upper-middle-class creative domains (Galleries/exhibitions, high-class fashion etc.,) feeds the high culture. It makes for a beautiful Nigerian phenomenon. The high culture, only with capital, network and distribution resources, have always “win” in controlling the overall narrative, to the foreign audience especially.

Beautiful article that didn’t do much to explore how the business value-chain is being managed and sustained, and who enjoys the returns the most.

The writer didn’t mention my current favourite Nigerian creatives - Terry Apala, Qdot, Lil’ Kesh, those genius Instagram painters, those Instagram storytellers - Maraji, Lasisi, SLKcomedy, Alutaemir, Lekan_kingkong, not even those advertising guys doing cool stuff. I’m suing somebody! 😝

“...the assertive Nigerian global influence today cannot be denied, whether it’s in literature, music, fashion, or art, with new talents appearing at a relentless pace..... But all of them feed off the scene in Nigeria itself—and in its megacity, Lagos, a frenetic engine of creativity.”

https://www.wmagazine.com/story/nigerian-artists-writers-musicians-fashion-designers

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The Mother's Day Ad By My Agency That Went Viral

We set to create a Mother’s Day campaign that celebrates mothers and motherhood in a way that resonates with our African audience. 

Our idea - "Mother's Secret Weapons”

Traditionally, African mothers play a key disciplinarian role in the family. It’s a role that they sometimes played with firm hands and, where stern looks and raised voices didn’t deliver results, it wasn’t uncommon for harder measures to be employed. 

We decided to whip up nostalgic emotions and trigger conversations around this role – especially as many grownups in African communities look back fondly on these corrective episodes with loving mothers. 

Each ad humorously profiles the common tools used during a mother and child squabble, and use them to remind ourselves about the love that came in form of discipline.

In essence, here’s to the mothers who made us – and the tough love that forged us.

The Campaign has since gone viral especially in some African countries and I'd like to thank my team members - Abraham Cole (Art Director), and Adebayo Arisilejoye (Copywriter) for coming through on this.

Thank you, Gabriel Marquez

Thanks for creating beauty. Thanks for your works that fed my soul - "Love in the Time of Cholera," "The General in His Labyrinth," "One Hundred Years of Solitude". Thanks for the quotes I return to when I need to be reminded about the futility and illusions of life, and the silliness of the human condition. I didn't like magical realism until I read your works. Continue to rest in peace as the world celebrates your birthday, today!

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It's My Birthday

This boy. Chris. Ogunlowo. Abiodun's first. The one that inherited his strange habits. Pacing when restless. Gobbling knowledge. Even in the toilet. Ogling at animals. Ogling at fine things. Collecting old things. Collecting weird things. Finding life in culture. Finding meaning in tradition. In music. In old music. In history. In history waiting to happen. In curiosity about distant lands. But didn't pick the gene to be adventurous with food.

This boy. His preferred name. Bolorunduro. Adebisi's first. Her deputy husband. Wears her smile. Finds colour, like her, in chaos. Hosts people. Loves people. Laughs. Big-hearted. Forgiving. Takes life easy. Jejely. Asks questions. Challenges received wisdom. Traveler. Fond of flaunting that insignia of beauty, that gap-tooth. But didn't pick her ability to cross forbidden human boundaries at will, without filter.

This boy. Man. Man of Gosh. Get rich. Get richer. Grow already. Find new friends. Discover new lands. Maybe get married too. Maybe become a father. Eat well. Stop being a lepa. Start getting comfortable with cameras. Cameras don't kill. Stop being an olodo. Or elenu yamama. Or oni frapapa.

You're full of shit. You’re full of magic.

When I Was Interviewed by Students of Pan-Atlantic University

That time I was interviewed by students of Pan-Atlantic University. It was a good chance to share my experience as someone who trades in creativity, communication, and culture. They were curious about the dynamics of running a business as a creative person. I understood their curiosity. There's a common notion that creatives don't make good business people. It's a myth that has been reinforced by shitty creatives. Members of the creative class, understandably, are well represented on the neurotic role-call, and so we don't always expect them to be the most disciplined people in domains that require discipline, like business. But I always maintain that every creative - if not naturally business-inclined, can compensate by learning. Or, at most, admit that there's a missing link or just give up and stay in the purist zone of creation that shields one from the motions of business. I probably should write a piece on my thoughts. I talked about the importance of a good team and pushing hard to defend good ideas.

“Fela and the Kalakuta Queens” and The Curious Case of How the Elite Now Owns Fela

Don't end this holiday without a visit to Terra Kulture to watch the beautifully-produced “Fela and the Kalakuta Queens”. The show, in one word is - epic.👌🏽

(But then, while sitting pretty among an audience that looks like a cross section of Lagos upper class, upper middle-class, middle class folks, with fine bags, fine skins with American and British accents, I couldn’t shuck off the thought that capitalism and its snobbish agent - class difference, have conspired to fully own Fela. This Fela! The man who pitched his struggle for the everyday man; a man whose oevure and message was antithetical to the pretensions of the social and political classes. One may counter that Fela, by the privilege of family, is modestly a product of a middle class and educated family. But the man remodeled his life and art and rebellion for the common man. This thought occupied my mind for a few seconds as the fine girls on stage twerked. Maybe someday, a good social scientist would allot time to probe how capitalism ends up branding (low!) culture for the consumption of members of the privileged class. If anyone knows a book or study that may answer my curiosity, please feel free to share with me). I’d like to watch this show again! Those twerking are not of this world.😉

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Of Dami Ajayi's New Book

I enjoyed Dami Ajayi new collection of poetry, the cheekily titled "A Woman's Body is a Country". As in pop culture, as in literature, one is tempted to compare an artiste's/author's debut with a sophomore work. I shall resist that temptation. But I must acknowledge that his first anthology, "Clinical Blues", while not being overtly experimental, offered a freshness and playfulness that one sorta anticipates as this poet's creative mien. It seemed more surgical. This new collection is more temperate; it exhibits restraints on the experimental and the playfulness but roams freely around emotions. There are poems about death, about love, about friendship, about beer, about sex, about cities, about agro, most of them distributed around the peripherals and depth of the emotional. I like quite a number of the poems but I've returned mostly to these two and the title poem. I love the cover design too. Well done, Dami Ajayi. 👏🏽👌🏽👍🏽🙏🏽

New Books from the Renaissance Hotel

I was supposed to have some meetings at Truffles. But it wasn’t opened so I moved to the Renaissance. While blowing grammar (the thing we sometimes do for money), I began to shuffle my attention between my guest and a corner of the hotel.

I had noticed a roll-up banner that announced books, a section of a table with piles of books, and people filing out with carrier bags of books. My guest had lost me. I had sent a message to the guests of my next meeting to postpone our meet. I couldn’t wait to see books. Then I saw the side of a lady in ankara, with a dyed crew cut, and in full salesman mode. She strolled to the entrance and I figured, “Oh, it’s Lola Shoneyin”. I rushed the meeting and entered the pop-up book store. My first question, enthusiastically - I hope you have Dami Ajayi's new book. She led me to the corner of the store where Dami’s books sat pretty among others. Lola was recommending another book to me when new customers enter. I let her go attend to them so I could wander about. I regret to find two books that I had bought on my kindle just earlier in the morning. I wished I bought from her store. She may not yet know my fascination with creative people with enthusiasm for business.

I picked Dami’s, I picked Yemisi's book, which I had promised as someone’s Christmas present, and Bolaji Abdullahi’s account of the presidency of former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan - “On A Platter of Gold”, and a complimentary copy of Ake Review (2017).

So my dear friends and members of the kingdom of Gosh, take that stroll to Renaissance hotel, Isaac John Street, GRA, Ikeja, (today or next month) and pick cool books and, errrrm, ask Lola for the leftover of our hug. And if you’ve got nice dentition, be sure to take a selfie too.😬🙃😛