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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Music Blog: Wizkid’s Tease Me and that summer I fell in love with my best friend

The artist Wizkid during the MAMA 2016, in Johannesburg, South Africa on October 22nd, 2016
I have followed Wizkid’s music since April feverishly placed one bud of her earphones in my ear with “Tease Me” playing. April was one of my closest friends in high school in part because she sat in front of me through most of senior class but mostly because our mutual love for good music made us go-to(s) for new stuff.
“Tease Me” came in the period of a self-imposed hiatus of Wande Coal—whose classic debut Mushin 2 MoHits, we had both absorbed thread after thread like cotton candy over the past few months—and we were both hungry for a new obsession. Samklef’s mellow piano-based production and Wizkid’s voice licking the melody with ease and just enough auto-tune to hit every note created a refreshing combination our playlists both needed since sound god, Don Jazzy created Wande Coal.
Coincidentally, April would slow whine with me to the same song at a prom after-party a few months later, a prelude to us kissing awkwardly and exchanging long overdue “I love you(s)” in the parking lot later the evening. Of course we didn’t decide there and then to make a brogadaccio song incoherently also about an elusive lover our relationship song. But the nostalgia of the song didn’t hit us both until we chatted over milkshakes for the first time after an uncharismatic break-up five years earlier.
It began with Wizkid’s voice melding with synths and dancehall drums while low piano keys ran along the instrumentation with a pretty twinkle. She’d been alternating between texts and Snapchat vlogs the entire night but our eyes lit at the same time these early moments shuffled into the DJ’s set. She chuckled slightly as Wiz sang “Fine no pimple/ me I love your smile/ and I love your dimple/Simple” showing a pair of adorable cheek dents I used to tease her about. The rest of the evening went by a lot better from there even though the realisation at the end of the night was that we had both significantly outgrown each other.
It’s not impossible to figure the eventual second single off his Superstar debut as a first take freestyle that was too good to be true, but that was not why “Tease Me” became a replay trap or eventual theme song for my first relationship. In fact, odd as it sounds now, “Tease Me” was so potent because it managed to fit into the mind frame of my teen cliche. Like everyone who has ever survived a forbidden but bludgeoning attraction for their closest friend, the mental game of balance has to be the strongest suit.
You have to remember to be a good friend while simultaneously banishing and admonishing thoughts of everything that makes you attracted to the person in question. With April, the feeling had been mutual but it only made things worse since we were both too chicken shit to do anything about it. What should’ve been simple game of balance played out as test of intimacy limits, culminated by emotional manipulation and petty grudges like catty lesbians.
In a very slight but specific way, Wizkid’s Tease Me captures a time when ‘swag’ had a cultural meaning and personality was just a medium to channel the innate ability. A time when every insecurity, including feelings for a girl that cameo’d in my hormonal wet dreams, were funneled through naive pride then masked as anything but. Wizkid’s casual shout-outs to older albeit more successful colleagues on the outro is mostly disjointed from the song’s subject matter, but I heard a man whose self-validation causes him to employ a reverse psychology to no foreseeable end, only merely encouraging her to tease him.
It’s still near-impossible for me to say why this song related with me, but a quote by NewYorker’s Amanda Petrusich comes to mind now and it goes thus: “If you think hard enough about why a song is working on people, its value usually becomes clear”.
The inability of so-called music heads and experts to defend the Nigerian soundscape has led to the casting away of traditional Jollof music as an underbelly genre. But while it is not impossible to be hard-nosed about such arguments, the ultimate litmus test for good music is nostalgia. Nostalgia is reckoning proof that lyrics and composition will always come secondary to the feelings, memories and events attached to discovering a new sound. And perhaps this will form the basis for new conversations I will have about Nigerian music on this blog.

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