Rick Ross has no direct ancestral ties to Nigeria, at least none that can verified without engaging the services of a genealogist. Perhaps the obese music tycoon considers himself some sort of distant relative of mine because of his relationship with Nigerian-born rapper Wale Folarin (who for all intents and purposes is an American), an artiste signed to his Maybach Music Group imprint. Well, I beg to differ and I refuse to buy into that ludicrous delusion. With the release of his music video, 'Hold Me Back (Nigeria)', Ross has secured his place as an insensitive opportunist without any regard or respect for a country which he has repeatedly referred to, almost patronizingly, as the motherland.
The audiovisual farce called 'Hold Me Back (Nigeria)' has its infernal origins in Rick Ross' invitation to perform at the Summer Fest, an undoubtedly costly move that ridiculously inflated the cost of tickets to the event. With his eyes festooned on the bag of money thrown at his feet, he of course honoured the invitation. Mr. Ross became an instant deity the moment he stepped onto the tarmac at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, with a crowd waiting to catch a glimpse of the great man whose man-breasts are nearly as famous as Nicki Minaj's plastic body parts. A number of charitably promiscuous young women threw propriety to the wind, offering their professional and amateur sexual services alike pro bono, purportedly to make Ross' stay in Nigeria an unforgettably pleasurable experience. Such shamelessness
It would appear that Ross had been planning to shoot a music video in Nigeria for a while, seeing as he hit the road in search of suitable locations to concoct a cinematic 'masterpiece' shortly after he arrived Lagos. Someone led him to the worst parts of Nigeria's economic capital, someone shameless. Without having to sweat like other less attended explorers before him (Mungo Park, anyone?) Ross was delivered in style to his music video paradise, a terrible place where he could capture footage at 'high risk', footage that he would take back to America and brag about on public television, saying, "I shot this video in one of the most dangerous places in the world." Or something akin to such pretentious nonsense.
The finished product hit the Internet late in September, and nothing could have prepared even the most stoic individuals for its blatantly insulting imagery and theme. Shocking in its prejudiced portrayal of Nigeria as a country of domestic terrorists, hungry-looking masses, slums and goats, the music video that most were expecting had somehow (between production and release) morphed into a tacky, exploitative documentary that reeks of acute narrow-mindedness. The lyrics of Ross' 'Hold Me Back' (the soundtrack to the eponymous music video) couldn't be more out of place as it is impossible to associate the themes of sex, money and the champagne life the song so eagerly glorifies with images of post-Civil War Nigeria, Niger-Delta militants and common Lagos dwellers that make up the video vérité the clip is based upon. What has Ace of Spades got to do with the price of cassava bread, one would begin wonder.
What Rick Ross and his affluent ilk constantly fail to show the world in the ill-conceived cynical delineations of Nigeria and Africa they create and spread as art forms in their plush macrocosms far removed from these shores is the fact that this country and the great continent that accommodates it are a lot more than their struggles as geopolitical entities. First and most importantly, Africa is a beautiful home to noble peoples, a diversity of races and tribes that are unique in identity and culture, and it is the social clash colonialists precipitated by senselessly melding those peoples into unnatural collectives that has led the continent down the dark path towards becoming the subject of such travesties as 'Hold Me Back (Nigeria)'.
What is this music video saying?To whom are its oh-so grand revelations directed at? Nigerians are well familiar with the problems that their country faces every day. We know our issues quite well and we have no need of a graphic reminder of the daily experiences we'd rather forget. Or perhaps it was meant to draw international attention to the fallen giant of Africa. “Hey FAO, pay attention to these poor, hungry West Africans,” the video seems to say, like that would change anything. Contrary to Ross' one-sided perception, Nigeria is not all about hard times, dirty cities and Boko Haram bombings. A long hard look from another perspective would show you a country endowed with human and material resources, taking small but surefooted steps towards change. Progress is being made, no matter how slow the pace. So Mr. Ross, the next time you elect to shoot a video about a country, ensure that you tell its whole story sensibly or don't bother at all. Your ignorance is frightening, sir. Take that from a real African. Still, no hard feelings.