When you become a star, it gives you many new freedoms, but takes away the crucial freedom to express yourself truthfully. Being a successful artiste in Nigeria is primarily a blessing, but it can come with many curses. There’s just something oddly limiting that comes with the fandom, the adoration, money and fame. There’s something that doesn’t feel right, that nags at the center of your being. That’s because, for every opportunity, there’s a trap. For every smile, a hidden agenda. Every payment comes with perhaps more obligation than you feel you can handle, and as for the women, there’s a whole world of booby traps. I couldn’t resist the pun. When you are in front of the crowd, hearing your name being chanted by thousands of fans, deep down at the back of your mind, something reminds you that these people who scream your name at deafening decibels today would be the first to give you a bad name tomorrow and hang you. When approached by fans incessantly for photos, you have to be of your best behavior, put up a smile and become a commodity for them to get extra mileage in their peer groups. The money comes fast, but many times, it goes fast too. You lose many nights figuring out how to manage it. The women come easy, but they also get pregnant easy and scandalize you easily.
A star in Nigeria walks around with paranoia and an omnipresent feeling of being under the microscope. Of being watched, analyzed, criticized and sold in various ways. Every step is reported, every hand gesture criticized. But you know the most painful part of that life? The loss of freedom of speech. In Nigeria, a celebrity almost always loses her freedom of ‘truthful’ expression. Keyword ‘truthful’. Social media, which has provided everyone with more channels of expression, is just a tool for you to market your art and connect with fans. You can take up good causes, and give off tailored advice on anything from safe drinking to using condoms. You can advise people to get money, work harder and achieve. But that’s just about it. It’s in the little things that you can’t say. That’s what hurts the most and makes you feeling like a kid who got shushed. You can’t divest your chest of whether you hate a product. You can’t join the discourse on art if you are not offering praise or spewing words of encouragement. You hardly can support a football team in peace, without getting flak, neither can you join politics. You are trapped in the endless cycle of being a product to be chopped packaged and sold. That sucks.
Mr Eazi, the Nigerian singer, who came into fame in 2016 has officially ended his honeymoon. An addicted Twitter user, Eazi tweets from dawn till dusk, and dusk till dawn. He tweets not as a star, but as the regular Joe who is doing music. His stardom which blessed him in 2016 up until this week, had failed to show him the curse of censorship. Until he honestly spoke the truth about Ghanaian music influencing the mainstream melodies of Nigeria. The rest became history. Eazi is just the latest example and a reminder to other stars of the restraints of their jobs. Music is rewarding business to a select few who it chooses to bless. But like the devil, it takes your freedom from you. You lose that part of yourself that speaks the truth. And it hurts.
So when next you see your favorite star hyping a new product or a new wave, look deep into his face and take a mental picture. That picture you take is that of a man who has very few freedoms.
Source: PulseNG Music Buzz