Fearless in Nigeria

Villy

In this installment of our "Liner Notes," the Nigerian musician, Villy, writes about his band's EP, "Humananimals."

Villy & Extreme Volumes live.

The term Humanimals, also the name of our EP, refers to the general inhuman thoughts and actions of human beings towards the planet, nature and fellow humans. Corruption falls under this umbrella and is a global problem, not just on the African continent.From where we stand in West Africa we share our views on these issues and how it affects us directly and indirectly, how policies and laws, democracy and military rule have jeopardized hope, and also the role this plays in the lives of the people of this continent. People like myself, my band, neighbors, friends, colleagues, people that have no idea where their next meal is coming from.

I’m lucky enough to have management and indie label Blank Creation Entertainment, which has made it possible for me to not worry about being commercial. I have the space to fully express myself the way I see fit. The struggles in the music industry that artists confront take their toll on the creative aspect. This is one reason why it is difficult to find fearless musicians in Nigeria – they are all trying to make money. Our label partnership takes away the burden from me and I can just focus on being a musician.

The journey from 2012 to today began in Lagos, Nigeria just after the fuel subsidy crisis that paralyzed the country for weeks. We did our best to support the struggle but there was one big vacuum, the people wanted songs that could inspire them but the music industry failed. Every platform had to go back to Fela or Femi Kuti for songs.

We realized that the masses will always need a fearless mouthpiece and from then our journey was officially birthed. We were focused on creating music to further expose the decay in the African system. Our music is made to confront leaders and show the people that leaders can be criticized for their actions and be held accountable. We hope to inspire the people to fearlessly protest against bad leadership. The goal is to achieve bigger and stronger platforms to tell the stories freely.

Since 2012 we have seen that dream grow larger locally and receive more attention internationally. We’ve also worked hard on creating a sound that will serve as a unique and strong vessel to carry our messages. That’s how we got into experimenting, fusing sounds till we were comfortable to produce this EP. But we are not stopping with the experiment – it is a life-time experience. Over the years our lifestyle and music became one. I, VILLY, cannot be detached from this music. My actions match my words; this is beyond my control, the idea behind this unplanned connection is using the creators of this music as a whole as an example to the world, offered to those that this sound and these stories will inspire.

It has not been an easy journey, we knew from day one it was never going to be easy. We’ve had so many challenges, financially and otherwise, challenges like: leaving our home Nigeria and moving to Ghana to be able to shutdown the distractions of Lagos and create for three years in Accra; settling and finding our feet; constant studio rehearsals; building the group with exceptional musicians, always in search of quality. Even if we can afford it or not, Omonblanks finds a way to make things happen. The music has shaped our minds, making quality sounds with professionals who buy in to the general idea of VILLY and the Xtreme Volumes.

The songs on Humanimals were sparked mostly by my experience, the people around me and the policies, laws, boundaries, corruption and so on. They were carefully selected,  and the goal was to keep everything simple, from sound to lyrics so everyone can grasp the message. This is just the beginning, we are still working on the album and another EP.

As expensive as the process of making these projects is, we have decided to give out our music completely free, so the music will travel as far as it can. Free music means more listeners and more listeners means that very soon we shall have a mental revolution of the people.

Further Reading

The imperial forest

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Africa’s next great war

The international community’s limited attention span is laser-focused on jihadism in the Sahel and the imploding Horn of Africa. But interstate war is potentially brewing in the eastern DRC.

The Cape Colony

The campaign to separate South Africa’s Western Cape from the rest of the country is not only a symptom of white privilege, but also of the myth that the province is better run.

Between East Africa and the Gulf

Political encounters between the Arab Gulf and Africa span centuries. Mahmud Traouri’s novel ‘Maymuna’ demonstrates the significant role of a woman’s journey from East Africa to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Āfrīqāyī

It’s not common knowledge that there is Iran in Africa and there is Africa in Iran. But there are commonplace signs of this connection.

It could happen to us

Climate negotiations have repeatedly floundered on the unwillingness of rich countries, but let’s hope their own increasing vulnerability instills greater solidarity.

Defying defeat

Political prisoner Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s collection of writings are a powerful and evocative reminder that democracy in Egypt remains a bleak prospect.