Arts and Books

Themes and Tempo of RezthaPoet ’s Cold and Frostrated

There is no breaching the idea that Adebola Afolabi, commonly known by his pseudonym, REZthaPoet, is here to stay. The sheer consistency of spoken word poetry production for one, and the ambient consequence of his art for another. I heard of his new album to be on the 13th of July, 2020 and I made a made a mental pledge to listen to the material once it was out. In my modest consideration, it was a good investment of my time. However, Cold and Frostrated, proved to me again, how materials of such standing might never get quality commercial reach and success, owing to the clime in which it is released.

In the tradition of most arts that reflect the state of being per time—political, economic or otherwise—REZthaPoet follows the line of thorough activism knotted with rhythmic pleasure with his new spoken word album. This perhaps informed the first line of the first track: ‘I have 60 years of rage is buried in my 15 years of age!’. In the same track, he takes his angst further when he threatens statesmen who are the obvious bane of our collective existence in the country: ‘You shan’t sleep easy!’. What is of most importance here however, is the balance in the faulting affair. The poet makes it clear that the finger-pointing business goes both ways, after all bad leaders come from an equally bad citizenry. This he bared when he said; ‘The young Nigerian / a digital thief / Self-proclaimed Robinhood’. But it gets cyclical, as he comes back to the politicians, telling them: ‘This is what we are made of / this is what you made us’. The poet reflects the use of young people to perpetuate electoral violence and speaks for the youth when he said ‘…/I’ve been fighting for you/ one day I’ll be fighting you!’ In the second track, the poet continues this daring advocacy, only this time it is on account of the younger generation who wander in a country without a plan for their future. According to the statistics, there are 33 million Nigerian youths and counting. He makes it clear that we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder. And perhaps like most folks better cultured in their natal tongue than in English, he goes home with capturing the denial of the future by the present thus …let’s play the ostrich / e je ka ma gba penalty lo throwing. By track three, REZthaPoet explains malignant patriarchy differently. While the philandering man in our parts is termed ‘Community Penis’, REZthaPoet fuses this into another concept of advocacy that borders on the feministic perspective. He calls on all ‘Entitled Penis’ to have a rethink by respecting women and doing away with their bloated egos. —At birth the little prince is indoctrinated / you are the man / never see bobbies as the rival / they are the weaker sex. —The only job he knows is to sow seeds / that million sperm cells like bullets that are sprayed from a rifle. Taking a cue from human nature, Adebola takes a turn from his near-militant advocacy, so much that one begins to wonder how a person so impenetrable on virtues, can be the passionate lover caught in the thrill of romance in another poem. Nevertheless, Fela, Marley, Dube toed this line. REZ’s Track four, which is probably my best of all the tracks: —I want to hug you / hold your ends, and feel your skin / you have taken me on a mental travel without my approval —You have chosen to whet my dreams / your attention has become my restoration Wrecked from the elusiveness of this coy love interest, he continues to entreat her attention: THEMES AND TEMPO OF REZTHAPOET’S COLD AND FROSTRATED Culture & Lifestyle 38 —Help me make sense of you —Baby be clear / be like daylight. In You, track 5, REZ buckles in utter dissolution by professing his love to this same love interest. He expresses loneliness and longs for homecoming. —You and me together / you bring me to better / you sing me the letters / and you make me these feathers —You are the sky / you make me fly / and win in this weather. And in track 6, Home is always you, he continues on his mystery and eulogy for this unnamed love interest when he says: Your pressing questions, pregnant with their own answers.

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In the fashion of faithful poets, who despite the diversions of love and loving, REZthaPoet returns to his calling; committing to his mission of truth. Only this time, he is despairing. He makes it known that despite his artistic and activist inclinations, he lives in a material world, which makes one have needs that can only be fulfilled by money. A world that though espouses work as a virtue towards the green fields of comfort, but in a twist, portrays money and gains the wealth as the reward of those who are able to shortchange society. They say time is money / it is why I’m seeking Benjamin’s watch he says. And then he lets it known that evil however ugly it is painted, takes strength to resist: I’ve paid my dues / mourning tears for lost jewels / trying to resist yahoo. In my opinion, Adebola loses savour and takes the graph to the lowest percentile by the eight track, which I think has no business in the album whatsoever. It stands there like a filler– present without purpose. By track 9, Black is, brings back the fervent verses of the poet. Here he proudly displays the sheened feathers of blackness. Bringing to mind the negritude movement by the Martinique and Black French poets in the 60s. The musicality of this track must not be mistaken. It is a crisscross of Hop Hop and Jazz genres made to accompany his poetry. Both rap and jazz are rooted in the African-American enslavement musical history. Here he says: —Black is the depth of blindness / the pregnancy of light / the acknowledgement of our own perception to all we know exists but haven’t seen. —Remember that black is the pupil in the eye of the world as we learn about our evolution. Awani, track 10, has the poet extolling the virtues of his Yoruba heritage. One might even be tempted to he was even reciting panegyric of the entire Yoruba people. He starts with a bold metaphor that conveys the origins and the journey of the Yoruba people. —We are the people who came to create a new Egypt. —Our dreams are captured in the essence of the Ooni. —We are the roots, fruits, branches of the tree known as Lamurudu. And then in the Yoruba, he further extols: —Yoruba lo l’aso / Yoruba lo l’asa Lyrically, I believe this is the most accomplished of all the tracks. Perhaps because REZthaPoet is more at home with the Yoruba language, and he is delving into a subject that is dear to him. He is able to invent usage with dexterity and imagine new ways of saying ancient verses with new impulses. In track 11, REZthaPoet returns to the spirit of advocacy that he started with. Only this time, his poetry takes the form of the good old call and response practiced in the dramaturgy of ancient ethnic groups across Africa. This time, it is question and answers: one question, with several answers. He uses this track to explore the desperate urge for power amongst the Nigerian political class. —How do you win elections in Nigeria? And he answers: — Be comfortable with blood. Yet he continues answering this poser, because there really is no one way to it, no one way to evil: —Love crimson / and be able to make any day valentine / be sure to be the antichrist. —Be open to marabouts. Touts and men of God who profess lies from their mouths. —Destroy education / and ensure pampering and tampering with censors / most notably, promote illiteracy / intimidate those who are carrying out their civic duties. This builds up towards the closing track: Greatest Nigerian yet to be born. In the voice of a student union leader, he engages the frustrations of many educated Nigerian youths whose only hope for a better lease of life is to straddle foreign embassies and strive to escape an unbearable homeland. —The greatest Nigerian is yet to be born / for the world today wouldn’t let him come. —This land is a cannibal / feeding on live dreams and making impotent memoirs of the carcass of the dead ones. —The greatest Nigerian couldn’t be born / as the lord of darkness, PHCN, / exercises might whilst the doctors was in the middle of an oxygen-assisted caesarean. Structurally, the poet arranged the tracks in a cyclical manner, which is nothing short of admirable.

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