I’ve been wondering for quite a while but was yet to get to the point where I asked the specific question I pose in this post. Now I am there. What exactly is Nigeria’s Chocolate City record label doing with Kenyan-American singer-songwriter Victoria Kimani?
Four years ago, Kimani emerged on the Nigerian music scene and caught our attention when she wowed us with her cover rendition of Ice Prince’s ‘Oleku’ featuring Brymo. Her rendition was even better, some argued, than the original. We saw pure talent and needless to say, Chocolate City, an indie label by U.S. standards but one of the larger labels by Nigerian & African standards, was smart to immediately sign her to its label. Since signing Kimani, Chocolate City has yet to articulate its vision for Kimani by how it presents this talented artist to the world.
While there have been a few videos here and there, a few collaborations and we see Kimani constantly play dress up, sometimes to the dismay of Nigeria’s fashion police aficionados, her music talent is yet to be maximized to its fullest potential. I would argue that as it stands, Kimani is probably one of the most talented and highly commercial artist, with great cross over international appeal, on the Chocolate City roster. Yet, it seems the label lacks real clarity on what it wants to do with Kimani.
How do you take a very talented artist like Kimani and reduce her to a place where she releases a misogynistic song like ‘Booty Bounce’ complete with a video of a dwarf spraying money on the booty of “beautiful” women. “Ugly” women thank God you don’t have to be disrespected in this manner but if you are beautiful, you are out of luck. In fact, beautiful women, your value is reduced to your booty and your ability to make it bounce so some male dwarf can pull up on you and spray your booty with money. Worse, according to the label, the song “portrays the true beauty of African women,” at least per media reports citing the label’s statements.
*Sigh.* Perhaps this will be acceptable from another label but not a label like Chocolate City, at least per its representation, for a decade now, that it is NOT that kind of brand. Chocolate City, if the brand ethos, vision and positioning has changed, let us know so we can all make our adjustments. But please don’t tell us and purport to represent Nigerian intellectualism, cultural pride, respect and gender equality yet push this mess out.
Victoria is very talented but in the grande scheme of things, Chocolate City seems to have no idea what to do with such immensely talented artist like Kimani. She has just sat on the label’s roster with less than 25% of her talent exploited, in my view. I don’t know if this is the result of Nigerian labels not having as much experience managing or building female super stars as they have had with men. By the way whatever happened to Pryse, the young female rapper on Chocolate City’s roster?
In any event, this new music release titled ‘Booty Bounce’ that the label claims portrays the “true beauty of African women” gets a “I don’t think so!” from me and “y’all need to go back to the drawing board.”
We have real issues as an industry if we continue in this trajectory. I am also convinced that Nigerian society is not in a position now, or even in twenty years, to handle the serious repercussions of the kind of misogynistic music and videos it continues to emulate from the West.
It is disappointing to see such misogyny associated with an artist like Kimani (a Pastor’s kid for that matter), and also coming from a label like Chocolate City that should know better.
(UPDATE: So I receive this tweet where Victoria says “it’s just for fun.” I would have been surprised if she got it. Despite majority of Nigerian & African women who have viewed the video voicing their overwhelming disapproval of it on social networks and blogs, she doesn’t get it. Let’s see how far ‘Booty Bounce’ type of videos and music takes Kimani.)
To Make Your Booty Bounce. *Sigh* Embarrassing.
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