The Soundtrack To My Life Story

Can my music be the saviour of my race/ Can you see reality written on my face

Can my music be the saviour of my race/
Can you see reality written on my face

Every stage of my life has been footnoted by a particular song or album. Certain songs remind me of certain periods of happiness, triumph, victories or struggles. I could hear a tune that makes me want to fist pump due to the happy memories it invokes. Then another one would come on that reminded me of a life low. The wonderful thing about music is that sometimes just one lyric or stanza or chorus out of the whole composition speaks to you. That is how I chronicle my life story – based on music I was digging at the time.

Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” reminds me of the 90s, secondary school events, playing Streetfighter 2 with friends all day, sharwamas from Terri’s at 1004 or UTC, house parties, hanging out with friends and going on city trips, summer school lessons and youthful dalliances. The lyrics to “Summertime” are hard and true: Sitting with your friend, cause you all reminisce/ about the days growing up and the first person you kiss/ And as I think back, makes me wonder/ how the smell from a grill could spark up nostalgia/ all the kids playing out front/ little boys messing round with the girls playing double dutch/

In senior secondary school, my childish innocence gave away to adolescent rebellion, as I looked to find my place in a Nigeria that was dithering on the blink of socio-political implosion during the last years of the military. I fell in with bad company, and my crew broke school rules and skipped classes. I nearly got suspended from school, save for my folk’s direct intervention with the school authorities. My dad’s disciplining was hash. Life was miserable, and I  was in a bad place with my folks. I listened  to and was inspired by Biggie Small’s song “Juicy” from his first album: Damn right I like the life I live/ Cause I went from negative to positive/

Fast forward to my adult years – I worked part-time in a high-volume call center handling hundreds of customer service calls from very irate customers who vented their frustrations about one irritation or another.

I would slip my mp3 earphones under the call center headphones, and listen to music on the low, while the customers mouthed off. Sometimes customers took out their frustrations on the call center agents, even making personal attacks. One called my co-worker the “N” word, and banged the phone. Another threatened to come over to the call center and shove the phones down another co-worker’s mouth, because he wanted a refund.

One got verbally irate with me, but I was not fazed. Puff Daddy’s song “Cant Nobody Hold Me Down” was playing in my MP3 player. Can’t nobody take my pride/ Can’t nobody hold me down/Oh no, I have got to keep on moving/

Later, I listened to another customer rant on, about seeing shards of a broken bottle on the floor in our company’s store. I apologized on behalf of the company, but the customer was not satisfied and continued to vent. I blocked out his drama with lyrics from Puffy, which I was bumping: Broken glass everywhere/ if it aint about the money, Papa just don’t care/

When my pops passed, it was the worst period of my life. Jay Z had written a song “Lost Ones” about long lost friendships and the death of his nephew, and a line from that song reverberated in my mind, as I stood at the gravesite during the dust to dust rights. I hummed the piano riffs, as the burial crowd looked amazed:

Close my eyes and squeeze, try to block that thought/ Place any burden on me but please, not that, Lord/ But time don’t go back, it goes forward/ Can’t run from the pain, go towards it/ Some things can’t be explained, what caused it/ Such a beautiful soul, so pure sh../ Gonna see you again, I’m sure of it/ Till that time, big man, I’m nauseous/

Seeing so wonderful a man, shoved and shoveled beneath 6 feet of dirt below, made me realize the brevity of life. Everything is meaningless without love, faith and family. It is worthless to put your hopes in worldly vanities, fortune and fame. Too often we chase after the wrong things in life which have a finite existence. Wealth can be lost during a man’s life to economic circumstances, misfortune and waste. It can be lost after his death to graveyard thieves, lack of maintenance culture, spoilt kin, and grabby relatives.

To help me understand this new philosophy, the lyrics of U2’s Walk On helped thus:

All that you fashion, all that you make/All that you build, all that you break/ All that you measure, all that you feel/ All this you can leave behind/ All that you reason, all that you care/
All that you sense, all that you scheme/All you dress up, and all that you see/All you create, all that you wreck/All that you hate/ You’ve got to leave it behind

All sorrows heal, and broken hearts mend like an agama lizard’s tail. That was scant consolation when I got my heart broken the first and only time in my life, by a cheating girlfriend. I was delirious, but my pal Kola laughed away my matter by suggesting I move on quick to a rebound chick, as he advised “The only solution to woman troubles is new women”

He quoted a song that was on rotation in his tape deck so I could make sense of what he was saying. It was from an old Tuface Idibia feature in a Tony Tetulia tune called “My kind of woman”: Ogogoro be like woman; If you shack am, you go high o.

Hmmm…

Certain songs remind me of periods of good, good, loving. When my missus and I first started dating, we would video-Skype and listen to Train’s “Get to Me”, every evening we were apart with lyrics like: Why don’t you hitch a ride on the back of a butterfly and get to me/ I look around at what I have got, and without you it ain’t a lot/

When my daughter was born, I was there in the theatre as the doctors checked all her vital statistics. I couldn’t believe it – Esco, the blogger, lawyer, now papa? I volunteered to ferry her to the nursery myself so that we could James Bond. As we took those baby steps of new father and daughter together, I prayed greatness over the life she was about to embark on. I did a small father and daughter dance with her, as I remembered Nas’s tribute to his own daughter “Me and You” and I quote: “One day, you will meet the right groom/ and then, you will see your life bloom”

And sometimes when life gets me down, as I think about Nigeria’s problems and the new menace of terrorism and extreme corruption, and ponder if we will ever rise above the depths of poverty, misalignment and corruption, music helps me get through that too. It is impossible to listen to “Home” by Cormega and not be encouraged: If your life isn’t  in order, seize control/Adversity’s a lesson, be composed/Above all spread love hate stains the soul/Those with no purpose are afraid to grow/He who walks in small steps has a way to go/On the road to the riches you exposed to resentment/Everybody wants eat but they won’t do the dishes/My whole view is different since I rose from the benches/The goal was to get it and I showed true persistence/

I leave you be with a medley of songs that have been on repeat in my tape deck a lot these past days, as I build last memories of today for the future. The Sountrack to my essence in 2015. Realize that today is the first day that begins forever.

  1. Savoir Adore – Dreamers
  2. M.I. – Imperfect Me
  3. U2 – City of Blinding Lights
  4. CL Smooth & Pete Rock – Take You There
  5. Nas – Hey Young World
  6. Scarface – Picking Up the Pieces
  7. The Courteeners – Not Nineteen Forever
  8. Train – Following Rita
  9. Whitney Houston – When you are loved
  10. LifeHouse – Sick Cycle Carousel
  11. Cormega – Rise
  12. Olamide – Church
  13. C.L. Smooth and Pete Rock – Take You There
  14. Makavelli – White Man’s World

You Dey Make Me Kolo

Hello, hello

Now, that I have gotten your attention with the above picture, if you are ready, we can settle into the topic for today.

I was listening into a radio show on the Verastically Livin‘ blog, and the subject was on male toasting and all its epic failings. Apparently Naija fellas are supposed to score low on this most important of tasks. Ah, it is this topic of toasting again, huh? I know this is a much flogged topic, one which I had opined on before in my older article – Toast A Nigerian Girl. However, with Nigeria tethering on the brink, I want to contribute my bit to fostering national unity by promoting ways to make love not war.

It is hard to blame some guys for falling short when it comes to chatting up girls. One reason may be that some girls are really really hot, and you get your words muddled up trying to form sentences in their lovely presence. Look at the above picture – how would you start a conversation with a broad like that. If you told her that you were toasting her because you are attracted to her intellect, even she would know that you are telling porkies Would you approach her with a starter like ‘I love how you do the dishes’ or would you say your mind (I just wanna love you) and risk a rebuke ? Can you see that being yourself does not always work when it comes to chatting a chick up?

I will be frank -my liver has failed me a couple of times when approaching chicks so I tend to rely on my charm (not charms or black magic oh). I once sat next to a brown skinned beauty at an event. She asked me for my name, and I replied Antonio without thinking. I had been watching Wild Rose, that popular Mexican soap on TV the night before, so the name of one of the characters came to my mind when I was asked my nomenclature. Yep, she was so fine that I forgot my own name. Don’t be mad if your looks had not had that effect on someone.

Then some weeks later, I was at The Palms, when I heard someone shouting “Antonio, Antonio!” and whistling to get my attention.

I turned around, and it was the girl from the event. She was panting slightly and was a bit upset, because she had been running after me.

I had forgotten my own name! She invariably later found out that Antonio wasn’t my real name, and that killed anything between us before it could start.

Most guys get their names correct of course, but that is all they do right.

There was this chap who was trying to chat up this really beautiful girl at a kiosk in front of his office. She was clad in the tightest skirt suit and killer heels, while he was sweating profusely from doing marketing runs for his bank all morning. She had just bought a soft drink and was about to leave. He didn’t know what to say so he said ‘So you like Fanta orange too.”

Corny, but the girl thought it was rather sweet (him, not her bottle of Fanta).

So she smiled, and the ice was broken. They started a long convo, hooked up on a date, and dated for 2 years.

The problem with this ‘woo-ing’ thing is that there is too much onus (not anus) on guys during the process to make things happen. Girls expect a guy to have smooth lyrics, drop ‘word’ that would hold their attention, make them laugh, hang around or constitute a general nuisance.  Did you see all the hassle Kevin Jame’s character had to go through in the Will Smith movie ‘Hitch’?

What is a girl supposed to be doing all this while? What is she bringing to the table? After all, she has a fair bit to gain as well. A guy may be saying or doing the right things but it takes two to tango. If a lass is not sending the right messages or giving the right vibes, it may put a guy off. And that in no way diminishes a guy’s toasting skills. The perfect analogy would be a joke I once heard Basketmouth the comedian crack at one of his concerts. He said that when he performs at a show, if some people in the audience don’t laugh, then it isn’t his fault as he always does his best with his performance.  If they don’t laugh, it is because their personal problems are more than his jokes. And in that case, he wouldn’t be able to do anything for them.

Sometimes, you call or BB a girl you are interested in, and she would ask something like ‘What’s up? Any better or any gist?’ like you should be a steady form of amusement for her. Dead uncomfortable silence…….

I once had a girl come over, get comfy on my sofa, and give me an ultimatum ‘Esco, I have come to see you. So entertain me or I would never come here again.’

I switched on the television, and changed the channel to E!. There you go.

I have noticed that what guys and ladies expect in the ‘toasting process differs. Men want to get it over and done with quickly. We actually want maximum returns for minimum effort –  we like less talk and more action, get it?

Women prefer a long drawn out toasting process where you have to prove that you have got what it takes. They want to be ‘wooed’ ‘flattered’ wined, dined, then caressed, which all takes too much time and resource; besides there are  a few girls who don’t mind it being in the reverse order – caressed, dined, whined, flattered, then scattered. Guys prefer the latter category, understandably.

Some girls just don’t want to be talked to – they want to be toasted. You may be called a slacker for just being open, and taking your time to know a lass. You may be labeled other names for trying to do things the convenient way.

There was this girl I had met at a networking conference years back. We just vibed, and exchanged numbers, then started exchanging SMSs frequently. There may have been a little attraction.  We decided we would meet for a date – movies and food. The problem was that the girl lived in Ogudu, while I stay in Ajah. This was around the time when there were really congested road-works going on Lekki-Epe expressway which would take me about 4 hours or more to get to her crib. I asked home-girl if she could meet me halfway – take a cab to Surulere. I would come and get her there, and take her to the Island for our day out. Then I would drop her at home in Ogudu in the evening. That way, we could maximize quality time spent together, rather than wasting it in traffic. Logical right?

The girl blatantly refused saying that I was trying to short-change her “Esco, you want to do things the easy way. You must come and pick me up from my father’s house if you want to take me for a date. You must go through all the processes if you want to take me out. I am not easy.”

Who said anything about anyone being easy?

This reminds of when a friend of mine mis-yarned by blurting out the wrong thing to a girl he was chasing at the time. She was a real down-to-earth easygoing type of girl, so he used to take her to Mr. Biggs and Bank Olemoh Designer Rice for dates. He was so appreciative of the fact that she wasn’t a greedy type of girl that he remarked one day “Titi, this is the reason I like you. Whenever we go to Mr. Biggs, you always order only one donut, and you don’t even ask for mineral. I have been telling my friends that you are a cheap date. I like that.”

The girl was like ‘Huh?’ She lost her cool, laidback nature and upped her ante – she always demanded for Double Four  afterwards.