In February, Nigerians went to vote in a president. The incumbent, Muhammed Buhari, beat his main rival, Atiku Abubakar, securing a second term in the process. As though predicting that victory, weeks before the elections, Show Dem Camp released an album titled “These Buhari Times”.
“If I’m not going to add anything to the table, then why am I here?”
Over the past few years, the group Show Dem Camp has released albums with two concepts: Palmwine Music has had two parts and may have ended; 'These Buhari Times' comes under Clone Wars.
It is a ballsy title and when I meet up with Tec (Wale Davies), in Accra, he tells me about it. “People think we are criticizing Buhari on this album, but we don’t,” he says. “The title refers to the era in which we live: These Buhari Times, in which a lot of things are happening.”
Tec by Eniola Alakija.
Palmwine Music vs. Clone Wars
The group hasn’t released hip hop tracks for a couple of years. They have been working on Palmwine music, a collection of songs with a peculiar sound. “We fuse traditional African music and mix it with hip hop.”
It’s the perfect music to relax to, at the beach in Lagos or Accra. But as much as Nigeria has these beaches “there is also a lot of craziness going on”. Clone Wars allows SDC address these challenges.
Tec by Eniola Alakija.
‘These Buhari Times’ addresses the good, the bad ánd the ugly
Bad leadership is Nigeria’s biggest problem, says Tec: “If you are rich and you have heart problems, you will have to fly out for your treatment and have it in another country, which is ridiculous!”. With ‘Clone Wars’ Show Dem Camp expresses their worries, they want to trigger thought—with rap they can speak their mind. “There is so much BS going on in Nigeria, I want to address issues and make people think for themselves. Therefore, I really wanted to make this album… there was a lot that I had to address”.
“People’s consciousness is dumbed down. If I have a garden, and I allow it to grow it will turn into a jungle. Then you can’t control it anymore- I feel that’s what we have allowed to happen to Nigeria. People lost consciousness of what life should be about, they are only thinking about money…”
The album is filled with powerful tracks and interesting collaborations. One of Tec’s favourites on the album is 'Duade'- meaning Cassave in Ga (a Ghanaian language) featuring Ghanaian artist Cina Soul.
The song touches on masculinity and mental health issues and starts with a monologue in which Wale expresses his worries on the expectations Nigerian society has for men: “Over here we think that being a man means we can’t talk. We have to swallow everything—we have to chest everything.” The title of the track refers to the hard headedness of men.
To Wale, in Nigeria men show a toxic version of masculinity, one in which men don’t show emotions while they have struggles. Wale has friends talk to him about their emotions “and I can tell as their friend that they need to talk to a professional, but they won’t.” Wale speaks passionately about and wants it to change; he wants boys ánd men to be able to share their emotions. One of the goals of his music, of 'Duade', is to create this space.
Tec by David Sesay
One of the OG’s
Tec’s dedication to music started in 2009, when he moved from Europe to Lagos, when, he says, “the Nigerian music industry was exploding”. In London and Amsterdam, where he lived before, he was already doing rap. Rap wasn’t as mainstream in Lagos yet, and the music industry was just evolving. He wasn’t sure how the people would receive his music.
Before his arrival in Lagos, he had held corporate jobs in Amsterdam and London. When he told his family about his decision, it was received with some resistance.
“I was told, in Africa, people from a certain social class shouldn’t be doing music. Our parents want us to work in oil companies or become lawyers. I studied law,”he tells me. That’s not a very weird thought if you think about the time. Today’s OG’s like 2Baba and D’banj were just on the rise. Nobody could show Tec’s parents you could be successful doing music. That has changed. Big acts are making big money and kids can express themselves through music.“It is our job to inspire the young ones, to show them it is possible!” he says.
That job might be why Show Dem Camp are still going strong. They have been around for more than 10 years but still have a lot to deliver. Proof can be found on These Buhari Times. Find it on Spotify and Deezer.
Text: Carmen Hogg
Edit: Oris Aigbokhaevbolo
Pictures by: Eniola Alakija and David Sesay