The song we present to you this week is Billionaire, the most recent hit by one of Nigeria’s latest sensations: Teni the Entertainer. Since the success of her breakout hit Askamaya in 2018, Teni has become popular for using her music to praise Nigeria’s most successful individuals. If you remember, some of the most memorable words in another one of Teni’s hit songs, Case, were: “my papa no be Dangote or Adeleke but we go dey ok.” The words were so relatable, the whole nation was singing them along with her.
A search for meaningful lyrics in the Nigerian music scene today won’t give you much. It wasn’t always this way. We can look back to the 1970s and recall the unforgettable words that Fela served the public with, in songs like ‘Lady’, ‘Water No Get Enemy’ and ‘Zombie’. Fela Kuti remains to date, the most popular musician to use his words for activism.
Today, most (but not all) songs are a quick rush of meaningless sounds and phrases, or a combination of insults in pidgin and a popular language (Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba). The argument most of these artistes will give you is that they have creative license. In actual fact, they do. Every artiste has the right to express themselves as they wish with their music.
In her latest song, Billionaire, Teni confesses an earnest wish with the words: “I wanna be on Forbes list… I wanna be a Billionaire.” If we were to judge Teni by her lyrics, we could assume the talented lady has a thing for money. Most people do. But in a recent interview with Punch Newspaper, the young vocalist explained the motivation behind most of her lyrics, saying:
“I grew up being exposed to a lot of culture and one essential part of that is praise-singing people. I decided to incorporate that practice into my songs so that people could relate more with them.”
Billionaire is a song off Teni’s first body of work; a 6-track EP also titled Billionaire. Commenting on the project, Teni went on to say:
“This project basically encourages people to lead their best lives, achieve their dreams and generally enjoy what life has to offer. No doubt, life has its challenges, but sometimes, one just needs to take a break and enjoy it.”
Teni released Billionaire (the song) on the 4th of October, and the EP followed on October 11. The song and EP haven’t received very positive reviews since their release earlier this month, but Billionaire (the song) has been enjoying heavy airplay and is currently sitting at Number 3 on Apple Music’s Top 100: Nigeria chart.
Teniola Apata is a 26-year-old singer, songwriter, and entertainer. An interesting fact to know is that Niniola Apata, infamously known simply as Niniola, is Teni’s sister. Teni’s claim to fame came when she released Askamaya in 2018, but the singer has been making music for some time now. One of her earliest songs is titled Amen, and it was released in 2017.
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