By Toyin Falola
Explosive—that’s one word that aptly describes Simisola Bolatito Kosoko’s latest single: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udnkr-pMRa8
Better known by her stage name, Simi, this amazon of an African musician has yet proven the strength and quality of her musical renditions. “Explosive” must be an apt appellation for a song that has garnered close to a million views on YouTube within 48 hours of release. What is so electric about Woman that has made it the talk of the town?
With Woman, Simi has proven that she is a master of her art. The song is a masterfully mixed sampling of popular Fela tunes, from Suffering and Shmiling, to Water No Get Enemy. Through this song, Simi has donned the philosophical robes of one of the greatest musicians Africa has ever produced, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, to direct society’s focus to the challenges of the average woman. She previously took successful older songs and repackaged them to more powerful effects, as in her
The latest single is a much bigger project. Leaving aside her constant trope of “love”, Simi moved to a more consciously activist one. The proclamation in the singe is direct: It’s a tough world for a woman. It’s always been, and Simi brings our attention to this by making us know that women receive criticisms from all angles—from men and from fellow women too. This is perhaps the best time to release a song like this, seeing as the #Nobodylikewoman campaign trended on social media some days ago. This was a campaign through which women spoke up about hate speeches and denigrating words they had received in the past. Society looks upon women as a class of people that need to be subservient. Simi throws a snicker at the popular term “submission” by asking if women have assignments to submit. What exactly should women submit? Why should inordinate gender dominance be shrouded in the garment of “a woman needs to submit to her husband?” Why can’t girls can? Why shouldn’t women go for what they want and become who they would love to become?
The woman is a song from a musician who understands women’s experiences and can fully relate to the lyrics of the songs. One can trace a connection between Simi and Beyoncé, a celebrity American musician and powerful woman who has preached the message of women empowerment and the appreciation of women through her songs. Brown Skin Girl and Woman are two songs from two different musicians having thousands of miles between them; yet, they both speak to the needs and challenges of women while serving as a source of strength and assistance to a class of humans that are, contrary to societal perceptions, strong, resilient, and robust.
Sampling is not a new concept in the music industry. There are scores of African musicians that have sampled Fela – from Falz to Burna Boy, and now to Simi. One thing that one can notice in these musicians is the will to fight against societal perceptions and spread clear messages through the vehicle of music. The woman is not just a song, and it is not just a musical single. Instead, it is a powerful tool that would spark needed conversations in society, re-concentrate our focus on the significant issues affecting women, and help bring about some required changes.
If I were to offer a dissenting voice, it would be that Simi’s voice has become too consistent to the point of saturation. For now, I will take the message since Simi is representing the voiceless.