Justice to the Spoken Word: A Review of REZthaPoet’s ‘Exposit’ | Lagbayi

Exposit Rezthapoet, Agbowo.org

Exposit Deluxe Edition is my first real exposure to spoken word poetry. The 10-track album catches my attention, especially the classic jazz which accompanies the renditions contained in it. It is the second collection of REZthaPoet, a renowned Nigerian spoken word artiste who has performed at different events including Soul Nyt 2.0, The Anthill 2.0, Wordup, Wordslam (Goethe Institute), Taruwa, Defunct GAP (Abuja), and many more. I do find it difficult to review works of arts because every artist has the liberty to conjure creative works depending on their perspectives.  But a buzz from a writer-friend goads my appreciating sense to guide my fingers.

The album starts with ‘Greed’ which the poet uses as an introduction to the next track ‘Awoof,’ a pidgin synonym. ‘Awoof’ talks about greed and its consequences. The poet paints the picture of greed using different scenarios to convey its imagery and consequences. The track relates to humans’ insatiable quest to enjoy the good life not minding the way they acquire riches. Here, virtue is traded for vice; the most important thing is to acquire wealth “any which way” and enjoy one’s life, damning the consequences. The tone is playfully serious – Standard English, Pidgin English and Broken English mixed to convey a serious message in a playful way. He makes allusions to real life situations like “stealing is not corruption…” and “… you can find that out from Dasuki” to stress his message.

“When communication lacks, fornication tags” introduces ‘Germane’ as a serious rendition about the realities of Nigeria. Communication breakdown that prevails among the different ethnic nationalities engenders “fornication,” suspicious intercourse, among them instead of consummating their coexistence. Apart from the suspicious coexistence, the poet talks about other thorns pricking the country’s feet and notes that nothing is done to salvage the situations: “no one wouldn’t ask about a situation they should task.” However, at the end of his rendition, he stresses that there is “strength in love” and no matter what might have happened among the peoples, “we stay germane.” I particularly like the poet’s use of object correlative to bring the poem to life.

Asake, track four, is an exposition to track five with the same title. The next track is where the poet fervently talks to Asake, a lady he loves, telling her of his undying love and his desire to make her his woman. He promises to shut his eyes to other women and take care of her. One would have thought that the instruments accompanying the rendition should be traditional given the title and the use of Yòrùbá in the track. However, the poet can consider doing a remake of the track using traditional African instruments throughout.

‘Interlude (Bliss),’ sixth on the list, is basically musical note; the short track relates poetry to “love for woman” and as important as the air we breathe. The track shows the poet’s deep passion for his art, poetry, and it is accompanied by a mid-tempo instrumentation caressing the eardrums like the loving hands of a woman.

The next part of the album starts with ‘The Future’ where the poet encourages his lover, whom he refers to as “Olomi,” to believe in herself and look ahead to a great future. The slow sound that accompanies the rendition gives it a serious tone and shows the solemnity of the message. This rendition is the poet’s way of showing his support for his lover’s great achievements which are to come. The poem goes beyond a poet encouraging his lover to ‘shine her light’ to a great future; its encouragement extends to every man and woman to believe in him-/herself to push for greatness. Nothing can deter one from achieving greatness but one. It is a philosophical, motivational rendition.

The next track is a ballad rich in Offa folklore and history; it features Tamotiye and Areku who beautifully chanted in their rustic voices. But the message of ‘Llofa’ transcends the narration of causes and effects of war; it stresses man’s travails through time: war, pestilence, famine, and so forth. However, there comes a moment of bliss when man embraces philosophy, arts and discoveries. Time passes and man’s problems persist. The poem which has a strong tone generally talks about man’s vicissitudes. I wonder what ‘Llofa’ means; but going by the chant, I suspect the title is a constricted version of ‘Li Offa,’ which means ‘In Offa.’ However, since the poet decides to chant a traditional poem, justice should be done to it by using with it only traditional African instruments. I would also be interested in a remake that only narrates the particular Offa war.

‘One And The Same’ is an indictment on Nigeria’s collective negative psyche; a group of people do not carry the blame for all our troubles but all. Every Nigerian is to blame for the state of things in the country especially our antisocial behaviours that have negatively affected the country’s growth. The poet uses a forceful tone to drive his message home. Here, he features the legendary fuji icon, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, to lend a strong voice to his indictment.   

‘I Am,’ the last track on the list, is a self-praise poem. The poet eulogises himself as a royalty by rendering his oriki and stressing his essence of being. He continues with the eulogy of twins, which in African cosmology are sacred beings. The twin eulogy is meant to stress the poet as a great being. The tone is forceful and high-pitched, typical of praise renditions. The sound is melodious and will make one nods her/his head as the rhythm flows. This is another track I expect a remake in strictly African style.

Exposit is a rich work of art spiced with fascinating rhythms to convey its intended messages. The poet also uses voices appropriate for each rendition, using high and low pitches to pass his messages, as characteristic of alagbe (minstrels). Initially, one may feel that there is an overwhelming presence of westernisation in the album, but jazz appeals to many people especially in the city and English is important to reach a heterogeneous audience. Although influenced by the west to a large extent, the poet ensures the album has its dose of native content – Yòrùbá.

In all, Exposit has done justice to spoken word art.  Word choice, punch lines accompanied by jazz in the album achieve a soul-lifting euphony one can only find in a great work of art.   

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Lagbayi is a writer, editor, arts and culture enthusiast. His writings revolve around societal problems, especially situations that “ridicule” humanity. Although he engages in other forms of writings, he prefers to make his feelings known through poetry. He has unpublished works and also has edited numerous works – academic and creative. Some of his works have been published on Tuck Magazine and Destiny Poets.

 

  

 


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