Erigga’s “The Erigma II”: From Warri to Lagos – Osamu Ekhator

ERIGGA’s latest The Erigma II sees the artist coursing through the backwaters of the Nigerian music industry to the sparkling frontier of the industry. Unlike his previous offerings which are heavily laden with dark, slimy lyrics, this album is sparsely garnished with irreverence—the staple and intrinsic themes on Erigga’s albums.

The album opens with a sleek, narrative ‘Welcome to Warri’. The song tells the dark, gritty story of Warri streets and neighbourhoods. How the youth strive to survive in the streets with law enforcement agents arresting and harassing them. The song’s bouncing and banging beat, coupled with Erigga’s slow but clear-cut delivery and graphic storytelling makes the song a decent opening.

Ice Prince features on the banging and ferocious ‘Body Bags’. The song sees Erigga and Ice Prince threatening to send their rivals six feet beneath the ground. And the amusing but effectual ‘Home Breaker’ gives a tongue-in-cheek account of Erigga’s and Magnito’s philandering lifestyle which nearly wrecks their lives.

No matter how refined Erigga is, he can’t lose his raw edge. Though he has dumbed down on the vulgarity, graphic, and gang banging lyrics in his songs, he still retains some, albeit subtle.

“Skin to skin / Na im make nigga raw,” Erigga raps on the mid-tempoed, highlife, ‘Next Track’. The song is a comment on how listeners complain about the vulgarity of Erigga’s lyrics, yet can’t get enough of his songs despite his crudeness. The featured act, Oga Network, gives a humorous chorus that couches the subtle vulgarity of the song, explaining how delicious Erigga’s vulgarity is to listeners’ ears, hence listeners’ inability to ‘next the track’.

The closing track ‘Goodbye from Warri’ is a decent and brilliant show of Erigga’s penmanship and storytelling. The psycho-dramatic song signals Erigga’s departure from the nefarious streets of Warri. Erigga dips into the depth of his psyche and bravely reports his gory and awkward past. The first verse is about his malevolent elder brother who was fond of reprehensible acts. Before his brother was killed, he told Erigga to steer clear of the streets and do better than him in life. The second verse narrates Erigga’s life in the gritty and sanguine streets of Warri, how he survived the streets before moving to Lagos to push his music.

The Erigma II doesn’t stray too far from Erigga’s previous offerings. It’s a pretty devil-may-care project and though the album has some highlights, it is nearly mangled by Erigga’s jokey and playful lyrics. His lyrics are witty and real; his command of the English language and the Nigerian Pidgin English make his songs easy to assimilate; his shoot-straight-from-the-hips lyrics are gratifying; but, at times, his humour has no spark. He needs to cut down on his humour and put more impact on his songs. I’m not suggesting that he should be overtly serious but being overtly funny might leave him being viewed as a joker.

Bottom line: Erigga is no more the bottom-dweller and feeder he was when he dropped The Erigma I seven years ago. That’s something good for his mother and late brother to be proud of.

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