The streets are taking over… again.
Among the many trends that have defined Nigerian pop music in the last year or so, street culture’s grand entry into the mainstream is arguably the most influential.
The story began with Small Doctor’s seminal anthem “Penalty” and peaked in 2018 with the invasion of shaku-shaku and all its attendant elements.
In 2019, it has continued with the rise and rise of Zanku and its progenitor, Zlatan Ibile.
Amidst all this, Barry Jhay has steadily worked his way into the ears of anyone who cares to listen or is just lucky enough to live near a barbershop or one of the few remaining physical record stores.
The singer first caught most ears with 2018’s sleeper hit, “Aiye”, a rousing call about life and the unseen forces that control it, made even more urgent by his piercing voice.
His newest single, “Tomorrow” follows a similar template by addressing another concept rooted in Yoruba tradition – the idea of fate and that, for good or bad, no-one knows tomorrow.
Barry Jhay begins by addressing our inner desires for a better day – “Brother, stop worrying, tomorrow will be better”, he calls to those devoid of hope or living in that fear that things will never get better.
But he is also wary of our tendency to get lost in the day’s blessings when they eventually show up.
He asks those with many to give as “If you do bad today, you go see bad tomorrow”.
Antras, a veteran of Lagos’ underground scene who has produced for everyone from Daboy to Q-Dot, lets the drums do the talking on a quite casual beat.
Barry’s taste for music that admonishes offers a throwback to the era of greats like Ebenezer Obey and his father, Chief Sikiru Ayinde Barrister whose classics like “The Horse, The Man and the Son” and “E Jeka Sere” have become part of our folklore.
As the song winds down, Barry commits himself and his future into God’s hands.
It is a fitting end – as if to emphasize that even he is well aware that none of us, however talented or gifted, is completely in control of what each day brings our way.