Photos: Fullish Art
Crowds of people lining the streets. Children, women and men – sitting, standing, leaning against vehicles. Watching, reacting or interacting with the MC or a performer. Bodies moving to sound, voices singing along.
On a given Sunday, that would be the situation on Babani Street in the Ebute Metta West suburb of Lagos city. The event? A community music show called ‘Sunday Freestyle.’ The show is about five years old – in which period a two year break has been taken, and from which hiatus the show emerged in July this year.
At the show’s most recent edition – Sunday, December 10th’s, dubbed ‘Sunday Freestyle Reloaded’ – the music genres ranged from Fuji to Rap, and the performers ages ranged from middle-aged to preteen.
Cashmoney, a rapper belonging to the latter age bracket, came out in casual clothing – accessorised with a bandana tied around his head, sunshades over his eyes, a leather bracelet on his wrist – grabbed the mic and did his thing – an a capella delivery of fiery raps in Yoruba, to cheers of amazement from the crowd.
A member of the crowd, evidently impressed, called Cashmoney after his performance and gifted him some money. Such acts of goodwill/encouragement are a constant feature of Sunday Freestyle.
Long-time host, K-Baj – an artist and music producer himself – shared an anecdote of an artist named Little Rapper; who, he said, first appeared and performed at Sunday Freestyle in tattered clothes, then eventually got picked up by someone. As K-Baj’s anecdote goes, Little Rapper, who has since been moved into a better neighbourhood, is now “a big boy.”
The communal sense of Sunday Freestyle proceedings is unmissable: vehicles – okadas, kekes, cars -ungrudgingly sharing the roadway with performers, motorists honking their horns in acknowledgement/support; sometimes – as in yesterday’s case – rolling their windows down to hand some money out to a performer.
There’s more than a thing to be said for such an initiative; providing as it does, space and outlets for (creative) expression, legit career-enhancing/life-changing opportunities, free communal entertainment, to name a few.
Against the backdrop of disenfranchisement engineered and sustained by anti-people leadership, Sunday Freestyle is essential; and, at the very least, commendable.