Artistes Travis & Teni want to be Billionaires but there is a difference

image from VectorStock

Nigerian artiste Teni has had notable hits since she came onto the scene in 2016, in 2019 she added another song to her hit list titled Billionaire.

The first time I heard this song I was at a fuel station and the song was blasting from the station’s stereo. A few days later I was at home scrolling through channels, I landed on one of the popular music channels on cable and Teni’s video for her song Billionaire was playing, with the words spanking new displaying on the corner of the screen. Teni’s song and her music video (which currently has 1.6 million views on YouTube) comes almost ten years after US artiste Travis McCoy had a global hit with song bearing the same title Billionaire, which featured Bruno Mars. The moment I saw this connection, I could not resist exploring both songs and the meanings conveyed by the artistes .

Lyric:

McCoy sings about wanting to be a billionaire, the joy of seeing his name in shining lights, and having his own theme music, he lists all the ‘cool’ things he would do… for others:

Yeah I would have a show like Oprah
I would be the host of, everyday Christmas
Give Travie a wish list
I’d probably pull an Angelina and Brad Pitt
And adopt a bunch of babies that ain’t never had shit
Give away a few Mercedes like here lady have this
And last but not least grant somebody their last wish

I’ll probably take whatever’s left and just split it up
So everybody that I love can have a couple bucks
And not a single tummy around me would know what hungry was
Eating good sleeping soundly.

This declaration of charity with his billionaire status, is what many expect and many believe is the true representation of wealth, like the slang made popular by Nigerian artiste Olamide ‘Who you epp?’ like the American author, entrepreneur and former football player Lewis Howes once said, ‘[wealth] is not measured in the amount of dollars you make but the amount of lives you impact.’ It is this lack of help that causes the majority to scrunch their noses at the rich and influential in society because they are perceived as ‘doing nothing’ to alleviate the suffering of others.

In the wake of corona-virus crisis top brands and wealthy individuals have stepped up to offer help and support. Jack Ma co-founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba group donated 500,000 corona-virus test kits and 1 million face masks to the United States. Luxury brand Prada donated six intensive care units to hospitals in Milan following increase in fatalities. Donatella Versace and her daughter Allegra donated 200,000 euros to a Milan hospital, the list goes on. Travis McCoy's lyrics showed he had this understanding of wealth, that with it comes great responsibility and great expectations.

However, when listening to Teni’s lyrics, there is a more inward view, as she lists all the ‘cool’ things she would do… for herself:

I wanna make love on the moon dancing to my tunes, it’s too much
I wanna wake up in Lamborghini
I want to chop life on Santorini,
mo fe yangan, mo fe Di’gba, mo fe Di’gba, mo fe Di’gba,
(I want to be proud, I want to be equal, I want to be equal, I want to be equal)

From Teni’s lyric, she wants to become a billionaire to take care of herself. Teni’s dedication to achieve billionaire status is to better her cause not just primarily but it appears solely, and this is not entirely far-fetched from the way some people think and articulate their desire to attain wealth status in Nigeria. I cannot count how many times I have heard people talk about getting into position of power in the country to ‘settle themselves’. We are in society where the popular notion is every man for themselves. No one is willing to help just anybody. We tend to look more inward, and put sole focus on our immediate circle. Teni’s lyrics reflects this mentality. The differences in how both artistes spoke about wealth caused me to question my desire and intentions for wealth and influence; was it for the greater good of all or purely to enhance self?

In as much as music is for entertainment it is also an expression of human emotion, and a reflection of the values, and beliefs of a society. It would have been nice to see Teni use her video to show some sort of philanthropic gesture, may be show her day dreaming about doing something ‘big’ to better others, this would serve as a vital way to change the narrative of what it means to be wealthy and influential in a country like Nigeria. Bob Marley, one of legendary musical artiste of all time once said ‘The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires but in his ability to affect those around him.’ And I believe he is correct.

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Nneoma Ekwegh

Writer, Copywriter, Bookworm, Dreamer, Believer, On a journey to a better me & literary domination 😁