Eh-hen. They have come to see what I am talking about.
I didn’t want to put a post up when the whole hullabaloo was going on over Tonto’s two singles ‘Get High’ and ‘Itz Ova‘ released about six to eight weeks ago – I didn’t want it to get lost jokes about how she was responsible for earthquakes and such, seeing as I have no proof of those.
But in the light of her latest offering, I thought it was topical again so here goes.
I’ll start by saying that I’m neither a fan nor a ‘hater’ of Tonto. This is important because it means I am probably the only unbiased person in Nigeria on the topic of Ms Dike. I don’t care one way or another about her tattoos, or the fact that she seems to have gone several shades lighter since the start of her film career; I am not one of those people who cares about the ‘message’ she is sending to young people by either, since I assume young people are not stupid and her brand is pretty clear. Her accent makes me frown a little but that’s purely from a broadcaster’s standpoint. I am aware that she would sound more intelligent if she was not concentrating so much on sounding American (?), that it’s difficult to understand what she is saying.
Now that’s done, my point is simple; Creative people gotta create.
Tonto for whatever real or imagined flaws she has, is a creative person – an actress. Her job is to keep us entertained on film. She’s simply chosen to take her talents elsewhere. Did she sleep with President Goodluck? No. Has she declared herself the risen Christ? No. Did she steal from public coffers or stick a smouldering cigar up her fanny on live television? I don’t think so. (Am I giving her ideas? Maybe.) All she did was choose another medium of self-expression. And Nigerians HATE her for it. Dare to dream? Please. Stand still, Tonto! We’re trying to laugh at you.
While I understand and respect the rights of anyone to critique material in the public domain, I think the critique should be about the material presented. The level of vitriol or praise should also be proportionate and separate from perceived personal – as opposed to professional - failings . It is hard, I know.
The defence might be that a lot of people fail to see the difference in the two parts when it comes to someone in the public eye and thus, might consider their reaction to be honest, when to the rest of the world, it is obvious that we – Nigerians- revel in hyperbole. Observe:
Ridiculous. Funny (and sometimes insensitive in the wake of tragedy, but I guess people had to find a way to do the flooding and Aluu4 jokes seeing as nobody in their own families were affected).
Reading comments for her videos on YouTube, people implore her to ‘Stick to what you know’ but how else are you supposed to know what you’re good at if you don’t try? And how else are you supposed to grow as an artiste if you are not allowed to experiment? We complain about the quality of our artistes and their portfolio and yet we hate them when they try to diversify or better themselves. Ah-ahn! Which way Nigeria?
Yes, she doesn’t have the best voice and her tracks are rather auto-tune heavy, but it’s not any more than most Nigerian ‘musicians’ use in their songs – which we see it fit to bump and grind to on weekends. This isn’t even her first rodeo, she has had more natural-sounding songs, like this one with fellow actress, Patience Ozokwor.
She isn’t the first creative to try two or more media in the world; James Franco has his hands n so many pies, it’s like he’s the oven, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Juliette Lewis are both rockstars on the side, Dawn French is a writer and Onyeka Owenu and RMD went into politics – yes, I said it. Politics is ‘creative’ industry. Before you film purists attack me for comparing Tonto to people with ‘actual talent’, may I please remind you that society - and possibly you, purist person – did not always look kindly on the aforementioned people trying other things as well. They had to prove themselves first, hence the comparison.
Moving on. We should give the woman an award. Heck, she’s succeeded where even people like Zik and his fellows failed. No food? Nepa messing you about? No money to treat your malaria? No problem! Tonto’s tracks are available for you to bond over with your sick child. Why pay tithes when you can indirectly pay Tonto for downloads? Nigeria was united in her singular hatred of all things Tonto; all the hackers, fraudsters, robbers, serial porn-viewers and any bored youth with access to the internet put their talents towards one purpose in the days that followed the release of her singles. President Goodluck is still struggling to create jobs but this woman did it in one day!
Let’s make 17th of October our Unification Day, to hell with Independence.
And for an artiste whose currency is controversy, she’s laughing all the way to the bank. In the words of the woman herself:
Poko poko baby!
Now who wants to get high?