Liberian Hipco phenomenon Nasseman does not refrain from speaking or rather rapping his mind when it comes to the political problems of his country. He has spoken out several times over the years and is locally and internationally known as a voice of the people. His new single is a cry for help, for understanding, a question which is echoing through the nation: ”Who Stole the Money? ”, referring to the disappearance of US$25m from the Liberian Central Bank.
A Political Controversy
2018 was tainted by the disappearance of millions of Liberian Dollars from the Central Bank, an event that has been marked as one most scandalous acts of government corruption in recent times. What better way of speaking truth to power than through the medium of music?
With his latest single and music video, Nasseman uses a combination of lyrics and visual keypoints beginning with a worrying yellow-bold newspaper headline: What Happened to the Liberian People’s US$25 Million?
The song is ”intended to reawaken the public interests in the L$16 billion (US$100 million) saga, which includes the questionable US$25 million mop-up exercise by the Technical Economic Management Team led by Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah.”, notes the Daily Observer.
A year ago, when the unfortunate incident unfolded, Augustine Ford aka Fo4Doe and Skinny boy Kpanto, publicly and artistically announced their concern and rage against the system with the hit single ”Bring Our Containers Back”. Nasseman has now hit back to emphasize the issue which seems to be on everybody’s mind: ”My people are the victims / 16 billion got missing my youth without no evidence”.
An instant Social (Media) hit
The huge impact of the song throughout Liberia is yet another poignant reminder that the people have not forgotten about the 2018 incident, which continues to trouble the nation. Nasseman himself confirmed that the song “caught off like a wildfire” with it now heard on every street corner and ghetto. Local police officers are supporting the young artist’s vision and truth: ”(…) in fact a police officer told me my pekin, it not easy. You talking it but that is the truth. Talk it.” (Source: Front Page Africa)
Now, with the release of the music video for “Who Stole the Money”, Nasseman hopes to capture the population’s attention even again with his lyrical call ”It’s my money / Poor people money”, as an outraged people question the authorities and stand for their rights.
Nasseman – the anti-corruption ambassador
Rabbie Nasrallah, aka Nasseman, is a self-proclaimed anti-corruption ambassador artist: “As the anti-corruption ambassador, I like to write songs like this – as you know I wrote a song called Bonkey which won the (Fair Play) anti-corruption award.“ (Source: Front Page Africa)
Nasseman is part of Fair Play, a global movement of young artists speaking out against corruption and social injustice. Although young, their voices are strong and fierce, piercing through all the layers of society and reaching to the core of young peoples’ frustrations.
Fair Play is no game. The movement is represented by young artists all around the world, bold and daring, fearless and ready to stand up to the cruel and corrupt. Among the great names who support the movement are USA based artists Akua Naru and Harrison Stafford, accompanied by Choc Quib Town from Colombia, Alika from Argentina or Dubioza Kolektiv from Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The activist artist – a blessing or a burden?
The perk of being an activist artist is that you are always seen and heard, unlike the majority of the people. You become a symbol of their struggles and wishes, a symbol of hope and freedom. But along with the perks come the disadvantages. Being heard means also being seen and observed by the ones who disagree with your opinions. And when you state them that loud and are in Liberia, the consequences could be dire.
So was the case of AFo4Doe and Kpanto, who both received threats after releasing their last year hit. Rumour has it that they were not the only ones. The same happened with the feisty female Hipco star MC Caro, who released a statement after her hit, ”Bring Our Money Back”.
Nasseman says he is aware of all the implications of his hit release, but is unafraid to speak for the people. He represents their struggles and ideals with pride and honesty.
The story behind the lyrics
Nasseman explained to Front Page Africa: “The chorus is a figurative expression I use as Liberia. The country is a Central Bank that any corrupt politician and money doubler coming to Liberia because they feel they are educated with a couple of degrees they got their chances from the Diaspora, come into Liberia and exploit our people. It’s not only this regime, it has been happening since 1847 – we’ve seen Liberia as a corruption and there have been no development in our country as compared to our next-door neighbors. So, corruption has eaten us up altogether. So, I was inspired to put this chorus together.”
Apart from the chorus, probably some of the most striking lyrics are those which depict the savageness with which the corrupted “Cut off the root to step on the truth”. Universally, the tree is a symbol of life, with its capacity “to bear fruit” in order to not only feed the people and the poor, but also to perpetuates dreams of hope for generations to come. Unfortunately, through acts such as this, Liberia is deprived of such a natural right of growing and glowing: “They put up device, scatter their lies / And pollute the ghetto youth.”
With this artistic cry for help, Nasseman hopes to empower the disenchanted population and give the people the strength to fight for their rights, to never again let the corrupted tread on their dreams. The song serves to empower the young generations, to encourage them to speak up and act for what is right.