NAIRA MARLEY and Cancel Culture In Naija

On 12 June 2024, embattled king of Nigerian street music, Azeez Fashola, popularly called Naira Marley returned to the social media in a move that has now been interpreted as a push to revive his already shaky music career. The Marlian record boss took to social media where he shared a screenshot advising Marlians – the name he coined for his fans not to care about what others think of them.

The screenshot read: 

“As a Marlian what people in the world think of you is not your business”

In another post, he wrote: 

“Marlians 4 life”

His post immediately generated backlash from netizens who took to the comment section to share their views. Many of whom slammed him for being a bad influence on the youths.

A follower with the handle @Laykay0808 wrote:

“You are a bad influence on the youth, promoting waywardness and immorality. All your songs are full of immorality, even Obesere was not as vulgar as you are. You putting up this of post is really unfortunate. You are accused of goat rustling, yet you chose to dance with any goat in sight.”

Another user wrote: Oya na come release song make we de see the people weh go help you stream am”

Another follow who called the attention of Naira Marley to the fact that the movement has died wrote:

“Marlians not existing anymore dude”

Going by the post, Naira Marley has a big hurdle to scale if he has to revive his music career.

Why Nigerians Cancelled Naira Marley

Naira Marley enjoyed his reign with many hit songs and collaborations to his credit with some of them moving up to the number one spot in different music charts and streaming platforms. 

The controversial rapper turned singer who returned to Nigeria from Peckham, United Kingdom, is noted for his non-conformity to the rules of Nigerian society. Naira Marley’s fame got to the zenith when he was arrested by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic for Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), and remanded in Kirikiri prison. He warmed his way into the hearts of many Nigerians, especially the youths, with his banger, ‘Soapy’.

Marley incorporates his lifestyle into his brand of music capturing the hearts of many Nigerians, many who are youths and teenagers. This continued for some years until he had issues with his now deceased signee, Mohbad which eventually led to the latter leaving Marlian record.

In a video that went viral, Mohbad has since been repeatedly assaulted by a group of boys he claimed were sent by Naira Marley. Although Naira Marley denied the allegations claiming that Mohbad was under the influence of drugs, the allegations did not go away.

All hell was let loose when Mohbad died in 2023 in controversial circumstances. This immediately generated a lot of speculation with allegations pointing towards Naira Marley as having had a hand in the untimely death of the singer. During this period, several videos of Mohbad’s assault went viral on social media including that of Naira Marley’s close associate, Sam Larry who was seen attacking the late singer during a music video shoot with another artist, Zlatan. 

There were calls for the investigation and arrests of Naira Marley who was out of Nigeria with his associate Larry when Mohbad died. Eventually, the duo were later arrested and detained by the police and granted bail. Although the two have not been directly linked to the death of Mohbad, they are attacked online at any slightest opportunity.

There is also the issue of royalties of some of the songs of Mohbad which are being held by Naira Marley. According to reports the case is still in court, though some Nigerians expressed the sentiment that the Marlian boss should release Mohbad’s royalties to his management since he is deceased.

Angry Nigerians have since been tormenting Naira Marley and Larry anywhere they find them including their social media. This has not only affected Naira Marley’s music career, but also that of his signee, Zinoleesky who received the same level of attacks on social media. The two have been cancelled to a certain degree as the music they have released since the death of Mohbad has received little or no attention from most Nigerians. They have also not been listed among artists to perform at major shows in the country and some radio stations in Nigeria have gone as far as banning the playing of Naira Marley’s song on air.

A look at the social media posts of Naira Marley, and Zinoleesky shows that they still have a long way to go as it regards reviving their careers which is on its way to oblivion. Judging by these comments, it is difficult to establish that the average Nigerian who once enjoyed the music and the culture of Naira Marley, and attended his Marlian concert would want to see him perform on stage without embarrassing or attacking him. Even his die-hard fans popularly called Marlians have since deserted him.

In a few months, it will be a year since Mohbad passed away. Even though the autopsy that was recently released by the police did not directly point to Naira Marley or his associate, it is difficult to conclude if Nigerians are willing to forgive the number one Marlian boss who they once named the king of the street.