Clay the self-acclaimed Nigerian Punk Queen released a single “Lemanya (Look into My Eyes)” sometimes last year and produced a video to it this year. The video came with high expectations of a Nigerian Punk Rock video. I for one expected it to offer stuffs like the stripped down punk formula and also wield muscular rock ‘n’ roll, operatic gestures, scat vocality and some guitar interludes that is custom of popular punk rock bands like Green Day, The Offspring, The Ramones, The Slits etc.
The video was directed by ColdFlames and I must give a bit of credit here for making the track listenable, I also want to give some credit to Clay herself, for the courage she has shown by adopting a genre not popularly accepted in this part of the world, but on the other hand, the video production is way below par when compared to some other Punk Rock videos. I mean the video is a train wreck and I mean it in the most literal sense. It’s awful and yet you just can’t look away (or Listen away). This may be the most incompetent, dysfunctional punk rock video I’ve seen in recent times, so much so that despite watching this video a dozen times, I never realized that Clay is supposed to be the Punk Queen of Nigerian Punk Rock and even assumed she was referring to somebody else other than herself. If that’s not a testament to how badly this song fails as a punk rock song, then I don’t know what is. Punk rock vocals sometimes sound nasal and lyrics are shouted instead of sung in a conventional sense, the way Clay did in ‘Lemanya’. Punk lyrics are typically frank and confrontational; compared to the lyrics of other popular music genres, they frequently comment on social and political issues. On the other hand, Clay’s Lemanya can neither be said to be about ‘LOVE’ or just being gospel. I’ve seen a lot of Punk Rock videos and I know what they look like. I saw Clay’s ‘Dancing In the Sun’ and I like that video, the bit of darkness introduced into it, despite the title of the song. The philosophy of punk rock is centered on technical accessibility and a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ spirit. Typical punk rock instrumentation includes one or two electric guitars, an electric bass, and a drum kit along with vocals.
Does anybody like this song at all? Even if you like the beat, which is a perfectly fine thing to do, you have to admit that the song just doesn’t work at all as a punk song; neither does the video helped in any way to make it look like the video of a punk rock song. Even though this is a clay song, I could never imagine it break the top 10. Clay is meant to be a punk artist churning out punk tunes and after listening to this song, I must say I was disappointed with the theme of the song which portrays one of pop rather than punk.