Owo, Owo, mo fe ni e repete o
Owo, Owo, mo ni e lo oooo
Owo, Owo, apekanuko oooo
Je n ni e lowo, maje n ni e lorun,
Ki n ri e mu seun rere, bii ti Abiola...

~ King Sunny Ade

Agbe, o di ile
Agbe, o di ile
Aii be'lere d'ere ema kuu ere
Aii be'lere d'ere ema kuu iya
Aii be'lere d'ere ema kuu egbin
Obe ma re l'owo onikola
Owu ma re l'owo alagbede
Ire mi ma wa l'owo Eleda mi o
Agbe, o di ile o

~ Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey

As a Yórùbà man who grew up among elders that esteemed the Yórùbà heritage and tradition, I was exposed to different genres of music, especially highlife. I grew up thinking highlife was specifically created for our fathers and mothers who weren't in touch with the funky music that was common among youths. But when I got to the university, I began to pay closer attention to the lyrics of popular highlife artistes - Chief Commander, Sunny Ade, Yusuf Babatunde, Haruna Ishola just to mention a few - and it was only then I realized how rich the lyrics were in both meaning and relevance.

For those of you who neither speak nor understand Yórùbà, I apologize for not translating the aforementioned lyrics. It's because you may never fully appreciate the meaning unless you understand the Yórùbà language. It's the same way I feel whenever I see Igbos clone the lyrics of Oliver De Coque and Osita Osadebe. Trust me, Igbos sing with pride and appreciation for their language. And you see those funny dance steps Igbo people adopt when dancing to their native songs? I sometimes find myself copying them

What's my point in all of this?

As Nigerians, we may be attracted to the Chris Browns, Davidos and Wizkids of this world but nothing compares to traditional (highlife) music. NOTHING.

While contemporary artistes will rather insult their peers using hate language and violent remarks, a Yórùbà highlife musician will opt for proverbs and parables. You can play hip hop diss tracks all you want and your "enemies" wouldn't bat an eyelid. But if you want to pepper them properly, just play Ebenezer Obey or Sunny Ade and watch them go mad. And if you want to scatter the place completely, just play Salawa Abeni - the person will tear your clothes to shreds right away. If you want a civil war, just play Wasiu Ayinde. Lobatan!

Asides the frivolities, these highlife lyrics often resonate deeply with one's ideologies and beliefs. Topics like religion, wealth, jealousy, contentment, family etc. are all aptly captured under this genre and I often find myself reflecting on societal values. The lyrics mythically plug into your soul and have you beaming with joy from ear to ear.

I wish I could go on but I'll stop here.

Am I the only one who feels this way about highlife music?