Lagos is divided by a lagoon, Lagosians are divided by a complex on either side of it. The average person who lives on the Island thinks the Mainland is a different part of Nigeria, while the average person who lives on the Mainland thinks that Islanders are full of it. It’s classicism in it’s purest, most blatant form, yet we indulge in it willfully.
Last weekend, when most of the Island was submerged in water, that complex reared its ugly head again. Pictures emerged of soaked living rooms, submerged cars and a mysterious white man canoeing along Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island. Rather than receiving any empathy from their fellow Lagosian living on the Mainland, Islanders were laughed at in a manner that went beyond just banter.
The young rapper Bils is far away in Houston but he couldn’t stand back and watch the ugliness go on in his homeland without commenting. For Bils, Lagos is home too, and as a son of land, he entered into the studio and bared his mind. The result is “Still Lagos”, his new freestyle done over JAY-Z’s “Story Of OJ” instrumentals and he Nigerianizes some of the talking points.
On “Story Of OJ”, Jay talked about the false notion that a Black American can become so successful or be so special that they transcend their blackness – he used O.J. Simpson as a reference point. For a long time the football legend seemed to be running away from his race -“I’m not black, I’m O.J.!” he reportedly told his friends. Yet, when OJ was accused of murdering his ex-wife and her lover, his race still became a major issue in the trial – he couldn’t escape it.
On “Still Lagos”, Bils has a similar message to Lagosians – it doesn’t matter where you live, we’re all one. He added a bit more soul to No I.D.’s piano-accented instrumental before delivering a mean freestyle. Listen below:
Christian nigga, Muslim nigga
Real nigga, poor nigga
Work nigga, street nigga
Island nigga, mainland nigga… Still Lagos
Bils’ message is clear, the divisions we fight over are artificial and unnecessary because all Lagosians have shared experiences. We’d be better served if we came together to fight a common enemy – bad government. The freestyle is a powerful reminder to those who gloat on the internet, while people’s precious property continue to float in the water.
The freestyle comes on the heels of Bils’ new EP Pay Your Bils: Eviction Notice which was released less than 2 weeks ago. Pay Your Bils: Eviction Notice is a 9-track project with a solitary feature from Filter Free favorite Dáramólá. On the project, Bils provided further proof that his love for his second home comes from a deep and inclusive place. On the anthemic “Lagos Boy Tin”, he gives a shout out to just about every corner he could fit into the song, from the Mainland, the Island, Lekki and Allen.
Bils calls himself the Prince of Lagos and puts on for his city, but he’s a rapper very much still on the come up. He first gained notoriety a few years back when he and Sinzu collaborated on songs and performed together on stage. Bils and Sinzu are cousins and back then, just as Sinzu was know as Sauce Kid, he too was known as Hoodbilli. He released his last body of work, the Believe mixtape, in 2013 under that name but has emerged as Bils of late.
On his new EP Pay Your Bils: Eviction Notice, Bils fills us in on what his life has been like in the last few years, including how the death of his elder brother – his biggest supporter – has affected him, his ups and downs with family and friends and his journey in the music industry. While he is a versatile rapper who gets involved in every part of his final product, from the visuals to the music, most of the PYB project was produced by Czure.
The project draws on Bils’ influences from both the US and Nigeria – southern hip-hop is evident in his cadence and lingo, while Afrobeat is evident in his musicality. All in all, it makes for an engaging listen. Get familiar with Bils and listen to the Pay Your Bils: Eviction Notice project in its entirety below: