The club is packed and the DJ is killing it. Tucked in the heart of Buea, South West Region, Cameroon, this nightclub has been pumping out the hottest of Cameroonian jams for the last 2 hours.
Can it get any hotter? Yes, it can. The DJ slams Pascal’s ‘Keyboard’ and everyone goes mad.
This ghetto-pop smash is what made the club go from lukewarm to above 90 degrees. Over an enchanting yet simplistic beat produced by Teranno, Pascal does his thing.
What is Pascal rapping about? What does he mean by “keyboard dey like piano, I get my pick up them for Texas, wey dem dey pick up inside lexus?
To the uninitiated, Pascal is rapping about playing piano but to those familiar with these terms, he is talking about internet fraud…..or so they say.
In local parlance, internet fraudsters are known as Feymen, notoriously known as Ngessmen. In clear and direct language, they are scammers.
Pascal is not the first artist to mention something related fraud in his song. As a matter of fact Askia rapped “all these ngessmen dem don turn be na rappers” in one of her songs.
If you are naive, please know this now, illicit businesses and music are closely tied.
For several years ngessmen have funded the careers of countless artists. If this was 14th century Italy, ngessmen are what the Medici family were to artists, grand patrons who pay for their works of art.
They have financially backed singers and rappers, paid for expensive music videos and dropped the cash for promotion rounds. Many have floated music labels and some are singers themselves.
A certain fresh-fine-boy singer is said to be backed by an alleged ngessman.
Just the same way the Colombian football league crashed when drug barons (Pablo Escobar and co) had legal troubles, the Cameroonian music industry might just crash if Internet fraudsters pull out from our music business.
The entertainment business is a deceptive industry anywhere in the world but in Payé, it is more deceptive.
Don’t let the red carpet events deceive you, the Cameroonian music industry is very small and there is little money to go around.
For upcoming acts, the music business is expensive. With no financial backing from a label, how do you expect an upcoming act to pay for studio time, mixing, printing of CDs etc?
Factoring payola (both on Cameroonian radio and TV stations) and a high budget Dr Nkeng Stephens video, an unknown singer needs at least CFA 10m to make an impression in the crowded music scene.
Where do you expect a poor upcoming singer to get this kind of money from? To successfully break an artist in Cameroon you need between CFA 20m-CFA 40m to do so. Look around you, where are the music labels?
There is no financial support system for the Cameroonian artist. In the dire search for money, he will have to turn to the closest person he knows who has that kind of money in his area.
Here enters the neighborhood Ngessman, the modern-day Robin Hood who steals money abroad and lives like a king. The only twist is that his act of robbery does not have a noble cause. He uses the stolen money to enrich himself and his posse.
Your #MCM bows in front of him, begging for Nkap. The ngessman is benevolent and gives him the required money. The singer goes into the studio, records a killer track and sprinkles his benefactor’s name all over it.
Nigerian singer, Olu Maintain’s 2007 classic hit single ‘Yahoozee’, was the first authentic Fraud inspired single.
A wild and rowdy delicate description of the over-the-top lifestyle of internet fraudsters. The impact of that song is unrivalled as In the Cameroonian music industry scheme of things, ngessmen reign supreme.
Internet fraud crept into our cyber cafés circa 2005. As cyber cafés sprang all over the country and the cost of browsing became cheaper, young payesans joined the world wide web.
On the surface, it would be easy to say that bored young Cameroonians got on PCs and started scamming gullible individuals. It, however, goes deeper than this.
With the topsy-turvy state of the economy and the blatantly corrupt leaders we have, many young Cameroonians have to fend for themselves and their families as well. Their parents are either underpaid or have no job at all.
In the words of Jay-Z, they had to bring “somethin home to quiet the stomach rumblings.”
With just 300FRS they could go on the web for an hour. Cyber cafés adapted to their new set of customers. Overnight browsing became popular in cyber cafés and young men tired of the bleak life they were facing logged online and became Ngessmen.
Internet fraud is a manifestation of decades of bad policies, corruption, the educational system of neglect.
Criminal enterprises do not die; they turn into new hustles. The prostitute that went to Mecca is the mother of the prostitute who went to Dubai.
Crime has always and will continue to have a place in any music industry.
I can bet you shout “I think I am Big Meech, Larry Hoover, whipping work, hallelujah!” when Rick Ross’ BMF comes on. Big Meech and Larry Hoover were big criminals in America.
From 2Pac to 21 Savage, American rappers have brilliantly told the story of how drugs have affected black Americans. They weave personal and poetic tales and stories of drugs in their surroundings. They rap about drug lords and their exploits in their neighbourhoods.
I don’t think these rappers/singers are glorifying crime. It is a brutal, honest and raw commentary on what’s happening around them. Or what do you think? Drop your comments below.
I’m outta here!!