They say thunder hardly strikes twice in the same place. Not in Kemi Adetiba’s world. The filmmaker has made magic for the second time running with “King of Boys”, a Nigerian story told with wicked accuracy.
Her new 3-hour long testament to Lagos culture and its eccentric underground is a new gospel in popular culture.
Between the critical acceptance and all the records left in its wake – even though brevity is not one of its many strengths – I’ll stick my neck to say King of Boys is a modern Nigerian classic.
The opening scene embodies the rest of the movie
“Ain’t no party like a Lagos Party”.
The owambe at the beginning of the movie was nearly perfect in making that evident and setting the stage for the rest of the movie.
Sola Sobowale mastered an owambe in a manner different from the last time we saw her expensive lace. Between that and the running commentary from ‘haters’, she gave a crash course in how Lagos socialites celebrate each other.
There was King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall, KWAM 1, the man without whom your owambe is really just a get-together.
The depiction of Nigerian power was audacious
King of Boys is really a movie about power in its most Nigerian forms; from struggles for political office to controlling the underworld – even sibling rivalry made the cut.
Every time it came up, it was done with awesome precision. Power in Nigeria is as raw as it was depicted, as noisy as Eniola’s rants, as rash as Makanaki and it can block your throat as it did to Aare Akinwande.
It’s why I so much love it.
The Beautiful Nods To The Centre Of Excellence: Lagos
Eko is the city that rewards tenacity and grit but will chew you up and spit you out at a moment’s notice.
In the movie, the beauty of Lekki and the audacity of stolen money hidden in septic tanks are a nice contrast for the grime of its gangsters and meetings in dingy warehouses.
Few cities can give you both in one breath and Lagos creates a beautiful backdrop for Eniola’s story that the movie captures beautifully.
Call it a lesson in using sound to tell Nigerian stories
Sound has always occupied an interesting place in Nigerian movies. There’s that ominous din that comes before Kanayo O. Kanayo drops someone’s name for jazz.
Most times, it’s used so badly that it means nothing. Which is why the approach in King Of Boys is worth appreciating. The main song used in the score – Sess’ Original Gangster – is apt and used sparingly.
Elsewhere, the sounds of Lagos, from car horns to random people arguing give the story more context. Hopefully, Nollywood can learn from this and stop outsourcing important work to upcoming choristers.
Eniola Salami is the true Lagos Matriarch
A friend of a friend has a grandmother who came to Lagos as a young salesgirl, who barely knew how to greet in English. Today, she is a businesswoman with millions in weekly sales.
Eniola’s is a familiar story. She’s that wealthy trader in Lagos who believes that the ends will justify the means and just wants to be given credit for the work she’s put in.
She’s Lagos (and God’s worst punishment) in a human being. And most of all, she’s real.
Reminisce killed Makanaki
If you’ve lived in Lagos for long enough, you know a Makanaki or you’ve heard of him before. An impulsive, understated and eloquent street thug whose ambition is written on his forehead. And I doubt if anyone could have played him as well as Reminisce did. It’s like when he said ‘I murder niggas for a living’ in 2016, he meant it. Now we just want to see Makanaki show up somewhere; a music video, an origin story – just give me anything and I’ll take it like that.
It’s the best character lineup I’ve seen in recent times
So maybe in a way, what makes King of Boys so special is the characters. Every single person felt natural; a real-life person that we could swear we’ve met before. Someone you would find if you just spent enough time in the right places in Lagos. The power-hungry Makanaki. The profit-driven Odogwu Malay. The ambitious young Eniola Salami.
A story is only as good as the people who tell it, and the people who tell the story of our King of Boys tell it well.
If You haven’t seen King of Boys, you should.
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