Tony Tetuila, the Nigerian artist did define an era with his hit song ‘My Car’. As the standout single from his album of the same name, ‘My Car’, released in 2002, won the dyed hair Tony Tetuila national and international recognition around 2003. Tony Tetuila’s breakthrough coincided with a new dawn within the Nigerian music scene, led by the likes of 2Face Idibia, whose classic song ‘’African Queen’’ had made him a household name across the continent and beyond. For over a decade, the imprint these artists (now veterans) has been built upon by a new generation of artists, leading to Nigerian music becoming a major face of afrobeats/afropop music in the world.
At the turn of the 21st Century, the pendulum was swinging viz the Ghana and Nigerian music dominance. The musicians and music labels were attempting to break into each other’s market. However, it was the Nigerians who had the upper hand, solidly planting their flag on the shores of Ghana. The influx of Nigerian music and its commercial appeal had a battering on Ghana music. And the results were very glaring.
Ghanaian music began to adopt the Nigerian style of singing: incorporating some of their famous Yoruba and Igbo lingos and most importantly, switching to the highlife template that the Nigerians were building their sounds around. Interestingly, that highlife sound was originally a Ghanaian sound that was introduced into Nigeria during the 70s when many Ghanaian bands moved and settled in Nigeria-particularly Eastern Nigeria following the oil boom. It was off the back of this highlife sound that Tony Tetuila, the Kennis Music artist, crafted his chart topping single ‘My Car’.
An enchanting highlife song that carried an infectious, groovy value, ‘My Car’ was built around a story about how a good day could be ruined by many uncontrollable incidents or factors. (In Nigerian parlance: ‘yanga dey sleep, man go wake am’). Tony Tetuila captured how the world could conspire to do you dirty when you least expect. In the lyrics, he touched on reckless driving; dangers of lending money to friends; death (dead body no dey pay person money) and police harassment.
The video for ‘’My Car’’ was conceptualized in a short movie format, where Tony Tetuila began his day by pursuing his debtor, who, by the time they got to his house, was being mourned by family and friends. Frustrated, Tony Tetula and his colleague got their car crashed in traffic.
Running around with no money following the death of his debtor (his friend) and a dent on his car caused by another friend (Edeeris Abdul Kareem, a veteran hiphop artist), Tony Tetuila’s misfortunes didn’t end there. His car was again run into by another vehicle; this time the culprit was a government official/politician.
That brief encounter with the politician revealed the degree of reverence Nigerians accord their politicians. Tony Tetuila and his colleague were seen doing push ups to show their respect in an attempt to get paid and also praise him for whatever reason. In the end, they received payments and a bad day suddenly became a good one.
Watching the video again, one can’t fail to notice how bad it looked: the graphics, choreography and quality of video are ridiculous. The imposition of images into the video (check how Tony Tetuila’s benz looked like a flying car). The story however, was good. It captured the Nigerian way of life- hardship and humor.
Now a politician, Tony Tetuilacgave the world a good, border breaking tune that has become his claim to fame. The success of his single earned him collaborative efforts with the likes of Ghanaian rapper Tic Tac on hid smash hit “Fefe Ne Fe”.
Many music enthusiasts may not remember any other major hit from the Kawara State born Tony Tetuila. But, his song “My Car” and his trademark dyed hair (a new aesthetic being embraced by many New Age artist) shall remain a major reminder for us.