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Skepta's New Title and the Dreams of the Diaspora

Joseph Olaitan Adenuga Jr, better known to the world as Skepta – one of grime’s pioneers, is living his best life. Forget the Ivor Novello, the Mercury Prize and the trio of BRIT Awards nominations – this past week he was installed as a chief in his ancestral town of Ijebu Ode, in Ogun State, southern Nigeria. So you could say he’s not only living his best life, but he’s living the kind of life that would make any stern-faced, first-generation Nigerian elder nod slowly and utter the immortal words, “We thank God” with a small smile gracing their lips.

Who would have thought that grime music could take you so far? Certainly not the majority of our well-meaning, self-sacrificing parents, who gave up solid communities, stability, and good weather to travel 4,000 miles for what they hoped would be a better future for us. And while the journey to legend status has been far from smooth for Skepta (no, we won’t talk about that music video), seeing him be danced through the streets of Ijebu Ode, accompanied by his parents and a throng of praise singers felt like vindication for sceptical parents and their second-guessing offspring everywhere: becoming a lawyer or engineer is not the only way to make your kinfolk proud.