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Meaning of ‘Wahala’ by ‘CKay’ feat. Olamide

Released: 2024 • Features: Olamide

In the song “Wahala” by CKay featuring Olamide, African culture and the beauty of a dark-skinned woman are magnificently celebrated. The track is a vivid portrayal of the intensity of attraction, embodied in the metaphor “wahala,” which translates to “problem” or “trouble” in Nigerian Pidgin English – indicating how much trouble the woman is causing him simply by being irresistibly attractive.

The opening lines hold a playful intention of wooing a woman who instantly catches the eye of the speaker. “Totori me” is a Nigerian pidgin phrase that means to thrill or excite. The repeated “to, to, to, to, to” emphasizes the speaker’s desire for this thrill. “I dey fall in lo, lo, lo, lo-lo-love” simply means that the speaker is falling in love, infused perfectly with light-hearted humor and affection.

In lines like “Dark skin complexion (‘xion)”, “I have a confession (‘sion)”, CKay proudly appreciates the skin tone of the woman he’s singing about, intertwined with the confession of his feelings for her. The cheeky tease of “You get innocent face, but/You look like a problem” further evokes the speaker’s interest in this woman who seems innocent but is obviously causing him some alluring ‘wahala’.

The chorus of “Wahala, wahala/Pepper red like atarodo/Spin around like a tornado, tornado/Wahala, oh, wahala/Premium ṣege/Premium gbese” wonderfully illustrates this ‘problem’. The phrase “Pepper red like atarodo” throws a spicy, hot metaphor linking the woman’s attractiveness to the heat of atarodo, a typical Nigerian chili pepper. The “spin around like a tornado” allegorically captures the woman’s dance moves that are as captivating as a tornado. The use of ‘Premium ṣege’ and ‘Premium gbese’ conveys the idea of high-end trouble and debt, which means his love for her is so deep, it’s as if he’s in debt to her.

When CKay says, “Your bust, and your hips, and your waist na Brazilian”, he is praising her physique, often associated with Brazilian women well known for their curves. The lines “Whine, whine like Dominican” playfully suggests how women from the Dominican Republic are celebrated for their dancing abilities.

The vivid line “You so fly with no boarding pass” attests to how attractive the woman is, being classy or high value without necessarily having to show off or display wealth in a superficial way. Finally, the phrase “Wamilele, wamilele bakasi, o pọ” is partly in Yoruba and translates to “It is full, the backside is full” emphasizing once again, the appeal of the woman’s physical attributes.

Throughout the song, CKay uses language, slang, and references that are deeply rooted in African culture to paint a passionate and lively picture of a woman who has left him, much like the title suggests, in a state of pleasant ‘wahala’.

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