Decoding Anamachikwanu

So this week I stumbled upon what I consider to be the most awesome Igbo song in the history of Igbo songs, second only to Obodo.

Anam achikwanu by Ill Bliss, featuring Phyno.

I’m not a music person so whenever I find a song I really like it’s an Earth-shaking moment for me.

I was so excited to hear Igbo used in such a sick rap hook, and while I didn’t care much for Ill Bliss’s English lyrics, I couldn’t stop singing along to Phyno’s Igbo chorus.

A-Mazing. Absolutely Amazing.

So, once the excitement wore off, I realised I had no idea what Phyno was saying. He was clearly speaking Igbo but I couldn’t for the life of me understand what he was saying.

I had an Igbo challenge, and so I took it on.

Here’s my analysis of Anamachikwanu’s Igbo lines and if you’ve been asking the same question, or if you’re not Igbo, you’ll be glad to find out what those lyrics mean.

Sorry there’s quite a bit of background noise

Now enjoy the awesomeness of Anamachikwanu with your new found knowledge of the lyrics.


You’re Welcome

There are 21 comments

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  1. trae_z

    Thanks for breaking it down. Hitherto only got the part “Muwa na gafegodu nwannem”.

    Your Igbo better pass my own by far but the kind phone(tics) you dey use drop am get as e be.

    Enjoy sha!

    • sugabelly

      At first that was all I could hear too, then I listened carefully and it hit me! We definitely need more Igbo songs because I realised how strange it is for me hearing Igbo in a song.

  2. Dekko

    Sorry to correct you, but “achi” is to laugh, not “chi”, which in the context of the word, does not mean anything on it’s own. It’s “achi”. Plus, the way you said “a na m achi kwanu”, was just way off, and pretty much translated as “I’m laughing” as opposed to what they lyric was supposed to convey — “am I laughing?”. I know you know your Igbo very well, but the intonation is VERY important, and I didn’t hear you say it properly. It just sounded like “anamaachee kwanoo”. But nice analysis though. You pretty much got it, but check your intonation. Igbo is THAT complicated. Say it the incorrect way and you can totally throw someone off. Thank you!

    • sugabelly

      It’s alright! But nope! The verb is Chi not “achi”.

      Chi with the auxiliary Ochi means to laugh.

      The infinitive form is Ichi Ochi

      the verb root is Chi.

      Chi is an “A-prefix” class verb which means that whenever the verb root is separated from the subject, or whenever the speaker uses the Passive Voice such as in a sentence construction like “Anam achi”, then an “A” must be attached BEFORE the verb root.

      So, in “Anam achi”, the sentence is constructed in the Passive Voice.

      This means that the verb root “chi” must take on its “A” prefix.

      This forms the “Achi” copula.

      For contrast, consider the following sentence which is in the Active Voice.

      “N chi ochi”. – I laughed.

      This same sentence in the Passive Voice is written as “Achim ochi” – I laughed

      As you can see, when written in the passive voice, according to Igbo grammar rules, the verb “chi” must take on its verb prefix.


      In the following example, the sentence is in the Active Voice, however, the subject is SEPARATED from the verb, causing it to take on its verb prefix:

      N na achi ochi – I am laughing

      N ga achi ochi – I will laugh

      The following sentences are constructed in the Passive Voice, eliciting the same result.

      Anam achi ochi – I am laughing

      Agam achi ochi – I will laugh

      I’m not used to speaking in the Passive Voice in Igbo. I know that some speakers, especially speakers from Imo/Abia use the passive voice a lot more than speakers from Anambra/Onicha.

      90% of the time I use the Active Voice so sorry if my Passive Voice intonation was a bit off.

  3. Nne

    AWESOMENESS!!!! Thanks for the lesson! I wish there were more Igbo pop songs coming out these days. I have noticed a resurgence of Igbo language films too. I know you’re busy, but you should definitely make a series out of this – in fact, teach a class!

  4. Aku

    Awesome breakdown! Sometimes pronounciations throw me alll the way off, so thanks for this clarification. And btw…that Obodo song is by Raw (formerly Nigga Raw). Love it as well!

  5. Aku

    Also, check out this song by Phyno feat. Raw, Timaya, Flavour, MI….you might enjoy it! It’s called “Multiply”. I especially love Flavour’s part, sung mostly in igbo.

  6. Natural Nigerian

    I challenged myself by listening to the song first to see if I could decode the chorus without your help and I did! That is really something as I think your Igbo is so much better than mine (I listened to your other audio clip).

    Also, the song is very nice. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Again, I typically do not listen to songs in this genre but this spoke to me. The rap by Ill Bliss actually sdescribed how I feel about a lot of things I these days: “I am too old for this”.

    Igbo is very onomatopoetic and Phyno took full advantage of it in making this song so lyrical. By the way, Phyno’s name is pronounced in 2:17 of the video.

    I am going to replace my “Am I smiling?” with “I furu ukwu eze m?” Thank you for bringing the song to my attention.

  7. Ginger

    “I furu ukwu eze m” My sis used to say that to me growing up.

    I thot i was going to hear more Igbo than the chorus. Not bad shaa.
    Thanks for sharing

  8. maggie dodson

    I just found this and loved the song instantly because of the way the language fits the rhythm in the chorus. I wondered what language it was then I discovered your Language Lesson which to me, a non Igbo speaker, is absolutely fascinating. Thank you.

  9. Osagie 'OsaGz' Alonge

    I love your breakdown.

    Sometime last year before he released the song, Illbliss played it for me in the studio and then broke down the chorus, (I’m part Igbo/Edo/Yoruba but don’t speak or understand Igbo language). It was quite fascinating.

    Phyno (pronounced as ‘Fi-no’) is an excellent Ibo rapper also. (You can listen to his songs here

    Quick correction: Obodo was sung by Mr Raw (formerly known as Nigga Raw) featuring Klint the Drunk.


    • sugabelly

      Thanks!!! I think this song is so incredibly cool for the way it uses Igbo. I did realise as soon as I’d recorded the audio that I’d mixed up all the info about the artists. Thanks for the correct pronunciation of Phyno. I hope he makes more Igbo songs.

  10. Aanu

    Although I’m a Yoruba girl, I have literally memorized this song, especially the Igbo part. I soak up lyrics in languages yet I never understand what the lyrics mean. I might have an ear for languages. Funny thing is I’ve always been mistaken for an Igbo girl even though I’m fully Yoruba, well both parents. Maybe when next I’m in Nigeria, I’ll ask for Igbo lessons from those who are willing to offer. Sorry for the late comment. I just discovered your blog.

  11. The Truth Hurts

    Sugabelly on 27th November 2015: “I can’t have music playing while driving around in a car either. Or just sitting around at home. I can’t have music playing period. ”

    Well that’s a big fat lie now isn’t it if this blog post is anything to go by…

    Liar, Liar, Sugabelly on Fire.

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