Italy got trolled like no other countries before. A song written by Bello Figo, an Italian-Ghanian “rapper”, infuriated Italians, with only a few able to see that it had the deliberate intent of making fun of anti immigration clichés.
We want WiFi and pocket money
I sleep in a 4 star hotel because I’m black
Yeah, I don’t pay rent, I don’t pay rent, yeah!
Yeah, I m not a worker, not a worker!
The song is called No Pago Afito, I don’t pay rent (deliberately misspelled), where Bello Figo brags about the luxurious life that immigrants and refugees are supposed to have (according to anti immigration populists): they live in 4 star hotels with wifi and all mod cons, they get 35 euro per day by the state, they come here just because the Italian government tells them to do so, and of course they don’t work nor pay rent.
Let the Story Begin
But how did it all happen? The music video was published in October 2016 but nobody seemed to notice. In December, Bello Figo, still mostly unknown to the public, participated to La Zanzara (The Mosquito), a popular radio program where listeners call to express their views on topics ranging from the classic discontent with Italian politicians to unusual sexual practices. A few listeners got upset but nothing much happened.
Somebody from Berlusconi’s televisions must have listened to him though, as we was invited to Dalla Vostra Parte (On Your Side) the following day. The TV show is one of the main perpetrator of all the anti immigration clichés: the usual format involves interviews of poor Italians struggling to get by, juxtaposed with various reports on immigrants/refugees’ luxurious lives (“they all have expensive clothes and smartphones!”).
Bello Figo VS Mussolini (nope, the surname is not a coincidence)
Bello Figo didn’t really have the chance to explain the actual intent of the song (did he really want to?). He was interrupted after half a sentence by a screaming Alessandra Mussolini, a right wing politician (and yes, she is also the Italian dictator’s niece) who told him to go back to his country. Bello Figo responded with a dab. The video of the whole thing went viral, and the mediocre rapper shot to fame.
Sociologists, politicians and philosophers started discussing and analyzing the video in various TV shows, regarding it as a genuine account of refugee/immigrant lives. Maybe it was too convenient for everybody to ignore the fact that Bello Figo had been working in Italy for more than 15 years; the trolling just kept getting bigger and better.
Bello Figo Concerts: Immigrants 7 euro; Italians 15 euro
Seeing his skyrocketing Youtube hits, Bello Figo played along. The posters for one of his concerts advertised two different prices, a higher one for Italians and a lower one for foreigners. Despite being untrue, it infuriated people even more, and most of his concerts had to be canceled because of threats from right wing groups. The rapper didn’t really mind, as he kept cashing in from Youtube videos and increased publicity.
Well done, Bello Figo
A minority of Italians understood the real intentions of the song but still managed to “feed the troll” and criticized the singer for exploiting the stupidity of people and contributing to the bad rap that immigrants and refugees get. However, they failed to recognize the fact No Pago Afito is a great piece of satire, especially because of its enormous trolling success, which managed to shed even more light on the bigotry and stupidity of right wing populism.