It has become a practice for followers of Olamide to look forward to the yearly gift of an album from their fave, but the gift that came in November 2018, in the form of the “YBNL Mafia Family,” bore a surprise for known fans and non-fans of Olamide – FireboyDML, the Durag-donning music sensation is the special present given to the industry by the popular musician.

Looking beyond the hits, the successful albums and fine moments that make up Olamide’s career, his efforts towards spotting and supporting talents – either by signing, collaborating or benevolent financing – adds to the weight of his legacy. There are good evidences in the cases of Adekunle Gold, Lil Kesh, YCEE, Skales and many more that would be brought to light in the future. Olamide is both a scout and builder of talents – like Sir Alex Ferguson, like Shawn Carter.

In the year before this, Olamide went with a big hand into the field of music talents, picking Lyta, Limerick, Picasso Rap, Yomi Blaze and FireboyDML to be part of the YBNL unit. The diversity in the new formation is perhaps its most striking feature and it is very likely intended. A team of rappers with discrete styles, alongside singers with different artistic elements, working together, to make music rich in diversity – something like the YBNL Mafia album.

The 13-track, 44 minutes compilation album served as Olamide’s offering for the previous year, with inputs from YBNL acts (except Lyta, Davolee; plus the affiliated Lil Kesh) in different combinations and on different songs. The project’s major influence is traceable to Olamide’s artistic evolution – the bubbly hooks with rhyming lines, which, on the album, was exercised in creating the Caribbean flow on “Send Her Money.” Limerick’s style-switching rap with the streetness in the tone of the pair of Yomi and Picazzo, adds crowd-pleasing effect to the project.

The place of the singers – FireboyDML and Temmie – is in alluring listeners. The former, particularly, gives the album its soul. Pheelz’s arrangement of running keys, stretched strings and drum rhythm creates the soulful atmosphere for Fireboy’s compositions, like on “I’ll Be Fine” – the album’s most inspiring content on which he voiced out loud thoughts of a dreamer regaining confidence after a brief period of doubt. His combination with Picazzo on “Fire Down” is another product of the popular pop and Hip-hop blend.

The successes of YBNL, over the years, in the street-pop and urban highlife genre is ingrained in its reputation (and in the legacy of Olamide) as a platform for supporting select talents. Sustaining this purpose is the idea behind the new introductions to the label with a plan in motion for the unit’s future, built on the element of diversity in the talents of the likes of FireboyDML, Picasso, Limerick – the new generation stars of the YBNL household.

This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets 

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