The Nigerian music scene can be likened to the night sky that gives the view of rising and falling stars. One star among many has continued to sit in the glare, churning out chart topping songs in the rarest of series. That music star is none other than Olamide. His constituency has warranted him being referred to as the man with the Midas touch, as virtually every of his involvement glitters. His musical exploits has helped him garner an enviable range of fans, a forte that he continually waxes lyrical about.
In 2011, Olamide dropped Eni Duro, a song that launched his career on the mainstream. This track made a loud statement for the then relatively unknown Olamide. Although the success of the song got Olamide to the circle center of attention, it also put him within sight of doubt; a lot of people questioned his talent and ability to step into the void left by the late rap icon and much-loved Da Grin. The comparison between the two was borne out of their use of native language to rap; this style of rap has become accepted and infused into the music space in Nigeria as ‘indigenous rap.’
Indeed, a lot of fans saw the new Da Grin on him; however Olamide chose the path of originality. In the follow-up tracks to Eni Duro, Olamide sold his own unique sound and endeared himself to fans with his musical releases. This laid the groundwork for the success of his debut album, Rap So Di, which had other hit songs including Apa Ti Jabo, Jara on Top, Boys are Not Smiling, Omo To Shan. The album was nominated for Best Rap Album at the Headies 2012.
Olamide took another brilliant turn in his career by going on to start his own record label, YBNL, an acronym for Yahoo Boy No Laptop, against the presentment that it was a headlong move. Olamide released his sophomore album YBNL almost synchronously. The impact of the album was perfect at clearing doubts about the timing of the establishment of the label. The album was composed of hit songs such as First of All, Stupid Love, Voice of the Street. Olamide went on to win his first set of Headies award, as he won three awards from seven nominations at The Headies 2013, ending up as the biggest winner for the night.
Since then, Olamide found comfort in climbing the ring of the industry to stamp his authority on the Nigerian music scene. He became one of the most sought after artistes in the industry, bringing to me his incredible understanding of Nigerian fans’ demand with his deliveries. His third studio album, Baddest Guy Ever Liveth continued the trend of commercial success that characterised his earlier projects. The yearly album release of Olamide has become some sort of lore that stirs excitement among fans. The subsequent album releases of the YBNL boss have continued to enjoy massive commercial success and as such, local and international awards have ensued. Today, Olamide has become one of the highly decorated Nigerian artistes. In fact, not only is he a successful artiste, he has achieved commendable success as a label boss. His record label, YBNL has given flight to the careers of successful artistes such as Lil Kesh and Adekunle Gold. Olamide has become a key player in the industry, an inspirational figure for upcoming and even notable artistes.
Interestingly, Olamide is a subject of one of the most widely told grass to grace stories in the entertainment industry. Despite his rise to high altitudes, Olamide has never distanced himself from his Bariga roots, where the lofty dream was formed even in very precarious circumstance. Olamide did a classic narrative of the tumult and straits of his early days in one of his songs, Anifowose. A lot of fans have come to relate with the song, for its message and thematic content, as many seem to draw inspiration from it. Olamide himself takes pride in his hustlers’ instinct and goal getting credential. He has exercised these abilities adroitly, as he took the vanguard position in the revolution of indigenous rap in the music industry, a movement bag inspired the parlance, Street ti take over.
Clearly, Olamide’s increasingly glowing presence in the industry suggests that he is very much in the direction of becoming a legend. He has carved a spot for himself at the high screen of the music industry with this consistency with hit musical releases and he does not look to be dropping off anytime soon. Olamide looks to continue operating at the very highest level. A testament to this fact is that his recently released album shot to sixth position on the billboard chart in the world music category. The album, Glory has been making the rounds, with constituent tracks of the album circulating the music air waves. There is high expectation of future awards and achievement for the Bariga-bred music icon. Olamide has come a long way from the troubled days in the hood to go ahead to write history. It now appears he chose a pen with infinite ink as he continues to write history.
Culled from Issue 15
Words by Ibironke Tobi
Photo Credit: Emily Nkanga Photography