In 2018, Slimcase had found himself in a EKO hotel room filled with superstars conversing. At one corner was DJ Spinall and Tiwa Savage, Reminisce and DJ Enimoney also bantering at another end. On the desk was Sarz apparently fiddling with the keys, trying to cook up something. Moments later, things would get intense. A percussive beat would play across the room and an overly excited Slimcase would drop his vocals mixed with street lingua we enjoyed then three years ago. That song was Diet, the club-driven song that dominated the airwaves at the start of 2018.
Months before that in 2017, Slimcase was oblivious that he and a few others had created a sound signature that would go viral. Alongside him spearheading the wobey sound—as the term that was coined for it—was Idowest and Mr Real.
That year had seen the birth of a whole new sound trend. The prevailing sound was Davido’s developed “ponpon” but as the year drew to a close, the gates of the industry was flung open by artists bringing in something new. First it was DJ Sidez collab effort with Slimcase, “Oshozondi,” followed with Idowest, Slimcase-assisted, “Shepeteri.” Mr Real would join the bandwagon too with Legbegbe. It didn’t take long for “Pon Pon” pave the way for this novelty from the street.
The rewards would come in massively. Collaborations with A-list acts. Slimcase and Mr Real on different tracks with Tiwa Savage, D’banj, Wizkid. Mr Real getting a deal with Sony Music and Idowest signing off to Davido’s DMW. Wins throughout 2018. But the problems had been telling. Industry leaders knew these artists came with no structure or direction. They knew people would try to feast on the sound they had birthed, and the industry only thrives on a sound for at most, one year and it fades off.
The artists didn’t help matters either. Mr Real was found saying in an interview, he wouldn’t sign a management deal because he didn’t want to split funds. They had great records, but no structure, no record label willing to invest. It was tricky for the record labels themselves. Idowest also struggled to make any impact during his team at DMW (we still don’t have any exact details on the contract he signed or if he’s still there).
Once the sound was phasing off, it became clear these artists didn’t benefit as much apart from the collaborations industry vultures had with them. Save from the hits they rode on to brief prominence at the onset, they had no hits on their own. Idowest’s Ji Masun with Davido failed to measure up to Shepeteri and Slimacase’s best efforts were all on collaborations—on songs owned by other acts. Once the benefit window was over, both artists and listeners moved on from the sound, a result of the artists’ ineptitude—not being versatile.
That showed as we flipped from 2017 to 2018. Slimcase tried to resurrect the sound with Azaman in 2019, which to be honest was one of the smash hits that year. Yet that’s the last notable track most listeners heard from him. Idowest has been largely forgettable, with most listeners oblivious to the news of his EP which came in 2019. For Mr Real, he’s showed a bit of resurgence lately with Baba Fela, with a part of the song inspiring some comedy videos that have gone viral.
But things could have gone better. The trio could have elongated the glare of the industry on them if they had been under the agile guidance of experienced managers. A lot could have been done about their branding and a long term plan might have prevented their decline. Especially for Idowest whose EP in 2019 saw him divert from the walls of that sound trend. But it lacked a well worked marketing plan that would have aided its success.
It’s three years now and it showed the duo of Zlatan and Naira Marley learnt from that phase. They had seen how the industry moved quickly from wobey sound to the invention of Zanku. But in contrast, Zlatan and Naira Marley were able to build a brand and also built fanbases. And another part to them was their versatility, with Zlatan, an impressive rapper and Naira Marley, a contributor to the emerging Afro swing genre in the UK. They were bubbling artists prior to the Zanku era, Zanku only made them more visible.
This article was written by Olabode Otolorin; connect on Instagram with him here