It has been a challenging past few weeks for Nigerians. With the challenge of coping with the COVID 19 spread by staying indoors has come an interesting challenge of hits on the Nigerian creative scene. Few names have been flying around and even without having been challenged, a lot of spectators have declared Nigerian rapper, Olamide as undisputed King of hits. It is still an open challenge anyway. But something about Olamide’s reputation as a serial hit dropper irresistibly attracts a closer look on his undeniably successful career. This will inevitably take us down memory lane right to the very start. So, here we go!
For a start, it’s pertinent to say Olamide was lucky and had a rare headstart. Not all artists have the good luck of starting their careers under a record label like Coded Tunes and a producer like ID Cabassa. Also, majority of commentators on Nigerian entertainment industry belong to the school of thought that believes that the emergence and death of Dagrin was the prologue to the career of Baddo. Although, one has to admit that Olamide, at emergence, rode on the wings of Dagrin, it’s evident that he himself has proved that he has a lot to offer.
It was clear from the start the kind of artist Olamide is. On his debut album, Rapsodi, Olamide took chorus on several tracks. Many would later come to criticize him for switching to singing but he’s got it from the beginning. And to be sincere, the tradition for Nigerian rappers have been to feature singers and just rap along or do a rap throughout. Olamide successfully broke from that tradition. His fusion of fuji elements into his rap is also worthy of note. What resulted is the flexibility to comfortably include praise singing or shout out in rap as has never been witnessed in Nigerian rap before.
And talking about breaking from tradition, Olamide never pretended to care about conventional rap from the beginning. Luckily for him, there was a class of artist he shared the backlash of breaking away from tradition with. He teamed up with a number of them and the result was the Local Rappers Movement as we now know it. Olamide never sought the acceptance of the crème de la crème of rap. He was out to create an art form of his own and he found suitable collaborators. We can not overlook the effect of his collaboration with artists like Reminisce and Phyno on his relevance.
Staying hot for almost a decade is definitely no joke. As a single tree couldn’t have made a forest, it is imperative to acknowledge the fact that many individuals have overtime contributed to his success. From the days of Coded Tunes, ID Cabassa can be said to be the revelator of Baddo’s talent. As having a producer like Cabassa would be what so many persons as talented (even no so talented) Olamide would need to be taken to limelight in ’09,’ 10 and ’11. The likes of Young John and Pheelz have been personalities that Olamide would find difficult not to attribute most of his hit songs to. This is not to undermine the importance of team work as YBNL in its early stage to ’17 was a formidable team. Credence will still have to be given to Baddoh who served as the captain and the coach.
Another point worth mentioning is the fact that Olamide took his time in deciding where to go foreign. And the insistence on being the street king— kinging at home— undoubtedly proves its worth in his career. In other words, Olamide has not sacrificed the nerds of his immediate constituency to cater for an international audience. Is that to say that Olamide isn’t yet global? An indigenous African rapper selling out 02 Arena‽ Ooin, Baddoh has done well! But there’s still more to definitely hope for with his recent deal with Empire.
Bolaji Atanda, Kayode Akinwumi,
April 2nd, 2020.