To question Olamide’s relevance in the Nigerian music industry is beyond just ridiculous, outrageous is more like it. As I sat in the perpetually stuffy Kay’s Chippy, my facial expression portrayed that outrage all too clearly from eavesdropping the argument some guy and his obviously impaired friend had outside the glass doors. The menace of such under-recognition shouldn’t even be tolerated but I didn’t tell them that, fingers crossed the slow fella bumps into this one way or another.
Olamide and other greats like; Wizkid, Tiwa, and MI paved the pathway for contemporary artists that continue to emerge an entire decade later in Nigeria’s music space. Olamide specifically is without question one of the best rappers and all round musicians of the last decade, and although a lot has changed since the 2010’s, an entertainer who captures listeners for so long is nothing short of genius.
The Nigerian music scene is more diverse, richer, trendier, and competitive than ever, and many popular names from the early 10s’ have faded from the public memory as new talent floods mainstream media. Only great musical talent can transcend decades and remain relevant through so many iterations, that’s why it’s important to discuss one of the pillars of mainstream Nigerian music – Olamide. His decade-long career has been nothing short of inspiring, walk with me here.
Olamide’s music can be summed up in one word- transformative. It brought about a shift in the earlier 10s, won him the heart of millions of Nigerians, and over 44 awards in 10 years. When he stepped onto the Nigerian music industry with the chart-topping hit Eni Duro, he captured the energy and heart of the streets. You had to fall in love with his authenticity and drive. He created a unique sound and built on that image through multiple albums. His first album Rapsodi and YBNL reflected his raw, untamed energy.
Olamide is certainly not the first Nigerian artist to draw inspiration from his humble beginnings, and channel that into his music. 2face, 9ice, Psquare had all done it before, but he was one of the few to capture the chaos that anybody who’s been where he’d been before, easily understood. There was an urgency in his sound, something hungry and carnal. That energy became his sound, and it is what inspired his most iconic works. Rapsodi, YBNL, Baddest Guy Ever Liveth, and even Street OT bubbled with this energy, and it was why his fans found him endearing.
Through his fifth studio album up to his seventh, his sound evolved. It retained some of the energy of his earlier tracks, but he focused more on experimenting, and put even more effort into the uplifting artists around him.
Creative Collaborations and Industry Influence
Olamide has recorded and released several memorable tracks over his decade-long career. His singles are exceptional, but he dominates when he’s collaborating with other artists, producers, and DJs. He’d worked with just about every popular entertainer in the industry in the last decade, and he is a spiritual touching stone for up-and-coming pop stars, rappers, as well as experienced names.
His passion for creative growth and collaboration was fully realized with his record label, YBNL. That’s gone on to cultivate dozens of industry shakers like Lil Kesh, Crayon, Adekunle Gold, Fireboy, and so on. They were all signed to the label when they were relatively fresh in the industry, very much like Olamide was by Coded Tunes, and were allowed to truly shine, explore their craft and make names for themselves. The record label remains a grooming ground for many natural talents, and promising talents till date.
So far so Good
Olamide’s journey as an artiste, businessman, and head of a record label is worth following if not only for the great music, then for his evolution as a creative. It’s also not surprising the ease with which the music magnate retains listeners. With Uy Scuti; his latest project dropping merely hours ago, there’s only so much more to look forward to. My advice? Sit back and enjoy because with Olamide it’s bound to be an amazing trip.