38

Joey Akan

The musical maestro narrows his vision to his home city, where love, hustle and celebration dominate.

For Olamide, nothing ever happens twice. 7 albums and counting, and there’s always a fresh take on the music. He serves something different every time, and the menu, never stays the same when you sit at his table. Each of his albums in his 8-year career has been different, but distinctly true to his style.

2011’s “Rapsodi” was an introduction to a new era, 2012’s “YBNL” saw him emerge from the shadows of his past and into his own, 2013’s “Baddest Guy Ever Liveth” carries the weight of his Hip-hop credentials, and on “Street OT”, his primary constituency from Bariga had a project to sleep at night to. But this LP isn’t what we have seen before. It’s both a conceptual definition and celebration of his home city, which he delivers from his experiences so far. Life in Lagos has been a blessing, but its lessons cannot be ignored.

This isn’t Baddo’s most relatable album. It panders the Lagos-driven, mainstream definition of music. His previous albums have allowed inclusiveness and Hip-hop lead from the front. This project has ‘Wo’, a sound mined from the deepest street corners, as an introduction to where his artistry is at this point. Here, Hip-hop is the outsider, forcing its way into a space that isn’t currently conducive to it. From branding ...

The musical maestro narrows his vision to his home city, where love, hustle and celebration dominate.

For Olamide, nothing ever happens twice. 7 albums and counting, and there’s always a fresh take on the music. He serves something different every time, and the menu, never stays the same when you sit at his table. Each of his albums in his 8-year career has been different, but distinctly true to his style.

2011’s “Rapsodi” was an introduction to a new era, 2012’s “YBNL” saw him emerge from the shadows of his past and into his own, 2013’s “Baddest Guy Ever Liveth” carries the weight of his Hip-hop credentials, and on “Street OT”, his primary constituency from Bariga had a project to sleep at night to. But this LP isn’t what we have seen before. It’s both a conceptual definition and celebration of his home city, which he delivers from his experiences so far. Life in Lagos has been a blessing, but its lessons cannot be ignored.

This isn’t Baddo’s most relatable album. It panders the Lagos-driven, mainstream definition of music. His previous albums have allowed inclusiveness and Hip-hop lead from the front. This project has ‘Wo’, a sound mined from the deepest street corners, as an introduction to where his artistry is at this point. Here, Hip-hop is the outsider, forcing its way into a space that isn’t currently conducive to it. From branding to delivery, Olamide is honest about delivering a ‘Wobe’ sound.

We saw this coming though. ‘Wo’ became such a force of music, with its invasive street artistry pushing it into dominance, and confirming the direction of the next project. He partners with Young Jonn, a producer who has his fingers on the throbbing pulse of Eko’s streets.

From the start, the Lagos story is established. Opener ‘Fenu shey street’ is raised by his reflection on hustle, emphasizing the importance of ‘street smarts’ and a healthy work ethic. There’s some madness on ‘Radio Lagos’, as he raises a finger to the critics. ‘Shine’ speaks from the heart, addressing the music industry’s abusive culture towards emerging artists.

From there, love takes over for a bit. We have seen Olamide deliver on sombre romantic music. Take the successful ‘Melo melo’ for instance. He inserts that mushiness in here. The ‘Yagaga’ carries a repetitive folk formation that provides him with the pace to express his love. “I’m feeling good, and I’m feeling nice. When I’m with the love of my life ara mi a ya ga ga”. That passion is consolidated on ‘The One’, where a reggae bassline serves as foundation for lover-worship.

When the celebration starts, it runs forever. ‘Oro pawpaw’ is an Owambe-ready number, ‘Bend it over’ visits the late 1990s/2000s to pay respects to the Konto sound formation, with Timaya and Reminisce contributing diversity, the former paying respects to genre legend, Baba Fryo. The real ‘wobe’ sound resides on ‘Maje dodo’, where the beautiful women of Lagos are celebrated by a record that they can connect with. It sits well beside the title track, ‘Lagos Nawa’, where Afrobeat is the sonic inspiration. Interestingly, ‘Wo spiritual’ strips ‘Wo’ of everything we know and enjoy, except the lyrical flow. But it adds a piano, a gong, and hints of a sunny synth, to round off the album. It’s the opposite of what it originally was, and it serves its purpose as a fitting ending to the album.

As a project, “Lagos Nawa” isn’t Olamide’s most cohesive work. It has fillers creeping in at crucial spaces, and an insistence on relegating rap will have people filing their complaints by the numbers. This project is conceptually bound to Lagos, and it largely presents a predominantly upbeat and enjoyable front-to-back experience. Repeated listens will no doubt be rewarded. Where the beloved rapper goes from here is a mystery – but it proves that there’s more to Olamide than we think we know.

Share this!