- Many still claim that the king of Nigeria’s street music is DaGrin, while some believe Naira Marley currently holds that mantle, but we dare to ask who really is the king of street music
- The rise of Nigerian street music is usually adjudged to have kicked off in the early 2000s, but empirical evidence shows that isn’t accurate
- In this article, we will do a comprehensive breakdown evolution and the different generation of street music in Nigeria
- From the rise of Fuji music to street hip-hop and then Afro-pop from Pasuma to Konga, DaGrin, Olamide, Naira Marley, Asake and Portable
Nigeria’s street pop scene has witnessed an unprecedented rise over the last two decades with considerable influences in parts from the American hip-hop culture, Yoruba lingua, and traditional Afrobeat tempo.
Fuji used to be the mainstay of what is referred to today as street music. However, Fuji influences have made their way into the mainstream Nigerian music echelon even though it is quickly overlooked as just young singers expressing their art through supposed street lingua.
When you meet an older adult who wasn’t mainly a fan of Fuji music from the 1980s or 90s but has somehow fallen in love with songs from Naira Marley or Portable, ask what they enjoy about these singers’ music.
They would usually tell you its street vibe, fast-paced beats, street lingua and slang, but in truth, this style of music has been around for a while now and didn’t just start with the likes of Naira Marley or Asake. But these guys have evolved this sound and are much more audacious.
Back to the popular question, who started this evolution and is the king of Nigeria’s street music?
To answer this question, the evolution of street pop would be broken down into three generations: the pre-mainstream era, the break-out era and the mainstream era of recognition and domination.
Also, we would touch on its proponents, its significant influencers and flagbearers.
We would classify the early days of street music as the glory days of Fuji music when people like Obesere, Pasuma, and Saheed Osupa were at the heights of their powers. This was mainly during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Reggae, dancehall, and hip-hop artist dominated mainstream Nigerian music then. At the time, the influence of street music had started to sieve into the mainstream, with the likes of Konga and Dekunle Fuji all recording tremendous feats with their street pop sounds but never actually consolidating their positions.
In the same era, there were also the likes of African China, Daddy Showkey, Marvelous Benji and Bennyman to some; they were also street music crooners. However, their sounds were closer to Reggae/dancehall than Afropop.
A new generation of bolder street singers like 9ice, Terry G, Klever J, K-Solo, and Danny S came through; they pushed the envelope and laid the foundation for the mainstream generation.
Some might argue that 9ice achieved mainstream recognition but not acceptance.
Street music break-Out era
9ice led the charge for this generation for a while until one particular ghetto rapper got everyone hooked on his sounds, lyrics and punchlines, Oladapo Olaitan Olaonipekun, better known as DaGrin.
He changed the game with his flows, flawless street vibe and lingual use made into heavy hip-hop bars. DaGrin is hailed by many as the king of street rap. He used his songs to tell the ghetto stories, the truth of the Nigerian youth who came from nothing without a privileged lifestyle.
However, DaGrin’s rise was cut short by an act of God, ‘death’. He died in a car accident on April 22, 2010. But his legacy still lives on and is still recognised by some as the king of Nigeria’s music.
Soon to arrive afterwards is the man who identified himself as the ‘voice of the street’, Olamide.
He broke the barrier and took street music into the mainstream as a sound, culture and rap.
The mainstream era of recognition and domination
“Changing the narrative for the ghetto youth” were the famous words of Nigerian singer, rapper and record label boss Olamide Adedeji aka Baddo.
He famously noted that one of his mission as a musician was to help inspire a new generation of street musicians and help change the narrative of how they’re seen.
Olamide: The Quintessential Street Pop Act
In 2011 when Afropop was making its early intercontinental steps, and the young Wizkid and Davido were preparing to launch into stardom on its shoulder, Olamide, however, towed on a different path.
Taking a cue from Dagrin and his Yoruba infusions of foreign hip hop, he released Eni Duro in 2011.
Baddosneh would go on to soften the core of music, which was later called out to have distanced him from the trenches many see as the platform that gave him the incursion into mainstream music.
This might seem close to the truth, but Olamide has never forgotten his street value and its part in his success.
Olamide, since his big break, has released seven studio albums, including EPs with immense street value and one Afrobeat album.
He has also brought several street musicians into the limelight, starting with Lil Kesh, Naira Marley, Bella Shmurda, Asake and Portable.
It is almost non-existent to query who the king of street music is; Olamide Adedeji, aka Baba Maximiliano, rules above all, and his mentor ID Cabasa would be super proud of what his mentee has gone on to achieve.
Evolution of Neo-street music and slow Afropop (New Generation)
Ever since the start of the second decade in the 2000s, many new young street artists have emerged and have leveraged the platform provided by the likes of Olamide, Naira Marley, and dance routines.
The latest set of stars is younger, more enterprising, and much more willing to stretch their artistry to accommodate other sounds so that the current version of street pop is more sonically layered than ever.
Those leading that charge are Asake, Naira Marley, Bella Shmurda, Zinoleesky, Mohbad, Portable, and Small Doctor.
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