Dapo and Sleek Dave mix afrotrap and Mario on ‘Level Up’

Existential Crises with a side of lean.

Ogbeni pass me the blaze.

So the jury’s out, Afro-trap is definitely a mainstream genre now. Many rappers are trying to find their mettle with the monotonous ambient sounds of the afro-trap genre and the soundscapes of angst, anger, detachment and melancholy it is able to conjure, often contrasting the impassioned bars that the rappers who have embraced this wave consistently deliver. Canadian based Nigerian rapper and producer Sleek Dave is taking on the genre his own way.

For rappers Sleek Dave and Dapo, Afro-trap is an outlet for frustrations and the general craziness that is being a Nigerian in 2017. Like all millennials, Sleek Dave (who also produced “Level Up”) draws his references from a wide range of sources, and on this song, he uses the allegory of the insanely popular video game Mario Bros as a metaphor of trying to fly under the radar of the craziness of every day Nigeria. He sings about finding his lane and sticking to it, equates corrupt police officers with Koopa villains (from the video game) and ask that we ‘level up’, find a way to impact change in our own small way. The beat is veritable study in sampling, cartoon character voice overs open the song and 808 beats and alien sounding synths create an beat that mimics growing anxiety. It works with the urgent, occasionally dipping off beat rap styles of both rappers, and the way their bars become increasingly jagged as the song mounts.

There’s no climatic finish, but one would have given us some kind of resolution, and we know that real life never gives you closure, all you can do is “Level Up”.

Listen to “Level Up” here.


Tonero lets us into his life with “missed calls”