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A look at Olamide’s influence on Nigerian pop culture over the last decade

If there’s anything to take away from Olamide’s recording and distribution deal with Empire, it’s that Olamide’s all-star legacy is continuously being written by the minute. He might be late to the conversation about afropop’s global takeover, however, he has enjoyed a dominant presence in mainstream Nigerian pop culture since he broke out in 2010.

The Yoruba-fueled raps on Olamide’s debut, “Eni Duro” earmarked him as the chosen rapper to fill the very big shoes DaGrin left behind when he passed. At first, the constant comparisons to the late rapper gave the impression that Olamide would always live under his shadow, however, over the years, he has continued to explore the range of Yoruba lyrics and expanded the narrative of indigenous Nigerian rap to nationwide acclaim. When he formed an alliance with Eastern Nigerian rapper, Phyno, on ‘2Kings’, the joint tape established the nationwide acclaim for indigenous rap, as they bridged the gap between the regions with indigenous lyrics that resonated with fans from all over the country. Until today, fans credit the album for setting up the mainstream spotlight street-hop artists like Naira Marley, Zlatan, Zoro, Erigga are still enjoying today.

Olamide’s 4th studio album, ‘Eyan Mayweather’ revolutionised the sound of the street and solidified his influence as a hip-hop and pop superstar. The success of 2015’s “Bobo” translated to awards and sold-out bookings for his annual live show in Christmas, whilst placing the power in his hands to set the new dance trends like the Shaku Shaku which became a worldwide phenomenon.

Whilst building a name for himself, Olamide also contributed to the next generation of home-brewed artists with his eye for talent and ear for good music. His record label, YBNL has an impressive track record for being an incubator and launching the careers of notable artists like Lil Kesh, Adekunle Gold, and most recently, Fireboy DML. These artists dominated popular music zeitgeist, attesting to Olamide’s ability to shape the culture rather than keeping up the pace with his other peers. The same sentiment is true for his latest album, ‘999’ which featured more new names, where we see him ditching his commercially accomplished street-savvy raps for plain and simple conventional rap.

His infamous speech during the 2015 Headies also highlighted his ability to turn the industry on its head as he dominated the popular conversation for weeks when he said “Every song was a hit back to back”. The Twitter streets were also littered with other things he said during the explosive exchange with Don Jazzy, such as “Leave Trash For LAWMA”, and “Don’t come to the mainland“. These statements went on to become pop culture euphemisms of sorts and will still spark fond memories with anyone today.

The dance challenge he started for “Wo” also led the path for the virality of the Shaku Shaku, which trended throughout social media from footballers’ celebrations when France won the World Cup in 2018 to Swizz Beatz living room speakers. In addition to this, he also tries to pass along useful and didactic messages to his young audience, and he demonstrated his socially conscious range on “Science Student” which initially got some backlash upon release, but set the ball rolling for the government’s ban on codeine later that year.

Over the past decade, Olamide has made sure to rake up the number of hits songs credited to his name and cemented his dominance over the last decade in the mainstream, indigenous rap, pop culture, and also in business. Olamide is starting the new decade with a shiny legacy of critical and commercial success and his recent international deal proves he’s an illustrious pop icon and not a local champion.

Featured Image Credits: Instagram/Olamide

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You are meeting Debola at a strange time in his life. He wandered into a dream and lost his way back. Tweet at him @debola_abimbolu


ICYMI: Here’s how Olamide’s “Science Student” contributed to the governments ban of codeine in 2018

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