Before the campaign ‘Buy Naira to grow Naira’, became a tagline and scramble to save the Nigerian currency last year, nearly a decade ago, her music witnessed incremental changes in music quality and production amidst a global economic crisis. The year was 2007 and with the chaos of election year in the air, the country was both tense and uncertain. Yet in this same atmosphere, 9ice calmly hooked his “Street Credibility” on a patriotic refrain that goes ‘Straight from Naija, out of Naija’. 9ice’s optimism is not only reflected in his tribute to the country, there’s also an innate self-confidence he exudes as he assures listeners of his pedigree and of truth he speaks; the same self-aggrandising mindset that made 9ice volunteer himself as a reliable candidate to bring the motherland a Grammy.
It’s been over a decade since and of course, that lofty-minded promise has failed to materialise. But the premise of “Street Credibility” thrives at the core of 9ice’s Gongo Aso era. The golden years.
After 2006’s “Grass to Grace”, 2face was unarguably one of the biggest acts on the continent. The success of “African Queen” two years earlier, coupled with the launch of MTV Africa, opened new opportunities for artists to conquer the continent and 2face was right at the top of the wave, only rivalled by D’banj, P Square, Simphiwe Dana and a handful of other forerunners across the continent. ‘We’re at a Zebra crossing / no cars are passing’ chants 2face on his melodic guest verse, speaking in terms of the new potentialities for himself and the generation he leads.
Time has told a different tale of all the reassurance both 2face and 9ice give on “Street Credibility”. 9ice was recently linked with the Yahoo music underground, and 2Baba (as he’s liked to be called these days), is still trying to cash out with cheap radio baits like “Gaga Shuffle”. But “Street Credibility” marks an era that promised hope for more to come, some of which we have seen in with the success of D’banj, Wizkid and Davido amongst others, in the years that followed. Agreeably both 9ice and 2face have lost credibility to the streets they promised to always ‘nice up’. Still, somewhere online a headline will inform of Wizkid’s recently announced World Record for his contribution on “One Dance”, and moments like this reminds me African music has been at that ‘zebra crossing’ 2face spoke of for a minute now, and it only seems to be getting better.
Stream “Street Credibility” via Apple Music below
Toye is the Team lead at Native Nigeria. Tweet at him @ToyeSokunbi