“No regrets, though, the name will echo. Years later, none greater.” That Drake line suddenly feels like it’s about Olamide.
Everywhere you look, it’s going to be impossible to obliterate the name ‘Olamide’ from not just the music industry, but the street itself. Because the man has represented and doesn’t seem like he’s stopping anytime soon.
When other artists yearn to be appreciated by foreign audiences and take in pleasure in international sounds (which is totally cool), Olamide has been the one big artist who has focused on building the streets, creating a brand, a name and a legacy that is sure going to outlive his career as a musician.
Back in 2011, when his first album, “Rapsodi” was released, under ID Cabasa’s Coded Tunes label, he was just that promising boy who could maybe take Dagrin‘s place. Fans then just thought he was some kid riding the wave of the deceased rapper. But as time went by, the narrative started changing.
One year after his debut, he was already out on his own, on the streets, doing his thing and building a brand. Of course, he had guys like 2kriss and Kida Kudz around, those early years. It was around that time he started the YBNL imprint. He did an album in 2012, prior to the unveiling of the label.
In 2012, not everyone had the balls. Wizkid was still Banky W‘s boy and Davido was just about to be crowned Next Rated. Even Mavin Records was new. But Olamide was already out on his own, grinding it out.
Consequently, he released albums like “Baddest Guy Ever Liveth” and “Street OT”, and then he started signing in guys. Lil Kesh was his first big signing, and it all worked out as Kesh himself was more like a mini-Baddo. “Lyrically” was hot, “Shoki” followed, “Efejoku”, everything all leading up to his Next Rated nomination in 2015.
There was Adekunle Gold, the anomaly. He did urban highlife, but still, because he was close to Olamide, Baddo gave him a deal and he was doing fine. Chinko Ekun and Viktoh were also on the platform, although not very active. All these guys along with Pheelz, Young John, BBanks and DJ Enimoney, it was all like family. YBNL blossomed.
Even when YBNL stopped being that big imprint it was, in those times, Olamide never got tired of putting on new guys, from the streets and making them stars. He signed DavoLee, Temmie Ovwasa, Limerick, Lyta, and a whole lot more guys. This year’s a Next Rated is all shades of those who Olamide single-handedly brought to limelight. Who knew Lyta before the “Time” Remix featuring Olamide? Even though he’s no more with him, what he did for him is what led him to where he is now.
Okay, what about Fireboy DML? Olamide discovered the guy and put him out there. He did an album that was supposed to be a YBNL collective and gave out most of the spots to Fireboy. Now he’s in the race for the Next Rated, too.
Who else? Zlatan Ibile? I don’t know about you but the first time I heard about Zlatan, it was “My Body” and it featured Olamide. Baddo is a real example of “we rise by lifting others.” And that’s not all he’s done.
In terms of the music, he commercialized what we now comfortably tag “Street music”, all by himself. “Street Ti Take Over”, he’d say. When shaku-shaku came in 2018, he was one of the first to join in and make something out of it. And although he’s a talented rapper and singer also, he prefers to do stuff for the street. That explains why he had to do songs like “Oil & Gas” and “Pawon.”
He’s probably going to drop another album this year, too. Which will be his 8th solo album in 9 years. When he does that, it’s already a classic. He doesn’t need to build hype, he’s just a Legend, especially on these streets. If he stops doing music today, it would still take two decades before you can get people to stop talking about him. Even then, the industry will still reek of his legacy. You can call him what you want, but, never call him forgettable!
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