When it comes to street music, Olamide, Zlatan, Naira Marley have become the face; the kings who are pushing the culture and at the same time giving access to newbies.
There are artists and then, there are influencers of the culture; for Olamide, Naira Marley, Zlatan, the latter is the case.
The Nigerian-born street hop movement has gone a long way since it was born out of a mix of indigenous rap and Afropop six years ago.
With a number of artists gaining fame under its umbrella, there are few who have transcended just being artists into being gatekeepers of the culture.
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When a young Olamide stormed the industry in 2009 with “Eni Duro“, he got eyes listening as he dropped hard gritty bars and punchlines.
Over the last decade, no rapper has held the Nigerian street music scene in a chokehold like Olamide- the rapper is one of the most bankable rappers in Nigeria with his slew of anthems and more than 10 projects (both albums and EPs)
Olamide is the King of the streets as he has been able to dominate with hit anthems, popularize dance routines and slangs.
However, the rapper isn’t just respected for only his music, he has also become one of the go-to artists for any budding street artist to score hit music.
His large heart and easy access have made him a legend among upcoming street artists who struggles to gain attention all by themselves.
Prior to Zlatan’s fame as a result of his verse on Chinko Ekun’s “Able God,” he had teamed up with Olamide for his 2017 “My Body.”
This collaboration first introduced Zlatan to the mainstream before “Able God” solidified his stay.
Outside their collaboration, Olamide showed continuous support for the younger artist despite being pitted against him on every slightest occasion.
Naira Marley has also benefitted from associating with Olamide. The two collaborated on “Ko SI Werey” in 2016 and the following year regrouped on “Issa Goal” this time former YBNL protege, Lil Kesh contributed.
While Olamide has suffered constant comparison with Zlatan and Naira Marley by fans, he has still found a way to evolve, with his last two albums, “Carpe Diem” and “Uy Scuti” showing an artistic evolution.
Olamide’s debut album, “Rapsodi” was released in 2011 under ID Cabasa’s Coded Tune Label but his second album, “YBNL” was released under his label of the same name in 2012.
The label to this date has not only been home to him and his catalogue but several others.
Olamide and his label, YBNL, have aided the careers of some of Nigeria’s most well-known musicians in recent years. While some have soured on him since then, the majority still hold him in high regard.
YBNL’s biggest products include Adekunle Gold, Fireboy DML, Lil Kesh, Chinko Ekun, Pheelz.
While the label has had its fair share of controversies surrounding its management style and handling of its artists, it would be dishonest to deny its impact on the Nigerian Music scene and most especially the street scene.
Lil Kesh is Olamide’s biggest product under the umbrella of the streets. Lil Kesh stormed the industry with “Shoki” creating not just a street anthem but a dance craze.
The song brought with it a culture shift in the Industry that makes Olamide’s infamous rant at the 2015 Headies about Lil Kesh’s loss to Reekado Banks for the “Next Rated” category valid.
In fact, Lil Kesh’s two years at YBNL was a pivotal moment in his career that unfortunately went on a decline after he left the label.
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Another street product from YBNL is Chinko Ekun. While still a law student at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, the rapper with the incredibly hilarious Mandarin gimmick, signed to YBNL.
Although, compared to Lil Kesh, Chinko didn’t achieve much under the label, only finding fame after he left with his 2018’s hit song, “Able God”
However, the foundation of Chinko Ekun’s growth in the industry was laid in YBNL and the label gave a platform when nobody else did.
Naira Marley broke into the spotlight as a rookie with the Olamide and Lil Kesh assisted “Issa Goal” in 2017.
After a short while of being in the background, Naira Marley found himself again in the spotlight after being embroiled in internet fraud cases.
While other artists would have drowned under these scandals, Naira Marley found order in the chaos, strengthening his career with hit songs like “Soapy,” “Am I a Yahoo Boy” “4 Nights In Ekohtiebo”, “Bad influence”, “Mafo”, “Tesumole” amongst others.
During the “Marlian Fest”, which was held at the Eko Hotels and Suites on 30 December 2019, Naira Marley announced the launch of his record label Marlian Records and revealed CBlvck, Zinoleesky, MohBad and Fabian Blu as signed acts.
In 2020, he added three more acts, Lyta, Emo Grae and Tori Keeche to the label.
Zinoleesky is Marlian Music leading star with hit songs like “Mapariwo”, “Kilofeshe”, “Naira Marley.”
Another star act in the label is the trailblazing Mohbad who has steadily climbed his way into the hearts of people with songs like “Komajensun”, “KPK”, “Ponmo”, ‘Feel Good”
Zlatan launched Zanku records in 2020 and unveiled three artists; Papisnoop, Oberz & Jamopyper.
In terms of impact on the streets, the label is still a newbie unlike YBNL and Marlian Music, however, its star act, Jamopyper has found a level of fame with two hit songs “If No Be You” which features Mayorkun and “Better Better“.
Oberz on the other hand is still yet to have a mainstream hit but has found fame thanks to his features on Zlatan’s “Unripe Pawpaw“, “Suffer“, the remix of the 2021 hit, “Lagos Anthem.”
Papisnoop also does not have a mainstream hit yet but has been featured on hit songs like “The Matter“, “Unripe Pawpaw”, “Shomo.”
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Impact and Influence
One good part about the Olamide, Naira Marley, Zlatan is their willingness to provide a platform for talented budding artists like them.
These three have not only seen to it that the streets continues to dish out good music but also help build young creatives.