For three consecutive years, Olamide Adedeji has shut down Lagos at Christmas time. Last year his annual concert, Olamide Live in Concert (stylised #OLIC), was held on Boxing Day at Eko Hotels, Victoria Island. There was a humongous crowd, both inside and outside the premises. Talk of exorbitant prices paid for tickets on the black market, the cancellation of pre-booked tickets and the presence of Lagos’s Citizen No. 1, Governor Ambode, serves to buttress Olamide’s influence on Lagos culture.

As expected, it was a star-studded event, with outstanding performances from YBNL cohorts and friends. Adekunle Gold performed hits from his debut album Gold. Lil Kesh pranced around the stage, delivering hit songs from his disappointing debut album. Chinko Ekun was notably absent, while PentHauze’s Phyno did a number of hits. All the while, Olamide kept coming and going like the proverbial abiku, delivering mostly his old numbers, which the audience appropriated, Karaoke style.

His performance began with ‘Owo Blow’, his song that references the charismatic Robin Hood-like character played by Taiwo Hassan, better known as Ogogo, in the eponymous Nollywood film. In a sense, Ogogo could be likened to the character played by Al Pacino in Scarface, but rapper Naeto-C had already taken on that persona.

 

Even if Olamide glories in his accomplishments, he still defers to a divine being.

 

Local vs international

Those who are familiar with Olamide know that he is not one to rate the international above the local. This is one rapper who, three albums ago, said he would rather take 200 000 Naira in Ibadan than have the forex equivalent overseas.

A lot has changed since Olamide released his third studio album, Baddest Guy Ever Liveth, three years ago. His latest album, The Glory, seems to be cast in a similar mould, portraying Olamide as some street messiah. With 16 tracks and running seven minutes short of an hour, this is Olamide’s shortest album yet. In terms of production, it is his most star-studded. As was the case with his previous albums, he has the compliments of his in-house producers Pheelz (on six tracks) and Young John (on two tracks) but also engages the services of HOD, Sossick, Paulcleverlee, Raphael2kriss, Moss2kriss and Shizzi, making the album a robust sonic experience.

The Glory begins with a catchy intro that is reminiscent of the eponymous track on his previous album, Eyan Mayweather. Although less pugilistic in his delivery (read ‘humorous’), this intro reveals that he is back to rap. Eyan Mayweather was a sing-song album, for which he caught some flak, even though this album produced some of his biggest hits.

On ‘A Letter to Milli’, Olamide educates his son about life, drawing from his own experiences. It is at once a tender song about fatherhood and a factual screed about the reality of life on the streets. It is familiar material: Olamide has been singing about his boyhood in Bariga since he announced himself on his breakthrough track, ‘Eni Duro’: ‘Olamide is here/Just like the first day of the year’.

On ‘Woyo’, which was produced by Young John, Olamide revisits life in his rough neighbourhood. ‘Woyo’ is not as poignant as ‘Aniwofoshe’ from Baddest Guy Ever Liveth, or ‘1999’ from Street OT, where he recounted his late father’s close shave with death at the hands of armed robbers.

 

Honouring where you come from

It is not news that Olamide has made it and has moved out of the hood. The legend is that he still lives on the Mainland but he is buying up properties on the Island and elsewhere. With massive album sales, sold-out concerts, both local and international, and brand endorsements, he has the means. However, he has not forgotten his roots, from which he continues to draw his inspiration.

Most songs, for example ‘Symbol of Hope’, ‘Journey of a Thousand Miles’ and ‘Grind’, follow the narrative of his breakthrough while still indulging in generous moments of self-referential praise and paranoia. Inadvertently, these songs carry the thrust of the album: Even if Olamide glories in his accomplishments, he still defers to a divine being.

 

He has not forgotten his roots, from which he continues to draw his inspiration.

 

There are moments of artful puns and humour, which often stray into a mild mockery of women. ‘Pepper Dem Gang’ is an example, with its references to make-up on a fleek face and a generous derrière. The Pheelz produced ‘Be Mine’, the poster love song on the album. Although a far cry from the gorgeous ‘Melo Melo’, it will suffice thanks to its memorable guitar riffs.

Burna Boy shines on both ‘Omo Wobe Anthem’ and ‘Sons of Anarchy’, songs that rep the streets, alongside ‘Lori Titi Yi’. The previously released hit single ‘Who You Epp’ is laid to rest on this album. Conspicuously absent is ‘Orobo’, one of his brilliant Fuji singles of 2016. The inclusion of this song may have skewed the album away from its messianic and melancholic mode and made it more delightful.

The Glory is a deliberate attempt by Olamide to break back into rap music. His departure from the hip-hop ethos began halfway through his sophomore album, Yahoo Boy No Laptop, more than four years ago. He has earned his acclaim in that cross-over space since Baddest Guy Ever Liveth, where he energised rap music with the Nigerian working-class struggle and the delights of the Yoruba language. The best moments on The Glory take him back to the ethos of Yahoo Boy No Laptop, and there are many fans who will say, “Welcome back.”