Olamide is a Nigerian king. One whose throne resides from the slums of Lagos, through to the creeks of the Niger Delta. His music permeates every corner of the country, and reaches out to every demography in the country.
The rapper was recently asked about why he has no international collaborations, and if as a possibility, he will pay for a guest feature from an international artiste.
Olamide was bullish in his response: “I will never pay for an international collaboration, Fela never did any international collaboration neither did he lobby or pay for any international collaboration, and his music went as far as all over the world.
“He was relevant while alive and even after his death, his music was much sought after, so why would I want to pay for an international collaboration because I want to remain relevant in the music industry”, Olamide stated.
These answers hold certain truths that does not apply to Olamide, or when placed in today’s context, will not exactly be true. The comparison with Fela does not fit because of the difference in their music; Fela made protest music that resonated across the world, in a time when the Black freedom movement were looking for messiahs to voice out against various systems of oppression. His Afrocentric music connected on a global level, which made penetration and collaborations with international stars possible.
That’s far from Olamide’s rap, which has veered off to pop tunes and subject matters. Although these sounds have powered him to the top of the music food chain, he needs more.
Why does he need more? Because the ceiling for achievement has been raised.
We are currently in the time when sound-limitation is old-fashioned, with the globalization of diverse sounds, once considered as niche melodies. Drake’s ‘One Dance’ success, and Rihanna’s ‘Work’ phenomenon, has started a wave that many have jumped on. Afro-Caribbean tunes are in right now, with the spotlight shining on Nigeria, and her acts. The opportunity is there for the taking, and the A-list musicians are on the wave. Music has to be made for the new markets and that’s what these acts are focused on. It’s their new way forward.
The creative section of the industry are undergoing a growth, the global music consumers become more aware of Nigeria’s sounds and the novelty of consuming it. Wizkid’s ‘One Dance’ collaboration with Drake and Kyla, topped the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for 10 weeks, and transformed him into a desired player in the international community. Davido’s African dominance has been rewarded by a chance to break replicate it on a wider scale, with Sony Music Entertainment throwing in money and the resources to make that a reality. His debut EP will be out in September. Seyi Shay is playing the UK leagues with Universal Island Records handling her distribution. Ayo Jay, another Nigerian is on Sony’s books too, releasing his work in the US via their flagship record label, RCA Records, home to Usher, Alicia Keys and more. Yemi Alade is pushing into Europe with the release of her ‘Want you’ single.
The industry is changing, and A-List stars need to look beyond Nigeria, and Nigerians in the diaspora for growth. Olamide is an A-list star, and needs to aim for more. International collaborations is a good step in introducing his music and raps to a whole new market, just like Davido did with Meek Mill on ‘Fans mi’. To stand still is to be left behind.
Olamide does not in the true sense of it, ‘need’ an international collaboration for the Nigerian market. He is doing alright. But if that is his personal ceiling of achievement, then it is perfect. But as an artiste, why aim for less, when certain moves could give you more? Why limit your craft and your potential increase in influence?
Olamide should get an international collaboration if he wants to make in-roads into other markets, and export his sound.