In time past in the Nigerian music industry, artistes singing street songs have been seen as street, for the street, hence can hardly go farther than the street. This perception did not change even when Olamide who came in after the demise of another rap and street star, DaGrin started his career in that line, rapping with indigenous Yoruba language and pidgin.
The perception we have of Olamide as street despite his fantastic rap was well promoted by the artiste because guess what? He is street, well loved by the street but was not seen like his contemporaries Wizkid and Davido in the music industry because, for some unspoken reason, people don’t compare them equally with Olamide leaving them to roll and rule his genre. This lack of equal comparison I believe is more of the artiste’s act to not be compared than fans and music critics who don’t pass up an opportunity to compare artistes. It is more of Olamide because while his contemporaries were focused on the love song in hip-hop and sometimes mild social/political issue, Olamide has consciously made it known that he sings for a group that is hardly ever represented which is the street and guess what? He has done that so well.
This article is hereby written to show you how Olamide is effortlessly changing the street narrative, showing the world that being part of the street is not a defect, and also making the idea of being street really appealing that everyone wants to be a part of it. How?
1. His Songs: The first thing to talk about is Olamide’s songs and how he is using it to tell the Street story. At the beginning of this year, Olamide released Science student and that song was for some reasons a controversial one with people saying Olamide should never do such a song that promotes nothing but the drug culture in the street. I was pained by these people’s lack of patience in listening to good lyrics and jumping the gun to criticise it, all because it was done by an artiste majorly known as “street”. Another reason I didn’t blame some of these unprofessional critics was because they are already used to listening to street artistes promoting such activities in streets but what I didn’t find good enough was that the song had to be banned from airplay and for me that was a wrong call because they made Olamide pay for the ignorance of people who didn’t listen well because if they had listened well, not to judge but to understand, they would’ve known the difference between awareness and promotion.
Olamide uses his songs to tell the stories in the street with a language that can only be used to tell it… his indigenous language and pidgin which equates street language. Is there any other way he could’ve told the story? Yes, but that won’t be the original way and Baddo likes to stick with his originality. His originality and consistency has made his songs acceptable and loved massively that everyone now wants to do street and be street… even the posh ajebutter Koko master, D’banj is doing street.
So guess what? With Olamide’s songs, he has made what is supposed to be razz acceptable in our ever judgemental society and that is one way he has changed the street narrative, that it can definitely be an acceptable sound and be a part of the society.
2. A defying-Stereotype Personality: When I heard that Olamide’s WO was banned I expected a social media outburst or a bass*ss defensive tweet that we know some of our artistes for. I waited for one and it didn’t come, rather what came was an apology stating that the song never meant to be perceived the way it was. Similar expectation I had when the same treatment was given to Science Student (my bad) but same similar response of apology came from Baddo explaining that he was simply creating awareness for drug abuse and seriously kicking against it going further to releasing a dope video to prove that point, writing it legibly on the screen “Say No To Drug Abuse” for those that would still misconstrue the video and its relation to the song.
Let’s be sincere, with the stereotype we have created concerning the street and what it represents, it is nothing but aggressive attitude a lot of people expect from Olamide with all he was facing, but Olamide handled it well, showing us that although he is from the street, he will not promote the negative ideologies people believe about the street with his reaction.
But come to think of it., do you know Olamide is one artiste, despite how “street” he is and how offensive we see his song doesn’t promote drugs and excessive alcoholism on his social media pages such as Instagram like we see other artistes do? Going through Olamide’s IG page, you’ll hardly see him promoting any of that and I felt someone should’ve for once connected that dot while he was being bashed for science students, but hey, at the end, we train our minds to see things we want them to see no matter how true they are. Olamide through his personality and attitude has promoted a personality contrary to what is expected of a stereotypical street kid and for that, we give him thumbs up.
3. Compelling Growth But Still Street: So the whole essence of this post is the announcement Olamide made today that he is now the proud owner of a TV station where he promises great entertainment content. This came as a huge surprise to a lot of people who didn’t see it coming with his eight years in the Nigerian music industry. Considering the perception people have about Olamide, nobody expected this kind of growth, not that he can’t do something bigger, but no one knew Olamide has a media dream to own a TV station. This is a great development because this same street king has created a platform where he can unapologetically be street, not just promote street, but also create through pictures and visuals the kind of street he wants to see. But most importantly, Olamide can now without fear while playing by the rules create awareness for the street and not care about if it’ll be turned down by the media because he already has a medium.
All these, his songs, personality shown so far, and his growth is one that we can say is truly chnging the narrative of the street artiste who doesn’t have to end up negatively but is as great as he wants to be, through his hard work of course.
This said, Olamide recent good news is a big win for the street and every child and dreamer from the street because it doesn’t just show them that their dreams are valid, it shows them that these valid dreams can also come true if, like Olamide, they focus on their growth and not look at the controversy society tries to create with and against them. Olamide is the proof they need that they don’t need to do drugs as artistes and live according to what people think about them. He is a proof that they don’t need to be all razz because they’re street and promote the negative narrative that is already pining most down. Olamide is a proof that everyone won’t like you, but if you like you, they’ll soon like you and start doing what you do. He is the proof you need that originality pays and no one can tell your story better than you when you find your original medium.
So guys, learn from Olamide either you’re street or not. Be like Olamide either you’re street or not. But know that you’re from the street doesn’t make you less of who you are, it only means you have experience a lot of people do not have, how you use it, is the narrative you create and you’ll agree with me that Olamide is working his way to changing that narrative, not just for himself, but for you and every person that has been a victim of stereotype because one size never fits all.
Happy birthday Baddo! Keep on keeping on!