Nigerian rap sensation, Olamide recently granted an interview and when the question about awards arose, here’s what he said: “If they give me award or not, it does not define me. God bless whoever wins any award. God bless the organisers for the initiative. Thanks for creating an avenue to commend us for our work.”
Despite this singular quote being out of context, we can assume that when Olamide said awards do not define him, he was clearly referring to the local ones. Recognition on international platforms is all the definition that artistes in Africa need and work for. We’ve seen this with Wizkid who has won a number of international awards back to back in 2016 and can now safely be referred to as an artiste who has gained respect on the international front. But we’re not here for another Wizkid-appreciation post.
This is about Olamide who sadly, has not won any international awards in the 5-year span of his career. We say five years because his first hit track “Eni Duro” was released in 2011, so we choose not to acknowledge the years of hardwork that led up to that monster hit (and this is highly controversial). Five years may seem like a short time to demand an artiste to move mountains and cross oceans to earn an international award but this should be more about the quality of work done in such short period than anything else.
Five years, yes. Let’s never forget that there’s also been five successful albums and in fact, a sixth one in the offing. The hit tracks are countless, the concerts are back to back (in his parlance), OLIC is one of the most-anticipated music events in London and Lagos, so why is Olamide being snubbed by international awards organisers?! Snubbed not as regards nominations but in clinching the actual prize…
Many have argued that Olamide’s content is restricted to a Nigerian market as he raps in his local language and even sometimes, his Ijebu dialect so he fails to connect with a global audience.
As viable as this argument sounds, it still may not hold water.
If you’re familiar with great African music, then you’d know Angelique Kidjo. The Grammy award-winning artiste from Benin Republic has stayed true to the African culture and has excellently blended the tradition with the powerful messages in her music, all of which transcend the continent. The New York Times wrote about Kidjo in 2014 and in defining her style, it said, “she has kept African languages and an African sensibility at the core of her music.” We might add that her indigenous music, that is not understood by the larger percentage of her global audience, has won her three Grammy awards and two nominations, the most recent being in the Best World Music Album category.
So we wonder what some of you are saying about indigenous content…
Just last week, Wizkid won in the Best African Act category at the MOBOs in Glasgow, a category that also had Olamide and Tiwa Savage as contenders. So far this year, Wizkid has not released as many songs as the latter two. From Olamide, we’ve had Abule Sowo, Who you epp, Konkobility and loads of collaborations, but none still make up for quality content and this might be where the whole point leads. Giving us hits back to back is good stuff and we appreciate it but how about hits that can compete on a global scale and survive?
Olamide is good enough to compete, hence the nominations but as it appears, there’s need for him to develop his craft as a musician. Let’s bring Wizkid into this for a third time (for lack of a better model, since he’s winning all the awards). You’ll agree that Wizkid has a feel to his vibe, it’s incomparable, it’s what makes the brand. It’s what he brings on to every feature that turns those songs into the magic that they are…it’s that feel he brought on to Drake’s One Dance (although debatable) and DJs Buckz and Maphorisa’s Soweto Baby (this one is undeniable). Olamide needs to discover himself and once he does, we’ll feel it in the music. For us, tracks like “Eyan Mayweather” and “Ilefo Illuminati” completely define the Olamide that is able to bring home international awards.
Consider this our layman’s perspective just because we love music and are willing to spare some two cents!