If there is one thing Nigerian sounds are known for, it’s our adaptability to times. Change of times in our environments, and evolution in our generations. We are a dynamic nation in various aspects, especially in our choice of music. Nigerian Street-Pop is a pacesetter for the hits of today that we can’t deny our love for. Starting out as a channel to talk about early beginnings, its impact has surpassed projections in regards to its rise to international acclaim on the charts like Billboard and on award shows.
In the early 2000s, artists like Lord Ajasa & 2Phat channeled Street-Pop as a storytelling tool to relate their life experiences on the streets to listeners. This was a stepping stone for the likes of DaGrin who reinvented street rap into Nigerian street-pop. DaGrin during his time was a shining indigenous rap artist who infused English, Pidgin and his native dialect(Yoruba) to perfectly transcribe the feeling of being a true Nigerian living in the ghetto.
Olamide being a fast learner, held up DaGrin’s torch upon his passing and has made a greatly significant impact. The “Voice Of The Street” took it upon himself to map out a niche that was authentic and was able to inspire many other underserved youths in the ghetto to strap their boots up and reach for a brighter future.
Today, Olamide has not only restructured how people see Nigerian street-pop but has also trained other uniquely talented artists who are always in tune with their crafts to deliver fresh sounds. Training the likes of Lil Kesh showed how dynamic Nigerian street-pop can be. It could take a shape of someone dropping solid bars inspired by harsh experiences to another who has embraced their past struggles and is in search of new beginnings. Oritse Femi in mid-2010 brought another flavour to the genre.
Naira Marley rose to prominence in the late 2010s. His hit track “IssaGoal” in 2018 which became an unofficial song for Nigeria’s 2018 World Cup and opened new doors to showcase the limitless sounds all fitting into Nigerian Street-Pop. He got more attention from the public during his controversy with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2019 concerning suspected fraudulent activities. What may have been perceived as a mockery to the financial commission was a depiction of horrid harassment faced by young men in society as a result of being tagged a “yahoo boy” because of their expressive appearances.
Olamide being a mentor to Lil Kesh and Naira Marley a mentor to Zinoleesky, it’s a true reflection that street music is ever changing due to constant exchanges of batons from one music great to another uprising. Artistes are not the only contributors to the undeniable force of Nigerian street-pop but also producers.
Rexxie, a Grammy-winning music producer, DJ and songwriter, the brain behind solid hits like Zlatan’s “Zanku”, Naira Marley’s “Tesumole”, Naira Marley’s signee, Mohbad’s “KPK”, has played a great role so far in the evolving nature of street-pop.
Street pop unarguably has come a long way in its ability to make its sounds evergreen. New acts such as Bella Shumurda, Zinoleesky, Seyi Vibez are introducing beats to carry on the genre of Nigerian street-pop. Another artist we can’t ignore is Portable. As much as some Nigerians may disagree with his lifestyle, the relentless artist sure knows how to get the streets talking and promoting his music.
Nigerian street pop artists deserve their acknowledgment, and most importantly, the streets should not be underestimated in their ability to create a force capable of producing more hit makers with unique sounds and for some, come with a teary-eyed telling of their early beginnings.