A lot of people have called me to say that they don’t like Olamide’s latest album “Lagos Nawa.” I have spent the weekend having conversations about his music and the direction that he took about the album and why he did that.
And let’s be honest. A lot of people don’t feel the project. They say it is one dimensional and caters to a very small set of people in Lagos, who are in tune with the ‘street’ records that he has made. Others believe that the album isn’t ‘sweet’, and the sound direction and music formation does not do it for them.
One friend of mine I respect in the industry, and who requested that I don’t mention his name said “This album was made for the people in Mushin. I don’t feel it, and I feel bad because I love Olamide so much. But this project isn’t doing it for me.”
I understand. Trust me I do. The music on “Lagos Nawa” is one dimensional. This isn’t Baddo’s most relatable album. It panders to the Lagos-driven, mainstream definition of music. His previous albums have allowed inclusiveness and Hip-hop lead from the front. This project has ‘Wo’, a sound mined from the deepest street corners, as an introduction to where his artistry is at this point. Here, Hip-hop is the outsider, forcing its way into a space that isn’t currently conducive to it. From branding to delivery, Olamide is honest about delivering a ‘Wobe’ sound.
‘Wobe’ music isn’t for everyone. It’s an acquired taste and sound structure that is inspired by the street corners of Lagos. It is a subgenre that many have found a way to mine and fuse it with popular sound definitions for effect. Olamide has led this sound into pop culture, defining his artistry with this. On previous projects, he always found new ways to fuse this subgenre with more acceptable genres to create a mainstream that cocktail. It also helped that he was rapping too. Hip-hop is a genre that unifies a lot of people and provides them with knowledge, commentary and wisdom. On “Lagos Nawa” it is lacking.
After “Wo” picked up due to the millions spent on marketing and the dance-inspiring energy that carried the simple record through, Olamide decided to push that music through. “Wo” was a direct ‘Wobe’ record, and it worked for the musician. In some quarters, it is regarded as one of the songs of the year. Baddo went ahead to release a project that captures that school of music, and push it mainstream.
For many people that is too much. Olamide is a popular musician, with a lot of expectations on him. Over the years, he has been the poster boy for street music, but much of that was mainly driven by Hip-hop. His methods have been mostly formulaic, but they have been tried-and-true. This was him moving left, leaning towards the formula that made people fall in love with “Wo”.
Should a record like “Wo” determine the direction for a new album? Does it have enough power in it to light up an LP? Should ‘Wobe’ music be brought to light at this stage of his career?
That’s why a lot of fans are conflicted. The music isn’t doing it for them, but they cannot say it as it is. Olamide holds a special place in the hearts of many Nigerians who have felt emotionally uplifted by his records. He is star because people ride with him. People ride with him because they love his music, and that love has become so deep and ingrained that to vocalise against Olamide is perceived as blasphemy. People hate to blaspheme. It goes against deep-rooted convictions.
But it’s okay to not like this album. Don’t feel bad as a fan that ‘Wobe’ music isn’t for you. Perhaps you’re not street enough to appreciate it. Perhaps the genre doesn’t stimulate you towards positivity. Or it just doesn’t kill you with the euphoric hands of enjoyment. But you have to tell Olamide how you truly feel about his album. It isn’t ‘hating’ to give honest feedback. It is an act of love, and the highest level of fandom. Your favorite artist deserves to know how you truly feel about their music. And only with your honest thoughts can they improve on it, and bounce back with a more refined product. It is your duty as a core fan and follower of a creator.
Olamide took a gamble with this project. His entire career has been one risky adventure, pushing a sound culture mainstream. But how close to the sun can he fly before he gets burned? How much can his wings of fan-love and creativity soar before fatigue weighs in?
That’s what “Lagos Nawa” is. According to fan reaction, this is too much. Too much to cause conflict, but not too much to be vocal about it.