When Olamide came on the Nigerian music scene with his 2011 rap single 'Eni Duro', no one thought he’ll compete with pop artists. He was rap's messiah to the streets; the children of the streets of Ajangbadi, Orile and Okokomaiko, Lagos underclass neighbourhoods, had found a rapper worthy of adulation.
He did this all the time acknowledging Olamide's influence—an influence that has no doubt profited him and cemented their relationship. The single ‘Connect’ (2015) was Phyno’s Olamide song. The Yoruba rapper even appeared in the video.
Now on ‘Fada Fada’, Phyno has repeated the scheme, only this time, Olamide is featured. 'Fada Fada' is based on a cliché: the rags-to-riches story often over-flogged by rappers the world over. Only this time, it is tinged with Nigerianess—the mention of God being the reason behind the rapper’s success.
If Humblesmith's ‘Osinachi’ passed for a gospel song, 'Fada Fada' would have no difficulty achieving same. After all, every Nigerian would want angels at their gates and a state governor as father-figure, a claim Olamide makes on the song about Governor Ambode of Lagos taking the place of his deceased father. He even brags, "E no easy to dey chill with Governor Ambode."
The success of ‘Connect’ no doubt spurred Phyno to record 'Fada Fada' and the song tries really hard not to sound like its predecessor. Like on that song, Phyno once again sings. This renders backing to an old Olamide line: “I'm not even going to attempt falsettos, but with steady tunes that make you giddy, I'll do a good job.”
And Phyno does manage a good job in singing. Yet with two non-rap songs back to back, there are a few questions to be asked: Can Phyno still be said to be authentic? Has he parted ways with rap, deciding to follow Olamide's path to pop relevance?
If ‘Connect’ was unexpected, is ‘Fada Fada’ calculated? Will Phyno be threatened by a younger Igbo rapper who stays true to core rap? Or will Phyno be so overwhelmed by his own success that by the time he realizes how far away he is from being a rapper, he'll have to try too hard like Olamide did on his last album, Eyan Mayweather?
These are questions Phyno's sophomore album is going to have to answer.