Will ‘Owo Blow’ bring Olamide back to hip hop relevance?

The irony: Olamide's 2015 album, Eyan Mayweather, is his least popular but was released in arguably the most successful year of his career.

Olamide returns to hip hop with 'Owo Blow'
Olamide returns to hip hop with 'Owo Blow'

In a single year, he released ‘Bobo’, a hit that became the most viewed video by a Nigerian artist last year; the accompanying dance went viral; he dominated YouTube and dislodged Adele from first position on iTunes Nigeria; he won his first international prize—Best Male Artist in Western Africa at the All Africa Music Awards.

While 2016 has not been quite as favourable as any of the previous five years considering the widespread popularity of ‘Bobo’ and ‘Lagos Boys’ at this time last year, the single ‘Who You Epp’ has managed to keep the rapper from slipping into oblivion.

His new single 'Owo Blow' gets its title and theme from a 1995 Nollywood Yoruba classic starring action hero Taiwo Hassan (popularly known as Ogogo, a name that appears in the song’s chorus.) Olamide has made references to Nollywood actors since as far back as 2012's ‘Road to YBNL’—"Fly boy, mi o kin mura bi Jinadu"—and notably on ‘Ghost Mode’ with Phyno: "Kanayo O Kanayo ni mi, mo kana gan."

In adopting 'Owo Blow', Olamide is more or less saying his music will be called classic, and he’ll be revered. For now, the song has given us the best Olamide video since the autobiographical 'Anifowose'.

Like on his best tracks (almost all of which are rap songs), Olamide makes a gamble by trying to sound as different as possible from his preceding songs—attempting a new technique while staying true to his indigenous roots. On 'Owo Blow' the gamble pays off, and even though the opening five seconds sound a little like the opening of ‘Oya Dab’, the song quickly finds its own style and sails on with the rapper’s seamless rhymes leading to the song’s punchline of a chorus.

‘Owo Blow’ is far from being a great rap song and cannot be compared to the likes of ‘Voice of the Street’ or ‘Ilefo Illuminati’—but then, isn’t this preoccupation with the greatness of the past the problem with consumers of culture and followers of sports?

Messi has won the Ballon d’Or four times and the Champions League thrice, but you see, Pele has three World Cups, so Messi can’t be greater than Pele. Kanye West has sort of revolutionized the hip hop genre with his last two albums, but that isn’t enough, we want his College Dropout days back.

Nonetheless 'Owo Blow' is a fine accomplishment as it lacks the banality and repetition rappers are bound to wallow in after quick success or, quite rarely, following five successful albums.

With 'Owo Blow', the Bariga-born rapper might have rediscovered his mojo in 2016—by backing-out of his pop while stubbornly staying true to his indigenous style. He seems to be rapping from a more relaxed space now, following the controversial Headies and the provocative and a little brutal Eyan Mayweather where he takes direct swipes at his rapping colleagues.

Like Drake and maybe Kanye West, Olamide has blurred the line between rapping and singing. So one hopes this is a new beginning for him, one where he creates a legacy as a rapper having raked in millions thanks to his pop singles. But then, one hopes in vain, because for the man nicknamed Baddo, sadly, money comes first.

Watch the 'Owo Blow' video below:


 

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