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Nigerian Struggling Musicians Who Went From Stardom To Oblivion

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The Nigerian music industry is littered with the carcasses of one-hit wonders.

In this piece, Tofarati Ige takes a look at some of the artistes who, once upon a time, reigned supreme.

Lagbaja

No matter how the story of the Nigerian music industry is told, singer, Bisade Ologunde, aka Lagbaja, will surely be given a honourable mention. While most artistes are eager to stamp their face in the consciousness of the public, Lagbaja entered the scene determined to shield his identity.

Fondly called the ‘masked one’, Lagbaja enthralled the populace with his anonymousness and thought-provoking music. He called his brand of music Africano which is a combination of afro jazz, afrobeat, afropop and highlife. Some of his hit songs included Ikira, Lagbaja, Konko Below, Feyin e, Nothing for You, Never Far Away, among others.

While the singer still performs every now and then, he is no longer as relevant as he used to be. It should be noted that he was out of the country for a while before he returned last year. Shortly after his return, Lagbaja said in an interview that he was more interested in rebuilding his famous fun spot, Motherland, in Ikeja, Lagos, than putting out an album.

Paul Play Dairo

Paul Play Dairo built on his father, IK Dairo’s legacy to make an entry into the music industry by doing a remix of the latter’s popular song, Mo so Rire.

Even though he was initially labelled an impostor who was riding on the coat-tails of his late father to court fame, he proved cynics wrong by releasing more hit songs such as Angel of my Life, Forever, You and Me, among others.

However, it seems Paul Play’s creative juices have stopped flowing for a while now. The singer has blamed his absence from the scene on health challenges that left him incapacitated for a number of years but he has been on his feet for some years now without a hit song to his name. But the singer insists that he is not under any pressure to stage a comeback. According to him, he is not in competition with anyone.

Olu Maintain

Even though Olumide Edwards Adegbulu, aka Olu Maintain, is not the originator of the ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ slang, he surely popularised it. His 2007 hit song, Yahooze, contained in his debut solo album of the same title, was one of the biggest tracks of that time.

The song, which glorified lavish spending after hitting pay dirt, resonated with a lot of youths within and outside the country.

Years after the Yahooze album, the singer came out with another hit titled, Nawti, but since then, there has been an eerie silence from him.

However, it should be noted that Yahooze isn’t Olu’s original claim to fame. He was once a member of the defunct pop group, Maintain, together with Tolu Ogunniyi, and they had hits such as I Catch Cold and Nibo la wa gbe lo, to their names. The group held sway in the nineties but they went into oblivion shortly after before Olu bounced back as a solo artiste.

Tony Tetuila

“You don bash my car (you have hit my car)” is a sentence that is usually heard on Nigerian roads. Tony Tetuila banked on the popularity of the phrase to shoot himself into reckoning with his song, My Car. Before that, he was a member of the defunct group, Remedies, with Eedris Abdulkareem and Eddy Montana.

Tony released My Car in 2001 and it was an instant hit. For some years after the release of the song, Tetuila continued to dominate the Nigeria (nay African) music landscape with hit tracks such as My heart go Jigi Jigi, Your kind of Woman, Fefe na Efe, and Omo Pupa.

However, the singer’s career soon experienced a decline and he hasn’t been able to reestablish himself as a leading artiste.

The singer is now a politician but he hasn’t really made headway in that regard. He contested the Irepodun Local Government Area seat of the Kwara State House of Assembly in 2015, albeit unsuccessfully.

Alariwo

Rotimi Martins, popularly known as Alariwo of Africa, held sway in the nineties and his song, Yawa go Gas, went on to become an anthem of sorts.

The self-proclaimed crossover king has been able to maintain a level of media presence because of his activities as a broadcaster but not much has been heard from him musically in a long time. Like some others on this list, Alariwo has also had his fair share of health challenges.

The singer opened up that he battled with varicocele, an enlargement of the veins within the scrotum, while his wife also had pulmonary embolism. The illness took a toll on the singer’s finances and music career.

Konga

Lawal Olumo, aka Konga, breezed into the industry singing in Yoruba and Eno language. His hit song, Baby Konga, was widely received by fans and it seemed he was in to stay for the long haul.

At one time, he was a favourite for collaborations as many artistes wanted to work with him. His collaboration with X-Project on the song, Lori le, will not be forgotten in a hurry. He also recorded other songs such as Ja won si (featuring 2baba) and Jedi Jedi (featuring Olu Maintain).

However, the singer seemed to fizzle out of reckoning just as fast as he came. Now, many music lovers may have difficulty remembering his name.

Baba Fryo

Fondly remembered for his eye patch, Baba Fryo was the Denge Pose master that ruled the airwaves in the nineties. His song, Denge Pose, was sung with gusto by both the young and old alike, and it belabours the obvious to say that he had the music industry in his palms. Straight from the ghetto of Ajegunle, Lagos, Baba Fryo had the right attitude and swagger for his kind of music. He told anybody who cared to listen that he was a ghetto boy with talent and he was around to make his mark in the music industry.

Sadly, the only hit song associated with him is Denge Pose. He abruptly went off the radar and he blamed his absence on the activities of pirates and fraudulent record labels.

Weird MC

Shola Idowu’s claim to fame is her nineties hit song, Allen Avenue. But her hit song, Ijoya, shot her to another level of prominence. The song took the country by storm and it was a DJ’s favourite for a long time. The animation music video of the song also helped to extend its popularity and shelf life.

She is known for her tomboyish nature. Little wonder she adopted the moniker, Weird MC.

However, Weird MC has been unable to enjoy the same attention she did with Ijoya. She recently revealed that she had become a born again Christian but her style of music wouldn’t change. Originally based in the United Kingdom before the growth of her music career, it is believed that she has since gone back to live in the European country.

Terry G

It is not an overstatement to say that Terry G took the industry by storm. Born Gabriel Oche Amanyi, the singer practically dominated the airwaves with songs such as Free Madness, Akpako Master, Sangalo, See Groove, and many others. The singer was also featured by artistes to make hit tracks.

However, the singer has been dogged by several controversies such as promotion of drug abuse and his frequent public altercations. Terry G later stated that his negative public image affected his career and that he regretted behaving in that manner.

Even though the singer is involved in other business, he hasn’t released any hit song in a long time. But it is not in doubt that he is a talented singer and producer.

Ruggedman

In his own way, Ruggedman redefined rap music in Nigeria. He came into the industry taking swipes at some of the top artistes then such as Eedris Abdulkareem and Rasquie. He accused them of making ‘wack’ music. And just like a veil had been lifted off their eyes, music lovers identified with his message and his popularity soared.

The rapper is still active in the public sphere, by virtue of his recent campaign, #EndSARS, against the allegedly corrupt Federal Special Anti-Robbery Officers. His clothing line, Twentieth September Wear is also doing well.

Blackface

Blackface was a member of the defunct Plantashun Boiz until the group split up in 2004. Many didn’t initially give him a chance to succeed on his own but he proved them wrong with the release of his debut solo album, Ghetto Child. Practically all the songs on the album were hit tracks, and he performed the same magic on his sophomore album, Evergreen.

He has continued to release albums such as Jungle Fever (2008), Me, Musiq and I (2009), Dancehall Business (2010) but none of them was a commercial success.

Zaaki Azzay

He came into the industry in the nineties wielding his torchlight and he got the attention he sought for. Most known for the hit song, Na me go Marry Am, Azzay was undoubtedly the most popular artiste music from ‘northern’ Nigeria. The singer is from Benue but many think he is from the core North because of his use of Hausa in his songs.

The singer also had a TV show, True Nigerian, which created some buzz. However, not much has been heard from him in a long time.

Kelly Hansome

Kelly Hansome started his career as a producer with the moniker, Ugly Beats. However, he found fame as a singer with the release of his 2008 hit song, Maga Don Pay. Sadly, that was the height of his singing career.

He has made several attempts to bounce back into reckoning but none has been successful.

Soul E

Emmanuel Okosi, aka Soul E, came into the industry with a lot of promise. His song, Soul E Baba, was one of the popular songs of 2006 and his popularity was further cemented when he featured on 2face’s hit song, E be like Say, that same year. However, the singer soon faded off like a cheap perfume especially after he met and dated his former older lover, Queen Ure. Now married to the love of his life, Soul E functions as a gospel minister.

African China

African China’s song, Crisis, was one of the most popular tracks of the early 2000s. He followed up with hit songs such as No Condition is Permanent and Mr President. The singer was actually doing very well until he was caught up in a rape scandal when he went to perform in the United Kingdom. The incident cast a dark shadow on his career and it’s safe to say he has not been able to recover from the incident till date.

The singer has continued to release songs but none of them has achieved critical success.

General Pype

Olayiwola Majekodunmi, aka General Pype, enthralled fans with his unique style of reggae and dancehall. The singer started his career as a member of a classical/opera choir, which explains his rich music background.

His 2009 song, Champion, took the industry by storm and many pundits labelled him as one of the top artistes to watch out for.

Unfortunately, General Pype has not been able to live up to the expectations of fans and analysts alike who believed that he had what it took to rule the industry.

Dele Taiwo

Dele Taiwo started his career as a gospel singer but it was his album, Magic Moment, which brought him into reckoning. The singer was seen as a breath of fresh air in the juju music industry with his clean looks and well arranged vocals.

However, nothing major has been heard from the stable of the singer in recent times. He however still performs at parties and other events.

Wale Thompson

Wale Thompson is another juju singer who came on the scene with a big bang and fizzled out soon after. His hit song, Lalale Friday, was a favourite of many and at the height of its popularity, it became a street anthem.

Thompson recently tried to make a comeback with the song, Chop My Money, but it didn’t gain the necessary traction to make it a hit.

Capital Femi

A brother to popular comedian, Gbenga Adeyinka, Capital Femi captured the hearts of women and men alike with his sonorous voice. His songs such as Baby I got It, Never Felt a Love, Don’t Be Afraid, among others were well received and he was regarded as one of the top RnB singers in the country.

However, the singer seemed to run out of steam at some point and he has been off the radar for a while.

GT the Guitarman

It is not debatable that GT the Guitarman is talented. His debut single, Dreamer, was a hit, and he followed it up with other tracks such as Truly, Just Fine, Osimagbomi, Believe, Maga, and others in his first album, The Truth.

The singer released another album in 2014 titled Baked and it contained hit songs such as Know Me (featuring General Pype), Jeje, among others.

The singer has continued to release songs but none of them has been a commercial success. It is not surprising because slow songs are arguably not widely accepted in this part of the world.

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