Anytime conversation about artistes who have done the most for other artistes arises, Baddoo – born Olamide Adedeji – will be at the high table of the conversation. As an emerging artiste from the labyrinthine maze of Bariga, a suburb in Lagos, he nurtured his music career to become a household name.
With over a decade in the music industry, he has rendered himself one of the greatest and most successful Nigerian rappers.
Over the years, his YBNL label has housed artistes who have grown to become an immutable part of the Afropop galaxy. Lil Kesh, Adekunle Gold, Fireboy, Asake and others are some of his musical scions, albeit only Lil Kesh and Asake followed his footsteps as artistes shaping the street pop zeitgeist.
The ability to build one music career while simultaneously building others is a genius achievement, and in my opinion, deserves special recognition.
His new project and 10th studio album, ‘Unruly’, heavily influenced by the amapiano sound, is an impressive album that further reinstates that Olamide has not passed his moments of experimentation, but a furtherance of his artistic evolution to create a musical experience that resonates deeply with listeners.
Olamide opens the sonic door with ‘Celebrate’, ushered in by soft piano keys and then penetrated with an emotive saxophone tune. A mellow bop amapiano-tinged track that sees Olamide celebrating his victory, success and achievements over staggered log drums. Worthy of mention is Firefly’s sultry alto vocal in the background, backing up the song in the second verse.
‘Jinja’ is strongly reminiscent of ‘Rock’ – one of the standout tracks off his UY Scuti album. It is laid-back and groovy. It boasts of a catchy melody and the anthemic hook “Make I put am for your body, baby, Gba ko je, ko je, No be poison, Gba ko je, ko je, Anytime wey you call baby I’ll be there” that immediately draws listeners to sing along for a call-and-response flow.
On ‘Problem’, he effortlessly infuses afropop and amapiano elements together, complemented by Olamide’s smooth delivery and brightened by the whistles and the kicks. He renders himself as an “Odogwu”, a metaphor for a rich man who’s ready to provide for all. ‘Gaza’ shares production semblance with the portable‘s street pop song — ‘Zazoo Zeh’. It is a street anthemic song filled with street lingo, upbeat tempo and catchy hook infectious enough to be a hit and the club go-to song to get the energy on.
Olamide flexes his range on ‘Doom’. His energy on ‘Doom’ is unmistakable and quite unmatched. Olamide raps here and flexes his range. The energy he oozed on this song could be traced back to his hip-hop moments.
The pre-released CKay-assisted ‘Trumpet’ is one of the stand-out tracks on the album. CKay entered the song with his sonorous voice and confidence unmatched to render a refreshing chorus on the galala-tinged beat – a pseudo-reggae sound popularised in the 90s by Daddy Showkey and Ras Kimono. The blend of Olamide’s rap and CKay’s soulful vocals creates a harmonious experience.
‘Come Alive’ is a boy-meet-girl themed track that explores the scenes of a guy expressing his mind to a lady. Olamide teams up with the honeyed vocalist – BNXN, delving into romantic themes that display his hedonistic desires. And although the song is full of explicit words, you would be too drawn in by the melody to notice.
On the pre-released single – ‘New Religion’, Olamide enlists his signee Asake, on a track that blends amapaino and afropop. With its log drums and danceable beat, New Religion encourages listeners to bask in revelry, let loose, and enjoy the moment. It is a song laced with an energy that is bound to get any crowd moving.
Olamide and Fireboy’s collaboration feels like a match made in heaven. A point that has been amply demonstrated by tracks such as ‘Afar’ and ‘Plenty’. On ‘Shibebe’, Fireboy’s hook spotlights this song as the album takes a romantic turn. Olamide’s verses didn’t match up with Fireboy’s delivery. His verses, with an uncharacteristically gruff voice, reveal his flair for sexual escapades.
‘Mukulu’ featuring Rema was not as impressive as other songs on this album. The two artistes struggle to blend, but the track’s production adds to its appeal.
‘Hardcore’ is created for hip-hop fans. The ones who still hold on to the flows, cadence and lines of Baddoo when he raps. ‘Supplier’ is yet another street hop song brightened by the rich and complex sound of the violin tune. His patois on the song is refreshing to the ears, and by the time the track fades out, you find yourself yearning for more verses from Baddoo because it’s a smooth delivery and a show off of dynamic artistry.
‘Life Goes On’ – the log-drum filled track, sees Olamide in his vulnerable state, passing to his old friends and anybody who might feel bad about his growth and evolution because he has moved on “life goes on, it goes on and on and on and on’’, he sings.
‘No Worries’ would have been the perfect outro for this album. The crowd vocals make the song immediately like-able, and thrilling. The upbeat tempo, the catchy hook and Olamide’s delivery are infectious. The rapper shares a message of positivity about life, the importance of not worrying about life’s adversities and committing providence and provision into God’s hands.
He shuts the sonic door with his signature vocal on ‘Street Jam’. It’s reminiscent of his delivery in ‘Voice Of the Street’. He pays homage to the street and displays his braggadocio as the only true king of the street.
Essentially, ‘Unruly’ asserts his dominance as one of the top Nigerian musicians who has the ability to evolve constantly. It’s undoubtedly a feel-good album and might not be able to make the list of the classic or legendary albums to ever grace the Nigerian music scene.
Regardless, it’s a cohesive project with finely curated featured artistes that make it memorable and exciting. The album’s diverse range of tracks ensures there’s something for everyone, making it a standout addition to Olamide’s discography.
Could this be the farewell project album promised by the legendary rapper or some marketing stunt to get fans immersed in the project? Time will tell.
The central question is: Where does Unruly rank for you in Olamide’s discography?
Damilare is a music journalist and culture writer focused on the African entertainment industry. Reading new publications and listening to music are two of his favorite pastimes when he is not writing.