Audio

Olamide 'Baddest Guy Ever Liveth'

Nigerian MC Olamide's latest LP 'Baddest Guy Ever Liveth' is a thoroughly enjoyable confirmation that success hasn’t dampened Olamide’s fire.


It used to be you could count the number of Nigerian rappers spitting in their native tongue on a leper’s hand and still have a finger or two to spare. Now you’d need a few more hands and the odd leg. Leading this onslaught are acts such as beast from the east Phyno, Alaga Ibile aka Reminisce and of course Olamide who blesses with his latest effort Baddest Guy Ever Liveth.

Hip-hop home or abroad has never lacked for self adulation (G.O.A.T, H.N.I.C., "I Am a God"). One might be as bold to say rap practically thrives off of it — every MC with a song out pro-claiming him/herself the best to ever do it. With Olamide, however, the "baddest guy" title is no empty boast. His work ethic and disregard for convention alone are enough to send him to the top of our baddest emcees list. Whilst others might have waited for their singles to catch on, the dust from Olamide's sophomore effort YBNL hadn't yet settled as he began unleashing a barrage of new singles.

At 21-tracks, Olamide's latest full length might seem a stretch for those of us who now find comfort in nine song strong LPs and 140 character tweets. Yet length doesn’t take away from it being a thoroughly enjoyable confirmation that success hasn’t dampened Olamide’s fire. The self-proclaimed 'heinous of bad' has not lost his ability to throw curveballs by way of squeal-inducing rhymes and a core audience connecting chorus.

Singles aside, prime cuts on the effort include "Anifowose," whose grass to grace story builds off a sample from fuji legend K1 the ultimate, the Mumford & Sons sampling "Motivation" with Ice Prince, and the makossa-esque "Position Yourself," — whose infectious beat is one to induce gyrating waistlines. Length and the somewhat derivative nature of some chosen beats are the sore points on a rather stellar effort. Regardless, Olamide's latest LP lives up to its name of being a long play worth playing for long.

Baddest Guy Ever Liveth is out now.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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