Photo courtesy of the artist.
The 20 Essential Olamide Songs
We dive into the Nigerian star's discography to bring you the 20 Essential Olamide Songs.
Let's get something clear: no Afropop act outdid Olamide in the 2010s, and even fewer can claim to match the sheer weight of his cultural influence. By all metrics, the 31-year-old musician reigned supreme over the sonic zeitgeist of the last decade, musically encapsulating, more than anyone, Nigerian music's trudge from fascination with Western-tinged music to the mass appeal of afrobeats.
Rising from Bariga, Baddo first punctured mainstream consciousness with his belligerent bars that positioned him as an upstart with a point to prove before going on to hold the gaze of a generation with anthemic offerings that distilled conceptual narratives on hedonism, life in Lagos, and forces that moved culture into multiple hits singles.
All this was done while maintaining a level of output that is unprecedented in Nigerian pop. From 2011 to 2017, Olamide put out at least one project every year while guesting on an uncountable number of songs that lasered his identity on contemporary Nigerian popular culture and ensured his music was always on rotation.
Carpe Diem, his 2020 album, marked the next step in the evolutionary arc of Olamide's career, easing him into elder statesman territory musically – and providing further proof of what a gifted musician Olamide is.
In honor of Olamide's career, we delved into his discography to bring you The 20 Essential Olamide Songs.
This list is in no particular order.
One of the songs that signified the shift in Nigeria's musical landscape at the turn of the 2010s, "Eni Duro" kick-started Olamide's mainstream career, showing glimmers of the inventive songwriting, jaunty flow, and quirky one-liners that became a core part of his creative armory. There are myriads of points-of-views held together by Badoo's force of will across the track's four-minute runtime.
'Omo to Shan' ft. Wizkid
As the years went by, Olamide did not have to depend on feathery vocalists to provide melody in his music but on "Omo To Shan" Wizkid's dulcet vocals provide the sensuality for one of the early 2010s' best earworms while Badoo mostly focused on bringing lyrical form to this classic rap-sung collaboration off his debut studio album, Rapsodi.
'Voice Of The Street'
On "Voice of the Street," Olamide did not so much lay a claim to the position of premier indigenous rapper as he demanded the title for himself. Finding a home on his second album, YBNL, "Voice of the Street" marked a departure from the optimistic tone of Olamide's earlier work allowing the rapper details his demand for respect from the Nigerian music community with a formidable voice and grimy aesthetics.
'First Of All'
Another sign of Olamide's growing profile, "First of All" blurred the line between hip-hop and pop, birthing one of the Bariga-born rappers genuine crossover hits courtesy of Pheelz's inspired production.
Olamide's third album, Baddest Guy Ever Liveth, marked his definitive pop turn and no song better captured his evolving music abilities than BGEL's lead single, "Durosoke," an insouciant cut that allowed Olamide express himself in non-linear fashion. Still, on the song, there's space for two verses that were among 2013's most memorable.
Featured on Phyno's 'Ghost Mode'
Just three years prior to its release, "Ghost Mode" might not have gotten the critical acclaim it did. However, when it was shared in a post-Dagrin world, featuring razor-sharp verses from Phyno and Olamide, the lead single from Phyno's debut album, No Guts No Glory, moved the cultural needle. The willingness of both rappers to express their experiences indigenously while intersecting musically was one of the great gains of the 2010s and "Ghost Mode" marked one of their high points.
Featured on Pepenazi's 'Illegal'
The breakout success of "Illegal" showed how potent an Olamide co-sign was becoming by the mid-2010s. Olamide glides in with a no-frills chorus on the Young Jonn-produced single before closing out things with a praise-singing interlude.
Looping in a gorgeous sample of K1 De Ultimate's "Orin Abode Mecca Medley," Olamide's "Anifowose" was a narrative-driven dedication to the hood that shaped the singer's life. There are references made to growing up in lack and developing a determination to succeed regardless of any limitations. Moments of sentimentality like this have not always featured prominently in Olamide's music, adding an extra layer of significance to "Anifowose."
Featured on Reminisce's 'Local Rappers' w/ Phyno
While the descriptor 'local rappers' was originally used to derisorily refer to indigenous Nigerian rappers, by the time this collaboration dropped, indigenous rappers combined critical acclaim with commercial appeal and were actively shaping culture. Olamide was at the centre of this drive and as the glee of his verse showed, he was at the top of his game.
At some point in 2015, Olamide had turned his musical lead over colleagues into a procession and "Eyan Mayweather" was the manifesto of his preeminence. Also, the lead single of an album of the same name, it bookended another successful year for King Baddo.
Viral dance crazes represent the pinnacle of ubiquity in Nigerian pop, and despite having soundtracked popular music in the country for the best part of half a decade, Olamide didn't have a dance craze linked intrinsically to him until "Bobo." The nationwide success of the song and dance only further confirmed the immense reach of Olamide.
Featured on Ycee's 'Jagaban Remix'
Bringing YCee ever so slightly into his world on the remix of "Jagaban," Olamide brought an urgency to this track that further elevated the song and the singer's profiles.
Featured on Phyno's 'Fada Fada'
Another smash hit from the canon of collaborations between Phyno and Olamide, "Fada Fada" is a more mellow contrast to the high-octane energy of "Ghost Mode." Here, Olamide joins Phyno in celebratory mode, detailing what life in the big time feels like with painterly detail and artistic flourish.
Olamide 'Who U Epp' ft. Wande Coal, Phyno
There are fewer better examples of Olamide's hit-making abilities than "Who You Epp." After popularising the term via a social media challenge, he tapped Wande Coal and Phyno to make a hit built around the slang.
Incorporating a splendid guitar riff, "Motigbana" was one of the last landmark songs of Olamide's first act. On the single, he is in ebullient mode as he pontificates about luxury and enjoyment on the Killertunes-produced song.
Never forgetting his hood origins, Olamide made a song specifically directed at that constituency with "Wo!!." The song is unrestrained, joyous, and melodious while harkening to the variants of music that are hood-specific. With time, "Wo!!" transcended its target market to become a national hit.
Explained as a commentary on drug usage culture in Nigeria but critiqued as complicit of that phenomenon, Olamide's "Science Student" was polarising. Despite its divisiveness, the Young Jonn-produced song was regularly on rotation and will go down as one of the biggest songs of the Shaku Shaku wave.
'Kana' w/ Wizkid
Seven years after their first collaboration, Olamide and Wizkid linked for another hard-hitting addition to their joint oeuvre. On "Kana," unlike "Omo To Shan," Olamide was already fully in pop star territory. The tone is more assured and the edges are more rounded here.
'Infinity' ft. Omah Lay
When the tracklist for Carpe Diem was shared, "Infinity" was one of the most-anticipated songs on the project. Upon release, it didn't fail to match expectations. Omah Lay's honeyed singing is interspersed by textured verses from Olamide that add to the song's appeal.
'Loading' ft. Bad Boy Timz
Another gem from Carpe Diem, "Loading" is enlivened by Bad Boy Timz's display. Olamide sounded refreshed by the rising star's energy and dovetailed with him for one of 2020's most popular tunes.
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