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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

[The Music Blog] What do you do when you become the kind of artist that calls out Don Jazzy on live TV? | The Glory of Olamide

What do you do when you become the kind of artist that calls out Don Jazzy on live TV?, when you come from being a street myth to becoming the kind of artist rubbing hands with highly ranked politicians. Or perhaps when you’re sending Lagos into a frantic panic for last-minute tickets to your annual live in concert—because everyone literally wants to see Olamide live in concert! Well, I would say when you command that manner of real support, you can finally lay back and strive for a higher purpose. And this is what Olamide has done with ‘Glory’, in a manner more personal than we have heard but yet very much like how you’d expect Olamide to rhyme his way into god-status.  
In a way-of-things only Olamide would, ‘Glory’ comes almost prepared to raise eyebrows. A clean-cut and concise ‘The Glory Intro’  serves as the perfect message for whisperers who have been quietly hoping the YBNL boss would take a break from his back-to-back yearly album drops. Olamide comes in relaxed and laid back, amongst his first order of business is to quickly remind doubters that “the street only bang with me because nobody else ton’ fun awon temi ni  (gives my people a) platform”
Olamide is from the gritty streets of Bariga and he’s not unaware of his outsider place in a world of paparazzi and flashing lights. But he has gotten to that place all frustrated artists get to before they become truly great; he’s tired of seeking approval for who he his, where he came from and his journey to the top of the game. The reason for this sudden introspective turn for the kingpin of jollof music becomes apparent on ‘Letter To Milli’ and ‘Journey of a Thousand Miles’, where Olamide spits some of his most honest bars. He attempts to talk some sense into his two-year-old son’s head with a noughties hip-hop flow on the former, and reflects on a perilous road of crime not taken, had he not chosen music on the latter. He’s not near-somber enough as he is aggressively telling a story that largely explains why he chose the high mass-market ground over a critical niche one.
As always, Olamide is the artist to turn to for the ultimate squad anthems and ‘Lori Titi Yi’ is an aux chord gem that delivers this with style. Olamide’s generic message of universal hustle and loyalty to friends does not blur its place on the LP’s arrangement as the song leading to mid-album soft points that see Olamide sinking even further into his own mind and how he views the world around him.
Olamide currently stands in the place—only a few have attained—where he can do no wrong. But he has also become jaded by his own larger-than-life success, now his fondest memories are from his thuggin days in the streets, because as he raps on ‘Oluwa Lo Ni Glory’ ‘No matter what we do, they will never respect us’. Still, he’s quick to declare that he would do anything for the ‘mulla’ because, when you’re still being doubted by critics after five popularly received albums, you have a civic responsibility of personally pepping yourself about how great you actually are.
What Olamide does with most of ‘Glory’, is remind us he did not just drop at the top, he wants you to know he braved storms, bled sweat and tears to reach this point. And that in itself is something to celebrate as the coming-of-age of man who rose from backpacking a laptop around internet cafes in Bariga to becoming ‘Symbol of Hope’ for the teeming number of relatives, friends, and well-wishers who have made him their shining light. This picture he paints as the album as the album nears a close, is a brutally frank and deeply flawed perspective of himself. He admits selling his soul to the game to get paid, but he knows such sacrifices have shaped his path to Glory.
‘Glory’ comes just in time, for Olamide to solidify his near-legend status by deciding his next words would be reserved for powerful statements only. At its lowest points, ‘Glory’ is Olamide’s experimentation with less locally commercially viable trap music of the new wave, at its highest points, it’s an attempt by Olamide to stray away from the mechanical mindless Afropop we have all been forced to settle for. Especially when a song like ‘Be Mine’ comes up with succinct alternative afro-wave precision, it becomes too easy to ignore misfires like ‘Underground’ and ‘Omo Wobe Anthem’, where transitions could have been smoother or where the rapper lost the plot completely.
Still, one thing is certain, Olamide’s days of making elaborately colourful music about nothing may be coming to an end and If you have not been paying attention before, ‘Glory’ will do well to stay your perception.

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