4 Songs Underlining Olamide’s Rap Brilliance

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Olamide is a hectagon of sorts, a man with many sides. He is, to many, the quintessential street-wise artiste. But he is also capable of mushiness, a side he first explores in Melo Melo, in his Eyan Mayweather (2015) album. He fleshes out his romantic side in UY Scuti (2021).

But before this romantic side that has inspired many pop hits, Olamide was, like many other rappers, mostly battle-hardened, his lyrics mostly chest-beating vaunts meant to hoist him above the rapping herd. He combined punchlines and wordplay with a versatile flow.

These 4 songs best make a case for his creativity and masterly rap technique.

Voice Of The Street

Voice of the Street (VOC), produced by Tyrone, embodies everything you expect from a rap song – braggadocious lines, masterful delivery and a jaunty beat. Before Goya Menor and Nektunez sampled Era’s Ameno (1996) for their viral song of the same title, Olamide already bit from the Ameno apple in VOC, a song in his Y.B.N.L (2012) album. Olamide’s rapped verses sparkle in the chorus-less song.

In the song, a single stream of consciousness takes him through self-adulation (“Emi ni boss / emi ni baddo / yeah, emi ni king”) to his connection to the streets (“Ni gboro wo n soro mi”) and to his trust in God (“I only look up to God, baba God bonjour”). Finally, the song winds down and is stripped bare of instrumentation. In that soundless vacuum, Olamide’s voice is the only living thing: it rings out for the next 30 seconds or so, a fluent instrument confessing insightful secrets about his musical ambition.

Eyan Mayweather

This song, from his 2015 album of the same title, briefly samples BYU Vocal Point’s Nearer, my God to thee (2008). Olamide loves his samples, doesn’t he?

While Olamide runs amok in Voice Of The Street, he wields a calm, measured power in Eyan Mayweather. That’s not to say that he deals softer blows to haters and others competing for the rap throne. His first lines, where he calls himself “Hellboy”, should make coup plotters think twice. But he is not only Hellboy in this song—but he is also “Big Papa” and “Capone”, the self-awarded epithets betraying what Olamide thinks is his role in the Nigerian rap industry: a grand-fatherly, masterful presence.

He quotes the former Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin: “Freedom of speech dey I no go dull you/ But freedom after speech I can’t assure you”. And then he threatens potential enemies: “If you fuck with me, you on death row”. There’s a lot of big talk from the rapper but it’s important to remember that violence isn’t the means by which he distinguishes himself. It has always been the music. And in the very last act, after the track has been stripped of its instruments, he lays down his challenge to competitors: “Shutdown London, shutdown Yankee/ Before you come to me and say/ You’re the best rapper.”

Sons Of Anarchy

Olamide and Phyno are probably the most formidable rap duo in the Nigerian music sphere. Their frequent collaboration has produced a joint EP and many singles. The two artists routinely feature in each of their albums, too. When the two men collaborate on a project, the result is usually a joy to listen to. Records like Ghost Mode and Nobody’s Fault are fine examples.

Unlike the two previously discussed songs, Sons Of Anarchy begins just like its name implies—with a destructive bang.

“I can only count on one or two niggas/ And one definitely gotta be my man from Bariga”, Phyno raps, talking up his long-time friendship with Olamide. The guest artiste, Burna Boy supplies a charming chorus.


Anifowose provides a lovely change of pace to this selection, without losing any of the exuberance that characterizes Olamide. Once more he is innovative with samples, able to work KWAM 1’s musings on hard work and changing fortunes into a chorus around which he tells what is probably the most introspective account of his upbringing.

The street, usually depicted in his and other artists’ work as an environment for shrewdness and fraternity, is viewed with despondency in this track. For the ultimate rags-to-riches story, Olamide begins with stories of his rough childhood and his parents who have to sacrifice everything, then quickly zooms to his current affluence, where he returns the favor for his family, this time out of abundance and not penury.

The heavy material he has to work with this time around means he is in somewhat unfamiliar territory, being more accustomed to the heights of kingship, but this does not affect his delivery in the slightest. To wrap up this single, Olamide lays adulation at the feet of King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal, as an apology for not asking permission for the sample prior. The legend, thankfully, is forgiving, admitting later that Olamide’s reimagining of his iconic track was too good to rebuke.

Patrick Ezema is a creative writer with interests in music, film, and pop culture, with bylines in Clout Mag and The NETng. When he’s not writing about these subjects, he’s a high-functioning Twitter addict getting his daily fix. Catch him on @ezemapatrick.