Spy Shitta, whose real name is Rasaq Bolanle Shitta, released his debut EP, Spy Shitta The EP, on October 28, under Oystars Breed Entertainment. It is the 23-year-old’s first body of work. And yet he has enjoyed an enviable privilege which many young artists do not typically get on their first rodeo: an Olamide feature. “Make we gum like Diddy and J-Lo in ’99,” raps the YBNL boss in Kolobi, the last of the 7 songs comprising this EP.
As you may have already deduced from the simile cited above, the mid-tempo song, with its pensive synths and Caribbean drum patterns, has both singer and rapper making romantic overtures. Neither man nor insect can tell what Shitta means by “Kolobi”. But one senses he is asking an unspecified dame to give in to his entreaty, given he follows it with the lines, “if you need me, baby / call on me.” At any rate, it shows that although he is not yet at the centre of pop music, Shitta has a pop act’s sensibility, his knack for onomatopoeic neologisms proving as much. That two songs in this EP are titled Carolina and Whine seals the deal, the former a generic female name in Nigerian pop, the latter a ready verb on the tongue of many a Nigerian pop singer. It is clear where Shitta wants to be: slap bang in the mainstream.
The songs Carolina, Whine, Migraine and Kele are dappled with euphemized lust, and see Shitta continue his romantic plea. All four songs, including Kolobi, rely on a beat that isn’t in a hurry to arrive at its destination. A pattern emerges: Shitta may speak like a pop star but he doesn’t exactly love like one. The typical pop artist layers his lustful lyrics over frenetic beats, whereas a mellow introversion marks the soundscape in which Shitta bares his love and lust.
Though his lyricism bears familiar verbal tricks, Shitta has got a few surprises. As Kolobi winds to a close, a flautist takes over, willing the instrument to produce sounds one is used to hearing either at an Igbo Catholic Mass or at an Igbo wedding. Who are you wooing, Shitta? A dame named Chisom or Ifemelu?
The song Thankful, which opens the EP, works like a confessional, saving you the trouble of reading Shitta’s interviews with the press. We learn what drives his music—presumably there are other more aesthetic impulses, but he divulges a pragmatic one: the fear of “poverty.” He also confesses his mother’s charge that he must attend a university, a teensy detail hinting at the tussle he may have had with his parents, who may not have entirely conceded to his choosing music as a career. Shitta did not attend a university though. He studied Mass Communication at Yaba College of Technology, a polytechnic; there he performed at school events, refining his music and stagecraft.
He started making music at age 13, recording his first song at a studio in Abesan Estate, an area in Lagos where he lived out his formative years. He has come a long way since then and is keen on forging on. While he has landed a collaboration with Olamide, he hopes to work with Wande Coal, Wizkid and 9ice, citing the three industry heads as his core influences. In his words, “this EP is my stepping stone. I call it my statement project. Next year, I should be dropping a lot of singles, an album, and more collaborations.”