Nobody knows how many more years he has left in his career, but the story of Phyno will be hard to forget. It is already etched in the Eastern stone.
Eastern Nigeria is the home of some of the greatest legends of Nigerian music. Oriental Brothers, Osita Osadebe, Oliver De Coque, Bright Chimezie, and many more. But they have a new one in their midst, and his name is Phyno.
While the others in this long list of outstanding performers who gave a voice to the music from that region of the country can be grouped into Highlife veterans, Phyno original inspiration can be drawn from Hip-hop, a foreign culture, which he brought home, Ígbo-lized’ it, and became a voice of the region.
From 2012 when his ‘Ghost Mode’ collaboration with Olamide shot him into the limelight, to this point, where he is Eastern Nigeria’s first son with two albums, he has worked hard at his craft, engaging the audience and sticking to utilizing the Igbo language (the traditional dialect of the East), to make pop music.
Phyno generally did music until 2015, where he switched it up.
Phyno is a very hometown-friendly artiste. He is from Enugu. A product of the city, it is in Enugu where the singer gained traction as a producer, and from there, his fame grew through the East. 2012’s ‘Ghostmode’ collaboration with Olamide signaled his arrival on the big stage and he has grown from strength to strength. At the moment he is one of the hottest pop stars, and he intends to give back to the region that birthed him.
He has become one of the most respected entertainers in Nigeria, admired and followed by many on a global scale. Since his debut with his distinct genre of music into the Nigerian music scene, Phyno is significantly one of those musicians who has successfully transformed the general outlook and perception of African music; this is profoundly evident in his music.
Since December 2015, the King of The East unlocked a new level of penetration from making nigh-religious aspirational and thanksgiving music. ‘Connect’ was the first, which ensured that he went through the winter months with a hit ringing all around. ‘Fada fada’ came next and proved to be a bigger hit than its predecessor. His amazing follow-up ‘E sure for me’ also gained traction from all around.
But Phyno moved on with a love song, as the Penthauze switched the narrative with ‘Pino Pino’, a single off his sophomore album “The Playmaker”, which was released in November 2016.
Just as the three singles before it, ‘Pino Pino’ distils the sonic magic of old Eastern Highlife music, and places it in a contemporary context. The song is produced by Benjamz, with the guitars being the most prominent of all the percussions on it. Played by Soularge, it carries the song effortless, complimenting every vocal from the singer. This fits in perfectly as a ‘wedding’ song template.
With ‘Pino Pino’, Phyno further strengthens his foray into singing, as each song brings a new dimension to his singing prowess. This makes it four straight singles without a rap line shared or a bar destroyed. What’s being killed are vocals and notes. As with the previous singles, Phyno is cherry-picking the best parts of the vibrant old Highlife movement of the east and turning these elements into fresh song. He even shouts out the Oriental Brothers at the end of this one.
His sophomore album “The Playmaker” is currently one of the best works released in 2016, and documents the rapper’s progress from being a rapper, to his inclusive fusion of Highlife and other genres from the East into creating pop music. In this light, he is shedding more light on the core sounds that dominate that region, and championing a crucial part of their culture, while making everything look cool.
Phyno leads the new generation of Eastern musicians, and his style, which is ever evolving, is regarded as a pioneering movement. At this moment he is the Eastern mascot, the Igbo champion, and the inspiration for millions of Easterners.
All of these came together at the 2016 edition of his annual concert – Phynofest- which held on Sunday, November 20, 2016 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium. It was a tremendous success. Over 25 thousand people were present, screaming to his every word, and enjoying his performance.
The concert saw Phyno perform alongside industry's finest acts including veteran songstress, Onyeka Onwenu, MI, Olamide, Psquare, Burna Boy, Patoranking, Kcee, Mr Eazi, Zoro, Lil kesh among others.
Fans of the highly indigenous rapper came out in their numbers filling the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium with a total of 30,000 excited fans screaming excitedly while over 5,000 fans who were not allowed entry due to security challenges camped at the entrance as an expression of their love for the rapper.
That showed the power and influence that Phyno commands from his home base, and many artistes who hitherto have felt a bit scared are looking at these concerts. Once again Phyno led from the front.
Nobody knows how many more years he has left in his career, but at the moment he has done enough to be ranked alongside the Igbo music Kings of the East. As the years roll by, and the dynamic of music shifts, kings will fall, and dynasties of music will be broken, while new acts will rise and thrive.
But the story of Phyno will be hard to forget. It is already etched in the Eastern stone.