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Terry G's mainstream run: A Street pop madness that spared no one

Terry G stands tall in the history of Nigerian Street Music.

Terry G's mainstream run: A Street pop madness that spared no one [Obi Somto]

After a lengthy career that included years at the top, Gabriel Oche Amanyi the musical act known by many as Terry G said he's done with music.

Before Terry G or for those that really know, The Akpako Master had the streets in a chokehold through his unique brand of madness that spared no one, he made R&B-inspired love records that were utterly irreconcilable with the Street Pop star he would later become.

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When Terry G began making Street music, what led him to stand out was his unique approach. Before Terry G, listeners have seen Raskimono, Oritz Wiliki, Daddy Showkey, Marvellous Benji, Danfo Driver, Stereoman, and even Timaya but Terry G brought a dynamic approach to Street music.

He came in with a new style that combined the Galala & Konto style that came out of Ajegunle in Lagos with the percussions and shakers and defining bell of white garment Christian music. The result was vibrant Street music that deployed street slang, a generous sprinkling of vulgarity, and an unconventional Rockstar-styled psychedelia.

His swaggering blend of Pop melodies and breathless flows didn't care for musical structure. As pointed out on the "Failed State" episode of Loose Talk, the podcast hosted by Osagie Alonge, Ayomide Tayo, and Steve Dede, Terry G didn't bother himself with carefully mixing and mastering his songs.

His first mainstream hit, 'Free Madness' had drums clashing chaotically with shakers and bells and his voice in constant contest with the beats. His music was crass and producing himself meant he could perfectly execute his vision.

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With the music in place, he also evolved the Galala dance moves to match the sonics of his music. The final piece of the jigsaw was a personality with which to breathe life into the music and Terry G nailed it. From his eccentric fashion choices to his multiple piercings and dreadlocks, Terry G's style or swagger, a word he popularised in Nigerian pop culture made him perhaps the closest thing Afrobeats have had to a heavy metal personality.

With everything in place, Terry G's music swept across the country. He delivered hit records like 'Akpako Master', 'Run Mad', 'Sangalo', 'Throway,' and 'Jump & Pass' all packing his signature unrefined elements.

A certified hitmaker, Terry G also lent his talent both as a producer and artist in assisting other artists to score hit songs.

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Hip Hop great Illbliss recounted on Pulse Nigeria's Terms & Conditions Podcast how he was advised by a music distributor in Alaba market to go meet Terry G to produce for him. Such was Terry G's fame and the Street Pop star delivered as he produced and laid the hook for Illbliss' 'Aye Po Gan' which played a significant role in his mainstream success.

He linked up with Sideone for the smash hit 'One By One' and with AY Dotcom for the party-starter 'Pass Me Your Love'. He helped Neo-Fuji star Jaywon to score a hit song with 'Gbon Gbon,' and he teamed up with Dancehall sensation Timaya for 'Malonogede' which equally dominated the street.

However, Terry G's run at the top lasted just roughly half a decade as he faded out of the mainstream as the tide left him behind.

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The Nigerian music industry saw a major shake-up in 2009 courtesy of the seminal music star Wande Coal almost the same time, Hip Hop was been impacted by the refreshing music of M.I Abaga & Naeto C. By the early 2010s, Wizkid, Davido, and Tiwa Savage were adding excitement into the Pop scene, while Olamide was adding a spark the Street Hop scene hadn't seen since Da Grin.

With new acts popping up and mainstream music quickly evolving, Terry G's brand of crass, non-conformist Street Pop was left behind and he failed to evolve along with the time.

“Terry G failed to evolve his sound and music left him behind,” Ayomide Tayo pointed out on the Loose Talk Podcast.

Producing himself might not also have helped Terry G's evolutionary efforts as he failed to tap producers who could assist in crafting the sound required to get with the times.

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After stepping out of the limelight, Terry G continued to attempt to stage a comeback which just never worked out.

He released a couple of singles that never caught on except for the brief moment he collaborated with Portable which invariably attracted listeners' attention.

Terry G's decision to retire from music might not be unconnected from this failed comeback as he recently called out the industry stars for failing to reply to his messages while reminding them of his benevolence during his time as a mainstream dominating hitmaker.

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Despite bowing out when the ovation was lowest, Terry G's legacy and impact in Nigerian Street music is undeniable.

His fusion of White Garment music continues to be a recurring feature in Street music. Elements of his non-conformist philosophy are present in Naira Marley's mainstream dominating Marlian philosophy and Portable's problematic personality.

At the end of the day, there's the possibility that Terry G's retirement claim might be another publicity stunt that will be followed by new music. Whatever it may be, Terry G's place in the history of Nigerian music is secured. And as Steve Dede said on the Loose Talk Podcast, "Musicians don't retire".

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