We have always heard about Larry Gaaga. Tuface Idibia, his longtime friend, has always name-checked him in music through one-liners or references to personal events. However, not until the ‘Gaaga Shuffle,’ a song by Tuface Idibia did most Nigerians realize that the boss-looking, exotic zaddy dripping with opulence was actually a person.
Since then, he has gone on to make ‘Doe’ with Davido, ‘Baba Nla,’ with Burna Boy, 2Baba and D’Banj, ‘Wonderful’ with Wande Coal and Sarkodie, ‘Sho Ja’ with Wande Coal and ‘Low’ with Wizkid. In all those songs, there are a few hits. He is also the boss of Gaaga Muzik who has deals with Universal Music Group Nigeria and Hennessy. He owns all these without necessarily being a performing artist.
Larry Gaaga is like Don Jazzy in the days when Jazzy wasn’t known for his jovial side. The days when DJ Tee created a mystical figure for him - starting with the video for ‘Tongolo.’ All he had to do was look like a boss.
On other days, Gaaga can also be seen gyrating with his mellow style, while sipping some exotic cognac - preferably with a Cuban cigar in the other hand.
In a few videos like the one for ‘Gaaga Shuffle,’ he can be seen dancing and having a good time. His presence is reminiscent of the mystique that surrounded Fat Joe in the early days of Terror Squad. As he said on The Breakfast Club in 2019, a few people didn’t even realize that Joe wrote his own raps.
While Larry Gaaga is not a performing artist, he is a producer. While he might not necessarily push buttons and 808s, he is a producer in the sense of a hands-on approach to creating music. This might be similar to the explanation DJ Khaled gave Ebro In The Morning towards the end of his 2015 interview.
Born Larry Ndianefo, he also embodies the Rick Ross-boss persona without the banging Hip-Hop beats or the quality rap music. In more ways than one, he is looking like a DJ Khaled. In 2019, he was charged with creating the official soundtrack album for the remake of the Nollywood classic, Living In Bondage.
For his efforts, he won an Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Award. Like DJ Khaled, he had his own start.
As he told Ehis Ohunyon of Pulse Nigeria during a 2018 interview, he was part of the management team at YSG Entertainment and he headed Vector tha Viper’s management. But unlike DJ Khaled, he is not vocal in his music via intros, hype or verses.
While Larry Gaaga might not have albums yet, he has hits like DJ Khaled and his name is known.
Until the infamous EFCC arrest of the businessman, Naira Marley, Zlatan, Guccy Branch and one other accomplice, not much was known about Rahman Jago. However, the connoisseurs of Instagram pages in Nigeria knew his account and the extent of his opulence.
Word on the street calls him a Bureau De Change. Naira Marley rapped about it on his ‘Able God’ verse. During that EFCC arrest, some Nigerians even rumored that Rahman Jago was the subject of the operation, but that turned out to be false.
Nonetheless, one thing can be established and it’s that, Rahman Jago has money and he's not afraid to show off his opulence. Depending on who you believe, he also sees himself as an originator of the viral dance craze, Zanku (Legwork) for which Nigerian star, Zlatan is known. ‘Legwork Originator’ is boldly written on his Instagram page.
Whatever the case is, Rahman Jago is mostly known for his association with the heartbeat of shepeteri 2.0 and the current wave of Nigerian lamba. That heartbeat is mostly led by popular figures like Naira Marley, Zlatan, Poco Lee, Rexxie, Guccy Branch and more. While he was not really known for being an artist, he has been credited for four singles since 2018.
Of those three singles, he is an owner of three. Those two songs are ‘Ijo Ope’ and ‘Of Lala.’ The other two are ‘Mo40’ alongside Bad Boy Timz and Barry Jhay and ‘Rahman Jago’ featuring Morejid. On ‘Of Lala,’ Zlatan can be clearly heard hailing Rahman Jago as ‘Rahmoney!’
These shout-outs aren’t unlike the ones 2Baba gave to Larry Gaaga before we knew who he was. It’s also not unlike the shout-out Lil Wayne gave to DJ Khaled on ‘Brown Paper Bag’ or the one Jay Z gave DJ Khaled on ‘Death of Auto-Tune.’
Jago can be seen during recording sessions on Zlatan’s or Naira Marley’s Instagram stories, even though he never voices on any songs. He is not a recording artist, but he is making music.
While DJ Khaled and Fat Joe are artistes and producers and Larry Gaaga, DJ Black Coffee, DJ Neptune, DJ Spinall and more are producers who even do intros on some of their records, Rahman Jago doesn’t say anything and neither is much known about his artistic leaning. However, we know him and we know he is credited for making music.
Unlike Larry Gaaga, Rahman Jago is never afraid to have a good time. He dances, throws up moves and even rolls up with is friends. While the air of a 'boss' is apparent in Larry Gaaga, Rahman Jago is more like a regular guy.
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Are Larry Gaaga and Rahman Jago then artists?
There is no clear answer. You would be right if you said yes and you will have a point if you say no. But does that matter? None of it matters. All that matters is that they are making music and we know them. More importantly, they make good music for which they receive royalties.
But if Larry Gaaga is a representation of opulence to the bougie ones, Rahman Jago is the version for mainstream Nigeria. They occupy interesting positions in Nigerian music and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.