“Touts will pick your pockets, and break a bottle on top your head.”
“Before you go, make sure you pray for God’s grace and guidance. Carry a full bottle of the blood of Jesus.”
These were words of friends and family as I told them that I was attending Olamide’s historic concert at the Teslim Balogun stadium in Surulere, Lagos. Nobody ever said anything positive about the show. The focus of many people has been on millions of wrong possibilities to come from Olamide’s show.
OLIC 4 turned out to be a success and you can read the in-depth review here.
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For the fourth time in 4 years, Nigerian rapper Olamide, the King of the streets, had decided to try something new with his annual concert. Tagged ‘Olamide Live In Lagos: The Concert’, the rapper was taking a break from the norm. Where previous years had seen the rapper bring his art and crowd to the hallowed halls and security of Eko Hotels & Suites, this year he was going to a stadium on the Lagos Mainland.
“Why did Olamide take it to the mainland na?” A friend asked. “Does he not know that there are plenty Agberos? All those boys looking for Christmas money will shine with you people.”
“Well, let’s see what would happen,” I responded. Of course, a part of me was concerned. There are a lot of differences between the Lagos Island and Mainland. But the most significant is the belief that the mainland has a greater percentage of crime.
But history was being made here. This is the first time a pop star in Nigeria would brave it all, and organize a concert at the Teslim Balogun stadium. Come rain, come shine, we must attend.
With Baddo, every year is a good year. While the rapper started 2017 slow, he steadily picked up steam as the months flew by. His first dent was done by the record ‘Wavy level’. And although the single failed to dominate pop culture, it showcased Olamide’s desire to try out new things.
But where he scored victory was by returning back to the basics – The Street. Teaming up with Young John again, Olamide released the record ‘Wo’, which instantly became a hit record. The song and its success informed Olamide’s decision to release his 7th studio album, “Lagos Nawa,” which explored the ‘Wobe’ sound.
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On getting to the stadium, we were in for a pleasant surprise. There was a pervading sense of calm and order around the stadium. The first thing we noticed was the security. They were everywhere. Lagos State had made the event a top priority. Every available security unit was out in full force. The Police, Mobile Police, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Soldiers, private security forces, and more. There was a helicopter from the Police Rapid Response Squad hovering around the venue. And they all had guns!
Long menacing rifles hung under their arms as they patrolled, strolled around, stared you in the face, and put the fear of God in you. Everyone moved quickly with purpose. If you commit a crime and evade one special unit, another will be right in front of you, ready to drag you to three Black Maria vans which stood at different points. Outside, a long queue stretched from the stadium to Barracks bus stop. People really wanted to see Olamide.
In the venue, the concert started at 12.30pm. DJ Real supplied music, Jimmie Akinsola and Bash were the opening co-host, and the party began. An hour later, with people still streaming into the venue, Small Doctor took to the stage as the first act to open the concert.
‘Won ti gba penalty lo throw-in,” he performed his hit single ‘Penalty’. It was the perfect start to the concert as people danced in the sun and got hyped every time the name ‘Olamide’ is mentioned.
The performances rolled by in quick succession. Ojjay-Wright, Mz Kiss, DB, Lamboginny, Hazard, Squeeze Tarela, Ryan, Teni, Oladips, CDQ, Baba Fryo, Daddy Showkey, Efe, Terry G, Myro, Moblow, Fefe, LAX, Ichaba, K9, Airboy, and Wavy TheCreator were some of the acts who thrilled.
An interesting observation here. This is the mainland. Everything is done to the extreme. If people love your performance, they scream their lungs out, dance with pure joy, and the air becomes filled with happiness and pure human excitement. But what happens when they don’t feel you and your set? They let you know instantly. Bottles, empty cans and every other projectile will be thrown to the stage. A few artists received this instant feedback. And while it wasn’t pretty, it came with the area. Don’t come to the mainland! You hear me?
Backstage, at the lounge where artists gathered and waited in line for a chance to perform, I was offered a chance to play PS4 with an artist. While we sparred over football, he kept muttering under his breath, swearing and sighing. I couldn’t hear much, but this guy was clearly unhappy. When I heard the word ‘Sango’ escape his mouth, I paused the game. Sango is the Yoruba god of thunder and lightning.
“Wetin happen bros?” I asked with concern. “Why joy scarce for your face?”
“You no see wetin happen outside?” He asked. “You no see as they throw plastic when I dey perform? This no good na?”
I almost hugged him and promised to his mother, but I didn’t. Instead, I tapped his shoulder, empathized with his pain, and promised him better days. “Work on your music man, work on your music before you come to the mainland,” I said. “No be Sango go give you hit.”
Outside, things were heating up. Ycee came on stage, and got one of his best receptions ever. I saw a guy drag on a thick blunt, and blew it into his friends face, while dancing to ‘Jagaban’. Two lovers mimed and inquired of their parentage to ‘Omo Alhaji’. “Tell me who’s your Daddy? Is he a chairman or an Alhaji?” And when he performed 'Juice', the ladies were all up in arms. They were the gatekeepers of ‘juice and sauce’.
Skuki worked everyone up with ‘Pass the agbara’, Sound Sultan touched souls with ‘Area’, Skales asked us all “How do you call booty in your language?”
I heard some guys scream ‘Idi.” The Yoruba word for ‘Yansh’. But Tiwa Savage came on and didn’t shake it. Although the crowd loved her performance of ‘Bad’ and ‘All over’. Solidstar, Tjan, Davolee, Reminisce, Zlatan Ibile and Slim Caise quickly ran through the stage.
Zoro, on the other hand, took things back home. A masquerade followed him on to the stage, with a retinue of cultural dancers. It was straight back to Enugu, the only thing missing was the lack of palm fronds to bite and chant incantations.
And then there was Olamide!
The live band, which had decorated the stage all evening came into use, as Baddo threw himself out, and everything was a vibe. The time was 8pm, and this was our moment. The crowd screamed, people rushed to the stage in droves, the happiness was palpable.
“My people wetin dey happen, Eyin Omo wobe, mogbo information…” he hailed in recognition of his people who braved the sun, the doubts, and everything else to make it to his concert.
What did Baddo do? He took it back to the start, performing some of his high impact records. Delivering hit songs back to back – taking us on a journey, from his second album ‘YBNL’ to his 7th album “Lagos Nawa”. He had synergy with the band, he used the stage well, he flipped some of his verses, and his outfit was simple but dashing. He was quite energetic, pulling us into his world as fans rapped and sang back his lyrics at the top of his voice.
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Phyno came through to replicate their studio chemistry onstage. Together the Kings of East and West performed ‘Augment’, before people raised their hands to the sky and looked to the heavens as they called on God with their voices shaking while they yelled: “Fada fada eh.”
As Phyno left the stage, Olamide sprinted to the finish line. Men linked arms as we screamed ‘Abule sowo’, ‘Bobo’ and ‘Wo’. Then he left the stage as he yelled “Lagos Nawa.”
During his performance of 'Wo', he brought on some of the dancers from the video which helped push the song to success.
As he walked off stage, dancers rushed on stage, where they choreographed the title track off his 7th studio album “Lagos Nawa.”
And that was it. The set was short, but effective. There was also the issue of time. This was almost 9 pm, and everyone had to go home. People streamed out in numbers, as security patrolled and directed traffic.
And as we pulled away from the concert, we saw a guy in the Black Maria. His arms were outstretched as he explained his crime away to Police officers who didn’t bother with a listening ear. Lagos Nawa!
It’s four times in a row for Olamide shutting down Lagos with a record attendance of over 10,000 people and another 2,000 hanging around the venue. In attendance was the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who watched from a private stand. He has done it, successfully pulling off a concert at the stadium, and doubled his Eko Hotel numbers.
Olamide Adedeji moved on from the Hip-Hop community to the mainstream years ago. Now his legendary status has been stamped. This was history, and it happened right in front of us.