In two months, Christmas will be back again. Cold winds would blow in from the North and bring on the Harmattan season where everyone would perceive the smell of holidays, rice, chicken and gifts. Children would deck in their best outfits, moving in twos and threes to visit friendly neighbours and solicit for gifts.
Olamide and Phyno are two peas in a pod. They enjoy a brotherhood on and off the mic that is beneficial to them both and the fans. It’s a lot like Christmas, a season where almost everyone gets something for themselves and their loved ones. Olamide and Phyno are their personal Santa Clauses, giving off gifts of hit music to each other, attracting sales, shows and penetration between cultures. When they come together, only positivity makes it out, and great music rend the air, like Christmas carols.
You could trace their musical happiness to 2012 when they dropped the classic Nigerian rap record, ‘Ghost mode’. The record was the start of Phyno’s mainstream career. The rappers burst through Nigeria’s heart and our speakers with the record, which marked a new wave in the life of Phyno.
Since that collaboration, the duo have worked on countless singles, and also explored that chemistry into a joint album – “2 Kings” – which was released in 2015.
What makes Olamide and Phyno tick is the basic understanding of their artistry and how to blend it into a compelling record. Their artistry is similar; both utilise stylistic indigenous leanings to create records. They were trained by the harsh streets, and understand ghetto living and how to connect with a mass audience.
But the most important part of this is that they have found a way to exploit both this similarity and their differences to make records. Olamide is from the West of Nigeria, where the Yoruba culture and the music rules. In the East, Phyno is a son of the soil, mining traditional Highife and folk melodies for effect. They also do know how to understand and ride waves, ensuring that the music stays relevant, incisive and fresh.
At the start of their recording process, they solely made rap music. ‘Ghost mode’ and ‘Dope money’ where they obeyed all the rules of Hip-hop. Heavy bass, hard hitting lyrics, punchlines, bars and metaphors were the core tools of their trade. And they rode that out, until the music began to change.
“Olamide is my brother. We have different projects going on. We have good chemistry and synergy. Even if we don’t vibe together, it works,” Phyno told Beat FM in 2016. “We have never deleted a verse. No competition. We just let it flow, Olamide is one of the best Nigerian acts and I admire him a lot.”
He speaks the truth. Two peas in a pod.
The turning point came in 2015 during the recording for “2 Kings” album. The stars explored the possibility of making pop records, throwing it all together for a joint project. Out of that project came speculative hits, ‘Ladi’, and ‘Confam ni’.
The rest has been history. Phyno found a way to alter his music significantly on “The Playmaker” album. He off a lot of his foreign influences and focused on his folk music and highlife, while Olamide continues on the path of his pop vibe popular on the streets.
In 2016, they scored the biggest song of the year, ‘Fada fada’ on Phyno’s album, and 2017 has already provided us with the syrupy ‘Augment’, an iteration of Eastern Highlife that Olamide flourishes on. Olamide’s forthcoming “Lagos Na Wa,’ also has a Phyno collaboration. They have matured considerably, with the basic formula of playing to their strengths and crossing their cultures with each new record.
So why does no wack Phyno-Olamide collaboration exist? It's because, like two peas in a pod, they can exist as one, carrying each other on records, complement their styles, and making everyday become Christmas for them, and all of us.