Olamide: The constant evolution of a layered legend (Part 1) [Pulse Interview]
Olamide speaks about 'Carpe Diem,' mental health, toxic masculinity, P-Priime, his beginnings and so forth
But more importantly, he appreciates praise and criticism in equal measure. To him, it is hard to have one without the other. He also feels like it is unreasonable to expect one all the time without expecting the other because human beings are complex characters and you can’t predict how a human will behave in the next minute.
“I saw your review [on Pulse] as well. I know a lot of people think I don’t see many things, but just know that I appreciate genuine people and constructive criticism,” he calmly says while sitting on a stool and facing the camera. “I never have issues when people criticize my stuff and that’s why I don’t go crazy online.”
“You guys are some of the few people in the industry who try to balance views. There are times when artists deserve criticism - trust me, we know,” he continued. “But when artists do well, they deserve to hear it. Most of the time, all I get is criticism [laughs] and I got used to that. So when I saw that review and it was positive, it felt good and surprising - I’m not used to hearing it [laughs]. That’s why I said I appreciate and respect that, you know.”
He was honest and open throughout this conversation. He also got on the interview five minutes early. A few weeks earlier, he had released Carpe Diem, but the release coincided with EndSARS protests.
“We had to slow down promotional processes, obviously. It was an issue that concerned all of us as Nigerians. If we don’t fight for what’s right, nobody will fight for us,” he says. “Like I said, I would have joined the protests, but I wasn’t in the country at the time. But shout-out to my team, we still did great.”
ALSO READ: Olamide - Carpe Diem [Album Review]
Yes, they did. Despite the protests, Turntable Charts reports that ‘Carpe Diem’ recorded the second-biggest opening week of 2020 after Burna Boy’s Twice As Tall.
When he was creating the album, he wasn’t creating it for hits. On that he says, “If it’s not Jay Z or PartyNextDoor, Fireboy or Drake, I get tired of albums these days. So, I have loads of playlists that I listen to on my phone and I just wanted to give people a feel of that diversity - maybe not exactly recreate the sound though.
“The album is basically a playlist… [smiles] I wasn’t even trying to be Olamide Baddo on it… I just wanted people to listen regardless of who it was and I just hope people listen to it like that.”
The album title originates from Olamide’s state of mind at this time.
Carpe Diem: Another Level
On the album opener, Olamide sang that he was on another level. As a certified legend of Nigerian music, it was only a valid statement to make. In his words, “If I’m being honest, my state of mind is that I’ve been there, done that. All I’m praying for is God’s grace for a long life to enjoy all I’ve worked for [laughs].”
“If it’s the art itself, I’ve conquered that church music, rap, commercial music, street music… But because I’m adventurous by nature, I always want to try new things,” he enthused. “I’m not in competition with anybody, I just want to get better as a person and artist. Life itself is a school - a university, if we’re being honest [laughs] and it’s all about learning and that’s the level.”
For him, he wasn’t really bragging on the song, he was merely speaking about his state of mind.
He says, “If you know the people who truly know, they will tell you that they know nothing at all. So, what is it that I’ve done that nobody has done? Why should I feel like the king of the world. As much as in my mind, I know that I’ve done great things, I don’t want to sit on my hands and talent.”
Carpe Diem: Constant evolution and P-Prime
What drives Baddo is his passion for music. He says, “Before the money, it was just the passion. It’s just like all those street bros back then. Even if they were working in the bank, they would still come back to play football with us on the street.
"For me, the music is like that. But instead of going back to play football on the streets, I can’t leave the music alone. Even if I didn’t make it, I would still be making music.”
Olamide wants to constantly evolve and improve. That’s one of the reasons why he’s learning music production and fine-tuning his production skills at 31. While Olamide had production credits on Lagos Nawa, he’s doesn't want to stagnate.
In fact, this version of ‘Carpe Diem’ is the second version. The first version had a few Baddo-produced songs. But because he didn’t feel “100” about some melodies, lines or hooks, they had to be cut or reworked. Those issues have since been fixed and he says we will get some of two or three of those songs on his next album.
On the sound of those songs produced by him, he says, “Some of those songs sound like ‘Green Light’ because that’s what I was working on before P-Priime sent me beats. I was like, ‘Guy, how you take know my state of mind?’ I was shocked because it was too accurate. Maybe he read my mind, I still don’t know [laughs]. But he made it easier to work with him.”
Olamide met P-Prime through his Content Manager. And at the time, he didn’t realize that P-Priime was just 18-years-old but he’d heard works like ‘Like I Do’ - which P-Priime produced for Fireboy, off the Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps album. He just wanted to meet the producer and it happened.
The result of that meeting means that P-Priime produced the majority of ‘Carpe Diem.’ This was also the second Olamide album - after Rapsodi [mostly produced by ID Cabasa] - to not be significantly produced by Pheelz.
Carpe Diem: Triumphant
Olamide recently released a video for ‘Triumphant’ featuring Bella Shmurda, but that’s only one of the most exciting parts of a song which is one of the most loaded Olamide songs ever. He spoke about how weed and changing his hair colour helped him through frustration and how he lost his parents just as he started making money - among other things.
But to him, that’s just one shade to him. He didn’t plan to say all those things, he just felt the need to let people know that everyone has gone through things.
“I think the way men are nurtured in our society, expressing emotion is not encouraged. I just felt like those things had to be said, you know,” he says. “I was just like let’s use this ‘Carpe Diem’ album to show that side that people had seen on records like ‘Melo Melo,’ ‘Rich and Famous’ and the likes. Everything you heard on that song is true - every word of it is just real life.”
“And you know what’s funny, the original version of ‘Carpe Diem’ had a lot of songs like that. We just chose to filter them [laughs]. Maybe una for don dey ask wetin do Baddo now [laughs],” he continues. “I also didn’t want anybody to think that I was trying to pander or look for pity. Maybe it was just that upbringing that was acting in me again, you know [laughs].”
As Bella Shmurda sang on his hook for the song, people doubted him. He says, "It will always happen and you can't avoid that because it's just life. When you hit a height, people want you to evolve so their thoughts become some of those things... But here we are eating good."
Throwback: Olamide Adedeji finds music
Olamide grew up around music, so it was easy to develop a love for it. He says, “My parents loved music a lot. My popsy was steady blasting it [laughs]; Barrister, Obey, Sunny Ade and all that. Then, our neighbours attended different churches, but they were all members of the choir, I swear [laughs]. Till today, I don’t understand how that was possible [laughs].”
Everyday in Olamide’s childhood surrounding was like a choir session. Then around ‘97/’98, a young Olamide found Hip-Hop through his step-brother who was obsessed with Mystikal.
“I don’t even know how [laughs]. I used to watch [my step-brother] do freestyle raps and all that, but I didn’t really connect with the whole Hip-Hop thing at first. It was the idea of music that got me.” He says. “I was so particular about the music that I asked my neighbours who were in the choir to teach me solfa and I took classes for some months in ‘99/2000.”
That’s why all his albums have elements of Church music. On ‘Carpe Diem,’ the church element came on ‘Do Better.’
He continues, “I’ve been lucky that all my producers also come from church backgrounds; from Cabasa to Pheelz to P-Priime… I never have to tell them, they just churn it out without knowing. There’s a way life helps you to [recreate] what you’ve ingested. Not like food sha [laughs], but you get it.”
Throwback: Olamide meets ID Cabasa
In 2005, a 16-year-old Olamide and his rap group, Naughty Pound recorded a song produced by Lord of Ajasa. But at the time, Ajasa had released his debut album and was finding success so he didn’t have time to help Naughty Pound master the record. He then linked the rap group up with ID Cabasa.
Olamide says, “You know what’s funny? By the time we linked up with ID Cabasa, omo we don burn all the data and cash wey we suppose use master record [laughs hard].”
Throwback: The switch from English to Yoruba
At the time, Olamide was still rapping in English. But just before he was about to join Coded Tunes alongside Kayefi, he switched to rapping in Yoruba.
While looking giddy, he reminisces, “I was inspired by the Akoka guys, man [laughs like a child]. They were so good and they were creating their own rules, man. From Ruggedman, to Lord of Ajasa to Freestyle and all of them. I was always around Akoka a lot at the time because of studio sessions. I would see them rap in Yoruba, Pidgin and any language they felt liked. I thought it was so cool [laughs].
"At that point, I knew that I didn’t want to do anything besides the music. So I thought to myself [describes with his hands], ‘If I want to do this music, how do I service it in the right way that my people will understand and enjoy it?’ I think this is what made me decide to switch from rapping in English to rapping in Yoruba.”
This was also the rationale that made Olamide switch from rapping to singing. According to him, it’s all about exhausting all means of creativity and expression. He says, “There are absolutely no limits. People will say things, at first but you have to make it work.”
Through Cabasa, he met Pheelz who became his trusted comrade on the board and has since blossomed into one of Nigeria’s greatest and most versatile music producers ever.
This is the end of part one. The second part contains stories from the two waves of YBNL Nation, why he made ‘999 EP,’ his lessons from the EP and more.
JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: