Celebrating 10 Years of Illbliss' 'Oga Boss' Album [Pulse Afrobeats Throwback]

Ten years after the album was released, Illbliss remains Oga Boss of Afrobeats, the Odogwu Malay of Nollywood, and Don of the Nigerian entertainment industry.

Ill Bliss - Oga Boss Album Art

Illbliss is popularly called Oga Boss, a moniker that matches his persona that embodies class, charisma, splendor, and sophistication.

'Oga Boss' is the album that not only birthed Illbliss' moniker but was also a career-defining album that showcased a class that can be easily reconciled when Illbliss the artist and Illbliss the man are placed side by side.

The award-winning rapper and executive have shaped the Nigerian Hip Hop scene with his stellar talent, boardroom acumen, and street credibility. A high-flying personality that extends to the big screen where he dazzled on the profile-matching role of Odogwu Malay on Kemi Adetiba's 'King of Boys', Illbliss is indeed a boss of his craft.

2010 - 2013 was the golden era and commercial height of rap in Nigeria with rappers Ice Prince, M.I Abaga, and Naeto C emerging as continental superstars. On the indigenous side of the rap scene, Olamide and Reminisce were shaping the game as Yoruba-speaking (Local Rappers) rappers.

While the Yoruba-speaking rappers can be fairly said to have it easier as Lagos which is a South Western state is Nigeria's entertainment capital, the same cannot be said for Igbo-speaking rappers. While veteran rapper Nigga Raw did a lot to get Igbo rap outside the southeast, the push needed to make it a mainstream sound came from Illbliss whose 'Oga Boss' album changed the game. This laid the groundwork for Phyno to take it to a new height with his debut album 'No Guts No Glory'.

In 'Oga Boss,' Illbliss combines Igbo and English to deliver a rap project that employs Afrobeats core to deliver mainstream sound that transcended language and demographic barriers. And he ensured to put the South East on the map as he added the "Igbo Boy" tag to his name and echoed it all through the album.

Songs like 'I'm Going In' and 'Hustler's Footsteps' offered listeners the chance to enjoy Igbo rap without needing to understand what Illbliss or Phyno were saying. Illbliss' ability to effortlessly switch between English and Igbo allowed him to create music that everyone can enjoy while also putting Igbo rap on the scene.

Illbliss set out to make a project that carries his imprint as a sophisticated rapper with an ability to deliver smooth rap that embodies the attitude and confidence of a man who has a lot riding on his shoulders.

All through the album, he showcased his abilities and notably on tracks like 'Illyminate' featuring Tha Suspect where they took turns to drop chest thumping bars over a hardcore Hip Hop beat.

When the subject of defining rap singles are been discussed in Nigerian Hip Hop, 'Anam Achi Kwanu' will be held up for all to behold. Using the Hip Hop beat that dominated American Hip Hop at the time and instantly brings to mind Lil Wayne's '6 ft 7 ft', Illbliss laid some heavy bars that passed a clear message on his ability while wearing flaunting his Igbo boy status. Phyno's hook is a historic one as he uses Igbo to deliver a rap hook that blends with the beats to make for a speaker-thumping hit single. And the deservedly earned a nomination for the Rap Single of the Year at the 2013 Headies Awards.

On 'My Heart Beats' feat Banky W and 'I am Sorry' feat Chidinma, Illbliss delivered smooth rap spiced by the melodic hooks of R&B stars whose vocal texture and ability to mold melody in captivating sequences made them listeners' favorites.

Illbliss wanted to connect with as many listeners as he could and for this, he recruits artists whose music held sway in different parts of the country. The southeastern Pop star Wiz Boyy for 'Graduate' whose singles 'Screen Saver' and 'Screen saver' launched him into mainstream fame. He tapped Timaya for the status celebrity track 'Double Double' where Illbliss drops the luxury lines he's known for and for which he's often compared to Rick Ross. And who better for the chorus than Timaya, a hit maker and a master of grandiloquence.

In 'Currency Boys', Illbliss recruits label mate Tha Suspect and award-winning news dominating rapper Ice Prince for a song that combines catchy Afrobeats bounce with smooth flows for a rap single with a significant Pop appeal.

In 'Naalu Ekene' feat Stormrex, Illbliss sonically leans towards the East, and in 'Asiko' feat Tha Suspect, he leans towards the West all while maintaining a single rap identity.

Illbliss made a boss-like move for the streets with 'Emini Baller' featuring Illbliss, Tha Suspect, and Chidinma. Chidinma uses Yoruba to deliver a stinging chorus that captivates listeners through its melody and street-relatability. Tha Suspect delivers a street-influenced verse over a supercharged street-pop beat before Illbliss comes in to lay calm chest thumping bars that are befitting of an Oga Boss. It is no surprise that single got nominated for the Collaboration of the Year at the 2013 Headies Awards.

Overall, 'Oga Boss' Rap Album of the Year nominated project is a sensational body of work that thematically brands Illbliss as the Big boss of Nigerian Hip Hop. Sonically, the album explores the Afrobeats sounds to deliver a sonic variety that appeals to a wide audience.

The album is a key contribution to the rise and domination of Local Rappers whose talent took the industry to the next level.

As an Igbo-speaking rapper, Illbliss' 'Oga Boss' raised confidence and open the mainstream door for the likes of Phyno and Zoro.

Ten years after the album was released, Illbliss remains Oga Boss of Afrobeats, the Odogwu Malay of Nollywood, and Don of the Nigerian entertainment industry.

So whenever you see Oga Boss please shake him with two hands.

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