Back in 2017, Nigeria welcomed a relatively new artist by the name of Small Doctor. The singer was announced by his street record, ‘
Small Doctor made music with a very interesting sound, which was rooted firmly in South African House, but with lesser emphasis on percussion, and more on intrusive drum breaks. ‘Penalty’ shot the singer to prominence, where his stock grew meteorically. By the end of the year, it would feature as one of 2017’s top record.
Olamide would later utilize that ‘street sound’ and formula to create ‘Wo’, a record produced by Young Jonn, which stylistically obeys all the rules of Small Doctor’s successful record. ‘Wo’ would become the dominant street song, heading into the holiday season, and into the New Year.
But away from the mainstream music industry, new songs following that specific sound were dominating the streets. Songs such as Mr Real’s “Legbegbe”, Idowest’s “Omo Shepeteri” (featuring Slimcase and Dammy Krane), Slimcase’s “Oshozondi”, Zlatan Ibile’s “My Body” (featuring Olamide) and others were holding the attention of the public.
Backed by a dance style called ‘Shaku shaku’, the songs were growing and attracting major attention. For more on the ‘Shaku Shaku’ dance, read here.
Make-up of the Wobe Sound
The Wobe sound is primarily a cross between the South African House and Qgom sound. It’s a hybrid sound which focuses on the heavy drums as its most distinct feature. Percussion, if it ever makes it into the record is limited, with the arrangement designed to make the drums emphatic enough to make people move.
Qgom is described as a “big bang which leaves you happy after it hits you,” and it’s exactly what the Wobe sound does to the listener.
Melody isn’t emphasized on the Wobe sound. If anything, it is slightly discouraged. What attacks the drumming is the vocals of the singer/rapper taking on the drumming and cooking up lyrics delivered mostly in Yoruba language, with a few sprinklings of pidgin English.
Origin Of Wobe Sound
But this sound isn’t new. According to a leading talent manager, Oderinde Abisola also known as HON Beecy, the sound predates the new wave. Beecy who has worked with Small Doctor, revealed that the music has been a signature sound for the Lagos mainland for over 5 years.
“The sound has been around for more than 5 years. It is originally from the streets of the mainland in Lagos,” Beecy said. “It’s a sound for the mainland boys in the street to vibe to. It’s a mainland genre of music.”
One of the leading songs of this Wobe genre is the song ‘Oshozondi’ by DJ Sidez, a popular street name. The song released in July 2017 features artists Slimcase, and Masta T. The record grew steadily with the mainland crowd peaking in December when Olamide came through with his OLIC4 concert.
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Slimcase, who is in his 8 year of making music, was also featured on Mr Real’s ‘Legbegbe’, and Idowest’s ‘Shepeteri’ – all successful records that are pushing for mainstream recognition in Lagos. He acknowledges the lengthy existence of the ‘Wobe’ sound and how much it has grown into becoming a trend.
“That was last year, we curated that sound and put it out there, but last year, we made ‘Oshozondi’, and released it at that time when the wave was almost starting,” he said. “People then began to dance the Shaku shaku to it. It was the best song to dance that kind of dance.”
Slimcase refuses to see similarities between the Wobe sound and South African House. “It’s our sound,” he says. “It originated in Nigeria, and we are exporting it to the world.”
Shaku Shaku Explosion
Much of the growth of the ‘Wobe’ sound has been due to the dance named ‘Shaku shaku’.
Shaku is a dance which originated from Agege, in Lagos, and has now gone mainstream.
It is performed by first crossing your arms in front of each other at the wrist, widening your legs slightly, and launching into a half-gallop. After getting the hang of this, the rest of the leg movements are freestyled. After months of rocking the streets, Shaku Shaku has become a bonafide viral hit; with some sections of fans nicknaming it ‘the Nigerian Gangnam style’ due to its similarities to Psy’s 2012 monster.
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All over the internet, there are thousands of user-generated videos of people attempting to Shaku Shaku. Celebrities including Wizkid, Davido, DJ Cuppy and Tiwa Savage have all shared videos of themselves indulging.
The power of ‘Shaku shaku’ has been instrumental in spreading the wobe sound. This is because, the sound and the dance go together, perhaps to the point where it has become the soundtrack of ‘Shaku shaku’.
The Olamide Effect
Olamide isn’t regarded as the king of the streets for nothing. The rapper has built an entire career from mining the streets for content, and acting a conduit for taking it mainstream. For ‘Wobe’ sound, he simply pushed Small Doctor off his perch with ‘Wo’. And as the movement grew, his controversial record, ‘Science Student’ has eclipsed all its predecessors as the leading Wobe song, and Shaku shaku song.
Not long after the dance became a national trend in December, Olamide released “Science Student”, thanks to his wider reach and influence, the song has gone considerably father than the original theme songs. So have his Instagram and Youtube dance videos, where Badoo has been seen dancing Shaku-Shaku.
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One of those videos has now been watched over 50,000 times. It is why, for a lot of people who are just becoming familiar with the entire movement, Olamide is the father of Shaku-Shaku. From Instagram videos of himself applying the dance to his song to the use of his superstar colleagues to market the record, Shaku shaku’s growth has been in part to his efforts.
How does that make all the other artists who have toiled for the sound feel?
“Olamide is big, so everything he does get PR. We give Olamide props, because he is the street king, and he has been doing it for a very long time,” Slimcase says.
“Maybe our songs inspired Olamide to do something, but we never can tell. But since Olamide is on the mainstream already, people are saying that he invented Shaku shaku. But no, it is from the street, we all came from the street, Olamide came from the streets, everything came from the street.”
Growth And Dominance
As with all things viral, already, the trend has grown. Every day, new artists are joining the Shaku shaku wave and creating new records in that format. Artists such as Wizkid, D’banj, Reminisce and others have made records to cash in on the trend and score formulaic hits.