Meet the 'Oshozondi' Shaku Shaku champion, who dreams of teaching the dance to Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Usher

From the streets of Ikorodu, to the bright lights of Lekki, 'Oshozondi' singer, Slimcase, is taking the streets to the world, one 'Shaku' at a time.

Slimcase had never seen so many people working in a news room. He was astonished with the number of computers that greeted him as he stepped into the Pulse office space. “Awon temi Shashe,” he spoke in Yoruba, which translates into “my people who are running things.”

It was a slang that was popular on the streets of Lagos mainland, which referred to people with laptop computers, perpetuating internet frauds, and robbing people of millions of dollars.

But it wasn’t his fault. Slimcase is from the streets, and at the moment, his songs Oshozondi’ and ‘Shepeteri’ are currently pushing for mainstream penetration as part of the viral ‘Shaku shaku’ movement and wave currently dominating Nigerian music.

“I thank God,” he says. “This is my first time of being in this situation. To do something that the world is listening to. It makes me feel fulfilled.”

He is a happy man through and through. First he hugged me with excitement, declaring his love and respect for my craft. He was smiling from one end of his mouth to another as he looked to the heavens and said: “I didn’t know that I will meet a celebrity like you. I watch your show all the time, and I ask myself, when would you talk about me?”

He continues to shake my hand, and declare his admiration. He isn’t accustomed to mainstream coverage. Seeing himself walk into the Pulse office and meet with me is a personal mark of achievement. When I lead him to the studio, and offer him a seat in front of the camera, he feigned disbelief.

“So you, Joey Akan, wey sabi dis entertainment, wan interview me like dis so?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied, embarrassed and pleased at the same time. This level of honesty and simplicity is sorely lacking in the music industry. It was new to me.

Before we started the conversation, he hesitated for a bit and muttered something under his breath. Concerned, I ask him what the problem is.

“Your English is too much. You know say we na street. Take am easy,” he pleads.

I smiled at how inconsiderate I was, and gave him permission to flow in pidgin. On my part, I promised to water down my ‘phonetics’.

Early Life and Discovery of Music

Slimcase, born Oluwafemi Oladapo Oko-Eko, on August 21, 1985, grew up in Ikorodu, a place on the fringes of life in Lagos state. He was schooled and raised by the streets, where he honed his talent as a comedian. At the start of his career, music was a distant dream, one that he had never considered. He was a funny guy, who had designs to cash in on that. And so he began, performing for friends, family members, and the odd social gathering. But music found him.

Slimcase stumbled upon the art by chance in 2011. His friend, who he refers to as ‘Beat by Sars’, (not to be confused with Sarz on the beat'), was the first person to ever record his vocals for a song in Akoka, in a dingy studio near the prestigious University of Lagos (UNILAG).

“I loved his productions, and without voicing to the beats, I had the urge to be a musician. His beat was so banging, that I wanted to record on it,” he says

His friend encouraged him, choosing to tell him that “with this your style, you can just put something on the beat.” Slimcase started recording as a rapper, due to his early Hip-hop influences, where he followed records made by luminaries such as Eminem, Snoop Dog, 50 Cent and Dr Dre and others.

Oshozondi, Discovering The Shaku Shaku Sound, And Prominence

Back in 2017, Nigeria welcomed a relatively new artist by the name of Small Doctor. The singer was announced by his street record, ‘Penalty’, which found a way to cross into mainstream recognition, and accelerated his brand.

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.

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.

That’s the sound that Slimcase is utilizing to rise beyond his station in Nigerian music.

“Shaku shaku has been around for a while on the streets, but nobody paid attention to it,” Slimcase says. “It originated from the Mushins and Ageges of Lagos, and no one knew how to tap into a sound for the dance.

“Until I drop this song titled ‘Oshozondi’, and showed them that they can vibe that dance to this song. It created a standard for them which showed that this sound really goes with the dance. It made me prominent. I didn’t start the dance, my song created a platform for the dance.”

Describing how he got the other record, ‘Shepeteri’, he says: “It’s a downloaded beat. The chorus kept coming, and we decided to just drop it. It wasn’t a single, it was just a mixtape song. In three weeks, it was everywhere. In two months, we saw Davido dancing to the song.”

Street Life And The Originality Of The ‘Lamba’

I ask Slimcase about the intricacies and dynamic of street music, and he pauses for a while. Deep in thought for a minute, I witness his little conflict of emotion but don’t interrupt it. How can you ask a man to explain his ecosystem, and not wait for him to collect himself?

Slimcase finally reached an agreement with himself, raised his head, cleared his throat, and shared it with me.

“The hustle is real. The hustle is so real that you cannot fake in the street. It’s either you are in the street or you are not in the street at all. You have to go to the street, to write a street song. You can’t sit in Lekki and write a street song. You have to go to the den, and sit down in the den. Even if you don’t join them in their acts, you have to be there,” he says.

He explains that the best comedians and creatives in Nigeria are grilled and manufactured by the streets. He explains how ‘real’ the street is, and how everyday life and slangs (which he refers to as ‘Lambas’) can be turned into elements of pop culture. Slimcase also explains that street artists are primarily inspired by Fuji music.

“Most of them hardly listen to Hip-hop, and if they do, they can’t relate to it. That’s why they created their own language and their music. The lamba is what they understand,” he says.

Slimcase further explains that due to the poverty and lack of street exposure, the original elements of the street are hijacked and appropriated by pop musicians who have a larger following, and bigger platforms. He declines to mention any specific name, but explains:

“These celebrities can’t come to the streets and identify with people because of who they are. Most of them go on Instagram, and also watch Youtube videos. They will gather ideas from these things and create their records,” he explains.

Slimcase says the lack of censorship and the crudity of the street ‘Lamba’ has been a hindrance in the export of the music to mainstream audiences via radio and TV. This creates a barrier, which is exploited by pop artists.

“They take these songs clean them, and release it as their own. It has also happened to me,” he says.

The way forward for him, is for street artists to practice self-censorship to end this practice.

D’banj, Yemi Alade And The Blessings Of Shaku Shaku

Slimcase is having a ball right now. With the explosion of the Shaku Shaku movement, life has somewhat changed for him. He has seen his stock rise considerably, with many mainstream stars reaching out to him for collaborations. Already, he has worked with Afro-pop superstar, D’banj on a new record titled ‘Issa Banger’.

“Wow!” he screamed in disbelief while talking about D’banj. “Me, Slimcase, work with D’banj!!”

Slimcase also has featured on a DJ Enimoney record titled ‘Diet’. Interestingly, the single also features Reminisce, and African pop queen, Tiwa Savage. He also has another record with Yemi Alade, titled ‘Shakpati’.

The Future Of Shaku Shaku

Slimcase is dreaming big. He isn’t limiting the Shaku Shaku sound to just Nigeria or Africa. He believes that he can champion this genre, and export it across the oceans, down to American pop markets.

“You know what I see? I see Nicki Minaj and Beyonce dancing Shaku Shaku, and I’m there in their middle, teaching them the dance,” he says. “My vision is to take the song and sound to the world, make records, and have my name stamped on it.

“I’ll keep doing it until I knock the door of Beyonce, someday, or Usher Raymond dancing to a song that we have collaborated on.”

To wrap up the interview, he grabs a phone, and proceeds to perform a min-skit, starting with his alter-ego name 'Saint Sami Ganja', and speaking in Lambas and Yoruba. As we conclude, he asks for a photo, and whisper into my ears, “This is just the starting point.”

I believe him.

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