Over the past few hours, Nigerian singer and producer, Terry G has been a trending topic on Twitter NG.
The root of it seems another case of influencer promotion that has inevitably spilled into original conversation. That was always going to happen because Terry G and K Solo are the architects of the modern Nigerian street sound.
In an article that documents the evolution of Nigerian street sounds, Pulse noted that, "Some will argue konto as progeny to the less distinctive Pangolo era of the late 2000s, championed by acts like, K-solo, Klever Jay, Terry G and Timaya and from the Iju-Ishaga and Agege areas of Lagos, Nigeria. Those claims won’t be farfetched - the Yahooze era basically just wiped the floor for the more impactful and durable pangolo.
"Pangolo was basically a more uptempo and more melodious offspring of galala, konto, makossa/soukous and reggaeton with heavy drums and snares to replace toms of reggaeton and the repetitive drums of galala or konto. It also replaced the light guitars on galala and konto with melodious bass guitar riffs - inspired by the makossa/soukous.
"For better or worse, this era also cemented the dearth of lyricism that had been brewing for a few years before Terry G dropped the monster hit, "Free Madness."
"The short reign then led directly into what was the infamous virality of Zee World, Damoche and Skally Mental with their very transient vaunting of vulgarity on wax that encapsulated Nigerian youth firmly within its grasp for the better part of 18 months and sadly sent well-meaning but fun-loving youth spiraling out of control on dancefloors across the nation.
"The major dance that accompanied this era was alanta."
Every major Nigerian street sound since then can be traced to his era of calculated madness that sold an avant-garde gimmick. He was a master of his own universe which he ruled with a iron fist of freewheeling creativity and the might of resonance with the Nigerian mainstream. He was always criticized, but he was the one that even the most conversative Nigerian loved to hate.
His career comes in three phases; Pre-Free Madness, Free Madness era and Church Bell era. For that reason, here are the five best Terry G songs from each era. These songs are not necessarily Terry G's biggest songs. They are songs that either marked any of Terry G's biggest phases as an artist or represent a core part of his evolution and/or notoriety.
An underrated song that encapsulates his third era. It comes with an obsession with church bells and represents the commercialization of a mock Church service. Terry G was always a student of history. Before Naira Marley and Zlatan who didn't care about rules and political correctness, it was Terry G.
The song is the first track off Terry G's fourth studio album, Terry Gzuz. Coming from Cherubim and Seraphim background, he put it into good use for a rebrand that the church wouldn't have liked. The album see Terry G as the Christ of his own multitude of beautiful musical lunacy. On the album cover was Terry G bearing dark wings - what a man.
Another underrated song on this album was, 'God Guide Me.'
Sitting on Terry G's most commercially successful and best-acclaimed album, Ginjah Ur Swaggah was a song titled, 'Sangalow.'
It was Terry G's hottest streak in Nigerian music. The album dropped in the latter parts of 2009 and Terry G had the midas touch. His production was marked with a signature of well-constructed drum arrangement filled with a unique flute-sounding string pattern. But this song was only about the drums and a brand of madness that only Terry G could conjure.
If Terry G's madness on this song was to be quantified, it might take the form of the disaster from the movie, 2012. As he the 'prophet' he was to become a few years down the line, as the song started, he says, "This one na nonsense, wey go make sense." Well, it did make sense. We danced and almost killed ourselves.
We might hail all the versions of 'Free Madness' or 'Charging Charger' which Terry G produced for 9ice's third album, Tradition, but 'Akpako Master' might be the best beat Terry G ever made. The beat was one Terry G produced for Side One in 2009. It was used for a song titled, 'One By One.'
All of a sudden, Terry G jumped on a freestyle and it became 'Akpako Master.' Ladies and gentlemen, it also blew more than anything Side One did. More importantly, Terry G also fastened the pace of the beat than its initial version and added bells. What ensued was a fight between Terry G and Side One after Terry G started making money off Side One's beat.
The song came during Terry G's third act which I earlier 'Church Bell Era.' During that era, bells became a core part of both Terry G's artistry and production. Anytime he decided to show up for one of his many shows at Universities across the country, students bought bells and waited for him. 'Akpako Master' is no different. Like we will say now, the song entered.
Free Madness II
'Free Madness 2' was mostly successful because of 'Free Madness.' But God in heaven, it was huge. The song was not only a moment, it was a momentous yet risque experiment of superstardom that worked. Ordinarily, Nigerians have a short attention span and 'overdo' dey kill, but Terry G pulled it off and his parade of madness worked.
Free Madness I
This song was an accident. It was a beat Terry G made for another unnamed person. But as the person came late to collect the beat, Terry G decided to freestyle with it. After he was done, he realized he had gold on his hands. He kept the song and released it as a single off his then-upcoming sophomore album, Ginjah Ur Swaggah.
Guys, that moment birthed the classic line, "People wey get his beat eh, omo dem dey for outside eh..." It also birthed a viral moment that impacted both Nigerian pop culture and music forever. It was a disruption that typified the immaterial nature of lyrics in Nigerian music. It also coincided with the existence of Timaya.
Together, they created their own rules and made us go crazy. In every area of Nigeria, this was a hit and Terry G made his presence felt. After a beautiful 2008 producing hits for artists like Timaya, 2Shotz and iLLBliss, this song launched him straight into the limelight. His life never remained the same.