Illrymz was born in Lagos to a Persian mother and Yoruba father. At the age of 3, he was already introduced to lights and cameras as a baby model for an American beauty product. From an early age he sang in the church choir, and always had a lead or major role in the church drama. The name ‘ILL’ was created in his final years of High School at King’s College, Lagos in 2000–2001, when his peers would comment on his flows by saying they were ‘ILL’. ‘The name came as a relief to me for real’ Illrymz said. ‘My family called me Bardia but my friends at school all called me Bola because it was easier to pronounce I guess lol’. Putting two and two together he picked up on the tag and started using the pseudo name ‘Illrymz’ meaning ‘Sick rhymes’, ‘Dope rapper’, “the Illest’ etc.
Fresh out of high school and still filled with passion for freestyling, drumming on desks and writing music,he met Emmanuel Essien( aka Mannie) of Cool FM by chance, while working on a radio commercial for Gold Circle condoms. The two bonded as Mannie was a music composer and Illrymz was learning how to use his rhymes to write copy for advertising agencies. Immediately work on his first album started. However, the album was never completed. Shortly after this, he was introduced to another Emmanuel by his brother, this time a tongue twisting rapper called Mannie-X.
They were later joined by Leo Abulu( aka Luvdaddy) who was a close friend of Mannie. They became a Gospel Group called SOL later in the year. After recording four songs, the group decided to rebrand and started working on a new album under a new name KONFUSED. Once again, six songs into the album, the project was abandoned.
The first time he was in the spotlight nationally however, was in 2003 when he appeared in television and print commercials for Coca- Cola. He went on to model for Benson and Hedges, MTN, and other top Nigerian brands, as well as appearing on the runway on big shows such as the Nigerian Fashion Show and Fashion Week.
Illrymz went on to study Mass Communication at the University of Lagos in 2006.
In 2005, Illrymz, as a brand name, was born with the launch of Nigeria’s First Online Entertainment Magazine – VibeWeekly. Working with Mtech Communications on the Vibedownloads brand for three years, he quickly made a name for himself as one of Nigeria’s foremost entertainment writers, reaching to about 60,000 subscribers weekly.
He made his television debut as the Host of Nokia First Chance, in 2007. After rave reviews and by popular demand, he decided to take on TV as a profession.
Later in 2007, he signed on to popular urban Nigerian music and lifestyle channel Nigezie as Music Content producer, brand manager, and On-Air Personality. During his short stint with Nigezie he managed to set up its 24-hour program schedule, and give the channel its first feel of international celebrity interviews bringing on Grammy Award winners – Black Eyed Peas, Lil’ Kim, Brick & Lace and Amerie.
In 2008, he signed a television deal with Soundcity and quickly became a household name.
He made his mark as one of Nigeria’s top urban TV personalities, by hosting high-profile Red Carpet events, presenting the Global Countdown show, Sprite Triple Slam, and One on One – the celebrity interview show. Also, he produced and presented the most watched Soundcity program in 2009, The Nokia Express Music show.
By the time he was ready to leave Soundcity, he had interviewed every top Nigerian music super star, as well as international celebrities such as Ja Rule. His one on one interview with Ja Rule was one of the very first 30 minutes straight talk interview by a Nigerian TV presenter and an international rapper. This further propelled his brand as the go-to-guy for interviews.
He interviewed Hip hop legend Nas, at the maiden edition of the SoundCity Music Video Awards, US rapper MIMS of This Is Why I’m Hot, Sean Kingston, Sisqo, SWV, Chaka Khan, Jozi from SA, Wyre from Kenya, Freshly Ground from SA, among others.
In 2010 he got another multi-million naira Network Television deal as the Host of the G-Bam show. Although the show was highly rated and loved by viewers it was cancelled abruptly, this led Illrymz to take a break from television for the rest of the year.
In 2011 he made his return to TV as the new host of international music franchise,Nigerian Idol. He hosted the second season, alongside popular Nigerian RnB musician, Tiwa Savage.He went on to host the third and fourth season, and he is currently the host of the fifth season.(Airing From 2012 – 2015)
In Late 2014 He joined the Africa Magic Team as the Co-Host of The Popular Pan African Television Show StarGist. In 2016 He joined the team of BET AFRICA as a Presenter & Insert Producer for BET – A List.
In 2008, international urban music and lifestyle brand MTV announced its intention to kick off an all-African music award show tagged The MAMAS(acronym for MTV Africa Music Awards), the biggest Award show in Africa. Illrymz produced the radio adverts for the show and went on to produce the 2008 and 2009 MTV MAMA award radio commercials.
He has also produced radio commercials for other top brands such as Nokia, Chicken Republic and Zain (now Airtel).
In 2009 he convinced Tajudeen Adepetu,CEO of Soundcity to expand the television brand into radio. In early 2009 Soundcity Radio was born.Illrymz brought together the channels ambassadors – Denrele Edun, S-Dot, and Yinka and set-up1-hour daily shows that ran on local radio stations from Monday to Sunday every week.
The radio channel started off with music rotation and later transitioned into shows produced by illrymz such as; Nokia Top 5 Playlist hosted by illrymz, Sexy Tuesday hosted by Luvchild (the only non-Soundcity ambassador), Your Africa playlist hosted by S-Dot, The Entertainer hosted by Denrele, etc. The channel however closed down when illrymz resigned his position.
Later that year, he re-branded himself as ‘The Big Homie’ and launched his own independent radio show sponsored by Nokia,Radio Outloud with Nokia hit the airwaves late 2009 and is still one of the most celebrated radio shows in the country to date. Starting off on two stations in Lagos the show has now expanded to six stations across Nigeria and is still growing. The show is Nigeria’s first reality radio format that showcases celebrities in out of the normal scenarios and gives the listeners a rare peak into the real world of their favourite superstars.
The show has had hit seasons that featured; musicians, actors, comedians, and producers and also some international stars such as UK funky house sensation Donaeo, Jiggs from choice Fm London, Jimmie Jean Louis (The Haitian from Heroes & Mr Tunde from Phat Girls), Razz B (Movie star from DOOM alongside D’Rock) and Nate Parker from Great Debaters (which features Denzel Washington).
Bardia ‘illie’ Olowu has gone on to executive produce a series of hit radio shows under his creative media content company contagious collective such as; The Jumia What Am I? Radio Show, 0809JA_Radio, Nunu Super Kids, The Wave, Pop Up & Shop, The A-Team and a host of other shows are in the pipe line.
In Late 2016 he was unveiled as the Host of the Coke Studio Radio Hour for Coca-Cola.
He is also the Voice Casting Director for the First 3d animated cartoon series in Nigeria; The Idomietables by Indomie. His outfit Contagious Collective is also the production company behind the audio production for the series. A host of new TV shows are scheduled to be released late 2016 – early 2017 such as: Comedy Spot, OGA TAXI, The Music, Hype, Hip Hop Heads…
In 2006 he released his first solo single produced by his friend PAPILASTIC titled NO MAGO MAGO! This hilarious sing-along became an instant hit and enjoyed heavy radio air-play. ‘NO MAGO MAGO NO WAYO O…NO COME PUT SAND SAND FOR MY GARRI O’ these lines became a popular slogan all over the country. Due to a hectic work schedule and reasons beyond his control illrymz went on a five-year hiatus from music.
In late 2011 he leaked a single titled ANYHOW produced by popular Nigerian producer Dr. Frabz. The song gained unprecedented followership online and on radio stations in Nigeria. Two viral singles followed shortly after; PA DA WA featuring Dr.Frabs and Skales, and Feel My Parol produced by Samklef.
However, in 2012 Illrymz released his first official single ‘Teacher Teacher’ featuring the Legend Femi Kuti. Upon its release it generated a heavy buzz on major websites and blogs across the country. Both the song and video enjoyed heavy rotation on local radio and TV stations.
- Soundcity Radio
- Nokia Express Music Top 5 Playlist
- Radio Outloud with Nokia & Ill
- Jumia What Am I?
- Nunu Superkids
- The Wave
- Coke Studio Radio Hour
- Nokia First Chance
- Soundcity TV
- Glo Gbam Show
- Nigerian Idol
- BET A- LIST
- Lynxxx Album Launch
- Lynxxx & Friends Tour
- Future Awards
- Side View Style Awards
- Black Magic Album Launch
- Gold Fist Promotions Boxing Events
- Elite Model Look (2012-2016)
- Intel & Microsoft 2in1 Device Launch
- Google Android 1 Nigeria Launch
- Lagos Countdown (60,000 Capacity New Year’s Eve Concert)
- MTN Mandela Day Tribute Concert In Johannes Burg SA
- Exquisite Magazine Eloy Awards
- (Grammy Nominated) Rageeb Alama Live @ Eko Hotels
- The Milo National Basket Ball Championships
Bardia ‘illie’ Olowu aka The #GQmc Has also hosted high society Weddings around the globe, from; Lagos, to London, Miami, Dubai, Hyderabad in India.
- illrymz http://www.illrymz.com. Missing or empty
- “Upclose and Personal with Big Illie (Illrymz)!”. Ms.YouTv. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- “Etisalat-Sponsored Nigerian Idol On A Roll With Season 5”. Information Nigeria. January 15, 2015.
- Adeola Adeyemo (19 May 2012). “BN Saturday Celebrity Interview: ‘I Make It Look Easy’ – Illrymz, Nigeria’s Popular Urban Entertainment Personality Dishes on his TV, Radio & Music Career & How he Plans to Take Over the World!”. Bella Naija. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- Chibueze Lasswell Okoro (23 September 2014). “Illrymz Gives Off Social Media Internship to Empower Youths [Interview]”. e planet.
- “I have always wanted to be a musician-Illrymz”. Daily Independent. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
- “New Single: Illrymz- Padawa”. Onobello. February 7, 2012.