His isolation from the pop market doesn’t exactly translate into irrelevance or ‘suffering’.
On the final day of Felabration 2017, I was surprised to hear the MC, Omobaba call Oritsefemionstage. The last time I watched him perform live was in 2015. The singer was still riding out the high from his ‘Double wahala’ run.
At that point, Oritsefemi had released his “Money Stops Nonsense” album, carried the title ‘Musical Taliban’, wore the celebrity lifestyle like a boss, and chased down the biggest interviews on the highest platforms. His statements made the news, he wasn’t the centre of the Nigerian music industry, but he was a part of conversations around pop music, and scored collaborations to that effect.
After Oritsefemi dropped his MSN album in 2015, he went on to milk certain singles off the project. “Double Wahala” was the standout single, which relaunched the singer back into the market as a pop singer, years after he had toiled in Ajegunle as a conscious artiste. Other singles ‘Igbeyawo’, and ‘Redi Dance’ had further helped his cause, providing him with more acceptable content to chase the lights of pop music.
But he has managed what gifts that were thrown his way poorly. After choosing quantity over quality, he voiced over 20 collaborations since his album dropped, petering out his worth as a premium artiste. None of those songs have become hits. And then there’s his well-documented beef with his manager Danku.
But he phased himself out. His next album “Corporate Miscreant’ was a pop-flop. The album tanked on arrival, for obvious reasons. ‘Double wahala’ was a hit upon which he built a great run. The next project had no record that could serve as the anchor. And it was a bad project. I reviewed the album, and the conclusion captured why it was a poor project: “Corporate Miscreants” lacks all the makings of a project that would soar. It’s Oritsefemi struggling to recapture his pop footing which he has lost, while also touching base with the root sounds that grew his brand in the streets. He goes about this without a plan and no direction and does what miscreants do best. For a man with Oritsefemi’s level of talent and experience, this project isn’t just a poor one. It is criminal.”
But his isolation from the pop market doesn’t exactly translate into irrelevance or ‘suffering’. He simply moved away from the popular conversations into the niche street markets of Western Nigeria.
There’s very little mainstream media coverage on that ‘street market, the type that produced Small Doctor, Junior Boy, 2T Boyz. This market and its class of street musicians are either rated as too ‘local’ to receive coverage, or too ‘street’ to have fans who come online.
And although there is some bias in that, it is not wrong. They cater to an exclusive market that is hard to track. They are part of the underground street movement which serves a niche market on the Lagos mainland. Their music comes from a genre that is both simplistic and raw. They sing from the hood and use a format that is far removed from mainstream Nigerian music.
That night at Felabration, Oritsefemi had a great reception from the crowd, which was mostly made up of people from the ‘streets.’ When he performed ‘Ongbalarami’, there was a mini-earthquake. He was catering to his people, and they showed appreciation. He is doing pretty well, away from pop music. Follow Oritsefemi on social media, an you would find him performing at concerts and private gigs every weekend.
Oritsefemi has a new album coming soon. It is titled “L.I.F.E (Living In Fortunate Enviroment),” and would have records that many of you would never have heard about. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t having a ball in his career. It simply means you aren’t part of the group balling with him and his music.