by Wilfred Okiche
Huge industry problem.
How do you control a star who in the space of 3 albums in so many years, has ballooned intothe biggest name in the rap game, achieved both critical and commercial acclaim, scored countless hit singles and emerged as a mini mogul in his own right, complete with vanity record label and an increasing host of proteges looking up to him for leadership and career guidance?
This genuine but oft overlooked problem has truncated careers of many A-listers and once promising acts- local and international. It has been a particularly recurring decimal in the local music business. For every seeming success like 2face Idibia who appears to have got it together, there has been a D’banj, still drifting at a stage when he should be an industry statesman
Olamide may reign supreme now but if he is to keep churning out material with the speed and energy which his fans have become accustomed to, (an album every 12 months, with gazillion singles and videos in between,) then he needs to make sure that these records at least meet minimum standard.
Street OT, his 4th studio album follows in the same lengthy, superfluous tradition as his previous 2 records. As always there are moments of magic highlighted by slices of artistry and musicianship. But there is also the challenge of excess. And indiscipline that runs through the record, trivialising what should otherwise be a solid, hard hitting sound.
Due to the nature of the industry, today’s pop star has to be his own management and take care of his own distribution so no one blames Olamide for taking on more responsibility than he should bother with but he also has a responsibility to make decent music and this is no excuse for the sort of shoddy, scattershot work that shows up in generous doses in his work.
The album like the title suggests, isn’t exactly a mainstream effort but one whose primary target is the streets where he comes from. The content is more gritty than glossy and instead of the splashy superstar names, he restricts the guest spots to his record label goons Lil Kesh, Viktoh and in house producer Pheelz. There is a deviation from protocol on Skelemba where Don Jazzy drops by for a guest chorus but this is instantly one of the depressing moments of the album in which Don Jazzy rehashes his vocal work on Dr Sid’s already dismal Princess Kate to half-baked results.
Half-baked is perhaps the term that best summarises Street OT. Olamide really couldn’t be bothered to go all the way at all. And how can he? 21 songs released just a year after the last collection is bound to be as trouble inducing as it is unsatisfying. The mixing is less than standard, arrangement is scattershot, production is sub-par and Olamide who really should be the most respected artist of his generation based on sheer talent and work ethic, resorts to jacking material from Cece Winans (Batifeori), Nico & Vinz (Ya wa) and Rick Ross (100 to million).
There are moments when he shows his hand and does work that is deserving of his talent. Prayer for client is a future manual for rappers to study and marvel at Olamide’s brilliance at constructing themes and fine wordplay. He raps beautifully and sings just as well on the instantly catchy Batifeori and his back and forth with Phyno is as effective as ever on In my circle. The good stuff can also be found on the opener, Oga nla with (Pasuma and a hungry Viktoh), controversial single Story for the gods and when he is confessional as he is on 1999.
The young rapper knows how to craft a mean hook that can keep crowds singing along to and as such, even when Street OT is at its lowest ebb, it is still capable of eliciting a nod of head or shuffle of feet somewhere.
The record doesn’t do anything significant for his career except provide more hit singles to keep Olamide in business for the short term. He misses another chance to add some substance and heft to his profile by putting out Street OT as half-hearted as it is and inches ever closer to becoming another Timaya, a walking ad for unfulfilled potential.
It may be only a matter of time before fans eager to see him become all that he can be turn their attention to the next hot young wizkid who can rap and sing interchangeably but is careful to pay attention to the quality of their recording. Olamide can be so much more but he shows on Street OT that he is not aware of his own awesomeness.
– The writer tweets from @drwill20