Olamide’s “Wo”: Another win for the streets

2017 has indeed been a good year for good music in the Nigerian music industry. With the steady and gradual redefinition of sound in the industry away from the older upbeat, fast tempo tunes to more laid back, chilled tunes. A fresh sound that is being celebrated by many as a breath of fresh air. Alternative sounds like those of the Nonso Amadis, the Odunsi’s, the Teknos, the Runtowns and the Mr Eazis have worked their way into mainstream. Following increasing pressure on the Nigerian music industry by international demands to “go global”, artistes are clearly working on writing better lyrics, reinventing the old “Kpangolo” afropop sound and adapting more international sounds, of trap, R&B and new school Hip Hop.

Generally, the Nigerian music industry this year has proven to be more tolerant for newer and more experimental sounds away from the usual street-hop and club anthems. In this new wave of sound, Olamide who thrived massively in the 2014 – 2016 reign of Street hop sounds has been found struggling since the release of his sixth solo studio album title “The Glory”.

The videos of the singles, “Love No Go Die” and “Summer Body” featuring Davido off his last album showed a compromise of his usual street themed visuals. With both videos shot abroad and showing more posh lifestyle, Olamide may finally be caving into pressures from his critics on being less international in sound and style and presenting less global appeal. "Wavvy Level", though shot in Nigeria, also reflected this change but in style and sound. This perceived surrender to pressure has left Olamide out of the charts this year as most of his releases have barely made their way into the streets, the clubs or massive radio airplay. What might be the issue? We wonder. Perhaps the artiste needs to take a different route in repackaging and re-presenting his repentance away from the streets. Perhaps, he deserves a little more time to re-invent himself. Though the late 2016 release of “Pepper dem gang”, proved to be transitory in sound and style, things remained rather street. While we pondered on these critical questions, Olamide casually and generously gave the streets one for the road, “Wo” a track very characteristically and unapologetically Olamide; upbeat, energetic, completely street in sound, style and language with a clear disregard for any international appeal or flair. Olamide dumped every attempt of changing with this track and with this Young Jon produced track is winning back the fans he might have lost in the last few months

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The “Wo” Strategy: To get into the depth of the streets, Olamide set up a challenge tagged the “Wo Challenge”, an online dance competition requiring participants to record themselves dancing to the tune, uploaded and shared using the hashtage #WoChallenge. This old marketing strategy back from the earlier online wave of D’banj’s “Oliver twist” days proved potent, presenting itself as Olamide’s saving chariot of fire. In the last month, “Wo” has transported him from the bottom of the charts back into top charts. Asides Penalty, the major street anthem of 2017 from Small Doctor, the new street hop kid on the block, no other track of this sound has received any intensive radio airplay or made it up the charts this year. Wo is the sound of season, showing a consciousness in gaining this desired result, Olamide bragged on the track saying in Yoruba “Wo on ni won wa wa n’igboro/Won ni won ti miss wa n’igboro” which translate “They say they’ve been searching for us on the streets/They say they missed us on the streets…” and now he’s back and welcomed by the most unrelenting crowd of disciples, showing love and support to the #WoMovement. For Olamide, this is another win for the streets and for better, a big win for him in a rather not-so-bright 2017.