ORITSE FEMI-THE LAST GHETTO SOLDIER STANDING?
As reggae spread and evolved in Nigeria, a complementary sister brand, ragamuffin sprung up and dominated most parties and clubs in the 90’s. The Nigeria ghetto embraced ragga music as it is called whole heartedly albeit customized with pidgin and street slangs.
Other regular features of this genre are: exaggerated bass voice, outlandish dance steps, crazy outfits, heavy kicks in the beat and the feel good nature generally. A notoriously popular hub for this genre of music in Lagos at the time was Ajegunle where a few artistes struggled to gain fame. Amongst them were; Mighty Mouse and Remy, Tony Thunder, Daddy Fresh, Pupa Sunny, late Father U Turn, Yellowman Denny, Kupa Victory, Marvelous Benjy, Flekta Man,Danfo Drivers which comprised Mad Melon & Mountain Black, and several others.
It was Daddy Showkey who eventually got the overwhelming attention of music lovers nationwide in 1998 with his single;‘Somebody Call My Name’.
The attraction for fans then was his blatant pride and display of his ghetto origin. He flaunted it so much so that one couldn’t help but reckon with him. Showkey indeed set new standards for the ghetto soldiers whether or not he was talented seemed quite insignificant because what he lacked in talent, he made up for in showmanship.
He popularized the dance style known today as galala’. In 1999 Baba Fryo came on board and took the game to another level with his Denge Pose single, however his reign was very short lived. The love for Fryo never really translated to huge figures from record sales and sold out concerts even when he had a couple of hits to his credit.
That same year, African China set the bar higher with his conscious music despite being from the Orile ghetto and not Ajegunle. China sang about societal ills with great melody and his songs were a major hit until he had his London Fever fiasco in 2006 that seemed to slow the tempo a bit.
One other artiste, Ekwe became popular for his single ‘Sample’ and he tried desperately to make a mark in 2007. Eventually his efforts paid off when he clinched a brand ambassadorial deal with one of the leading telecommunication giants in Nigeria. The contract has since lapsed and Ekwe’s whereabouts is relatively unknown. The lacuna created by his mysterious disappearance set the stage for the entrance of Oritsefemi, a talented act with a steady eye on conscious music.
He made heavy impact in the industry with songs like ‘Elewon’ (Pursue Dem) and ‘Mercies of the Lord’, which earned him instant public acceptance even though some were not quite sure if embracing ‘razzness’ was still a fad. The unrelenting Oritsefemi went on to record a remix of the latter with the late Dagrin and Rymzo and the song gained more mass appeal because of its satirical undertone which was employed addressing some issues of national concern.