In Nigerian Hip-hop’s History, there might never be another Rap artist who reached the musical excellence Dagrin (Oladapo Olaitan Olaonipekun), got to. I have listened to his albums more times than I can count and I know every song and every line on his twelve tracked sophomore masterpiece by heart. Every time I re-listen to C.E.O (Chief Executive Omoita), I cannot get enough of how brilliant the tape is, in fact, it is more than a tape, it is a movie.
Dagrin came into the Nigerian musical Industry with a street swag of parts of Lagos known for thug life, from Isale Eko to Mushin to Shitta to the slums in Ojuelegba, where Wizkid represents; it was hard for people not to relate to a splitting image of the street life of Lagos, just like it is so hard to refuse Wizkid a listen.
Dagrin was Lagos, Dagrin was the streets.
Dagrin in his genius stitched a musical quilt about the base and rock bottom life of Lagosians. If you listen to C.E.O (Chief Executive Omoita), every single track, every single bar laid on the beats is a splitting image of the Lagos orientation, it hits you in form of an advice and also a threat to your life at the same time, its Gidi.
Dagrin’s C.E.O album can be split into five parts.
LIFE AND STRUGGLES:
Ghetto Dream: In this song, Dagrin explains the struggles of the average Nigerian Joe who aspires to be more than what he was born and brought up in. It is the dream of every guy in the ghetto to leave with his family to better parts of the city and Dagrin limned what it felt like. In Ghetto dream Dagrin spoke about the limitations of the Nigeria dream, where when men dream of a better life and sometimes never want to wake up because living in a dream is better than reality. The beat is soulful with snares and chords harmonizing in the background while Dagrin raps about his plight.
Every day: Lagos is hard-knock life and so nobody has time to waste, that is the history of the hustle and bustle, the go slow, the anger and the noise. Lagos is a place of hard work and every day the Nigerian Joe wakes up and goes out in the streets to hustle for his daily bread even if he doesn’t feel like, Lagos compels diligence. On Everyday Dagrin seems calm on the beat but his bars are frustrated with the condition of things in his environment, he speaks about his hustle so far and his daily life as average Lagosian, the bittersweet feeling of it and the need to stay strong, one of my favourites.
Pon, Pon, Pon: We were all young with impressionable minds when the video for pon, pon, pon came on the air. I remember vividly how I sat it transfixed to the chair I sat on staring at everything I loved about Lagos in front of me. In Pon, pon, pon, everything was caught and depicted about what you need to know about Lagos, Nigeria. The daytime scenes of the video featured boys in the hood in dirty clothes, young people in their twenties and thirties gallivanting in the slum and going about their daily lives, and the night time scenes displayed the toxic masculinity of Lagos boys with fire burning in the background and men holding arms as if ready for a street gang fight. In This song Dagrin laid to rest one of what I consider the best of Sossick beat, it was so sick.
Kondo Magic: Kondo magic stick was what cool kids sang before “Netflix and Chill” became a thing on the internet, and on the internet, every girl testifies that if you visit a Lagos’s boy’s house you will get Netflixed. A big part of Dagrin’s career is influenced by 50 cent and it is obvious with the Kondo Magic stick euphemism used to represent Dagrin’s penis and the effect it has on women, same as 50 cent did in his song Magic stick.
Swag (Fi le): Being on the streets Dagrin felt he was the lowest but getting into the industry he saw how good he was and then he covered himself with a cloak of confidence. You can tell Dagrin became cocky. In swag Dagrin talked about the new life he was living and how good he lived it, the background of the track features men yelling “Fi le” a form of greeting among Lagosians to people in regards to someone’s enjoying himself.
Make Doe: Chase the dream and never the money because when the dream hits it comes with its riches. In this track, Dagrin starts the song with so much brio asking rappers why he is the best and they haven’t crowned him king of the rap game. He went on to rap more in Yoruba about the success and wealth he had acquired after the realisation of his music dreams. In the song, Dagrin sounded confident in himself, fresh, fly, comfortable and not stressed by the struggles of his past life. He featured Dark Poet who held his own on the beat and they end the song shouting out cities in Nigeria, it defined hip-hop.
Igboro: This is a movie about how an average Joe found success and the hood went crazy. In this song, Dagrin was talked about he became popular in the hood and how even with the fame and achievements he has acquired it doesn’t change him from who he used to be. Dagrin featured Isolate on this track who also talked about (in Yoruba), the ready to die lifestyle of people in the hood and how despite the fame and money they were still that same ready to die people in the music industry. Dagrin ends the songs calling out most of his nicknames (Lyrical werey, Lyrical trouble, Guru…).
Hola-hola: What comes with fame is a lot of opinions and side talks about what a person is about and in Hola-hola Dagrin explained what he was going through with his new found fame, what the people expected of him, and what the ladies, especially, wanted from him. To properly limn a picture of his predicament Dagrin in his musical brilliance used puns and rhymes in Yoruba ending only in “eh” pronunciation.
“Awon eyan won ba rimi bo se wan ma hala/Won nii Grin baba omo mehn o ti’e kala
Bi mo se lo rap fi da wahala sile/Ela ode, ke ma yile
Ke file, omo ibile/Ijile, kilonsele, Lati Eko de Ipale/ Farabale, e se feyin hale…”
Thank God: At a time when Pon, Pon, Pon was still hot on the streets Dagrin released “Thank God” featuring the vocal brilliance of Nigerian singer Omowunmi who gave the song a more soulful feel. Lagos, Nigeria, being a pious country welcomed the song with open arms and showed appreciation via serial radio and TV airplay, it became the anthem. After struggling and finding success, losing himself in his success Dagrin in a moment of sobriety went back into the booth to rap about how good his life is in a way of showing appreciation to everything that brought him to the limelight.
A SONG FOR THE LADIES:
Idin la: Idin la is a song for the ladies. Fela made a song about Lagos women and how voluptuous behind (Particulars), was the destruction of every man, and Dagrin expressed the same sentiments in Idin la. Idin la also represents Lagos nightlife and the club scene, low lights and fine women flinging their very big particulars and making the hearts of the boys skip four beats, and it is also about Dagrin finally getting all the women he couldn’t because he was broke.
Iwofa: Being the star that Dagrin was, he became a target of hate and harsh criticisms. He was famous with the blogs and news updates about his life and his excesses and in response Dagrin put his mouth in a song. An artist always gives a response to their critics and with Iwofa Dagrin spoke directly to his critics with impressible vocal backup from Bigiano.
Dagrin was nothing but a genius; he exceeded expectations and raised the bar higher than any other Nigerian artist has ever done with productions from Sossick, Sarz, Tfrizzle and Dr Frabz. We lost a legend.