April 22nd of every year gives music fans the opportunity to pay homage to the then rising star and the hottest rapper at that time, Da grin, who on that day lost his life in a car accident three years ago. This year’s remembrance had a twist to it as teeming fans went on the social network, Twitter, and started drawing comparisons between the dead rapper and the one many see to be his heir in the Yoruba rap genre, Olamide. While some had the view that Olamide would still have been a force to reckon with if Da grin were alive, the majority had the belief that Da grin’s death actually paved the way for Olamide as it would have been very difficult for him to break through if the reverse were the case. A few, however, chose to be on the sidelines and argued that both would still have had a fair degree of success if they were both alive.
As it is when trying to compare two people in the same field but came in different eras, it is extremely difficult to compare the two as the circumstances that prevailed during their times differ. A perfect of example of this could be seen in the football world where a fierce argument still rages till today on who is the best ever in the history of the game between the Brazilian Pele and his Argentine counterpart, Maradona. Hence, it is never a good thing to judge people of different eras.
With that difficulty noted, it could be said that when Da grin released his first album, ‘still on the matter’ in 2007, it was still a little difficult for Yoruba rappers to breakthrough to the mainstream hip hop music industry. As such, the album did not do too well in the market and it was not until he released his second album, ‘CEO’ in 2010 that he truly cemented his place at the top of the Yoruba rap genre. The reverse, however, is the case for Olamide as his first single, ‘E NI DURO’, shot him straight to the top. Ever since then, he has continued to stake his claim as the number one Yoruba rapper of his time. Nevertheless, the unfavourable conditions prevailing when Da grin released his debut album should be put into perspective as even Olamide tweeted that Da grin hustled his way to the top and Street rap is now the in-thing because of Da grin’s efforts.
Also, even though they both could be categorized as Yoruba rappers, they have a clearly distinct style to each other. Da grin is more hardcore with his delivery while Olamide is a little bit toned down but could be argued to have more punch-lines. All this is trying to point out is that though they both use Yoruba as their main language of expression, they have different styles which might not really give room for any comparisons between them.
Da grin cleared the road, no doubt, but Olamide’s talent has ensured that that genre of hip hop is here to stay. After all, there are many Yoruba rappers today and none of them are mentioned in the same breath as Da grin except Olamide. Olamide has kept Da grin’s dream alive and is the torch bearer for all others.
With all the comparisons, one thing is sure. Nigerian music is the winner to have witnessed these two great talents. Let us respect the dead and support the living. That is our duty as Nigerian music fans.