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I was at the mainland block party last night and it was heavenly. Although I can’t say the same for the acts that were committed at the event. The party was brimming with people who had united to drink, dance, party, socialize and to the watch their favorite artists perform. That was usually the highlight of the night. Fast-rising acts like Oxlade, Blaqbonez, Fireboy DML rocked the stage and sent electric waves through the audience. Ycee also performed and held it down quite well. The night appeared to have reached its peak until something happened: Zlatan Ibile came on the stage and the crowd went haywire. The audience sang gleefully as he excitedly performed his hit songs. Zlatan Ibile was the star boy of the night.
I reckon that Zlatan Ibile is the one to connect the bridge between street pop and mainstream. The rapper is known for popularizing the Zanku sound and its accompanying dance.
Where Small Doctor, Slimcase, Mr. Real failed to take a leap, I believe that Zlatan would flourish. Zanku is currently on the rise and is gaining momentum in pop culture. A number of people have hinted that Zlatan would end up as his predecessors did; enjoy massive attention for a short while before fate changes hands. Street pop is huge. There is a myriad of sounds and dance styles in the innermost parts of streets in Lagos. The audience is wide as it happens to mostly be the ghetto-like areas in Lagos. Over time, Olamide has been instrumental in introducing sounds that emanate from the street to pop culture.
I would not necessarily mention the parts where Small Doctor, Slimcase, Mr. Real, 2tee Boiz failed. What I intend to do, however, is note the advantages on Zlatan’s end. It might not be guaranteed as the Nigerian music industry is highly unpredictable, but it’s definitely something to be considered.
Unlike many of the artists the streets have produced, Zlatan looks like he was destined to be an artist. That might appear insignificant yet it matters. Zlatan has been a Yoruba rapper from way back in his Moshood Abiola Polytechnic days. His tenacity and creativity have kept him strong and helped him gain relevance in only a short time. Popular music journalist, Joey Akan, earlier this year, tipped that Zlatan might truly have a chance to break fully into mainstream and cement a place for himself as the voice of the street without altering his sound and style. It appears unlikely but if Zlatan keeps bringing unique and fresh sounds from the streets then he might end up being the one. Being a rapper, he could fully make the transition to join the likes of Olamide, CDQ, Reminisce.
Another angle to explore is the fact that compared to Shaku Shaku, Zanku can hardly be replicated without the input of Zlatan. Virtually all the songs that have revolved around Zanku have had Zlatan on them. From Chinko Ekun to Davido to Burna Boy, artists have had to collaborate with Zlatan to ride the Zanku wave. Although some have managed to rework the sound and adapt to other sounds (like Olamide in Woske) it’s obvious that Zlatan has the finishing touch. This is a strong edge as we would have to go to Zlatan if we are to completely enjoy a song that feeds off the Zanku style.
Until people tire from Zanku and the sound fades away, Zlatan Ibile would plausibly stay relevant. As long as the sound remains quality and original, Zlatan will stay unchallenged for some time.
I believe in Zlatan. I have watched him perform on a few occasions and his energy is massive and almost surreal. His style is unique and he has the appearance of an artist who seems ready to take over. He has collaborated with distinguished acts and has the potential to jump on beats as a Yoruba rapper. He has invested heavily in the quality of his music and has put out captivating visuals so far. The man looks as though he wants more than the temporary fame street pop acts get. Maybe he is truly the one.