Olamide tells Pulse about YBNL Nation, pressures of fame, unreleased ‘Wonma’ video and more.
On the first part of this interview, we discussed Olamide’s current state of mind, his need to constantly evolve, and the different facets to his album, ‘Carpe Diem.’ We then threw it back to Olamide’s teenage rap group, Naughty Pound, how he met ID Cabasa, his switch from rapping in English to rapping in Yoruba and how he met Pheelz.
The conversation aimed to create an intersection between Olamide at 16 and Olamide at 31. This part aims to tell some of the stories and things that happened in between all of it.
YBNL Nation: First Wave
After Olamide left the tutelage of ID Cabasa, he founded his own label, YBNL and it has since blossomed into a ground that produces one star after another. He released his eponymous sophomore album on the label. Artists like Adekunle Gold, Lil Kesh, Chinko Ekun, Viktoh, and more formed the first wave of the label.
Describing himself as a label boss, Olamide jokes that, “Omo, I be Father Christmas o… [laughs]. As much as I can be very ‘Ijebu’ when it comes to my personal business, I try to be a father, brother and counselor to my artists because I know how hard things are out there. Sometimes, I engage tough love but usually just want to take the pressure off them.”
On whether it takes a toll on him, Olamide says, “Except I want to lie, not really because Oluwa dey bless gan [laughs]. Why not share the blessing?”
Nonetheless, he still tries to be straightforward and honest with his artists whenever necessary.
The biggest point of chatter from that wave is that there was no joint project between Olamide and artists of the first YBNL wave. He says, “My manager shares your sentiments. He tried everything to get me to make that project, but I felt like there was no point because of brand issues.
He pauses for a few seconds, readjusts to gather his thoughts and then says, “I notice how people see us at YBNL – like ‘razz’ boys and all that.
“For me, I didn’t want brands to overlap. We could have done it, but I didn’t want to risk it by burdening their respective young brands at the time. They needed their respective brands to be in their favour. Adekunle Gold was my biggest worry because we couldn’t make the album without him.
“I always tried to distance myself from his brand because he didn’t need it. If Fireboy didn’t disturb me, I wouldn’t have been on ‘Apollo.’ Like Adekunle Gold, he’s also a different brand and I didn’t want to allow my brand to rub off on him. I also wanted Lil Kesh to go shine on his own without my shadow hovering over him. That’s why I try to limit our collaboration…”
YBNL Nation: Second wave
YBNL’s second wave brought Fireboy, Lyta, Limerick, Picazo Rhap, Davolee and Yomi Blaize. He found Lyta after he met the young artist at an event in Abeokuta. He met Fireboy upon a recommendation from a friend. He found Limerick on Instagram and Davolee in the same way.
“I was trying to figure certain things out at the time. I hadn’t signed a female artist before then and I had Temmie [Ovwasa] and things weren’t going like I wanted them to,” he says. “I just wanted to help them, not really do business with them and I told all of them. When I started shooting videos for them, I felt I couldn’t handle it all at once because body dey scratch those boys. So I structured it…”
That was why he released the YBNL Mafia Family album. He says, “Even while we were trying to release the YBNL Mafia Family album, some drama happened but I found a way to quell it. By the time Fireboy started blowing up, everything just turned upside down for reasons I don’t understand.
“I was convinced to sign Fireboy because he was different and it was a smart business decision to make. But [says in Yoruba], children will act like children and adults must act accordingly. Maybe their hunger got the best of them and I get it. It’s all love though and they know it.”
The album produced ‘Jealous’ for Fireboy and things never remained the same again. The rest of the kids ended up leaving the label, one after the other.
YBNL Mafia Family ft. Olamide – Oke Suna
Olamide Oke Suna
The album also produced Olamide’s ‘Oke Suna.’ A lot of people felt it should have had a video. But when questioned about it, Olamide could barely remember the record and who can blame him? He has released 11 bodies of work with a lot of songs – at least nine songs each.
He says, “Baba, God dey give us… Na our prayer be that. See… [thinks for two seconds] I don’t know what happened with that song [laughs]. I don’t know… I don’t know…”
In January 2020, Olamide just suddenly announced his EP, ‘999.’ The art was good, but the music wasn’t the best.
“Bro see… The truth is, I was bored [laughs]. I was coming off a 2019 where I didn’t drop an album because I was fully focused on Fireboy and I just felt like dropping something. I was like, ‘These Fireboy videos nor go finish?’ [laughs] so I called the producers and I was just catching cruise on that EP,” He jokes.
“Now, you can say that we were trying to experiment with it because it ended up teaching me a lot of lessons but I was really just catching cruise. It came out because we felt it could be something that people wanted to hear from Olamide,” he continued.
999 EP: Fame is a trap
But even as Olamide was just playing, two pungent songs came off that EP, ‘Wonma’ and the amazing ‘Rich and Famous’ which is one of Olamide’s best records ever. On ‘Rich and Famous,’ Olamide says, “I guess it came from how I have a few people around me who are comfortable enough to tell me certain things, like even their biggest problems.
“I’m talking about my friends in the industry who are going through a lot of stuff but can’t come out to say anything about it because, ‘celebrity.’ A lot of stuff people are going through a lot out there, bro – I dedicated it to them. I just pray God gives them the wisdom, strength and grace to overcome it. But trust me man, fame is a trap – it can make you feel like superman.
“Even when you don’t want to feel that way, people want to make you feel that way by asking too much from you and making you feel that way. I just needed to make people wake up. Guy! You be human being o, nor kill yourself for anybody [laughs hard]. On the real though… [shrugs].”
However, Olamide doesn’t care whether ‘Rich and Famous’ is one of his best songs or not. He jokes, “I just leave that to God and fans to decide. Baba, e nor dey finish o [laughs]. Me I go dey load dey go…”
999 EP: The unreleased ‘Wonma’ video
Off the same EP came the explicit ‘Wonma.’ The song was catching up to the Nigerian mainstream, but a video for it never dropped. Olamide says a video was shot for the video but it was never released.
Olamide has been living like 30 since he was 25 – or even younger. He says, “I’ve been responsible and disciplined all my life. Nothing has really changed, but I used to party a whole lot! way back… [laughs] I stopped that though. It became an unprofitable venture”
He’s never been one for the spotlight or casual events out of his house or anything like that. His reason, “I think it’s because I’m always creating something… As we speak now, I’m on project 2021. If God gave us the gift, we must make him happy by improving on it and using it. We can’t be like those people in the parables [sings sunday school song and laughs].
“E still dey and I want to leave this game empty…You never know who my music can inspire, man. I know how much music has inspired me. I live, eat, breathe and sleep music and a lot of people are like that even if they are not creating it. When everything is going crazy and I need a father figure, I listen to Jigga [Jay Z]. Music is a dynamic…”
At 31, he’s just trying to make the best of everything. He got his deal with EMPIRE after people doubted his ability to get an international deal. He never felt they were right, but now life continues…
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