In the late hours of February 18, 2020, legendary Nigerian rapper, Olamide Adedeji announced that his label, YBNL Nation had signed a deal with Empire Distribution.
In one breath, Olamide announced new albums from himself and Fireboy DML while also thanking his fans for their patience. The excitement in Olamide was palpable, it was almost like he had what he had been waiting on for a long time. The pictures from the deal were also like a big vindictive moment for Olamide.
Why was Olamide excited about the deal?
1.) International record deals are now all the rage for Nigerian artists. First, it’s the greatest evidence that ‘afrobeats to the world’ has not left an artist of Olamide’s standing behind. Second, most people in Olamide’s ‘set’ have signed one or more foreign record deals with foreign record labels. With fans, it was like Olamide – who is largely on par with Wizkid in Nigeria – is struggling to match his mates.
2.) For a long time, a lot of Nigerian fans have criticized Olamide for his supposed ‘rigidity’ – rapping in Yoruba. They have also ignorantly argued that the language barrier is why Olamide has struggled to properly scale as an artist. To them, ‘afrobeats to the world’ needs people with flexible means of expression to truly resonate.
Some fans see the deal as vindication for Olamide
As much as it strikes me that people argue that language barrier impedes Olamide, I also find it it hilarious that people argue that Olamide shamed everybody the naysayers by getting a record deal. It’s almost like these people think Olamide is now home free now that he has an international deal. Well, they are wrong.