May. 16, 2019





One Nigerian rapper is hoping to breach cultural barriers with the power of music.


Olamide Adedeji, known by his stage name of Olamide, is a hip hop recording artist. He records mostly in Yoruba, his native tongue. He has been nominated for numerous awards including multiple Nigeria Entertainment Awards, the Headies, MTV Africa, and Channel O awards, amongst others.

What is the main challenge for an artist like you to become so successful with a weak infrastructure?

First of all, any artist who wants to succeed in Nigeria must have a strong character to overcome the challenging structure here. For me, it was about arranging finances, but fortunately, I met a producer that was interested in my project and brand, so he offered me a recording deal to produce an album. After recording the album, I went straight into the spotlight. A large sum of money is needed to record, promote, and make a video for a song; therefore, it is difficult for upcoming artists that do not have any support.

How long did it take for you to be where you are now?

My music career started in 2000 and I met a producer in 2005. I worked with him until 2010, when I was able to record my first official single. The majority of artists are only able to make waves in the industry after two albums or 10 songs, but luckily for me, my first single turned out to be a huge hit.

How has piracy affected your sales?

Piracy is the number-one problem in the music industry because the artist does not make any money out of it. Since there are no ways to eliminate this practice, sometimes it is better to give the album to illegal vendors in order to increase the hype. On a positive note, iTunes has really made things easier for artists and we hope more music-streaming services, such as Spotify and Tidal, will soon start their operations in Nigeria, which would significantly help the local music industry and benefit the artists.

Why has the industry not yet evolved into a business with an appropriate structure?

There are way too many issues in Nigeria that occupy people's minds, meaning we need to adopt a more serious approach in order to evolve.

You sing mostly in Yoruba; do you think that could be a constraint for international markets?

That is not true because music breaches all boundaries. For example, I do not understand the language in which Daddy Yankee sings but I love his music. So, I don't think language is a barrier, as long as the music is appealing to the soul and ears.

Are you planning to capitalize on featuring more international artists in your songs?

I am still working on my plans while trying to discover myself some more and building my own brand. I want people to love my songs for what they are and not because I did some collaboration with a famous artist; however, if I have the opportunity to work with international artists, I would definitely grab it.

Whose role is it to develop the music industry in Nigeria?

In my view, the government has a major role, because at the end of the day, we musicians are paying taxes. Although the government is not entirely responsible, it can help in terms of investors, people who can help develop the industry, and companies who can build the structure for the Nigerian music industry.

What is your outlook for 2019?

I have recently signed a couple of artists, Lyta, Limerick, Fire Boy, Picazo & Yomi Ika to my record label, so 2019 is going to be mostly about putting the record out there and pushing their talent for more media exposure. For this project I will be focused on the production side but it might include some singles from me as well as more collaborations.