Backtrack to this time in 2008, 9ice had released his album “Gongo Aso” earlier in the year to much acclaim. The album had been promoted by just one single, the title track of the album but fans were treated to an array of much more beautiful tunes off his album.
Four years, four albums and one wife after, he has attained a “boss” status in the music industry although it cannot be argued that his popularity (his fame is still intact though) has declined mainly due to the fact that he has not been able to better his magnum opus, “Gongo Aso”.
However, due to the fact that he is mostly in a class of his own and seemingly has his own sub-genre under the broad and indistinct umbrella of “Nigerian/Yoruba Traditional”, he still has a faithful fan base that it may be said have few options if they decide to ditch 9ice’s music.
And that is what this post is about.
9ice’s boastful and seemingly prophetic song off his “Gongo Aso” Album, “Photocopy” ( which actually happens to be my favorite song off the album and probably my favorite 9ice song till date) seemed to foresee the fact that a new crop of artistes would try to duplicate his style of music and the pugnacious statements he made to that effect in the song’s chorus; “Photocopy ko easy / you can never be like me, this is my identity/ teni’n teni, tekisa’n ta atan/ apa lara, igunpa ni iye kan/ Oba oro, Adigun baale, alapomeji/ erinlakatabu baale, alapo plenty”, underlie this.
(Fortunately for non-Yoruba readers, 9ice sang the part we are commenting upon in this post in English. The Yoruba part just drives home the point with a couple of proverbs and self-aggrandizing statements).
And a lot of artistes have indeed attempted to “photocopy” 9ice.
While most have failed out right and they are forever forgotten of the pages of history, a few of them have indeed done fairly well and deserve mention.
Jaywon, the Kennis Music star was certainly cast as a 9ice “photocopy” when the 9ice fever was at its highest pitch. After making a name for his riding on the “he sounds like 9ice” phenomena, Jaywon promptly (and I think wisely) approached his music from a slightly different perspective and he has done well for himself releasing a series of well received singles and features. His first album didn’t seem to be particularly well received but the future still looks bright for him.
Of all the 9ice photocopies, there’s none who deserves recognition more than Isolate Arafada. Not only have his musical turnouts been excellent when he is in his elements, the sheer resemblance of his voice to that of 9ice is simply shocking. I actually had a heated argument with a friend that it was 9ice who did the hook of Stidman’s fairly successful single “Binu Binu” and almost placed a bet before I realized my error!
Isolate however seems to have a problem with consistency as his musical turnout has been low. It’s as if he does music as a part time thing. His delightfully “razz” liquor inspired “Igo kan” released last year is his last hit single although he has since released one or two singles subsequently.
As I type this post, I am playing Tupengo’s “Oyashi”. My sister came into my room and says, “Is that 9ice’s latest song?” I tell her it’s a new guy called Tupengo and even as at the time of writing this, she doesn’t believe me yet. I think I’ll have to play the song’s video which I have right here on my PC for her when I’m done!
That’s how much Tupengo sounds like 9ice in style and voice. His rough but sultry voice and catchy tunes have especially been utilized to give several rap songs that “hit element”. He has potential to at least be a B-rated artiste and except on few occasions when he spits out crammed Yoruba proverbs which have no bearing whatsoever on the theme of the song, he delivers fairly well consistently.
For the most part, I don’t think it’s a particularly favorable choice trying to walk in the footsteps of someone like 9ice who is almost idolized by devout fans. Comparison with 9ice will always supersede and hinder such a person’s talent.
Feeding off his(9ice) reputation may help in growing a career based on the “he sounds like 9ice” phenomenon, but the artiste should work towards carving a separate niche for himself after he has his feet on the ground.
On the flip side, 9ice is aging physically and musically, his talent is obviously dwindling (I know some of his devout fans will disagree but the stats speak clearly, how many shows does he headline nowadays? How many nominations or awards has he picked up of recent? How many songs charts are his songs topping or even getting into nowadays? There was a time when he regularly mentioned he wanted to win a Grammy, is he even in contention by any chance now?) and nature demands that he will be replaced sooner or later.
The next few years will speak for themselves for both 9ice and his “photocopies”, but as for now, 4 years after his big break, there is none up to the task –just yet.
Your comments will be appreciated.
Happy new year in advance.