The year 2020 has been a rollercoaster for Olamide, he ended the last decade as arguably one of the top three artistes of the decade. He kicked off the new year with the release of his EP called 999, before the EP dropped, there were indications that it was going to be “proper hip-hop album” and he was going to finally shut the mouth of “hip-hop heads” who had questioned his pen game and the route he has taken throughout his illustrious career.
Like always, music fans were on different sides of the spectrum on what to expect from the project. Olamide fans even argued if the EP were critically acclaimed, he would cement and certify his position as the greatest Nigerian hip-hop artist of all time. But the EP was subpar for the standard which he had set for himself which then opened him up to criticism and then like clockwork his doubters started calling him a local champion; some of his peers have been able to crack the international scene a little bit. He had said so many times that he does not seek the white man’s approval and was not going to change for anybody, if it was ever going to happen it would be on his own terms and time.
On the 19th of February 2020, his self-owned label which also has Fireboy on its roster, signed a deal with Empire distribution company. Shortly after, Olamide fans jumped on the internet to share their joy about the deal and that their local rapper can secure the bag without changing his style. This was a huge win not just for the YBNL boss but for any artist joining his label and those on his roster. The partnership birthed the release of Fireboy’s sophomore album: APOLLO. Next, we got the first single “Eru” of Olamide’s 11th project.
Carpe Diem which was released on 8th September 2020 exactly a month away from the project release date, ‘’Eru’’ received a mixed review and the second single was “Greenlight” released a week before the project dropped. Rollouts and narratives around albums are as important as the music these days and with fans’ attention span that keeps shortening as the day goes by, it is very important that marketing of the music must be just as good as the music itself. The rollout for Carpe Diem was not great and it could have been a better job, hopefully post-album rollout would be better.
Olamide opens the album with the song “Another Level” where he tells his haters and doubters that he doesn’t need their validation. He reflects on his journey from being a CEO at 22 and people complaining that he was doing too much to looking back at what he has achieved now; he is very aware of everything happening around him. To this writer I think it is an exceptionally fine way to start off the project. The second track titled “Greenlight” this writer thinks it should not have been pushed as a single, though it sits well on the project.
One of the standout tracks on the project “Infinity” produced by the amazing P.Prime who is having a stellar year and produced about 60% of the album, laid the pass to Omah Lay to do whatever he wants with it. He glides on the song effortlessly and when Omah Lay gets into his sexual bag and starts painting those vivid sexual utterances, he enters a league of his own. Olamide did not disappoint at all as he came in with his A-game too. Both singers know what she wants and are ready to give it to her till infinity. “Eru” another women and luxury lifestyle influenced track; this track has Fireboy influence written all over it.
After a hattrick of lifestyle and women influenced tracks, he takes us back to an introspective Olamide where we saw gleams of on “Another Level” with the help of Bella Shmurda which feels like one of those moments when Messi assists Suarez for a goal and Suarez pays back the kind gesture in the same game. On Bella shmurda street anthem of 2019 “Vision 2020” (remix) where they both paint a very vivid reality of a ghetto youth and how he must do anything to make it out of the street.
A year later, the youngie’s life has changed for the better and he sings on triumphant “man ah triumphant and I’ve been through a lot, many people wrote me off but God no gree, kole dayan mo o” and Olamide also reflects on his journey thus far and how he lost the people closest to him just when he had finally made it “but odun mi gan when I just start to hammer daddy fo shanle, mummy ku omo fe mad; how could it be now I was waiting for answer mofedaku mio le gbagbe gbogbo suffer tati suffer” and then he speaks on how he went through different phases of grieve and people thought It was him swagging out but he had to ‘sanju’ for his family and for the ghetto youth “changing the narrative for the ghetto youth o le wa lati ghetto ko ni sense ko de wa classy”.
On the next track “At your service” he quickly moves into the mindset of finding a lover and making new friends to just kickstart his life again and like clockwork Baddo is back to his party self on the Young John produced track “Do Better” taking us back to Shakiti Bobo era. Shoutout to the A&R on this project, it has been a flawless experience until the transition to “Chimichanga”. Though it could have been better, this is one of those album filers that if taken out, I do not think we would have missed it.
On “Shilalo” he features one of his favorite collaborators, Phyno; I love the dynamic and chemistry between the pair, but this was not one of their finest moments. After a stellar and flawless first half of this album, it just went downhill from there but what a way to end it with a hattrick of bangers. “Loading” is this writer’s favorite song on the album and what a year Bad Boy Timz is having “o shock won ba kan”. The chorus so contentious, has the right balance in the messaging between a motivational song and lamba. “NDDC MD malo daku Nawo yehn tan yema kaku o shishe logbaowo ase oya laju owo opor lon san konshe eni to lagun”.
“Unconditionally” is such a beautiful love song of assurance to one’s spouse and Peruzzi did magic with that infectious hook and controlled the lyrical composition which made it different from what we have heard from most tracks on this album. What a way to end the album with the next superstar he has been nurturing; Fireboy can do no wrong for this writer when he starts chanting on a song. On “Plenty” we get a self-aware Olamide just like on the first track, he’s been through it all.
The production throughout this project is ridiculously good and from the opening track, Olamide explains the album. He does not care about people’s validation and he is unmoved about the crossover talk and we also saw him get vulnerable a couple of times. But this writer cannot help but think that his partnership with Empire is to open him up to a new and larger audience as much as possible and it’s very commendable he did not change his style but does this album really do that? I am not sure, I guess time will tell.
This is the first Olamide album without any hit going in and the chances of getting one to match the standard he has already set for himself is slim, but this project is one of his finest and cohesive works, the best body we have gotten from him in the last 4 years and whether you think he is the greatest hip-hop artist of all time or not, Olamide has stamped his name in the history books and he is a legend.