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Emmanuel Esomnofu reviews the Latest Phyno and Olamide effort "Onyeoma". 







It was the stuff of legend. The kind of collaboration that prompted the production of merchandise – shirts, jackets, faces on the covers of locally patronized brands – and captured the attention of even the least keen.

Well, the last bit happened, and many more actually. It was everything the hand of capitalism forged it from the onset to be. This Two young men somehow struck a friendship that has developed into a unique sonical relationship across tribal barriers. 


They struck a unique sonical relationship. 


Phyno and Olamide could have been something, if they really put their minds to it. If Safe was MI's big break, Ghost Mode was no doubt theirs. Previously each man was strong in his house but it was his house. Across Africa, almost no one knew the lean man from Anambra whose tongue flexed fire and spat it each time he approached a mic. Olamide might have been shaping up to be our own Lil Wayne with that crossover appeal but Ghost Mode was needed.

Years later, they've both grown into their skins but not before releasing 2Kings, a collaborative album meant to be Hip Hop. Instead of finding the balance needed in a joint body of work, the producers created individual tracks for each of them, suited to either The Man of The Year's style or The Yahoo Boy No Laptop's. The only tracks where there seemed to be semblance of originality is the Pheelz produced tracks Cypher and Real Nigga, where both rappers go back and forth over a tuned down boom bap and the latter being a dancehall cut, solid production on which both voices thrived. The album could be called a success commercially (rightly so) but musically, you’ll hardly see a severely rushed and lazier project.



Over years, they've appeared in many tracks together and each track seems to be a recycle of the previous. Once, Phyno's singing was desirable and lustrous but now, over the same Highlife sound, saying the same things over and over again in unrefreshing ways, it has become a bore. Olamide usually comes in to be the darling of pop culture, saying a sentence in Igbo and everybody goes waoh! 


Going through their collaborations, an imminent pain awaits the listener who loved the audacity of Ghost Mode; its brash lyrics, how it let them both fly. Onyeoma, Augment and Fada Fada all sound like various parts of a very lengthy song. Borrowing from the Igbo Christian sound, Phyno is unperturbed in appropriating his tribe's music but even he should know that his best efforts are born from experimentation, as proven by the recent international collaboration tracks with Jamaican dancehall act Kranium and Nigerian born American rapper Wale. Olamide has always been in his lane, setting trends and following them, forging his unique path with his beats that are unlike any other in the industry. On paper, together, they should make awesome music. Yet…

The only time their collective energies have been fused into something worth celebrating was Local Rappers, a controversial track that downplays the importance of Hip Hop's core elements such as wordplay and punchline. Each rapper owned his verse and till today, one would be hard pressed to name a best verse. 

Nowadays, they're both ambassadors for Nigeria's Super Eagles FIFA World Cup campaign, churning out a song titled Dem Go Hear Am, once again appropriating a popular street chant, the cadences and inflections a rip off from those late nights when Nigeria seemed to be unable to sleep, existing before a TV, when our heroes in their black sweaty brilliance and their green and white jerseys made exploits far away, the likes of Taribo West, Segun Odegbami, Samson Siasia, et al. However, the idea is a marketable one and everything that sells is supposed to make sense. But it couldn't be farther from the truth. 

Releasing recycled songs makes no sense, especially when you're Olamide and you're Phyno. 2baba and Sound Sultan are frequent collaborators and even though you most expected a song of some political and social commentary, its sound will never bore you. Same goes for a Phyno and Flavour collab. Wiser could never be mistaken for Okpeke, or Authe be mistaken for something else. Yet, anytime its Phyno and Olamide, we're expecting a similar experience to what we've heard before. 

Their EP declared them kings but kings are known to demolish traces and establishments of the former administration and seek to put theirs in place. Up till their latest effort, it is exactly what Phyno and Olamide have failed to do.


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