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Olamide genre-bending “IKIGAI (生き甲斐)” EP review

Olamide genre-bending “IKIGAI (生き甲斐)” EP review

Nigerian rapper Olamide Adedeji has unveiled his latest project, a seven-track EP titled “IKIGAI (生き甲斐)” (Reason for Being). This marks Olamide’s first release of 2024, following the critically acclaimed “Unruly” album in 2023.

The title “IKIGAI,” a Japanese concept signifying purpose in life, reflects the project’s thematic exploration of love, ambition, self-discovery, and artistic growth. The EP showcases Olamide’s signature blend of Afrobeat with contemporary influences, solidifying his position as a versatile and influential figure in the Nigerian music scene.

Read also: Olamide’s new project IKIGAI (生き甲斐) and what it means

“IKIGAI (生き甲斐)” features a range of guest artists, including frequent collaborators Fireboy DML and Asake, alongside established names like Pheelz, Young Jonn, and Lil Kesh. The project highlights Olamide’s commitment to collaboration, which is evident in the reunion with Lil Kesh, a former signee of Olamide’s YBNL Nation Records.

The EP’s lead single, “Uptown Disco,” features Lil Kesh, a fellow rapper and one-time signee of YBNL Nation Records, after years of exiting the YBNL record to become independent.

In this track, Olamide flashes back to his journey when he started his music career, acknowledging how his song has become globally recognised before him. He describes the blessings received so far as heavenly with no stress, as his music continues to be “loud and deafening.”

The song also features homages to prominent Nigerian footballer Asisat Oshoala and Norwegian striker Erling Haaland and the riches of the football world.

Olamide’s admiration for American rapper Tupac Shakur is reflected in a track titled “Makaveli,” another name used by Tupac. The song further exemplifies Olamide’s willingness to incorporate influences beyond music, with references to athletes Obafemi Martins and Usain Bolt.

The EP delves into romantic themes on tracks like “Hello Habibi” and “Knockout.” “Hello Habibi” expresses devotion and a desire to shower a lover with luxury, while “Knockout” features a more playful exploration of physical attraction.

Olamide’s reverence for musical forebears is evident in his interpolation of the classic Paul Play Dairo song “Mo wa dupe” on the track “Morowore.” Here, Olamide echoes Dairo’s sentiments of gratitude while offering encouragement to young listeners and nostalgia to older generations of listeners.

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“IKIGAI (生き甲斐)” showcases Olamide’s ability to blend established sounds with fresh ideas seamlessly. The project will likely solidify his reputation as a leading voice in African music and a cultural icon who transcends genre boundaries.

The critical reception and commercial success of the EP remain to be seen, but “IKIGAI (生き甲斐)” promises to be a significant addition to Olamide’s already impressive discography.