Jun 7, 2008

Eedris and Ruggedman - An Unexpected Collabo

The synthesized sound of the electric piano filtered through my car speakers as the voice of Eedris uttered, "Rugged Man, Eedris Abdulkareem Collabo" followed by Ruggedman's voice saying "Yes oh, no be dream". I was perplexed to say the least and I quickly turned up the volume and listened with interest - to "Ko le ye won" (They can't understand), a brand new song by Eedris featuring Ruggedman.

Observers of the Nigerian music industry will recall that Eedris was once a star who reigned unchallenged. He rose into fame with several hit singles, including "Mr Lecturer" and "Jagajaga". His name on your handbill meant your show was jam packed. His CD in your station meant he got lots of airplay. Eedris' "grass to grace" story was well known, and he told everyone who cared to listen about how he was penniless and was once deported from Spain. Like him or not, you became easily aware of his outspoken and egoistic personality.

Having shared stages with different categories of musicians including the famous American Gangsta Rapper 50 Cent, Eedris started referring to himself as the best in Africa. This claim infuriated Rugged man and led to the latter's release of the track "Ehen Part one" intended to diss Eedris and several other artists, picking on his rap style and lack of skill. Eedris apparently didn't take the insult well, and he replied Ruggedman in an interview saying "Person wey diss him elders no go grow". But Pride they say goes before a fall. Some time after this, Eedris was a guest artist at a concert sponsored by Nigerian Breweries which was to hold in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. At the airport where the performers were taking a connecting flight, he entered a brawl with 50 Cent leading the latter to cut short his musical trip and go back to the US. It was bad for Nigerian Breweries as they had to cancel the Port Harcourt concert and rumors flew about how they promised to teach Eedris a lesson and make sure he received no more invitations to Nigerian concerts. Undaunted, Eedris went ahead and released "Jagajaga" which was again rumored to have infuriated the then President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.

Soon after, due to unverifiable reasons, Eedris started fading out. He became silent and less was seen of him. In a rare twist of fate, RuggedMan rose and soon became the foremost rapper in the industry. He released an album which received massive airplay and performed in concerts nationwide. While it was the rise and rise of Ruggedman, it was the rise and fall of Eedris. Like Mohammed Ali after his first fight with Joe Frazier, it was as if the loud mouthed fighter had been finally humbled and silenced.

This Collabo between Eedris and Ruggedman is bound to surprise many. Eedris' strategy of collaborating with his "enemy" makes this an interesting comeback. The song sounds good, with a beat that can compete favorably in todays market. As usual, its hard to miss the pomp and confidence that Eedris still portrays, qualities that have been majorly responsible for his success in his earlier career. In Nigeria today, there are two types of artists. Those who thrive on music skill and those who thrive on delivery techniques. A good example of the former is Styl Plus while someone like D Banj falls into the category of the latter. Eedris would fit well into the latter. He might not have much melody in his songs, but his delivery has always been superb and this he displays very well in "Ko le ye won".

The Nigerian Music Industry has changed drastically and Eedris now has to contend with the likes of 9ice, X-project (of the Lorile fame), Asha and D Banj. One thing is sure though, he is a fighter and he has lived to fight another day. The question however is - How long will he last? He has an answer - Ko le ye won.

NB: Internet Explorer users: If the player does not display, you may listen here. Firefox users should not experience any problem

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