There’s only so much dedication to the craft an artist needs to stay on the musical radar for an entire decade. UY SCUTI, Olamide’s second album in less than a year, keeps the momentum going and this is evident in the rapper’s remarkable evolution. 2020’s Carpe Diem was a defining album for the superstar, piercing through a new generation of music lovers focused on sleek hooks and aesthetics.
“Hustle gat me high steady grinding for the dough” is the opening line of Olamide’s latest studio album, and rightly so. Olamide has maintained a consistency unlike any other Nigerian artist in the last decade, whether out of hustle or sheer love for the art. With this new album, the veteran rapper continues flirting with a plethora of production styles and genres and has come a long way from the 23-year old hip-hop artist who was “fucking with the devil…no condom” back in the day. With three bodies of work in the last two years, Olamide now sets his sights on the stars following the success of Carpe Diem.
Often cutting up pieces of himself to offer the listeners, he is very intentional about the first words that make up his bodies of work. The album opener, “Need For Speed”, reflects the dichotomy of the rich and poor in Lagos and the desire for a broke boy to be a better rich man. The artist reveals that he, too, has fallen short in some ways after achieving his stardom but maintains his guilt, striving to remain grounded. He sings softly over a warm and inviting beat, his voice as the main highlight affirming the sincerity in his confessions, almost sequel like to the opener to his 999 EP, where he raps: “The hood is a hell, so I’m never going back. Being rich is heaven on earth.” One thing is certain, Olamide is on another level, and he is very aware of this fact without coming off as siddity or entitled.
After the solemn intro, the veteran wastes no time. The next four songs are somewhat of a suite as he flirts with Afro- Caribbean styles with each progression. By track five, “Rough Up”, it’s a full-blown party featuring Nigerian dancehall singer Layydoe, as the two sing suggestively over a slick bass.
It’s no news that Olamide has a keen eye for talent. Often taking on youngins in the industry to fill up slots in his work, UY SCUTI is no different. Recruiting Fave, Layydoe and Jaywillz, three artists that have garnered significant buzz this past year, seems like a very intentional move from the star as they are undeniably gifted individuals. The pairing with longtime friend and collaborator Phyno on “Somebody” also makes for a worthwhile listen as the two sing calmly about wanting love. This also marks the first time most songs in an Olamide album are directed to the woman as a subject. Nine out of the ten songs that make up UY SCUTI are being sung to a woman. Without diving too deep into this, it is worthwhile to note that the veteran has never sounded better, seeping confidence and warmth with each lyric and flow.
For the lovers of indigenous rap music, there remains the argument that Olamide just may have left his trademark sounds behind for good. With the outburst of carefree talents like Naira Marley and Zlatan onto the scene, the people’s spotlight hovered on their godfather as they awaited his next move. After his 2017 album, Lagos Nawa!, he has not released an album “for the boys” comprising uptempo tracks and an aggressive tone. Sure, there was “Poverty Die” in 2018 and “Oil and Gas” and “Pawon” in 2019, but they never made it onto any album and were solely singles. While this may present itself as a valid argument, its flaw lies on the artist himself. If anything, Olamide has proved himself something a musical chameleon, embracing several genres and fitting in perfectly. While it may seem that he has settled into a more solemn sound, Olamide is too versatile for us to get comfortable with any particular sounds of his because he might surprise us again in the future.
At 28 minutes long, UY SCUTI seems to be a conscious effort, coming right under the half-hour mark. It’s a quick listen and channels older Dancehall playlists, which the artist has revealed on occasion inspired the album greatly. With nothing left to lose, and nothing more to prove, Olamide is now more self-aware than ever. He isn’t competing for any titles or numbers. Gracefully crossing over into legend status, he’s free to sonically experiment all he wants, and so far, he’s been brilliant at it.