Both heavyweight acts have a solid grip on Nigerian street-hop music, and history will definitely remember them for their contribution towards the development of the genre.
Street-hop acts Naira Marley and Asake are without a doubt poster-boys of the popular genre, who had consecutive runs by churning out back-to-back monster hits at a point in their careers, which made us wonder who had a better run.
Over the years, the Nigerian street-hop scene has continuously set a pace for the coming generation, resulting in the intense bar raised in that community. Of course, older generational talents like Daddy Showkey, Baba Fryo, Danfo Drivers, and the likes, who were strongly inspired by the slums of Ajegunle, made street music too, but it wasn’t as strong as the succeeding age, as the preceding age was diluted with a blend of reggae, resulting in blends like galala, skonto, and the likes.
As much as iconic rapper & singer Olamide might be credited as the OG face of street music, that genre has obviously been in existence before the YBNL frontline act and owner and was made popular by reputable street-hop acts like Konga, Klever Jay, Terry G, Lace, and others who stayed true to street music.
In layman’s terms, street-hop is a fusion of the “streets” and “hip-hop/pop,” which means that the slum’s identity, lingua, and hues are infused with contemporary hip-hop and pop sound and culture.
Moving forward, the Nigerian street-hop genre has produced a lot of fantastic acts that have changed the game completely, citing names like Olamide, Small Doctor, Lil Kesh, Mr. Real, Zlatan, Idowest, Bella Shmurda, Zinoleesky, Mohbad, and many others.
However, this article will be focusing its attention on Naira Marley and Asake, two artistes endorsed by the street-hop godfather Olamide, who went on to record insane runs as regards churning out hit records after hit records. Back to the question: 2019 Naira Marley or 2022 Asake: Who Had a Better Run? Can one be said to have won the race?
Marlian records frontline act and owner, Naira Marley, made an appearance on the Nigerian scene in 2017 with ‘Issa Goal’, which featured Olamide & Lil Kesh, but switched up the game completely in 2019 with an insane run of ‘Japa‘ (although released in 2018, started popping in 2019), ‘Am I A Yahoo Boy’, ‘Opotoyi‘, ‘Soapy’, ‘Mafo‘, ‘Pxta‘, ‘Tesumole’, ‘Tingasa‘, and a slew of others, bagging impressive feature runs on ‘Gobe‘, ‘Instagram‘ and ‘Sweet in the middle’ as well.
On the other hand, after signing to YBNL this year, Asake has had an insane run of ‘Omo Ope‘, ‘Sungba’, ‘Sungba ‘(Remix)‘, ‘Palazzo‘, and ‘Peace Be Unto You’, giving an impressive solo run and bagging number one with all these records on Nigeria’s Apple Music Chart.
As much as the comparison is very healthy for the culture, Naira Marley’s 2019 run cannot be touched as it metamorphosed from being a virtual movement to real life, transcending the music totally. Naira banked so much on his personality and lifestyle, and that influenced people deeply both online and offline. An obvious example is the “Marlian movement”, which birthed the “No Belt Gang”, a movement of free-will and an unruly lifestyle, which saw a lot of people mirror that image and persona at a very committed level.
Naira Marley’s EFCC Saga and the monster tune ‘Am I Yahoo Boy‘ further cemented that unapologetic personality and that got a sizeable number of fraud boys to come into the picture, who saw him as a messiah and that gave him undisputable street cred. This was a man who controlled an empire in 2019, and interestingly, due to his UK background and style, he also had the bougie kids on chokehold, especially the ones who were trying to find a balance between being “posh” and “streets”. The sociological and psychological presence and influence that Naira Marley had was a new dawn in the game and that has not been repeated by any artiste after him.
On the other hand, Asake’s run and influence cannot be undermined, especially in the music space. As much as acts like Barry-Jay and the likes have always dwelled on the neo-fuji style, Asake took it to another level with his “chanting” style, which is now being used by a lot of acts, including A-list stars like Burna Boy.
Although charting wasn’t as structured as we have now, having six songs (including a feature) become number one in the country on a back-to-back basis has to be applauded in every way. Asake’s blend of Fuji Cadence, pop music, street lingua, and attention to his instrumentation makes him a force to reckon with as one whose music penetrates across different societal statuses.
Of course, Asake’s energetic aura contributes to the buzz around him as well, but his personality and image are yet to take proper shape (which it’s recommended he works on) for people to mirror his lifestyle aside from enjoying his music, and that’s something 2019 Naira Marley had an advantage over everyone else in the game.
PS: Naira Marley also had six songs that hit number one on Apple Music in 2019.
It’s an exciting time for the Nigerian music scene and Asake’s introduction into street-hop music cannot be undermined, but is he on the same par with 2019 Naira Marley? Let’s know your thoughts.