Sometime in the early 2000’s, the originators of the hugely successful reality show “American Idol” considered the idea of a spin off called “Second Chance Idol”. The new show was meant to create a platform that would offer once hot and admired stars another chance at the big stage.
But I sit here thinking to myself, what then happens if the Idol gets the second chance but remains stuck in his past? What happens if they are unable to understand the workings of the current industry and are insistent on the tales and tactics that led to their candle being snuffed in the first place? That person becomes a washed up Idol. That is the fate that seems to have befallen Afro hip-hop pioneer Eedris Abdulkareem.
The veteran rapper was in the news recently but this time not for his ever vociferous political stance or the release of a new hit single. In a recent interview, the “Mr. Lecturer“ rapper once again attacked fellow artist 2face Idibia for what he termed ‘disrespect’ and putting his hand in a protest he knows nothing about.
In his words:
Who you be, you dey mad, you don forget say na Blackface dey write all your hits?
Eedris Abdulkareem Ajenifuja is one name that resonates across homes nationwide. With his distinct towel and unmistakable brand, he commanded mass appeal and a fan base that preceded the internet age. His over 15 year long career has experienced highs, lows, challenges and controversies but the latter has been the major theme of his entire professional life.
The rapper who was raised in Kano has seen it all. He got deported from Spain in 1996 whilst trying to secure a record deal with BMG, lost his first lover Rashidat who he later dedicated the track “Belinda” to and came to Lagos where spent some nights sleeping under a bridge in CMS. His fortunes would however change in the commercial capital of the country, Eedris met up with the duo of Eddy Montana and Tony Tetuila (who Eedris always maintained could not sing but his determination to always try won him over) and they formed the group The Remedies.
The mega group got signed to then power label Kennis Music and pioneered the new era of Nigerian music with their hit single “Shakomo”.
When Eedris rapped, the whole nation cheered. When he spoke, everybody listened and when he belted inaudible words that we could not decipher, like idol worshippers, we chanted his name in adoration the more – this was Eedris’ world and we only just lived in it.
After falling out with his group members, the rapper soon chose the solo path and he released his debut effort P.A.S.S which paraded hits like “Oko Ashewo”, “Wacka Wickee MC” and “Player Meji”. His rise to super stardom also went up several notches with his sophomore effort Mr. Lecturer which is still considered as the rapper’s highest-selling album ever.
But there was something Eedris became known for beside his music. The outspoken artist has never shied away from feuds – on his first album, he took shots at Plantashun Boys and Ruff Rugged and Raw, as well as former group-mate Tony Tetuila. He also had to deal with a certain Ruggedman who was coming for his throne. Eedris’ earlier years were eventful but 2004 was the year that probably defined him best.
The rapper was voted to carry the Olympic relay torch which passed through Africa (Eedris will never let you forget this as he says it was the happiest moment in his life). This was followed up with the release of his 3rd studio album Jagajaga, which contained the seminal hit song “Jagajaga”. The song was monumental and sparked a response from then President Olusegun Obasanjo. Unsurprisingly, it was banned on certain stations and many feared being linked with the troublesome artist. But Eedris had endeared himself to the masses and his legend continued to soar regardless.
Then the 50 Cent fiasco came up, a scuffle ensued right there on the plane with Eedris refusing to give up a seat assigned to the American rapper. The outcome was 50 Cent refusing to continue with the remaining leg of the concerts he was flown in for and Eedris getting a total blacklist by corporate bodies. His label boss, Kenny Ogungbe, who Eedris calls his godfather, did all he could to salvage the rapper’s image including the rushed and ill-advised release of a song called “50 Seconds Show” to narrate his side of the story. This backfired and with the breaking out of many new acts, event organizers declared the rapper a ‘persona non grata’.
Eedris and 50 Cent would later mend faces in 2009 (watch clip below) but the Nigerian rap veteran continued on his path to self-destruction in the years that followed.
His Many Controversies
In 2012, during the Occupy Nigeria Protest, the outspoken rapper took shots at D’Banj, alleging he had received money from then President Goodluck Jonathan. Interestingly, Eedris was to later openly declare support for Jonathan.
Also in 2012, Eedris was rumored to have assaulted then label mate Jaywon, with the latter claiming he was envious and jealous of his growing status.
After a twitter spat with Don Jazzy, Eedris had words for the Mavin boss on his single “Whooze you” (2013) which were not too complimentary. Fast forward to 2017 and Eedris recently made the claim that the legendary producer, and every new artist, owes their success to him. He said:
I am the reason everybody is getting paid, I am the reason everyone is doing great videos
He once threatened to beat up a pregnant blogger in Germany during an interview for asking a question he did not like.
On his song “Koleyewon” (featuring Ruggedman) he had more strong words for 2Face, disparaging him as someone who wanted to be like Obasanjo.
Eedris has always been outspoken with his political views. He once called Obasanjo ‘selfish, a fraud and evil person’ but on the flipside, he received money from former Edo Governor, Adams Oshiomhole to perform at an event he organized – he deemed Oshiomhole to be a ‘good governor’.
At the 2015 Felabration, while on stage he accused President Muhammadu Buhari of being responsible for the death of Afrobeat Legend Fela.
Cossy Orjiakor once accused him of begging her for sex after an event.
Eedris, it is time to shut up
I used to be a big fan of Eedris Abdulkareem. Somewhere in my heart, I still adore the artist – his stage presence, fearlessness and conscious messages were endearing and like the worshippers of Baal who kept on calling their gods while Elijah mocked, I had hoped for more. But like all artists who have had their time in the sun, Eedris needs to admit that his night has come.
Yes, we acknowledge that he was one of the pioneers of the genre, he made sacrifices that has earned the Nigerian artist respect and opened them to bigger deals. For instance, no one can take away the fact that, whilst it is now easy for every artist with a hit single to immediately go on a ‘foreign tour’, Eedris and company started it all with the R70s Intro Independence show in the UK.
But the language of music is no longer what it used to be. Eedris’ several attempts at a comeback have been anything but inspiring, his King is Back and Unfinished Business albums added nothing new to the scene. Whilst there is still substance in his music, the lyrics and production no longer reverberates with the audience, a new era has emerged with the likes of Wizkid, Davido, Tekno, Falz taking over the scene.
This is 2017, the new generation of listeners don’t care about the past events of 2004, create new ones. It is time to focus some of his endless energy on his label Lakreem Records, which was setup in 2005 but has not produced one artist unto the mainstream! Who is Eedris mentoring, who is he co-signing? Maybe he needs to sit back and learn from the likes of 2face Idibia who has continued to stay relevant with the ways he has handled his own fair share of industry drama.
The baton has long been passed, Eedris is no longer in the relay, it’s time he worries less about fighting for respect and threatening to slap the younger artists. Let him help in opening doors for others (not including Timaya and KC Presh), focus more on his family and maybe delve into other ventures.