Is Olamide on the decline? Is the rapper contemplating retirement? Is Olamide’s one album every year getting outplayed? These were the questions across social media days following the release of his Lagos-themed album, Lagos Na Wa. While the questions may be valid, it is hard to argue that the rapper has again enjoyed one of his most successful years scoring a mega hit with his single “Wo”, which has grown into a street anthem.
All these questions and concerns have however been shifted to the back seat (at least for now) following the announcement of the 4th edition of his annual end of the year concert, Olamide Live In Concert, #Olic4. But quite unlike previous editions which were held at the 6,000 capacity Expo Center, Eko Hotel and Suites, this year’s edition will take place at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere on December 17, 2017.
7 studio albums in 7 years, including a joint project with fellow rapper Phyno, easily ranks Olamide as one of the hardest working artists in the industry. But why a lot of artists have hit records and chart topping albums, only truly elite artists can take the gamble of selling out a stadium.
The announcement has however been met with mixed reactions with some expressing concerns over the rapper’s ability to transcend from a 6,000 capacity venue to a 24,325 capacity stadium, while others have raised a few security concerns considering the location where the stadium is situated and the reputation placed on events holding on the mainland due to the strong presence of street hoodlums popularly referred to as ‘Area boys’ and how the sound logistics will be managed.
However as much as this move is a pretty ambitious one, there is no doubt that this was inevitable at some point in his career. In a year where Twittersphere has been buzzing with news of South African rapper Cassper Nyovest attempting to fill up the FnB stadium in South Africa which is regarded as one of the top ten biggest stadiums in the world with a seating capacity of 94,736 after successfully filling up the Dome in 2015 (approximately 20,000 capacity) and Orlando Stadium in 2016 (approximately 40,000 capacity).
Also, buoyed by his partner-in-rhyme Phyno’s recent success with the 3rd edition of his annual #PhynoFest hosting a capacity crowd of over the 22,000 at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium, Enugu, it was therefore understandable that it was time for Olamide to raise his own bar.
Why is #OLIC4 holding at Teslim a big deal?
1. Olamide Is the General of the Mainland: Due to various concerns like lack of adequate concert centers and security issues, most events are usually held on the Island with Eko Hotel being the choice location due to its serviced and ready to use stage and sound arrangements, but it is about time that the mainland audience gets a piece of the action. For a rapper who has always associated with the streets, his team has done well identifying this as the next step to sealing his legacy with his community and after three successive events held on ‘foreign soil’, the Bariga-bred act just had to bring it closer to home and give his day one fans an event of their own.
2. Size Matters: Olic was due a bigger venue as the 6,000-capacity hall of Eko Hotel can no longer contain the crowd that Olamide commands, fans who were present at the last edition complained of how congested the hall was, with limited spaces even to stand and people were struggling for air at some point.
3. For the culture: The success of this concert will rank as a huge moment not just for Olamide but for hip-hop in Nigeria. For an art-form that has severally been relegated to the background, only a select few artists in Nigeria can command a capacity of even 5,000 people in Nigeria and it is proud knowing that after the success of a rapper in the East, another rapper will be attaining to repeat the same in Lagos. #OLIC4 will be a true measure of success for the artist and give the culture a platform on the same scale as what is obtained in other parts of the world. It also means that Olamide has a huge fan base who is clearly supportive and passionate about his music and hip-hop can always make that jump to that next level as long as it resonates with the audience.
Although there is still no information on ticket prices as at the time of writing, the last edition of the concert witnessed prices ranging from N5,000 for regular, 20,000 for VIP and 100,000 for tables, but it is believed that this year’s edition will witness a smaller fee with some even speculating that the Lagos State Government whom he has partnered with on several occasion may even be bank-rolling the concert and thus making it free for fans.
However, considering what we have seen at our stadiums in respect to crowd troubles, placing a gate fee is important, no matter how little so as to guard against just anybody with intentions other than the music finding their way into the venue. Security will also be key here as the location is right at the heart of Lagos Mainland and the organizers will be needing not just the help of the Lagos State Government through its security agents but also the support of the locals especially the guys who run the streets in areas like Shitta and Ojuelegba to ensure a successful event. It’s a tough task but it can be done.
The Madison Square Garden in New York is regarded as its grand stage and with a capacity of about 20,000, any artiste who is able to headline and sell out tickets there is considered amongst the greats, so for Olamide doing this in Lagos, the centre of music in Nigeria with a very diversified and unpredictable set of fans, regardless of whatever happens in the future, no one can take this for granted as December 17th will be a special night for Olamide and rap in Nigeria.