Olamide is a far greater rapper than DaGrin and it’s not even close [Opinion]

DaGrin vs. Olamide

For the longest, arguments have raged about the actual greatness of DaGrin. On the one part, DaGrin’s loyalists will tell you he’s the greatest Nigerian rapper ever – or at least, top 5. These people will also tell you that DaGrin‘s death is the only reason Olamide has a career. On the other hand, some other people would argue that DaGrin is not even close to being GOAT material.

These people are also likely to argue that Olamide would probably have had a career and thrived even if DaGrin was alive. They would also cite the co-existence of Wizkid and Davido or Tuface and D’Banj as examples. The argument has since grown to have numerous moving parts that complicate arguments.

First, what is ‘greatness’ in music?

While discussing ‘greatness’ in music, people tend to erroneously limit the word to being derivative of the word ‘great.’ In normal English language, ‘greatness’ is “the quality of being great; eminence or distinction.” To that end, DaGrin was a ‘great’ artist and he represents greatness. However, the problem would be when we start elevating DaGrin‘s greatness over some other people’s.

For that reason and in the context of achievement in music, greatness is the summation of achievements in a career over an extended period of time. To judge this type of ‘greatness,’ you must tick boxes of a solid discography, critical acclaim, commercial success, notoriety, impact and awards (as an added advantage).

Is DaGrin then greater than Olamide?

Based on these points, DaGrin is an unfortunate victim of death. If he were alive and with the way he was going, he would probably have ticked all these boxes. While a few of rappers had excelled at rapping in their native languages before DaGrin, he took things to another level. DaGrin was a rapper that made the average agbero on the street interested in Nigerian rap.

In a pop-obsessed space like Nigeria, rap is best consumed in forms which its major detractors don’t realize is rap. For that reason, DaGrin impacted the Nigerian soundscape incredibly. At his height, his biggest song, ‘Pon Pon‘ was a core Hip-Hop track and he excelled at it. He even made English-speaking rappers start contemplating their next moves.

Despite the fact that he was rapping in Yoruba, he made non-Yoruba speaking rap lovers love his music. For that reason, he is great and what he achieved, he did with “eminence or distinction.” But again, the problem is when we try to elevate that “eminence or distinction” over that which some other rappers have achieved.

Case in point, Olamide. It’s amazing because DaGrin and Olamide are tied by the proximity of time. In 2009 and alongside Kayefi and Seriki, Olamide was one of the first three acts signed to Coded Tunes after ID Cabasa, 2Phat and their other partners made Coded Tunes a business. Around this time, DaGrin was gaining ground with verse after verse.

It was also in 2009 that he released his sophomore album, C.E.O. On April 22, 2010, DaGrin sadly passed away after a car crash. On November 15, 2010, Olamide released ‘Eni Duro,’ his first single under Coded Tunes. For both rappers who hail from the slums of Lagos and then rap in Yoruba, the comparisons were inevitable.

The comparison is a result of the human tendency to position his preference as sine qua non fact and the subtle, understandable pain of core DaGrin fans at seeing Olamide succeed on a throne they feel would have belonged to DaGrin. But then, Olamide and DaGrin are subtly different – Reminisce is closer to DaGrin than Olamide is.

But for better or worse, Olamide and DaGrin will forever be compared. It’s how the world works. However, since DaGrin died, Olamide has eclipsed him in every area you might think of – asides the raw, natural ability to rap. But even on that raw ability, Olamide‘s ability to actual bar is almost foolishly underrated by detractors and his fans alike.

Back to the discussion at hand, Olamide ticks all the boxes of a solid discography, critical acclaim, commercial success, notoriety, impact and awards (as an added advantage). In fact, in the 2010s, the only reason Olamide was not artist of the decade is the behemoth called, Wizkid. Olamide has transcended the culture in every way you can imagine.

In DaGrin’s absence, Olamide has released 10 albums and had hit after hit. He has also evolved at will. Anytime he wants to, he raps and he has even re-imagined the concept of a rapper in this country. Asides that, his label, YBNL has churned out one successful artist after another. DaGrin never even scratched the surface of what Olamide has achieved.

If Olamide is 100%, what DaGrin did before he died was about 10%. Olamide is not just a rapper anymore, he is now a cultural icon. At the level that Olamide has done it, only two other Nigerian rappers can lay claim. Their names are MI Abaga and Modenine. In fact, when we list a top 10 list of rappers of all-time, DaGrin will still not touch it.


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