Fireboy DML has become a victim of his own brilliance and his debut album will go a long way in validating or invalidating his fear of not living up to expectations.
When I first heard Fireboy DML‘s ‘Jealous’, his other hit record ‘What If I Say’ was already beginning to gain heavy rotation on colleagues’ MAC systems at the office. I was a few months late to the party and it was expected. For some time, I have not been as heavily invested in Nigerian pop music as I once was, largely due to an unusual lack of enthusiasm in finding and vibing to new music – local or foreign. My playlist now comprises mostly classic American rap, soul and r&b songs that I find therapeutic in dealing with life’s inevitable stress and challenges.
Occasionally, I’d stumble on new music that I find worthy of making my playlist but I have stopped actively searching. This explains why it took some time before I bothered to ask for the name of the young man behind the very addictive songs my colleagues keep blasting on their systems. That’s when I got to know Fireboy DML.
The last time I was excited about a young Nigerian artiste bursting onto the scene was three years ago; Kizz Daniel had shown so much promise that I would tell anyone who cared to listen he’d soon become the biggest act out of the continent of Africa. Hearing Fireboy DML quickly awoken that nostalgia. It was immediately evident that the young man has a lot to say – in a fun, smart way that is not so common among the new wave of pop stars in Nigeria.
And like Kizz Daniel, I have looked forward to the dreadlocked YBNL artiste’s debut album. That project, aptly titled ‘Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps’ has now been pencilled for a November 29 release – less than two weeks from now.
Since hearing and getting these hit songs in my very foreign music playlist, I will not pretend I have made any extensive search on more music by him but I’ll admit I have become a secret fan of the young, vibrant singer. It is why his Tweet on Monday morning (today), on what is now expected of him as a voice and future of Nigerian’s blossoming music industry, deeply hit me.
“I always have to come back to raise the bar I set,” Fireboy, who had only weeks ago, lost the coveted Headies ‘Next Rated’ award to Mavin’s Rema, shares with his almost 163,000 followers. Days before, as he announced his debut studio album, the Abeokuta-bred singer had sent out a similar tweet in which he feebly attempts to dismiss the humongous expectations. “No point proving anything to anyone, just outchea making music for the fans and making my people happy,” he says.
If these tweets can be taken as pointers to what is going on in the world around him at the moment, Fireboy DML is having long, sleepless nights. Not the ones caused by fabled witches and wizards, but the ones caused by a fear of failure. At a young age of 23, it is evident that he is struggling to cope with the weight of expectations. And the young man has every reason to be wary. The Nigerian music industry is cold and brutal. One minute you’re the star of the show as a young, charming singer and the next minute, music lovers are questioning why they ever took you and your craft seriously.
Before him, young Nigerians have worshipped the grounds brilliant artistes such as Styl Plus, Wande Coal, and even a less talented Korede Bello walked on. But these artistes, for various reasons, never reached the incredible heights music lovers dreamed for them after releasing their debut albums. Not many singers can boast of long, illustrious careers in Nigerian pop music like 2baba, and several artistes have quickly been forgotten by an increasingly fickle public after suffering more misses than achieving hits.
This is the water Adedamola Adefolahan will be very wary of drowning in. And his fear is valid.
After scoring two of the biggest Nigerian hits in 2019, Fireboy DML has become a victim of his own brilliance and his debut album, to be released under Olamide’s YBNL imprint, will go a long way in validating or invalidating that fear of not living up to expectations. I’m rooting for him.
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