Like the Fuji artistes that obviously have influenced Reminisce's hiphop sound, he too has found that reaching the fans directly, with the least of fuss is the master key.
‘Show me who rap pass me this year/ Na’wo kin ri e, abi o fe te (Raise your hand and be embarrassed)’
When rapper Reminisce spat those lines in January of 2015, he was talking about his fantastic run from 2013 through 2014 that saw him sell a verifiable one million copies of his Alaga Ibile album and be noticed by Time Magazine as one of the rappers every music lover should know about.
But he could very well be talking about his cojones of steel that saw him hold a concert in an off season, in the middle of the Lagos Mainland – free of charge.
Reminisce has always positioned himself as the king of the streets. His moniker ‘Alaga Ibile’ literally translates to ‘local government chairman’. That point is moot – by embracing the Lagos street culture and giving it a voice, Reminisce truly is the chairman of these streets.
Argue with your local paraga seller or the NURTW boss at your bus stop. Or if you want to be petty, ask the head honchos at Samsung and Guinness where he has a couple of lucrative endorsements.
But the lifestyle or the music is not why Reminisce’s show last night was successful. Neither is it the uncharacteristic haplessness of his new handler Osagie Osarenkhoe who was all over the place with little control of the proceedings. (That part I don’t get; Skales and Aramide are a different kettle of fish. Managing Reminisce? That’s a matter for another day.)
The show was successful mainly because of the sheer personality of the man himself.
This writer did not get any credentials sent to him before the show. He got in on his own recognizance and stood in the backstage area long before Reminisce got into the arena, twenty or thirty man deep.
By the time the show kicked into gear almost five hours after the advertised time of 4pm, I moved from the barricaded backstage area into the thick crowd in the main arena. Right there, among high as fuck area boys and hyperactive university students who had come to bask in the glory of Baba Hafusa, I got that epiphany; Remilekun Safaru is the king of these streets.
Now Reminisce is not the first rapper with massive street following. Olamide‘s followers perhaps have the most numbers and diversity; his numerous flirtations with pop earned him fans that would not have bothered with Yoruba rap in the first place. Phyno too has a mad, mad following in the East and this past December, he sold out a football stadium.
But this is where the difference lies: while it is an open secret that Olamide’s annual concert is bankrolled mainly by ‘Alhaja’ of Right Entertainment and having broken free of Capital Hill Goretti, Phyno’s Phyno Fest was paid for by a sports betting company who took him back to the 042; Reminisce’s first headline concert was propped up by two companies who do not necessarily need to recoup their investments by gate takings at the show – they do roadshows everyday and this one event was not strange to them.
For a long time, some of us have postulated the theory that certain artistes have transcended the confines of Eko Hotel where every entertainer runs to for shows. As the recession has shown, it’s a tough time to be asking corporate bodies for sponsorship. The funds are simply not there.
Whoever made the decision to throw Reminisce in the middle of Ikeja on a Saturday night made the right call. One, it is not as expensive as it would have been in a superficial venue on the Island. Secondly, and most importantly, the fan base is so loyal that they would wait hours for him in the parking lot of a shopping mall while he gets ready.
As a matter of fact, as every guest artiste took their time to arrive, Reminisce could have done without them: his repertoire of hits that were sung along by thousands in and around the Ikeja City Mall will ensure that he alone could have carried the night.
See, we live in an era of short attention spans and scarce resources. To engage fans, entertainers must be resourceful and creative. Like the Fuji artistes that obviously have influenced Reminisce’s hiphop sound, he too has found that reaching the fans directly, with the least of fuss is the master key. Any parking lot is good enough to shut shit down.
That is what Reminsce did last night. Till anybody repeats that feat, they need to dobale fun ijoba. Bow down to the chairman.
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