Recently, the most widely acclaimed Fuji musician, Wasiu Ayinde Adewale Omogbolahan Anifowoshe, better known as King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1, K1 De Ultimate or simply K1 was the cynosure of all eyes at a concert titled ‘K1 Live Unusual’.
K1 honed his craft from Barrister. For six years, he served the master, breaking out in 1984 with a variant of Fuji which he named Talazo. Without pronouncing it, the recent concert at the Expo Hall of Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos celebrated 30 years of K1 as an independent musician.
K1 can claim to have seen it all as far as Fuji music is concerned. He was a member of Barrister’s band, the Supreme Fuji Commanders, from 1978 until 1984. Undoubtedly, K1 has assumed his mentor’s designation as ‘King of Fuji’. A productive recording artiste, K1 has arguably brought greater innovation to Fuji music than any other artiste.
Perhaps, the most decorated artiste in Fujiland, K1 continues to update the fuji style. Wikipedia sums up K1’s progression over the years. “In addition to incorporating such Western instruments as keyboards, saxophone, and electric guitar, KWAM1 has expanded his musical vocabulary to include rock, funk, and hip-hop influences. Although he initially sang Koranic chants and rhymes, KWAM1 has increasingly focused on youth-oriented themes.
The recipient of a Nigerian music award as Best Fuji Artist, KWAM1 was named Best African Artist at the WOMAD Festival in Reading, England. In May 2001, he was granted the title “Olu Omo” (Golden Child) by the King of Lagos.
Recording as a soloist since 1980, KWAM1 had his greatest success with his 1984 album, Talazo 84, which introduced a new, turbo-charged style of music that became known as the Talazo system.”
Every aspect of this fitting description was on showcase at the K1 Live Unusual concert. For instance, guest artistes at the show did not have to come with their band. K1’s band demonstrated that they are masters of the craft by accompanying every guest musician. The organisers had the good sense to allow the horn section of veteran highlife musician, Victor Olaiya to prep up his performance.
Even on his best day, Olaiya is not known to be a good dancer. His stereotype moves of swaying from side to side as he blows on his trumpet can be correctly predicted. Thus allowing two of his trumpeters and some youthful dancers to dramatise the song, ‘Mofe Mu’yan’ was a good decision.
Another excellent choice was to have Ali Baba as compere for the show. His maturity added substance to the profile of the show. Dressed in a white flowing agbada, he danced on to the stage; a surprise move that brought members of the audience to the edge of their seats. Still trying to catch his breath from the dance session, he made a show of trying to see on what side his agbada could be worn correctly; then he stood erect and wondered how ‘those people could jump over a fence dressed in agbada’. The joke was not lost on the audience who roared with laughter. It was a great way to open the show. That set the mood for a wonderful night.
One of the greatest evidence to confirm that K1 has entered the annals of the greats in Nigerian music was to have reigning sensation Olamide on stage. Olamide has given his interpretation to K1’s song, ‘Anifowoshe’. As K1 stepped into view from backstage, Olamide prostrated in greeting to the king. He later performed two other songs of his, ‘Eleda Mi’ and ‘Story for the Gods’ which were well appreciated before he quit the stage while the ovation was still loud.
When he returned on stage, K1 was in a trendy casual outfit. To complement his song was the dance troupe, ‘Dance Na The Main Thing’.
If Olamide came to prove that K1 is great because artistes like himself have started re-working his songs, the next act, Honey B showed that a musical dynasty is in view. Although, Honey B would later be introduced as K1’s daughter, it may not have been a good idea to bring her on immediately after Olamide. Unknown, she struggled to demonstrate that she had something to offer, not minding the unappreciating audience. Honey B reminded me of Tiwa Savage at the maiden Smooth Luxury Concert. Tiwa was not the crowd’s favourite. Harassed off the stage, a few years later she became one of the most amazing female musicians out of Nigeria.
The comedy skit segment by Buchi was another part of the show that the audience wished to roll over quickly.
Ara, Nigeria’s first female talking drummer appeared on stage revamp the interest of the audience afresh. Her interlude was short, but nonetheless invigorating. Her performance dovetailed into a collaborative effort by 9ice, Sasha P, Muma Gee, Shola Allyson and 2Shotz on an advocacy song that they originally did for the Lagos State Government.
Perhaps, the most creative component of the show was to have DJ Jimmy Jatt on stage. At first, many did not understand his inclusion in the line-up of performers. Their doubts soon evaporated and they began to ask how he did it; blending contemporary beats with great old Apala tunes of Haruna Ishola. It was the craziest, dandiest mix of Apala, Juju and Fuji music. He took it all the way back to K1’s beginning with Talazo, Shina Peter’s Afro Juju and Oroki Social Club of Haruna Ishola. True to the theme of the concert, it was an unusual night and Jatt proved himself as he got people dancing to old tunes.
Showcasing a theatre of comedy and poetry, the next artiste who has the curious name, ‘Mukaila O Ni Koste’ had everyone in stitches with his presentation of ‘Dadakuada’ a populist music out of Ilorin, Kwara State.
Apart from the spectacle on stage, audience members were also held spellbound by images from a documentary on K1 running on huge screens.
With tables going for as much as N5 million, the K1 Live Unusual concert provided an avenue for reconciliation among feuding factions of fuji musicians. The presence of Kollington Ayinla, Obesere and Saheed Osupa, made it look like there could reconciliation in the ‘Fuji House of Commotion’ where artistes are perpetually at war with themselves.
Although, it is not as celebrated as Afrobeat – created by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti – Fuji is a proudly Nigeria creative art form offered to the world. From its humble beginning in a lowly Lagos suburb, Fuji has conquered the world, garnering millions of faithful disciples who are led by a crop of professional artistes dedicated to their art.
Fuji thrives on street culture, particularly in South West Nigeria. It is characterised by some elements including, but not limited to, Islamic customs, Yoruba tradition and popular convention. The origin of the Fuji subculture stems from the youths going around the neighbourhood at the break of dawn to drum a wake-up call to Moslems during the Ramadan. Originally, Fuji was believed to give a voice to persons of lowly estate, but it has transcended that description through continuous evolution that embraces contemporary global trends and the nuances of other Nigerian ethnic groups.
Fuji is a major aspect of Yoruba cultural imperialism, as it were. Steadily, it pushed aside Apala, Sakara and Juju which were the dominant music forms in Yorubaland. To be sure, Fuji is a danceable cocktail of Apala, Juju, Sakara and Highlife. Today, Fuji is arguably the most popular ethnic Nigerian music. In Lagos alone, there are over 10,000 functional Fuji bands, according the Fuji Musicians Association of Nigeria. Of course, they feed a culture of felicity. Nigerians, particularly of the South West are known to be cheerful people. It is customary for them to roll out the drums during a myriad of ceremonies including marriage, naming, house-warming and the like.
The Fuji music world can be compared to professional wrestling in America where there are many controlling bodies and almost everyone is a world heavyweight wrestling champion. Almost every Fuji musician has a crown defined by his crowd. It is acceptable in the Fuji world to be known by outlandish titles. For instance, the creator of Fuji was better known as ‘Barrister’, although he never embarked on a study of law, even remotely. His competition, Kollington Ayinla goes by the title ‘General’.
Definitely, every Fuji musician has a motley of die-hard followers who are ready to sink or float with their idol. Keen competition among Fuji artistes leads to constant refinement of their art. Making a departure from an unlettered past, Fuji artistes like Adewale Ayuba have since obtained a university degree. The dress sense of an average fuji musician has also changed a great deal. From commonplace Yoruba attires, fuji musicians have become trend setters, matching the latest fashionistas in town.
Looking dapper in their white shirt and black suit, the 22-man band could have belonged to any contemporary orchestra or jazz band. Some of their instruments- the guitar, keyboard and horn, can even be found in a pop band. These were not the usual musical instruments in a traditional ensemble. But Fuji music, a dance type of music from Yorubaland has expanded beyond the rudimentary form created by its progenitor, the late Ayinde ‘Barrister’ Balogun.
It was a miracle that the concert ended without any ugly incident. Usually proceedings descend into anarchy and blood-letting at Fuji concerts. One good strategy adopted to keep the peace was to contain the concert within three hours. Even as the crowd yearned for more after Osupa’s performance, they were urged to re-locate to Quilox Nite Club for an after party.
His Excellency Engr Rauf Adesola Aregbesola the executive Governor of Osun State, First Lady of Lagos Abimbola Fashola, Chief Kollington Ayinla, Femi Adebayo, Dayo Amusa, Olakunle Afoja, Chief Kenny Ogungbe, Tunde Kelani, Chris Jeyibo, Seun Soyinka, ID Ogungbe, Mary Atuyota, Aremo Oniru, Doris Simeon, Kunle Afolayan, Fathia Balogun, Ayo Animashaun, Chris Ihidero, YAW, Toolz, Tunde Ednut, Tee Billz, Toke Makinwa, Teju Baby Face, Sikiratu Sindodo and other notable faces.
The exquisite concert was produced by Green Light Productions and proudly supported by LASAA, LIRS, Beat FM, BHMGroup, HIP TV, Ray Power, Primetime Africa, Naija FM, Classic FM, Kennis Music, Sodium Brand Solutions, and many others.