eLDee finally releases his fifth album after a journey of 15 years in the Nigerian Music industry. ‘Undeniable’ is loaded with traditional African rhythms that have been creatively modernized by the use of contemporary synth sounds. Also not forgetting the group Trybe’s record, most especially when it was the only star studded group producing almost every hip hop fanatic favourite songs, ‘oya’ and ‘work it out’ which were both released way back by the Trybe’s in 2002 since the inception of the group in 1998 and then went on to feature on the album ‘L.A.G style’.
It’s been an apparent ‘Big Picture’ for Lanre Olanrewaju Dabiri, better known as eLDee who has journeyed from the 1st to the 5th Musical Album. How eLDee has survived the change that the Nigerian music industry has undergone over the years, can be pointed to his hard work and his quest to imprint himself as Nigeria’s leading hip hop artiste and a top-notch producer.
eLDee at that time produced all the Trybesmen songs, which include the soundtracks for the Mainframe movie; ‘Campus queen’ “Da Trybe’s” monster hit ‘Oya’ (which spent 19 weeks on the Nigerian video charts) Sasha’s ‘Emi Le Gan’ and 2SHotz ‘Carry Am Go’ etc… eLDee was a leader – the ability to lead talented music artists since the days of Sasha, 2shots, freestyle, Od, Timi, proto, & Sid, each of these artists who then became successful individually, one way or the other and it has been the leadership of eLDee they had taken with them when other pasture’s came calling.
Then there was the short relocation to the states in 2002 where he recorded the album ‘Long time’, although it wasn’t well received by critics. It looked pretty much like a struggle to stay relevant in the music industry back home in Nigeria while he was overseas, but regardless the album went on to sell many copies. At the time when eLDee had started, hip-hop in Nigeria was badly in need of an identity, it was then the group ‘Trybesmen’ decided to provide the blueprint for the style that is now generally accepted as African hip-hop today. Music experts analysed that the key to the new art, had laid in fusing the obviously western lyrical finesse with African melodies and slangs.
There wasn’t much faith on major labels in hip-hop music as at that time, but eLDee had gone ahead to set up Trybe Record’s. Independently owned, also to operate as the CEO and with the aim of promoting the groups album, eLDee debuted as artist-cum-producer-cum-CEO. Around came 2006 and that was the album that did the trick for Eldee the Don, it was called ‘Return of the King’, which could have meant ‘am back to Nigeria to rule’ – ‘I go yarn’ became the street anthem when it dropped Off the Album – it was described as ‘original, indigenous & conscious’ adding to that, it was a catchy song. The song consciously lamented the situation in Nigeria, a topic most artists were known to blatantly steer clear of at that time.
The video for the song was later released in May 2006, which at that time had massive TV airplays, this single topped the Channel O music video chart and yes number two on the chart was also another banger ‘I’m leaving’, from that same album. In the same year the don signed a distribution deal with Storm Records, contrary to speculation, this did not mean the end of Trybe Records, but instead broke financial boundaries that once constrained him from reaching his full potential while still maintaining creative freedom on the album and as such, the ‘Trybe elements’ of his music were undiluted.
Then much later, the album ‘Big Boy’ dropped on Christmas day of 2008. The album delivered No1 singles but critics claimed that the rapper had lost the genre. Tracks like ‘Bosi gbanga’ and ‘Big Boy’ were not in any way ‘rap versed’ like the eLDee people had known in his previous albums. Critics further claimed he had finally given way to the trend of commercial music, which at that time was gradually becoming the norm, making it difficult for Nigerian rappers to survive the music industry in the country. Whatever the critic had thought of the ‘Big Boy’ I think eLDee did a fantastic job of actually surviving the industry and still remaining relevant till date to be ‘Undeniable’ and put his stake as truly one of the very few leaders of hip hop and music in general in the country. The ‘Big Boy’ album was an evolution of the rapper, an evolution he was ready to make his fans part off.
On the 12th of February, ‘Is it your money’ was released, another Album from the Don. The 13 track album was poised to make a listener stay through to the 13th song ‘big boy’ the remix which featured Young Joc was described as ‘sick’, ‘you blow my mind’ ‘Ota mi’ ‘fly away’ ‘feel good music’ and the message that was to be taken by millions of Nigerian’s in that ‘one day’ track – was that Nigeria would truly be better. The sound from the album had only proved that eLDee had grown and come of age and gave everyone a simple music.
The 5th album ‘Undeniable‘ is set to be different from eLDee’s previous albums. According to the don, he decided to take a fresh and truly original stab at what contemporary African music should sound like today hence tracks like ‘wash wash’ ‘today today’ & ‘Higher’, which were all released as singles but to feature on the album which had come from a 15 year career in music into an ‘Undeniable’ state of hip hop legendary status in Nigeria. eLDee‘s Trybe records till date is the only record label that has sold over 10Million albums in Nigeria.
The don houses great producer ‘Sheyman’ and newly signed female emcee ‘Eva’, other artists under the Trybe’s are Aramide, Sarz, K9, Sojay & Rukus If eLDee would leave the music scene after this 5th album? I honestly don’t know but then again why should he? He’s just 35 and the Music scene could still do with legends like the ‘don’ and that’s truly ‘Undeniable’.
Click here to Listen & download eLDee’s UNDENIABLE album Spinlet available on Blackberry, Android & Symbian phones.