In his brief but impactful career, the artist had already displayed an impressive ability to capture the essence of Nigerian streetpop.
●12th September 2023
Resilient, quiet, discerning, yet ready to leap into action: all these traits defined Nigerian streetpop act, Mohbad. Sadly, the Ikorodu-born rapper, Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba, only 27 years old, was confirmed to have passed away on a late evening on September 12th.
A Guardian story from July this year tells a little of the personality of the singer. First, he was a man of faith; a Christian. “Secondly I’m an introvert. You can even tell from afar. Lastly, I love to sleep,” he confessed.
Mohbad was a man of few words, but when he stepped into the spotlight, his music spoke volumes, roaring with a quiet intensity that resonated with fans across the nation. He blew up in 2020 with the Naira Marley and Lil Kesh-assisted “Ponmo Sweet,” a bold centerpiece in his debut catalog, Light. The track climbed to No. 18 on Billboard’s Top Triller Global chart.
The subsequent year brought us “Feel Good,” a song that lived up to its name. The singer sustained his burgeoning fame with two other hit songs, “Backside,” and his feature on Rexxie’s chart-topper, “KPK (Ko Por Ke).
Across two full-length projects, Mohbad established himself as one of the most urgent rappers of his time. Drawing inspiration from rich, traditional elements of Fuji and Christian Gospel, this gifted maestro never failed to create a groovy yet moving experience. Yet, perhaps, his most distinct quality was his deep tenor, which intrigued listeners and pulled an ever-growing audience into the orbit of his talent.
In the music industry, success often feels like walking on thorny ground, and Mohbad wasn’t spared the occasional prick. Amidst the highs of his career, the rapper faced a turbulent chapter when he parted ways with his label, Marlian Records, and his former mentor, Naira Marley. The challenges that sought to break him only served to fuel his tenacity. From the fragments of adversity, he created a project, Blessed, that demonstrated his determination as an artist.
In contemplating Mohbad’s untimely departure, we can’t help but ponder the potential left unrealised. His career showed an undeniable promise of shaking the music industry and extending his reach beyond Nigeria, leaving us with a bitter sense of what could have been.
Mohbad may have perished young, but his legacy in the Nigerian music scene is mighty enough. In his brief but impactful career, the artist had already displayed an impressive ability to capture the essence of Nigerian streetpop.
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