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B Side, Music

‘Ololade mi Asake’: The Rise and Impact of one of Nigeria’s Biggest Breakout Superstars

Asake went from begging for a record deal to being a functional name. This is the story of ‘Ololade mi Asake’, “the most important new voice in Afrobeats and global music”

  • Favour Overo
  • 7th May 2024
Ololade mi Asake’: The Rise and Impact of one of Nigeria’s Biggest Breakout Superstars

Earlier this week, I came across a publication by The Republic titled: “The Devil Works Hard, But Asake Works Harder…” That was arguably the most precise description I had seen of the Nigerian superstar who ultimately had the industry in a headlock for the entirety of 2022. In an era where Afrobeats suddenly became a dominant force in the global scene, Asake emerged as a forerunner of the trend, consistently and adequately delivering on his turf. With his unique, energetic, and diverse style, he meteorically went from begging for a record deal to being a functional household name of the genre. This is the story of Ololade mi Asake, “the most important new voice in Afrobeats and global music”.


Born Ololade Ahmed—his stage moniker, Asake, is his mother’s name—in Lagos, Nigeria, on January 13, 1995, the Maverick had always been a child influenced by art, music, and fashion. Although he was initially drawn to dancing, he switched to singing because, according to him, “that was where the real money was.” Asake attended Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Osun State, a tertiary institution famously known for producing the best entertainers in the country.


That was where he began his music career while studying Theatre and Dramatic Arts, with later hit songs like “Joha” birthed there. At the same time, he built affiliations with other aspiring undergraduate musicians like Blaqbonez, FireBoy DML, Cheque, and Chinko Ekun, who similarly turned out as established Afrobeats artists. Asake did not officially release his music until 2017. As it is always expected to be, his journey began with very rocky turns.


You have to understand: I got there in two years, but I’ve been working for years.

After leaving school, Asake lived with famous actor and skit maker Samuel Perry (Broda Shaggi), as he didn’t have a place to stay. Per association, he was featured in skit videos several times, taking the role of Broda Shaggi’s backup singer, and also appeared in Nollywood film cameos. All of these were, however, preparations for what was to come, as he was defiantly on his way to the limelight. It was not until 2022 that his single, “Mr. Money,” and the remix with Zlatan and Peruzzi went viral despite being released two years and a year prior, respectively.



Both tracks gained public acclaim for their lively and fast-paced instrumentals, and from there on, Asake’s career went sky-high.


2022 was eventful, busy, and monumental for Asake. While his lyrics “Mr. Money/ Can I be your only honey” were still etched on fans’ lips, he got signed to YBNL Records in February after the hit caught the attention of the record’s boss, Olamide Baddo. Asake had reportedly been pleading for that deal since 2020. That same month, he teamed up with the veteran rapper to release his breakthrough track, “Omo Ope,” which was featured on his debut EP, Ololade Asake alongside street anthem “Sungba,” “Trabaye,” and “Baba God.”



In July 2022, he signed a distribution deal with American Record Label, Empire. Asake was hot, and the fans wanted more of him. With time, pressure began to mount for a full project, and on September 8, 2022, he came out with his debut studio album, Mr. Money With the Vibe. It took over the streets in no time, becoming the first album to top ten Apple Music Nigeria slots for a week, and debuted at number 66 on the US Billboard Chart. MMWTV was a brilliant album, with energetic records like the remix of “Sungba ” with Burna Boy, “Terminator,” and “Peace Be Unto You” being upfront.



MMWTV was Asake’s announcement to the world that he had come to stay. His immediate capture of the international stage just between the span of a debut EP and a debut album showed that he wasn’t trying to find his way in the playfield, but rather had a couple tricks he wanted the mainstream to see. MMWTV quickly reached 330 million Audiomack streams and over 2.4 billion streams across major digital streaming platforms. Off the success of the Album, Asake rounded off his first professional year with the Headies Album of the Year award,  Headies Artiste of the Year award, as well as the Audiomack Artiste of the Year award.


Aske’s music style resonates with the Street pop subgenre of Afrobeats. This style of music is categorized by its up-tempo, fast pace, and panache. It also makes sense that the artist has Olamide to call his mentor, as the rapper is one of the major pioneers of the Street pop scene during the early 2010s. Asake, amongst the likes of Seyi Vibez, Shallipoppi, etc, represent the new era of Street pop in Nigeria’s mainstream. On their individual paths, they have gone against limiting the art to just the streets, exporting their hits and the slang attached to them to international stages.  It is also impossible to miss Asake’s infusion of Amapiano, Apala, and Fuji in his productions. He revealed that he grew up listening to Fuji from K1 De Ultimate and Ayinde Barrister. Most of the time, Asake sings in Yoruba or Nigerian Pidgin English. Although he ditched dancing earlier, choreography remains a massive part of his persona. His music videos are theatrical, with energy, effects, and metaphors often embedded in his visuals, likewise his on-stage performances.   


In December 2022, Asake took his magic to the fans in London, initiating a three-day concert at the Brixton O2 Academy. Unfortunately, the final day was one that Asake would never want to remember, as a tragic stampede took the lives of two people, Rebecca Ikumelo, a 33-year-old mother of two, and security guard, Gaby Hutchinson—while an unnamed 21-year-old third victim fought successfully for their life as a result of the incident. 


On his return to Nigeria, Mr Money didn’t waste time. Though still in mourning, he almost immediately released the thought-inducing “Yoga.” As he adopted the Sega music genre, it wasn’t the usual Asake that the fans knew, asking to be left alone with his feelings on the track. It was obvious that a second album was building up, as he added “2:30” and “Amapiano” with Olamide to his 2023 mix.



On June 16, Asake released his much-anticipated Sophomore album, Work of Art. Swinging from boisterous melodies on “Sunshine,” “Mogbe,” and “Basquiat” to reflective tunes like “Remember” and “Lonely At The Top,” the album immediately sold 13,000 units in its first week, debuted at number 66 on the US Billboard Chart, and peaked at number 20 on UK charts.



In August 2023, Asake returned to the tragic scene he left less than a year prior. He had learned from his mistakes, as security outside the location was beefed up this time. Delivering one of the most iconic performances in Afrobeats’ history to a sold-out O2 Arena, with guest performances from Fireboy, Tiwa Savage and Olamide, automatically distilled the bad energy in the air and further etched his name in musical gold. Two months later, he received a nomination for the Olamide-assisted “Amapiano” in the Best African Music Performance category of the Grammy Awards, alongside Tyla’s “Water,” (to which he lost), Burna Boy’s “City Boys,” Davido and Musa Keys’ “Unavailable” and Ayra Starr’s “Rush.” 


It is 2024, and Asake still has his Midas touch. With concert headlines and a third album in the works, the superstar is becoming an unstoppable force. 


Asake’s story is one of doggedness, perseverance, and patience—“…What people are scared of is patience. People are scared. But if you can absorb, if you can be patient and have time, he who eats last, eats best,” remarked the musical talent during his interview with GQ. Considering the developmental form and never-ending transformation he continues to portray, it is far from incorrect to say that the sky is the starting point for Asake.

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