March 2014, Naira Marley released his debut single, Marry Juana, a song romanticising his beloved leaf which will give NM his first taste of stardom in Peckham, England, where he had migrated to with his family as a boy. Just a young dude who loves football and music, he will release three other songs, hits in their own rights, making NM the propagator of the subgenre, Afrobashment, that will dominate UK dance clubs for years to come. In Peckham, NM is a household name, a local star; but his decision to take music seriously will influence his coming back to his roots.
2017 was the year of Shaku Shaku. Every Afro-Pop wave has always had its accompanying dance, it’s a catalyst, and NM was set to jump on the Shaku Shaku craze. His first offering for the Nigerian audience, Issa Goal, was recorded in a day at Olamide’s London residence in 2017, but it won’t be until 2018 that it’ll be released for a strategic reason.
2019, however, was NM’s year. It all began with a series of Twitter exchange with Simi on internet fraud. Then he and Zlatan Ibile teamed up to release the controversial song, Am I A Yahoo Boy? The EFCC replied by rounding him up with Zlatan and a few others on a suspected case of internet fraud. His career seemed to be on the line, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for NM.
Straight out of prison, he released a new song, Soapy, which was shadowed by, perhaps, the craziest dance step that ever graced the Nigerian music scene. From then on, everything NM touched becomes gold, every controversy that came his way was shooting him up for something greater. He dropped hits upon hits. Had a massive cult following designated Marlians, No Belt Gang, No Mannaz.
2020, NM has had a decent outing so far, but his last offering, As E Dey Go, followed by the Wuge dance hasn’t just chested up to expectation measured by the standards of the Tesumole crooner himself.
The Shaku Shaku dance has many already predicted, has gone the way of its forerunners but it seemed that NM is yet to get the memo. A lot of people assumed NM to be the pioneer of the Shaku Shaku movement. Some think it was Lil Kesh. It was neither of the two. Shaku Shaku as a sound came from the ghettos of Agege, it was peculiar to the Awawa boys. The known names may have branded it and make a couple of it hit from it, but the sound and the dance originated from Agege, and this Agege boy will write about it someday.
I have digressed…Ha ehn, NM.
The last nail has been driven to the Shaku Shaku coffin, no thanks to new arts like Omah Lay, FireBoy DML, Joeboy, and Oxlade redefining the Afro sound. The end of the Shaku Shaku wave is a call for the Chief Marlian to reinvent himself, come up with something new, else, he will go the way of Lil Kesh, SlimCase and other forgotten voices.
Image credits Naira Marley's from IG @nairamarley Simi's from Bellanaija.com Zlatan's from Hittvibe.com.ng