Yesterday, Fireboy DML released the music video for ‘Vibration’, one of the more popular singles from his genre defining debut album. Fireboy is signed to the YBNL label owned by rapper and media mogul Olamide, and was one of the few signees that bucked the traditional trend of signing rappers for the label. Ever since Lil Nas X weaponised the internet to burst into super stardom, more younger music artists are taking advantage of the powers of internet standoms to promote their projects and keep them in the public consciousness long after their initial eras started. Few Naija popstars have been able to do this as well as Fireboy.
For all intents and purposes it shouldn’t have worked. Fireboy was a singer signed to a label known predominantly for rappers. There was also the choice to release his debut album Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps with no features and no celebrity co-sign. Relatively unheard of for an artist just starting his career. But Fireboy’s ‘Vibration’ is just another brick in a carefully orchestrated plan to leverage internet trends to sustain his album.
The new video has significant Latin and contemporary dance influences in the video, two genres that have been made popular by the biggest pop stars of the year, Rosalia VT and Billie Eilish. The video also bears strong similarities to the Runaway short film by Kanye West from his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. By piggybacking off their influences, his video projects are able to pique initial interest as they are mistaken for work from the more popular artists.
The video before this ‘Scatter’ drew heavily from the most recent adaptation of the Joker and piggybacked off the discourse around the project’s finer points to gain traction on Youtube and Instagram. He also revels in the conversations about how overtly he borrows from pop culture to create his own unique iconography. He has largely succeeded at this because he has stuck with his long term collaborators video director Thank God Omori and stylist Studio Soft. Together the trio have helped craft an image that has defined his era of his music and kept him top of mind almost a year after he released his first single.
It will be curious to see who Fireboy borrows from next as he expands his body of work and exhausts all the options from his debut project.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.