All hail Small Doctor – Omo Iya Tisha. Temitope Adekunle aka Small Doctor might just be the new voice of the streets. The Fuji pop spewing musician has warmed his way into the streets, every party DJ as well as every radio station. But what makes someone the voice of the street?
In the beginning, it was Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe; an Igbo Nigerian highlife musician from Atani with a career that spanned over forty years and was classed as one of the best Igbo highlife musicians. Osondi Owendi translated as One man’s meat is another man’s poison established him as a leader in the highlife genre and was one of Nigeria’s popular records ever. Initially doing music for music sake, Osadebe moved on to social commentary to stand against the government. While he was less vocal than Fela in his delivery, his music was one that resonated with the struggles of the average Nigerian as well as helping people learn, relearn and unlearn how to and how not to treat other Nigerians.
Then, it was Fela. The almost doctor turned musician tuned up and remade the Ghanaian highlife music into Afrobeat. In the era of an oppressive Military Nigerian government, Fela broke conventions and the beauty of his privilege to make “activist” music. His understanding and subsequent decision to live the sufferings of the common Nigerian might have seemed like rebellion to his family, but in the end, he did what he wanted to do as an activist – fight for the common man! As the Voice of the Street.
Next, it was Lagbaja. Omo baba muko muko was a musician from heaven. His musical abilities made him into a cult hero and legend of some sorts. If he wasn’t as big in Nigeria as Fela, he was definitely as big in Europe and other parts of his country. He is a ‘weird pick’ as a voice of the street because he was more of a performer than an activist with his music, but his 2000 album “We” especially Suuru lere was an anthem for the street telling the story of Nigeria in 8 minutes.
Chubby and lovable Wande Coal pulled off a Goodluck Jonathan before the University lecturer even thought about becoming President of Nigeria. Wande Coal’s Mushin 2 Mohits album was a relatable story about the Nigerian dream – to leave Mushin and blow! Despite not being as prolific with his music release especially at the defunct Mohits, Wande was always relevant in musical circles.
Olamide Badoo coined the phrase Voice of the Street and rightly so. He is a separate religion in Lagos Mainland especially in Bariga of Lagos. The iconic musician although releasing music of a disgusting quality these days has spoken out, sang and challenged the “Cool” of society. His demonstration on the stage of the award show that year showed his popularity among the streets with influential Nigerians having to help mend the broken fence. His music has done everything for the streets from party anthems to songs speaking to individuals.
Small Doctor has only four songs in his discography! Just four, but with the four he has built himself up a fanbase. Will he become the voice of the streets? He is on his way there. His lyrics are relatable and connect with everybody. Will he become a legend? Maybe not. Only time will tell.
Oluwatosin Adeshokan is a freelance journalist and writer reporting stories about West Africa. He was previously the Culture Editor for YNaija. He tweets at @TheOluwatosin