Yesterday, April 22nd, marked the seventh year since the death of late Yoruba rapper, Dagrin. As usual, the day was highlighted with another round of annual tribute think pieces and listiscles that attempted to compress his eccentric life into one single medium. One oddly tactless
The last five years of DaGrin’s lifetime marked the beginning of the crossover of indigenous Nigerian rap into the mainstream. His death, brought to light, details of an eccentric hustler’s life cut short by uncontrollable circumstances. It should therefore come as no surprise that the rapper’s life as a wordsmith is often praised parallel to a posthumous legacy of speculated occultic affiliation buoyed by his final recording, “If I Die”.
So what is the best way to remember a man whose life has already been thoroughly covered in film, music and print media?
Well, on quick answer is to urge gatekeepers of the music industry to take more risks on investment in local bred, homegrown talent. Today, only YBNL boss, Olamide, one of the first generation post-Dagrin era indigenous rappers to crease the mainstream, has a major foothold in the local hip-hop scene. Other labels are either too afraid to float a rapper limited to a language in a country with nearly 300 ethnic groups or don’t place emphasis on good A&R and would sign the most convenient artists on a whim, instead of the most talented.
The greatest legacy for DaGrin however will be survival of whatever is left of his music. Nostalgia is an easily accessible tool for good pop music and producers and artists alike can keep DaGrin breathing through sound by incorporating references, samples and mannerisms of the late Akogun in their productions and recordings. Instagram shout-outs are dead and all, but for Dagrin, a man who achieved so much in such little time, his immortality should be ensured, not just as long read blog posts and social media hashtags but as a necessity for the progress of the culture.
RIP Dagrin. We will never forget you