Editorial

Phyno: God, money and success driving singer’s recent hit songs

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A message of happiness, success, money-making, and God’s grace is a potent mix for a hit song. has found a way to make three hit songs.

The last three singles for have been consistent in their output and reception. The rapper has struck upon a winning formula for his next album, and it is one which does not involve rap.

Seen as one of Nigeria’s top players in the Hip-hop space, the singer has switched from rapping recently, to pop music.

But he is not alone. Every rapper in the country that has tasted mainstream success, and known the highs and trappings of commercialization of art, is no longer a rapper. They are all searching for that pop record. Every year, as our music descends further into the black hole of pop music, we have had many acts adapt to the trend and stay relevant. This has affected the growth of many other genres, who have lost purist acts to the lure and lucre of pop music.

Hip-hop has been the worst hit, with many decamping to the pop style for a hit record. Vector has been trying out a balancing act to little effect. M.I Abaga still lacks a hit song, but Olamide and are killing it. The duo who are regarded as the best acts in the genre, came together for a collaboration that gave Nigeria ‘Fada Fada’, an urban Highlife single with no sliver of rap attached. Experts predict that this will only get worse, as subgenre listenership drops and pop music keeps up its expansion with each new release.

Phyno’s formulaic approach can be laid thus: Grab a traditional melody, with deep highlife cuts and Afrobeat leanings from a masterful producer. The subject involves the acquisition of wealth, displays of success, and gratitude to God. These are the elements of what Nigerian term as true ‘happiness’. A country which prides itself for sing the hustle as a virtue, the gaining of money is huge driving force for everyone. The pursuit of it has become the sole purpose of a country that elevates wealth above everything else. Phyno struck that ubiquitous nerve in ‘Connect’, a song about money-making via business. On ‘Fada Fada’, he connects via the conveyance of enjoying that wealth, and giving gratitude to God. That struck another nerve.

Why change a winning formula? No way! Phyno is back today with a new song, ‘E sure for me (Olisa doo)’, with a huge underlining Afrobeat influence, but with the groove, tempo and message still the same. The rapper is sticking to what has worked so far, playing his cards close to his chest, and keeping it safe.

A message of happiness, success, money-making, and God’s grace is a potent mix for a hit song. Phyno has found a way to make three hit songs.