Part 1: First Fuji/ Juju Where Are You?

My final dose and total conversion to Fuji came from my cousin Ariyo who was staying at Laula Ibrahim street Akoka/Bariga.
Though we are presently not on speaking terms, might take ten years for family to settle this matter but….

The first time I got to taste Fuji music was when popsy brought home Kollington’s American Yankee 1987 album, prior to that my real Dad had volumes of Barrister, Kollington and all the assorted Apala greats of the time however since I wasn’t raised by him I only knew those records in passing.

We moved to bariga in December 87, Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey had us on lock, Barry Wonders at 40 took over and Fuji garbage carried us into 89. It wasn’t until Shina Peters burst out Afro juju did we realise what was about to happen. The groove, gyration, energy sent everyone back to the work bench.

Kollington had released Ijo Yoyo but Ropopo came as a response to the demand in town. It was back to back hits. Juju acts and Fuji acts were having a field day. Dayo Kujore with Soko, Dele Taiwo, Ayuba with Mr Johnson, Salawa with Gentle Lady etc Our ears were filled and our feet shuffled same mad jams from party to party. I won best dancer at my little cousin’s party in Makoko, which got my aunt Taiye of blessed memory wondering if I was really in school in Ijebu studying or parading party dens, unfortunately Baba Adebiyi my Guardian was Baba Ijo of St Thomas African Church Ijebu Igbo and any behaviour beyond my name ‘Emmanuel’ was not tolerated. He used to sing that beautiful hymn to make me feel like his biological son “Oruko wo l’odun t’oyi, Emma-nu-el”.

By 1991 Kollington gave us Megastar, then kasabubu, Sunny Ade gave us Good Shepherd, to wrap up 89, Obey had dished out Immortality in 87 to celebrate the late Obafemi Awolowo and gently left the Afro groove to those who had the energy, his follow up effort ‘Patience’ was more or less a sign off (Suru la fi nse Oko Obirin video featured Ajirebi ‘Pa James’ as the mischievous home breaker. Watch out for Ajirebi as he plays my father in the movie ‘Ajala Travels’ available on Splufikworld on YouTube from January 1st 2022).

Meanwhile underground, Obesere was in the trenches building up a radical unexpected onslaught for the Fuji market. King Wasiu Ayinde had been having a steady and consistent ride since his major breakout with Talazo Fuji in 84, Adewale Ayuba had brought a gentleman angle with Bubble in 92. Wasiu Ayinde blew up everywhere with consolidation in 94.

In fact 94 was the turn over year of ethnic music. Shina Peters, Salawa Abeni, Orlando Owoh all released same titled album ‘Experience’ and each record was a ground breaking hit.

Then Abass Akande Obesere pushed aside every new comer like himself (Sunny T Adesokan etc) and dazed us with Tosibe chronicles, it was raunchy, naughty, crafty, intentional and delightful. We grovelled over the groove and the mysticism and audacity of such vulgarity because prior to that everything was on code.

I had heard Lekan Ekundayo from my class talk about this new coming Jherry curl crazy leg dancing Fuji act who called himself African Fuji Michael Jackson about to burst out, I  had also heard Sanmi Dairo in my school hostel in Molusi college singing some alphabetical lyrics from an unknown Fuji act. I didn’t pay much attention but I took notes because Sanmi like Yisa Lasisi were mushin dawgs and had all the updates from the hood and the streets. Sanmi would later become a band member with Yinka Ayefele before relocating to the UK to create his own band. He is doing well.

So, we woke up one day in 95 and heard a twist to the Shabba Ranks ‘Ting A Ling A Ling’ in a Fuji way and boom Pasuma was everywhere with Orobokibo, even the album art was same as the posture Shabba Ranks did. Who the hell is this guy, how did he come from playing with Alphabets to sexual sensation in such a gruffy but soulful voice reminiscent of the radical Ayinla Omowura who was actually the man behind the transition of Apala to modern Fuji?.

Pasuma and Obesere took over the scene. They grabbed it. Lagbaja’s sax version of Wasiu Ayinde ‘Baby mi show colour e’ kept him with us because the Legacy album of 95 featuring Blaccky didn’t compliment the 94 effort.

I was at a beach gig in 96 working behind the scenes, where Showkey, Blackky, Yomi Peters, Junior of Junior and Pretty was MC, and Obesere were major acts. Blackky was performing when Omo Rapala came into the beach all dressed in a green emerald Italian suit with shoes and jewelry that matched in tone and finesse. It was a shut down. He was indeed the king of the streets albeit he had dedicated a part of his album to all the Local commercial Danfo drivers to which he was also an investor, same as Showkey.(‘Danfo o si e re’ was a street anthem) That was the day I saw the power of Fuji. Nigga shut down the entire Lekki beach Axis. He commanded and commandered the whole Arena. I was in awe.

The hopes of Apala lost and age catching up with the Fuji greats was rekindled. He took off from the Kollington drive of slanging, groovy, trendy and scintillating vibes.

Obesere then took off to Yankee to rest, recorded a double album and scattered everywhere again in 96 with OBTK…Omo, this is genius on another level, forget the obnoxious lyrics, how is he doing this?.

My neighbour Bro Nuru, at 22 Olokodana street, off Temple bustop in bariga blasted the album till I knew every word. Pasuma was relentless, back to back. Then he did magic by fusing Hiphop with Fuji on the African puff Daddy album by featuring Eedris Abdulkareem. Men, so much was happening with this Fuji thing.

So one night in 96 I decided to be a cat and I took my curiosity to the back of the Bariga main market where the street urchins and rough heads hibernated at night to carry out some kurukere activities with the Sisi Alagbo’s. It was a huge risk to walk those paths at the time without getting mugged but I knew the streets and respected it with a manner of approach. Never cross that part of town like a made man. Move like you are ‘one of them’.

I arrived the Fuji jump and observed from a safe distance to avoid inhaling the congent exhaust of weed, afterall, I am not Ras kimono who doesn’t smoke weed but loves the Aroma. With some skeletal music band arrangement of one guy drumming on omele, another on a gong and some by the way items to create sound, I saw a skinny guy in the middle of the small circle doling out thick Fuji vibes in a barritone voice like a ram crying out to his gang. It was raw yet warm. It was rich, welcoming and reassuring to the listeners, he was giving them hope with the lyrics. Hailing, cajoling, soothing and positioning them for the next days hustle. I moved closer to find out more and heard his name was Taye Currency.

Ismaila Abimbola, my bunkie and bestie for a season in Molusi had sang the gospel of Rasheed Fuji Merenge to my ears whilst swishing his handkerchief and mopping his beardless face, I enjoyed it but Ibadan was too far from Gidi for me to be a serious fan.

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