Fuji music might not be everybody’s cup of tea but there’s an artiste who certainly is: his name is Wasiu Alabi Pasuma. For the better part of three decades, he has been a constant feature on the Nigerian music scene – which is strange; unlikely even for a Fuji act.
By its nature, Fuji is specific to Yoruba people. Its origination from were, a type of indigenous Yoruba music, meant that most of the practitioners were from that tribe.
Despite the iconic status of the two biggest stars of the genre – Chief Sikiru Ayinde Barrister and KWAM1 – whose careers attracted money bags and transcended the small beginnings that they started from, no Fuji artiste has successfully broken out of the confines of language and ethnicity. None except Pasuma Wonder.
Since his breakout album Orobokibo in 1995, his desire to be seen as a ‘yuppie’ has been obvious for everyone to see.
Even though his music stayed true to its roots in sound (heavy percussion) and street lifestyle that he lived and his fans want, Pasuma always had his eyes on the seemingly more glamorous life that Nigerian hip-hop artistes lived.
Where the older Barrister and Wasiu wore agbadas and outfits not in fad, Pasuma dressed like a ‘hip-hop’ star: denim jackets, Tommy Hilfiger shirts, baggy jeans, Kangol caps and Heavy style glasses. It was no mistake that he gave himself the moniker ‘African Puff Daddy.’ He struck a chord with the younger generation. Even if you didn’t know any Pasuma music, you certainly recognised him as the Fuji musician who did not seem like the other Fuji musicians.
He would soon go on to collaborate with the new faces of urban Nigerian music at the turn of the century, The Remedies. With his trendy looks and ease which he casually name dropped fashion brands familiar to hip-hop listeners (Versace, Armani and the short-lived Kesse Jabari) it was not long at all before he became a visible part of the nascent urban Nigerian music that was gaining traction.
Again like a true pop star, he has ventured into film, appearing on several Yoruba movies. Perhaps as a testament to his mainstream appeal, he is reported to have dated a number of actresses from that industry – Ayo Adesanya, Bisi Ibidapo-Obe and SheBaby are just a handful of names he’s been mentioned with.
His love for hip-hop was pushed to the fore in 2015 when he released a hip-hop album. My World featured Tiwa Savage, Oritsefemi, Phyno, Terry G and Olamide. One might laugh at Pasuma’s attempts to spit hip-hop bars but his impact on hip-hop is no laughing matter.
His influence on the careers of Olamide in particular is glaring. The tone of Olamide ‘street’ movement is not far removed from the street nature of Pasuma’s own following. It has had a ripple effect so resounding that it is impossible to ignore: when you see Olamide being featured by M.I Abaga: a rapper who is not even Yoruba, credit ought to be given to Pasuma for being a universally recognised figure, not bound by his genre. When Reminisce laces his hip-hop rhymes with Fuji slang (Gbera for example), it’s a nod to ‘Popsie Aaliyah’.
Pasuma has introduced Fuji music to new audiences more than any other singer in his category. He’s executed more cross-genre collaborations than any other, and he’s one of the very few from that sector who remain consistent and relevant for decades. To put it simply: it’s very likely he’s the Fuji artiste other Fuji artistes want to be like.
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