In the last decade, Olamide has easily been the most influential Nigerian rapper, combining a fantastic music career with owning a label that has churned out superstars like Lil Kesh, Adekunle Gold and Fireboy DML. Since launching his label Yahoo Boy No Laptop (YBNL) in 2012, Olamide has either signed or co-signed at least 15 different acts that have either faded into oblivion or become stars in their own right.
Now, it’s the beginning of a new decade and Olamide has a new hot talent, Fireboy DML, who will benefit from a new international joint venture deal with US label Empire. As Olamide charts a new future for YBNL Nation, how have the other acts who have featured on the label fared? What does YBNL’s track record tell us about its future?
The first generation of artists signed to YBNL include Adekunle Gold and Lil Kesh, both signed in 2014, who became superstars through their involvement with the label. Other signees of this class like Chinko Ekun and Viktoh didn’t do so well for reasons we may never know but certainly not for lack of talent. “Lil kesh @mynameiskesh …. Time bomb lomoyen .. E go soon blow,” Olamide wrote in a social media post after signing Lil Kesh. He was right.
YBNL’s second generation of artists had Davolee, who didn’t do much during his time at the label, and the labels’ first female signing Temmie Ovwasa, who is still signed to the label but hasn’t released any full body project nor garnered any major hits. Both of them were signed to the label in 2016 right after the exit of Adekunle Gold and Lil Kesh. In 2019, Pulse published unconfirmed reports that Davolee had signed to New Nation Muzik. Their logos also appear on some of his single artworks.
The third generation of YBNL artists had more co-signs than actual record contracts. Lyta, Limerick, Picazo Rhap and Yomi Blaze who featured on the 2018 YBNL Mafia Family compilation album, didn’t have recording contracts. They have all moved on from the label with only Limerick and Yomi Blaze retaining the faintest affiliations with the label. As far as we know, Lyta is now signed to Doro Muzik and released the hit Monalisa in 2019. Picazo Rhap is signed to Senior Boyz Records and has a new single Beholder out while Limerick and Yomi Blaze seem to be independent artists.
Fireboy DML was also part of this third generation of acts that didn’t have record contracts, until 2019 when he was signed officially. His single on the YBNL Mafia compilation album Jealous was the hit song of the album and it was re-released as a Fireboy single. The song eventually made it onto his Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps album. The album has become a massive hit with over 150 million streams online and critical acclaim likening the album to Wande Coal’s classic Mushin 2 Mo’Hits. He is the immediate future of YBNL.
In the announcement of the YBNL Nation joint venture deal with US label, Olamide said, “Happy to announce that YBNL and Empire got a joint venture deal. Myself and Fireboy with any other act I sign next ready to shake the world.” What does the next decade hold for Olamide, YBNL and Fireboy? Time will tell.
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