Portable, AKA Dr. Zeh, is one of the most talked about artist in the Nigerian music scene at the moment, after he made a random appearance at the British Fashion Awards 2023 with Skepta.
Since he burst into the industry in December 2021, he’s kept his name in the news and on people’s lips. Born Habeeb Okikiola, Portable is a controversial figure, but that’s exactly what feeds his continued relevance. To understand how he’s captivated a mainstream audience, this is a timeline of his journey.
December 2021: Sango Ota to Lagos
It was a different December for Portable in 2021. A social-media personality known as Don Blu posted a video of Portable singing ZaZoo Zehh, a freestyle, on Instagram and Snapchat. Many viewers found it funny and thought he was just another local artist looking for fame. But the freestyle made the rounds on the internet and reached popular street-dancer, PocoLee, who heard a potential end-of-year jam. Upon request, Don Blu facilitated the link-up between Portable and Poco Lee. Next thing, YBNL boss, Olamide, asked Portable to pull up to Lekki, Lagos.
On December 14, 2021, they dropped the audio (produced by P.Priime) and music video (directed by TG Omori). ZaZoo Zehh became one of the breakthrough Nigerian songs of 2021, and barely 72 hours later, Portable climbed the Livespot X stage to perform his hit with Olamide and PocoLee. Wizkid joined them on this stage to spray Portable with dollar bills. Four days after, Portable was dragging Poco Lee online for “ripping” him. He stated that he owns the song and should rightfully be credited as the primary artist instead of “PocoLee feat. Portable & Olamide”. Portable also claimed that Poco only gave him $600 out of the $3000 Wizkid sprayed.
Next thing, Kogbagidi (born Quadri Taored), a show promoter Portable used to call his “helper” sent him packing from his house. In the video Kogbagidi posted on his page, he called the “$3000” Poco Lee’s money and told Portable to return to his village in Sango Ota, Ogun State. As some guys packed Portable’s belongings out, Kogbagidi blamed them for not monitoring Portable in his absence.
The drama generated online sympathy from music lovers and artists like Slimcase, who took to Instagram to plead for Portable.
Portable apologised to Poco Lee, Kogbagidi and Olamide, asking them to forgive him for the earlier flare-up. Kogbagidi and Portable made up, but soon after, they had another clash about cars and contracts. In a video that surfaced online, Portable held a baseball bat, complaining about being cheated, while Kogbagidi begged him. They made up yet again. But on Jahbless’s “Original Intelligence” podcast in January 2022, Portable announced that the relationship ended.
January – April 2022: Billboard charts and U.K. debut
On January 5, 2022, ZaZoo Zehh debuted at number 14 on Billboard Top Triller Global Charts. On January 19, he released All Eyes On Me featuring Barry Jhay, and Neighbour with Small Doctor on the 29th. On February 11, Portable released his Zazuu Zeh EP and spent the next two months consistently putting out songs and features. In April, Portable performed at AY’s Easter show and went with socialite and 5-Star Records owner, E-Money, to the U.K. for shows in Peckham, Birmingham and Manchester.
May – July 2022: Zeh Nation is born and Headies drama
In May, Portable posted a certificate of incorporation for a new record label called Zeh Nation Limited on Instagram. The Headies 2022 nominee list came out on May 24, and Portable was in the Rookie of the Year category alongside Fave AV, Ugoccie and Magixx. He was also nominated for the Best Street-Hop category with Bella Shmurda, Mohbad, Naira Marley and Goya Menor.
On May 25th, Portable threatened to cause harm to other nominees if he didn’t win the awards. The Headies asked him to retract his statement and tender an apology. Instead, he offered a back-handed apology, claiming they knew his attitude before they nominated him.
On July 18, Portable called himself the founder of cult group, One Million Boys, and The Headies swiftly disqualified him from all categories.
August 2022: Chief of Zeh Nation
On August 22, Oba Olabode Thomas-Fagbayi (Onitigbo of Tigbo-Ilu) conferred upon Portable the chieftaincy title, Amuludun of Tigbo, Aworiland, an area in Yewa Local Government, Ogun State. He posted videos of his coronation ceremony on Instagram, and days later, he signed his first artist, Olamzzy, to Zeh Nation.
September – December 2022: International shows, album drop and coffin entrance
Portable went from losing a South African gig due to his social media fights in September, to performing in Germany and Italy in October, where he claimed to have faced extortion and escaped death. On November 25, he released his album, Ika of Africa, a few days after he signed Youngy Duu to Zeh Nation. And on December 28, Portable arrived in a coffin to Portable Live In Concert at Fela’s Shrine, Lagos — his debut show as the main act.
April 2023: A prison-inspired hit
On March 30, police officers were at Portable’s Odogwu Bar in Sango Ota for unspecified reasons. The artist took to his IG story and claimed they came to assault him. The following day, he ended up in police custody. On April 3, the court granted bail after he met some conditions.
Four days after his release, he put out the viral hit, Am Not a Prisoner.
August 2023: Terry G link-up and U.S. tour
Portable and Terry G released Ogbafia on August 16, 2023, after their viral link-up. Soon after, Portable and his wife, Omobewaji, hosted a ceremony to celebrate the first anniversary of his chieftaincy title. He later announced his United States tour to run from September 8, 2023 to March 23, 2024.
November 2023: The sophomore album
Portable released his second studio album, Anikuleti Street Don Jazzy (meaning the Don Jazzy of Anikuleti Street), on November 24, 2023. Although there’s no noise around it, Dr. Zeh is still on his U.S. tour as of the date of publishing.
December 2023: Skepta link-up and Brit Fashion Award
It came as a surprise to many when Nigerian-British artist, Skepta, asked for Portable’s whereabouts on his IG story and X. On December 5, the rapper posted a photo of Portable’s reserved seat at the 2023 British Fashion Awards before they both pulled up to the function.
Knowing how Skepta moves, we might get a music collaboration from them soon, but don’t be surprised if you see Portable on a fashion runway in the near future.