Partying Without Zlatan Ibile’s Music Should Be Illegal

August 15, 2019

It’s 2019. Zlatan Ibile, a green-haired lyricist from the slums of Agege, is the hottest rapper in Nigeria. He’s everything you didn’t know you needed. Like if someone found a way to make amala and catfish pepper-soup work as a combo.

Zlatan is a certified pop star now. There’s no arguing that. To be honest, no-one can say how and why he came this far, so quickly. He’s not the first Nigerian rapper to bring the music of the streets to the mainstream. He’s not the first to have such frequent brushes with controversy either.

One moment, he was one of thousands in the dark underbelly of Nigerian music, where Naijaloaded holds sway, and the next moment we were shouting ‘kapaichumarimarichupaco’ and doing the Zanku into 2019.

Zlatan kicked off the year in 2018, ironically. Like watch-night services and prayer sessions in the years before the economy swallowed our faith in God, “Killin Dem” was the song that ushered many Nigerians into the new year. Since then, Zlatan has refused to let go of our necks.

He’s managed to achieve all his success without losing what makes him distinct: his energy. The defining feature of Zlatan and his work is its capacity to move you, even when he’s trying to be serious. It comes from an energy that’s contagious. It’s peer pressure at its finest. And by god, it’s beautiful to listen to and watch in action.

Think about “Am I A Yahoo Boy” for instance. It’s supposed to address claims that the two are internet fraudsters. On any day, that’s a serious allegation. But as soon as the beat comes on, your home training evaporates and your legs start to fight for freedom. Like it or not, you soon find yourself dancing to a song that packs 30 years of counterculture into three minutes.

If you’ve (refused to succumb to your problems and) partied in 2019, you’ll know what happens when a Zlatan Ibile song comes on the speakers. It’s like someone sprinkled hard drugs in the air. Only this time, it’s a rare form of cocaine that compels people to jump and stab their feet in the air.

The only other person who has this capacity is his friend, Naira Marley. Unlike him, Zlatan can combine his energy and affinity for street culture with being a rare likeability. He’s like the neighbourhood delinquent who worms his way into your family until he earns the right to show up for Sunday dinner unannounced.

The best example is probably not any of his songs, even though each one sounds like a war chant and a celebration of unexpected dollars rolled into one. It’s those videos of him laying his adlibs over newly recorded tracks. Even without an accompanying beat, they sound like you’re expected to do something. You get the same feeling as when your father opens the door to your room and stands at the entrance, silently staring into your eyes. You don’t know what you’ve done wrong but you just want to fix up your life and make up for your mistakes.

It’s that energy, coupled with Rexxie’s beats that has made certain DJs build their entire club mix around his music. It’s why Tekno returned from an unfortunate hiatus and had to tap Zlatan for a low-budget Zanku ripoff titled “Agege”. Because when you’ve copied a person’s sound and featured him on the song, naming it after their neighbourhood is a small ask. It’s why Zlatan’s music is what gets the party moving; whether it’s the first or penultimate song on your tracklist.

It’s why I think we should go further and make it an informal rule at least; it should be illegal to party without Zlatan’s music.

I know this sounds like a joke. In a sense, that’s what it started as, but since I started writing this, I’ve gotten more reasons why this is necessary.

The Morality prefect inside you is probably asking, “Segun, wazz all this?” Get over yourself and your Sunday school lessons. This is bigger than us all. This is about love, a shared identity and most importantly, social equality. This is about passion.

You see, Zlatan is a kind of cross-cultural, inter-class mixologist. Think of him as a member of Major Lazer. Only, instead of generic Carribean vibes, his forte is making music that forces you to lose your self-control, whether you’re a 12-year-old selling gala in traffic or a billionaire looking to reconnect with the simpler days of his youth. Zlatan’s voice attacks the legs, which makes sense because the Zanku is also known as ‘legwork’.

Anyone with the ability to get people dancing across generations and social classes has to use his ability for something more than Eko Hotel shows and Instagram likes. That’s why we need to weaponize his music to do what Buhari, 30+ years of NYSC and Jollof rice have struggled to achieve.

It’s difficult to harbour resentment towards anyone for being richer than you when you’ve danced “Zanku” together at an owambe, with bottles of beer raised to the high heavens as a sign of togetherness.

Making Zlatan’s music a compulsory part of our lives will bridge tribal & social prejudice. The broke Yoruba transporter from Oshodi will see his wealthy Igbo brother from Port Harcourt and as they both ‘gbe body’ to Shotan, they’ll find that they have so much more in common than they know.

It’s only a short distance from there to world peace.

Segun Akande

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

October 14, 2020

For the past seven days Nigeria has had it’s biggest national scale protest since 1993.  The #EndSARS protest is a peaceful but powerful movement against police brutality in Nigeria, both generally, and specifically by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police. In these marches, music is an important tool to keep the people going. This […]


Now on Zikoko

September 25, 2021

oraimo FreePods 3 Feature LeakFor a while now, oraimo has been cooking something awesome for her consumers, and it’s finally here. I guess it’s safe to say oraimo is like a fine wine that keeps getting better with time. When it comes to delivering a product that is not only affordable but also comes with […]

September 25, 2021

The subject of today’s Sex Life is a 29-year-old bisexual woman who talks about deciding to have sex after a car accident, getting over sex guilt and how she started grading her male sexual partners.

Recommended Quizzes

how tall are you
March 11, 2020

Did your parents give you enough beans when you were growing up? If they did, then you’re probably around 6’0″ and above. Either way, we created a quiz that can guess your current height (pretty accurately, if we do say so ourselves). Take to see if we nailed it:

October 10, 2019

2019 is certainly Burna Boy’s year, but, if we are being honest, so was 2018. Since his transcendent mixtape, Outside, the afro-fusion star has refused to get his foot of our necks — dropping a string of fantastic singles and then capping it all off with his career-best album, African Giant.  So, in a bid […]

April 9, 2020

At some point in life, we all learnt that someone can be very intelligent and still lack common sense. That’s the difference between being book smart and being street smart. If you’re not sure where on the spectrum you fall, well, that’s what this quiz is here to tell you. Take it:

March 24, 2020

While we know that a lot of the best Nigerian artists deservedly have fans across generations, that won’t stop us from attempting to guess how old you are based on your taste in Nigerian music. So, take this quiz to see if we got it right:

November 11, 2019

Everyone has something to say about what kind of person they are. But how well do we truthfully evaluate these things? Not that much, I can assure you. The average person is always lying to themselves to make sure they look good. But you know what and who doesn’t lie? Zikoko quizzes that’s what. Take […]

More from Pop

September 14, 2021

It was yet another Thursday games night on the BBNaija Season 6 show with TECNO and it was a very creative one. As you know, TECNO has been on the Season 6 journey with the housemates since it began and they have not disappointed. With the TECNO Phantom X dolling out incredible pictures of the […]

September 14, 2021

Watching the BBNaija show comes with different stages. You may not notice it, but somehow you go through a complete metamorphosis from the first week you watch the show to the last week when the winner is finally announced. The viewer you were at the beginning of the show is dramatically different from the viewer […]


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.