By Jerry Chiemeke
Nigerian musician Lanre Fasasi, popularly known as Sound Sultan, died on July 11, 2021, at the age of 44. He was a singer-songwriter, comedian, actor and producer, and he was widely regarded as one of the pacesetters of modern hip-hop in Nigeria.
The multitalented artiste will be remembered for making music that was relevant, perfectly blending social commentary with humour. However, he also knew how to write the kind of songs that caused bodies to move in various nightclubs across the country.
In memory of his life and contribution to Nigeria’s music scene, Afrocritik has curated a list of 10 songs that define Sound Sultan’s musicianship. The tracks are in no particular order, and this list is by no means the definitive “top 10 best Sound Sultan songs of all time” – a list of that nature is largely subject to conjecture – but at the very least, the songs highlighted here provide context as to his signature sound, artistic versatility and songwriting prowess.
Released in 2000, this socially-conscious track marked the entry of Sound Sultan into the Nigerian music scene, at least officially. The hilarious attempt to solve Nigeria’s problems with the mathematical equation known as BODMAS resonated with multiple demographics, and 21 years later, the lyrics are as relevant as ever.
Originally released in 2002, “Motherland” is an emotive admonition to Nigerians who migrate out of the country to always spare a thought for the home front. It is also a subtle warning not to get too desperate in the search for “greener pastures”. Sound Sultan was inspired to write this by the story of his former neighbour who was deported and sadly, committed suicide shortly afterwards. The song was re-mastered on his 2016 album Out Of The Box.
3. Bushmeat (ft. Tuface Idibia and W4)
The lead single off his 2008 album SS4, “Bushmeat” was a song that was very direct in calling out the government of the day for its brazen corruption, nepotism, and civic negligence. Featuring longtime friend Tuface Idibia and high-tenor crooner W4, the track was as catchy with its hook as it was incisive with its message.
4. 2010 (featuring MI Abaga)
The year was 2010, and MI Abaga was at the height of his powers as a rapper, but Nigeria was still struggling with electricity supply. Promises had been broken, generators were causing noise pollution all over the country, and Sound Sultan, ever the social crusader, felt the need to sing about it. Sadly, not much has changed 11 years after, but no one can say that he didn’t make the necessary noise.
One of the standout singles off the 2012 album Me, My Mouth And Eye, this track was a successful attempt at encouraging body positivity among Nigerian women. With a hearty video to match, it was a direct jab at the negative stereotypes surrounding plus-size women around the world.
6. Natural Something
With an extremely hilarious music video to boot, “Natural Something” is a light-hearted ballad that dwells on the story of a man who gets enchanted by the beauty of his love interest, and ends up spending all his money trying to impress. It’s a very familiar storyline, but it’s no less fun to listen to.
7. Kokose (featuring Wizkid)
The year was 2014, Wizkid was in high demand, and Sound Sultan was not particularly in the mood to ruminate on Nigeria’s teething problems. A few phone calls and studio sessions later, this bop was brought to life. Seven years have passed since the Legendary Beatz-produced track was released, but play it at any lounge and see if people won’t respond to the rhythm.
8. Monsura (featuring Olamide)
In the buildup to the release of his 2016 album Out Of The Box, Sound Sultan teamed up with serial hitmaker Olamide to churn out a mid-tempo pop tune. The song thrived more on star power than artistry, but at least fans who had been yearning for a collaboration got what they wanted.
9. Country Hard – Eedris Abdulkareem
What happens when two versatile artistes whose music is known for social activism decide to collaborate? The result is “Country Hard”, a track without any airs or niceties, clear in intent and without any misgivings about its targets. Critics would argue that it sounded dated, but certain messages transcend time or aesthetics, and both musicians definitely understood the assignment.
10. Human Being – MI Abaga (featuring Tuface Idibia and Sound Sultan)
By 2014, the use of social media had expanded in Nigeria, and celebrities were feeling three times the pressure to live up to A-list status. MI Abaga had something to say about that, and who else to assist him with his sermon but two veterans – Tuface Idibia and Sound Sultan? It was one of the sleeper hits off The Chairman album, but given what Instagram has become these days, the song has clearly aged well.
The death of Sound Sultan has been hard to take, but he sure left a lot of good music behind. He will go down in history as one of the best Nigerians to do it, and as we shuffle these classics, we wipe a few tears, but we also smile because he made indelible art.