By Arukaino Umokoro
Widely acclaimed as one of Nigeria’s most sought after Hip Hop artistes of recent times, Dagrin’s rise to fame was cruelly cut short by the sting of death on Thursday, April 22, 2010, eight days after crashing his Nissan Sedan into a stationary heavy duty lorry along Alakara Road, in Mushin area of Lagos.
Born Olaitan Oladapo Olaonipekun, Dagrin’s first official entrance into Nigeria’s music scene came unannounced as his 2006 debut album “Still on the Matter” did not enjoy much publicity or commercial success. Back then, only a few had heard of this confident, yet humble, young Nigerian artiste who stamped his creativity with his style – rapping in his native Yoruba language. Although Lord of Ajasa can arguably be said to have started the movement, Dagrin, with his energy and swagger, literally oiled the wheels. “There are quite a lot of guys out there who do the same thing. But Lord of Ajasa is the pioneer. Like I tell people always, I rap in Yoruba, while Ajasa represents,” said Dagrin in an interview with a magazine. Mutual respect is quite rare in this genre awash with overblown egos and personality clashes.
And it takes humility to dance in the limelight and still remember the sparks that made it possible.
On his journey into musical prominence, Dagrin featured on Efimile, a track with fellow artiste and close friend, YQ. But it was the release of his second album, CEO (Chief Executive Omoita) that forever etched Dagrin on Nigeria’s musical consciousness. With hit singles such as Thank God, Pon Pon Pon and Kondo, the album rapidly gained critical acclaim and commercial success. For most Nigerians, both at home and in Diaspora, here was an artiste that had finally entered the hit zone of his creative powers and ready to conquer the world with his music. As such, many expected that he would be hugging the limelight for a long time to come; until his untimely death in a private ward in Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi-Araba.
A flower was cut off in full bloom. At the age of twenty six, Dagrin was gone too soon. No doubt, Nigeria has lost one of its finest and original artistes. Although his earthly time was short, Dagrin made an impact with his music, which many believe would certainly outlive him. “We pray that his music and what he represented lives on and that his memories live in our hearts,” said renowned rap artiste, M.I. Maybe if reliable statistics were available, it would have shown that CEO (Chief Executive Omoita) record sale has hit the roof.
Dagrin’s short life and being able to rise above his circumstances is a testimony to the power of dreams – and believing in it. What he was able to achieve with his music in such a short time should be motivation to millions of Nigerians youths who should believe that they too, with hardwork and doggedness, can rise above their circumstances, and achieve their dreams in any field of endeavour. “If only Dagrin had lived longer….,” many (understandably) would still cry. But if there is any solace in such unexpected loss, it is the fact that Dagrin, against the odds, pursued and lived his dreams. And yes he did it in a big way – on the big stage.
Unlike in 2006, when he came into the musical scene unannounced, Dagrin’s talent and hardwork ensured that he left the earthly stage with thousands of fans screaming his name and a constellation of stars trailing behind him. It was evident in the mammoth crowd that graced his candle lit procession and burial ceremony.
His fans would certainly want to keep his music alive.
Rest in Peace, Dagrin.
N.B. This article was first published a week after Dagrin’s untimely death on April 22, 2010.