While some may not be comfortable with eLDees choice for an album title Return of the King, he most definitely has a claim to the throne, if such a seat exists in Nigerian hip-hop. At a time when hip-hop in Nigeria was badly in need of an identity, groups like the Trybesmen of which he was a founding member, provided the blueprint for the style that is now generally accepted as African hip-hop. If I Go Yarn, the thought provoking single from Return of the King, eLDees forthcoming album, is any indication what to expect from the album, his critics will be silenced.
I Go Yarn is classic eLDee material, original, indigenous, conscious and still a very catchy song. The song laments the situation in Nigeria, a topic most artists are known to blatantly steer clear of. It stresses the disparity between life in developed countries and developing ones. Lyrically opinionated with lines like them dey come here, them dey see the way wey everything dey work, dem go just ignore, it places the blame not on governments inability to make things better, but their inhumane unwillingness to do so, caused only by wanton greed. The Video, released in May 2006, has enjoyed massive airplay and even topped the channel 0 music video charts. As a matter of fact, eLDee had another single from the album, Im leaving, filling the number two spot on the chart whilst I Go Yarn was number one.
If you were in Nigeria back in 1999 and owned a Radio, you would have your personal story of the first time I ever heard Shake Bodi. Their first hit as a group, Trybal Marks, borrowed its hook from the song Yellow fever, a song composed and performed by the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti. The release of the groups debut album, L.A.G. Style heralded his status, not only as an artist, but also as a top notch producer. In terms of longevity, the L.A.G style album remains a firm cult classic.
eLDee set up the indie label Trybe Records, due to the lack of faith in Nigerian hip-hop shown by major record labels at the time, to promote the group's album. The success of the label has been so tremendous, people easily forget its independent status making it one of the top three labels in Nigeria. Such was the impact of eLDees debut as artist-cum-producer-cum-CEO, that even without a music video or major financial backing, it catapulted him to pioneer status in the music industry.
As producer, eLDee's resume is thick and boasts a host of artist, not only from Nigeria, but the UK and the US, such as multiple Grammy winner, Lauryn Hill. eLDee produced all the Trybesmen songs, the soundtracks for the Mainframe movie; Campus queen, Da Trybes monster hit Oya (which spent a staggering 19 weeks atop the Nigerian video charts), Life of a ghetto child, the soundtrack for the MNET movie Prize Maze , Sashas Emi Le Gan, 2SHotz Carry Am Go and a bunch of other songs too numerous to list. eLDees discography boasts of over 320 songs of which at least 50 were number one radio-chart busters.
As CEO of Trybe Records, he is responsible for birthing and nurturing now famous acts on the Nigerian music scene such as, 2Shotz, Sasha, TiMi, SiD and Del(together with the Trybesmen, they were collectively known as Da Trybe). He also inspired a generation of entrepreneurs by showing them that music making could be a very reputable and lucrative business. A lot of people, even industry folk, are ignorant of the fact that he engineered the current romance between artists, independent labels and Alaba marketers. So when raps Cant understand why you so ungrateful/still living off of the crumbs that fall from my table/You know I started this s**t/For real, and is this the thanks I get? on the album title track, there is a lot behind such flagrant statements.
In Nigeria, eLDee (with the Trybesmen) had opened shows for international acts such as Dru Hill, Ginuwine and Guru. Currently based in the US, eLDee has performed at numerous concerts, including the 2004 Nigerian Re-union in both Atlanta and Maryland. He also hosted the African Hip-Hop summit in Atlanta, among those in attendance were Grammy Award winner Big Boi of Outkast, The Outlawz, Xtaci(members of T.I's label 'Grand Hustle), Maceo, Gucci Mane, Big Cat Records representatives and a host of reputable artist management and P.R companies. The summit was also covered by reporters from reputable media houses such as Vibe, Ebony, XXL, The Source and Rolling Out.
Upon returning to Nigeria in 2006, eLDee signed a deal with Storm Records. Contrary to speculation, this did not imply the end of Trybe Records, but a means to break boundaries that once constrained him from reaching his full potential. He still maintains creative freedom on the album and as such, the Trybe elements in his music are undiluted.
The album, which has very few featured guest artist, Ikechukwu, Real Life(an American rapper), Keno, Zana, and Marcus(an American spoken word artist) is predominantly eLDee. For an artist such as eLDee, recording an album is always an uphill task, not because of any external factors, but personal standards; they say a genius is his own worst critic. eLDee sees music as a tool for connecting with people, and so on the track Everyday, he addresses his biggest critics, the hip-hop purists, who accuse him of polluting the art by fusing rap with pidgin. Cos it aint about the metaphors you spit/If you cant connect with your people you still aint s**t/Thats why Im slowing it down, spicing it up with vernacular On tracks like champion eLDee provides a street anthem, something very reminiscent of the song Plenty Nonsense, only this time taking it a step further by singing, not only in pidgin, but Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo! and is currently shooting a Video for the song.
The album promises a lot and heralds the return of an artist most definitely fit to be king.