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AN EXILED KING LAYS CLAIM TO HIS CROWN

By Oluwaseun Akinyemi
Eedris Abdulkareem & 50 cents
Eedris Abdulkareem & 50 cents

The music industry in Nigeria is steadily coming of age. More artistes now get the recognition and remuneration they deserve with the stars now being treated with respect by show promoters, sharing stages with their international counterparts.

But if there is one person that has laid his career and status on the line to secure recognition in recent past, that person is Eedris Abdulkareem. The 2004 fracas with 50 Cent seemed to have opened the eyes of many people to the shabby treatment meted out to our own stars. Having reigned supreme since 1996, when the legendary Remedies stepped out with Shakomo, up till 2004, with Jaga jaga, which got a bit more than the former President Olusegun Obasanjo's attention, Eedris was definitely set for stardom. Fuelled by the Kennis Music Hype Machinery, Eedris was said to have sold millions of records, placing him as a true king in contemporary music circles.

By 2005, after a series of unfortunate events triggered by Obasanjo's rather uncomplimentary reaction to Jaga jaga and the 50 cent episode, Letter to Mr. President, released that year under his La Kreem imprint, received less than a royal welcome. After a three-year hiatus, Mr. Remedies is back in 2008 with The King is Back.

If you think three years is a mighty long time to regain relevance, then ask Weird MC. But the veteran gets rather comfortable in his fifth album and the second under his La Kreem entertainment label, with the support of his protégés, most especially, Kilo, who makes four appearances. The first risk Eedris takes is having just one famous guest appearance in an album that is intended to garner him acceptance in an industry that seems to have moved on without him, however.

Armed with production expertise from Dr. Benstin, Snoop Dogg (TY), Tisso and Puffy-T, and assisted by sing-song hooks and occasional chants of 'The king is back', Eedris breezes through the album, leaving few lasting memories. One track that will linger in the minds of many a bit longer is the Puffy-T produced Koleyewon.

It has always been the opinion of some that Mr. Lecturer crooner was better off switching to highlife as most of his hits (Mr. Lecturer, Jaga jaga) have been sung, not rapped. It's no argument that Eedris is better off singing than rapping, delivering songs like Aure and Promised Land in Hausa. Occasionally making references to his past troubles, but never afraid to get personal in a song like Sekinat, Eedris has a lot on his mind, and this is obvious as the 16 track CD is a career high.

Perhaps, the chief responsibility of a king is to speak up for his people, the voiceless and downtrodden and Eedris does just that. He launches into a five-track sermon towards the end of the album, lending his voice to the South-south in Peace in Niger-Delta, addressing poverty in Millennium Development Goals. He displays rare selflessness by giving, even giving the police a voice, in a comeback album set to place back where he left off.

Although many would have thought that the musician has flogged Mr Lecturer enough, the metaphoric randy don yet makes a return in its fourth installment. The tales about the randy chap, however, seems to bring nothing new to the fore. But his fans will love vintage Eedris materials like Yepaa, Last Man standing, and Welcome to Africa.

Again, what Eedris really needs is a total revamp; he needs to finally let go of the past. A veteran's strength lies in the ability to adapt and move on. A strength that is needed in order to remain relevant in an ever dynamic music industry