Not many fans of what is today known as Fuji Music, especially those of the younger generation, know that that particular genre of music actually metamorphosed from the traditional Ajiwere/Ajisaari, the form of music used to wake Muslims up before dawn during the Ramadan fast.
Though the likes of Ganiyu Kuti, better known as “Gani Irefin” were famous as Ajiwere or Were singers, those who believe that Were and Fuji have their home in the Isale Eko area of Lagos Island; thanks to the exploits of the likes of Sikiru omo Abiba, Ayinla Yekini, Ajadi Ganiyu, Bashiru Abinuwaye, Saka Olayigbade, Ayinde Muniru, Fatai Ayinde, Jibowu Barrister and Kawu Aminu, who held sway in the early days.
A transformation however came when Alhaji Sikiru Ololade Ayinde Balogun, better known in the music world as Ayinde Barrister saw a poster advertising Mount Fuji, the highest peak in Japan, believed to be a haven of lovers. He adopted the name for his style of music which was a blend of Were, Juju, Highlife and even Sakara.
Barrister and Kollington’s Influence
With the transformation into Fuji, the duo of Sikiru Ayinde Barrister and Alhaji Kolawole Rasaki “Kollington” made magnificent impact in the 1970s. They were the lords of the Fuji world. Incidentally, both of them had at one time or the other served in the military.
With the fame and money that Fuji started bringing, rivalry started between the two major players simply stepped out of the bounds of moderation with their lyrics, some of which were abusive.
Fans of Kollington and Barrister were always full of expectations; waiting to hear the next hurl of insults. When Barrister returned from a tour of the United States and sang about how two of his band members; Tunde Balinga and Tajudeen Pele got lost in Atlanta and Chicago, Kollington did a rejoinder “ko ma s’eni to sonu ninu wa o, e je ka woran niwon tori ti a ba r’ajo” (none of us got lost, never lose concentration when you travel).
That they studied each other’s songs critically couldn’t have been more obvious; in the video of Barrister’s Fantasia Fuji, “Alhaji Agba” was shown singing on a sailing boat. Kollington in his next album sang “won lo f’aimowe won lo ja lu river, baba alagbafo lo yo won” (it was the washman that saved the man that plunged into the river).
While the rivalry went on for close to three decades, their fans enjoyed the oversized insults they threw around.
The rift between them officially ended on September 28, 2007 when Barrister insisted that King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal should pick him up at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and straightaway, they drove to Kollington’s house in Agbado. They discussed and after that, they invited Wasiu Alabi Pasuma to Kollington’s house.
The Talazo Revolution and Others
That Wasiu Omogbolahan Ayinde Anifowose, fondly referred to as K1 has an overpowering influence on the way Fuji Music is being played today is irrefutable. Right from 1984 when his Talazo Disco, “Wasiu Ayinde Barrister”started growing in importance. Thanks to the revolution he introduced; apart from substituting the traditional Iya Ilu and gangan drums with Sakara drums, Wasiu Ayinde’s Talazo System came with fast tempo beats and much heavier percussion which Fuji fans found danceable.
Since then, there has been no looking back; every album of the “Talazo Messiah” over the past 33 years has been a hit. His rise in the industry was phenomenal with Talazo in London in 1987 and American Tips in 1991 as major landmarks. By then, Fuji had become widely acceptable, even to the well-educated and members of the elitist class.
The introduction of Bonsue Fuji by Professor Adewale Ayuba further made Fuji the more appealing to the elitist class who had earlier seen Fuji as the music of touts and ruffians.
Abass Akande Obesere too dared to change things with his Asakasa style. In no time, his lewd and explicit lyrics gave him an edge, putting him on top of the game. Shortly after that, Wasiu Alabi Pasuma came with the Orobokibo revolution. His style made him the toast of almost all categories of Fuji lovers; the uneducated and the elites alike. ”Paso” soon became the hottest item; he was at a point the most sought after Fuji musician, featuring in hip hop, rap and even gospel songs.
… Then came younger musicians
Though many of them had been active in the music industry, the late 1980s and early ‘90s were better years for the likes of Chief Adewale Ayuba, Sir Shina Akanni, Musibau Alaragbo, Isiaka “Easy Kabaka” Ajani and Fatai Ishola “Sandoka” among others.
By the mid-90s, the tempo changed again and the likes of Wasiu Alabi Pasuma, Shefiu Alao “Candozzo”, Saheed Osupa, Sulaiman Adio Atawewe, Sule Alao Malaika looked set to take over from the old establishment.
How K1 became king
The history of Fuji music changed on July 2nd, 1993 in the premises of Africa’s first television station, NTA Ibadan where at an event packaged by Femi Akinrinwa and Lanre Alabi, Wasiu Ayinde Marshal was crowned as the King of Fuji. His appellation changed immediately to KWAM I, an acronym for King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal the first.
Expectedly, in Consolidation, his next album, the new king paid homage to Barrister and Kollington as “Baba Oba” (fathers of the king).
What’s in a name?
Like in other genres of music, the names Fuji musicians call themselves matter a lot, both to them and their fans. For instance, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister apparently took the “Barrister” in his name from Jibowu Barrister, with whose band he played in the early days.
With Barrister’s success, his mentee, Wasiu Ayinde adopted the “Barrister” title which he used for some years. Things however changed after the release of American Tips, Wasiu Ayinde had not only repackaged Fuji, he repackaged the branding that came with it too. His Ultimate album bore the name Marshal to which some read a meaning that he was pulling himself out of Sikiru Ayinde Barrister’s shadow.
Incidentally, after the Talazo album and the hits that followed, Wasiu Ayinde too became a role model. Ibadan’s main Fuji act back then, Alhaji Rasheed Ayinde was fondly referred to as “Talazo ‘Badan” because he had a style similar to that of Wasiu Ayinde. Wasiu Ayinde’s name change happened around the time the former Talazo ‘Badan released “Fuji Merenge”, his most successful album till date. He subsequently became known as Rasheed Ayinde Merenge.
After several hits, Obesere became the “Paramount King of Music”, an indication that he would no longer want to be under any king as far as Fuji is concerned. Pasuma too was known as “Otunba” and later Arabambi II after Wasiu Ayinde awarded himself the sobriquet “Arabambi”. Wasiu Alabi too chose to leave the king’s shadow with the formation of his “Oganla” clan.
Barrister’s endorsement of Saheed Osupa as “King of Music” at a show tagged “Legend and Son” would later generate some more controversy with everyone trying to carve his own niche and stand out as a brand.
Sule Alao Malaika was in London when he was called to come and become the King of New Generation Fuji; before he consented, he consulted with the three topmost leaders and they gave the go ahead. Today, he is a king. Sule Adio Atawewe is his own man. He is not struggling to be king; rather, he is contented with the title of “Etu”, which means kingmaker. His fans are usually quick to point out that “Etu o si, oba o je” (without Etu, no king can ascend the throne).
Taye Akande Adebisi Currency too was fondly called “Taye Paso” in Ibadan mainly because he sang like Pasuma. That has however changed as he is now known by the title “Apesin”.
This goes on to show that everybody has the status of a king in his own right and no one wants to be under anybody’s shadow these days.
Will it ever be solved?
As long as there is no central body or authority saddled with absolute king making powers in the Fuji world, the situation may continue. What is however good is that the rivalry that exists today is much healthier than that of the past. Fuji musicians have cordial and brotherly relationships and though they all see K1 de Ultimate as the leader of the younger generation, they all seem to have agreed that every Fuji musician is a king in his own domain.
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