In September 2018, Chinko Ekun finally scored his long-sought hit. The Dek-Niyor rapper fielded a team of Lil Kesh and Zlatan Ibile over a scintillating Rexxie production and released ‘Able God’ to the warm embrace of the streets. Over hard-hitting percussions, the three rappers call on to God for blessings while providing slang-laced commentaries on street hustles. Its accompanying video shot largely in a church featured a new dance that entailed repeated rhythmic hopping, punctuated occasionally with a faux jump kick. It instantly became a street anthem and before long, the record found its way to the clubs, dominated the airwaves, and remained on the lips of music lovers. A hit was born.
‘Able God’ which recently picked up the Street Hop award at the 2019 Headies was an enormous success that ushered in the Zanku dance to the mainstream as the successor of the globetrotting shaku-shaku. For Chinko Ekun, it was the much-needed hit single that eluded him since his YBNL days. But over a year since it’s release, the biggest winner of the monster hit record was Zlatan and Rexxie the producer for whom the club banger served as a launchpad to stardom.
Yes, Chinko Ekun had a hit to his name, pushed him in conversations that he never existed before, and had a good run of stage performances in the last quarter of 2018. It even got him his first Headies award. But he has since struggled to replicate the success of ‘Able God’ or even something close. His last two singles, ‘Calling‘ and ‘Mafo‘ have been met with middling success – and that’s being generous.
But for Zlatan, ‘Able God’ was the beginning of something way more massive.
Prior to its release, Zlatan was a balmy indigenous rapper seeking to thrust himself into mainstream consciousness. Yes, he had a couple of hot tunes on the streets but nothing strong enough to propel him to stardom. But with the release of the smash, Zlatan who many never knew existed just a year ago has grown into a household name. His standout verse on the record was the first of his run of killer features that is still on. That was where many of us first heard his tongue-twisting mantra, ‘kapaichumarimarichopaco’ that left us probing for its meaning and origin till the year’s end. Along with his heralded Zanku dance being the dominant step in the country for almost a year now, Zlatan has simply moved from obscurity to stardom in the space of just a year.
It is almost irrefutable that Zlatan is the hottest rapper right now. Perhaps rivalled only by his friend and frequent collaborator, Naira Marley. Both are gradually unseating Olamide as the go-to guy for street anthems, haunting verses, candied ad-libs and pop slangs. As it stands, they could even give Burna Boy a run for his money as the hottest Nigeria act in 2019.
And just like the YBNL general, the green-haired rapper has comfortably positioned himself as a staple for both the gritty corners of Agege and the wavy waters of Lekki. He has been on a spree of killer-features, bringing the Midas touch to almost every single he blesses particularly with his infectious ad-libs. Even our biggest superstars, wanting to get a slice of the Zanku pie have continued to tap him for assists. Zlatan has teamed up with Davido, Tekno and even Burna, in their award-winning duet,‘Killin Dem’, which is still one of Naija’s biggest songs at the moment.
Another winner is Rexxie who has now moved from a producer seeking validation to a certified hitmaker. Ever since ‘Able God‘, Rexxie must have crossed some things off his bucket list, having worked with some of Nigeria’s biggest acts like Davido and Tiwa this past year. He has also been on a streak of bangers especially on his team-ups with Naira Marley. Even his bio on Twitter says it all: “Hits Only”. Now when you hear his ‘Yo Rexxie pon dis one‘ as any song kicks in, you know that you’re in for a treat.
‘Able God’ is more than just another hit. It was the ignition that propelled acts into the mainstream consciousness after years of underground dominance. This doesn’t imply that it is single-handedly responsible for their present successes. No, but it gave them the visibility that Zlatan and Rexxie particularly have leveraged upon to take their careers to the next level. While Chinko Ekun is slowly fading back into obscurity and Lil Kesh is almost nowhere to be found.