K1 de Ultimate’s “Fuji the Sound” serves a dose of nostalgia to quieten the hysteria around a pandemic- Udochukwu Ikwuagwu
A lot has changed between K1 de Ultimate’s ‘Ara Edide’, released in 1999, and its contemporary version, ‘Awade’, which debuted in 2020. His mentor, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, has joined the ancestors.
K1 de Ultimate switched to active politics while his label founder and godfather, Saliu Adetunji, has become a king. One of the benefactors he praised on the aforementioned record off the classic album, “Okofaji Carnival: Fuji Fusion”, has seen fortune turn its back on him. Canada, which he spoke of, has become the refuge of Nigerians escaping the trials of the world.
Since his debut in the eighties, he has been known for inventing and reinventing himself with most observers naming him the moderniser of the fuji sound. Bringing the fuji sound to the younger generation, while influencing pop artists, gives credence to his claim on ‘Awade’ of reinventing himself and being a shining light to the youth. K1 was the first fuji artist to feature a mega popstar when he got Blackky on ‘Let’s Dance’ off his 1996 album, Legacy. He laid the template for fuji fusion artists, Pasuma and Malaika, and contemporary artists like Olamide and Dammy Krane, who have sampled his records.
On his recent project, “Fuji The Sound” EP, he blends pop, amapiano, R&B, makossa, jazz and fuji. To anchor the release, he collaborated with A&R exec, Bankulli, who brings along protégé, Mystro. “Awade” opens with the needed urgency of a project titled with a definitive article and promises to calibrate a genre that has gone through many iterations. Something music lovers would fancy on this EP is how well Femi Leye’s guitars guide the aural experience.
K1 revisits his classic songs on this project. In Yorùbá culture, a king never announces his own arrival so when King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal does on this EP, he isn’t ignorant of his royalty – no, he never forgot – but is basically opening the books of prophecy heralding his enthronement.
“Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them…The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude (sic).”
Sometime in September 2019 when KWAM1 trended for the wrong reason – his affiliation with people of questionable character – which isn’t uncommon with musicians, his son, Femi Ayinde Marshal, responded to critics witha snippet of his performance of “Olofo Lo N Binu Ologo”, a rebuttal to claims that he got by from the generosity of criminals and corrupt government officials.
‘Adé Orí Òkin’ revisits ‘Olofo Lo N Binu Ologo’, retelling his story of grass to grace from being a mentee to Barry Wonder to the legend he has become. If you think the placement of the opener and closer of the EP is a coincidence, think again. When naysayers offer nothing but bile following your welcome, you remind them that you are a man of peace but can evoke the spirit of war through the powers of the Lion of Judah. K1 made a name as a party starter at shindigs and political rallies, and thankfully, age has yet to change that.
In between ‘Awade’ and ‘Adé Orí Òkin’, you are teleported to the nineties and early noughties when fuji reigned supreme with K1 as the heir to Barry Wonder. ‘Extended Play’, for instance, adds the Southern African flavour to hit tracks such as ‘Let’s Dance’ off Legacy. The remix isn’t as catchy as the classic, which is expected, considering how only few artists have been able to replicate the genius of ‘Let’s Dance’.
However, the remix is not inferior and should cause damage on the dance floor. Another song referenced was his homage to Siliki, which was previously referenced by eLDee on ‘Ota Mi’. Legend has it that when K1 returned from his US trip, performing at an event, he praised Siliki to the extent that he was showered with so much money he had to beg for the money rain to stop. Although, ‘Extended Play’ may not get the same reaction as the oldies, the update is commendable.
K1, a favourite of the ladies, has only featured one woman on record, his daughter, Honey B, but he corrects that on this EP with the dual features being women, who do a fantastic job. Teni supports Alhaji on remix of the safe sex, pro-Nigeria song, ‘Omo Niger’, while Toby Grey makes the classic ‘Can’t Just Stop Thinkin’ better.
On Fuji The Sound, K1 serves the right mix of nostalgia required to quieten the noise of a raging pandemic.