The latest to join record label owners in Nigeria is popular skit maker Sidney Talker, who launched his record label, Neville Records, by announcing his first musical act, Khaid. He wrote on his Instagram page: “MUSIC, we are 100% here. I have fought the good fight of faith, I have overcome my fears, I have taken lessons from the fathers of industry…’”
Khaid’s debut single “With You” was widely accepted. With it, Neville Records may have gotten it right. Like every new act, there is a back story about Khaid’s talent, growth, rise to stardom, and particularly, how he got discovered and signed by Neville Records.
Khaid’s real name is Sulaimon Shekoni Abiola. Born in 2005, Khaid grew up in Ojo suburbs of Lagos. He was once a mechanic. He speaks both Yoruba and English. In some of his freestyle videos on his Instagram page, he spews punchlines in Yoruba. His debut EP, Diversity, was released this year, five months after the release of his debut single.
As a budding artist, he draws his inspiration from superstars like Wizkid, PSquare, Davido, and Olamide. The freestyle videos on his Instagram page are reminiscent of Rema’s style. But unlike Rema, Khaid can do the Lil Kesh kind of Yoruba rap without stumbling. Khaid’s music can be classified as AfroFusion—a mix of Afro and Trap sounds.
In Nigeria, extensive playlists and albums are ways renowned record labels bolster the presence of their music acts after the release of one or numerous hit singles. More often than not, many have failed, not necessarily because the artists are not talented, but because of the lack of promotion, branding, and many other factors. Khaid’s EP suffers because of the absence of some of these factors.
The standards for Sidney Talker are high since he claimed he learnt from the fathers in the industry. And if he truly has learnt, he must be aware that there’s more to this game than wielding a brilliant pen game, a crisp look, and an endearing tonal texture. Khaid’s debut EP, Diversity, released on the 27th of May does little to unleash the full glare of his incredible musical bandwidth. For a musician as talented as Khaid, the EP seems like a small-scale grasp of his talent.
The EP derails away from its title in an effort to cast this body of work as a piece of trap ingenuity. Attempts at diversity in its real sense are on the third and fifth track, “Akpako ” and “Fire” respectively . While “Fire’, a 2-minute, 55-second Amapiano-Afrobeat song heaps praises on a woman’s body, “Akpako” is almost a presto, taunted by measured, reggae-like thumps to cajole the body into gestures, especially the head. There’s a lushness in Khaid’s Instagram freestyles that we don’t find in his EP. Placing his amazing debut single “With You” as the EP’s opening track was a wrong move because of familiarity— it tacked a stale outlook to the EP.
It would have fared better as the fourth or fifth track. The tracklisting could have been better arranged to sustain the excitement of listeners charting their way through the EP.
The second track “SKI” is a mnemonic trap song that rides into the artist’s childhood experience. “Badman” is elegant, trap-laid with lyrics tied around the artist’s acknowledgement of his talent. “Blessed” adds to the list of trap songs on the EP. It is the artist relishing the apparent blessings of God. Khaid is such a talented artist but this first body of work lacks vitality.
Overall, Diversity gets a nod as an average introduction to Khaid, an act to watch out for.