Sound Sultan is dead and Nigeria mourns – Dami Ajayi

Sound Sultan is dead.

Dr. Kayode Fasasi broke the sad news on social media today on behalf of the Fasasi family.

Olanrewaju Abdul-Ganiu Fasasi, better known as Sound Sultan and also known as Naija Ninja, aged 44, succumbed to lymphoma after a hard-fought battle.

He is survived by his wife, three children and siblings.

For those who came of age at the turn of the millennium, Sound Sultan’s passing is particularly difficult to process. He came to us by way of the television. Tall and lanky with deep dimples, my earliest memory of him was comical skits where he told raunchy escapades in rhymes about Kate.

He quickly followed this in the year 2000 with his single, “Jangbajatis”, a monster hit for its time and a memorable classic these days. YouTube holds a grainy and pixelated video of “Jangbajatis” where Sound sultan dressed like a village teacher in a manner reminiscent of juju maestro Sir Shina Peters in his ace music video. He proceeded to offer a deconstruction of mathematical acronym “BODMAS”, a panacea to solve the problems of governance in Nigeria.

His music began with a didactic flair which he retained through his career even though the pursuit of popular music intervened.

His second single, “Craze World”, adapts that phrase from Fela’s tune “Beasts of No Nation”, to describe our grim realities which appears even more grim today in retrospect.

His first album was one of the modern classics of the nascent Afrobeats sounds and easily canonized him as one of the voices able to handle activism, humour and social commentary within the fledgling mould of Nigerian hip-hop.

To call Sound Sultan a multi-hyphenate is to state the obvious. He could sing, rap, mime, tell jokes and act. These talents were best annexed in Tunde Kelani’s production, “Campus Queen”, where he played the role of a disaffected young activist and contributed to the amazing soundtrack that accompanied the film shot mostly on the grounds of University of Lagos.

Fasasi hailed from Oyo state and notably attended Federal Government College, Ogbomosho, where he was remembered as a fun-loving and extremely talented character. He would be active in the arts scene where he mimed songs and began to write his own material. He would also learn to play the guitar at this time.

As Afrobeats morphed and several waves of the sound emerged, Sound Sultan continued to contribute his own music. Although his efforts were not always rewarded with popular acclaim, every year he would drop a memorable single so that his discography, although containing uneven albums, had a solid body of work to earn him that OG status.

These memorable tracks include “Campus Queen”, “Area”, “Bushmeat”, “Orobo”, “Kokose”, Oko won lode”, “2020”, “Very Good Bad Guy”, drawn from classic albums like The Textbook, SS4, Back from the Future and Me, My Mouth & Eye.

His eight and last album, 8th Wondah, came after an unusual hiatus. It was star-studded with features from 2Face, Teni, and Wizkid.

The Lagos Review wishes to express our condolences to his family, friends, fans and the music industry at large.

Adieu Sound Sultan.

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