The flash of a shooting star streaking across the night sky, and then fading away abruptly, is the best description for one of Nigeria’s music stars who shone bright before his untimely death.
Today makes it eleven years since Nigerians received the tragic news of the death of Dagrin, a rapper who caught everyone’s attention when he shot into limelight like a rocket being launched into space.
Dagrin was the name on everyone’s lips after the rapper broke the dominance of English rappers in mainstream rap, rapping with a mix of his indigenous Yoruba language, pidgin English, and English language.
As a testament to his talent, and being a trailblazer with his indigenous rap style, Dagrin was on par with other rap heavyweights of that period like M.I and Naeto C.
His music gave street music a refreshing air of ingenuity as he made it sound entertaining, and educative about the struggles faced by many hustling to survive off the streets of Lagos.
Although, one of his most popular tracks off the “C.E.O” album came under scrutiny for having a sexual undertone, his music was known for carrying substance, as it told a relatable story of all who dared to dream like him.
“Ghetto Dreams”, a track off the album, served as a reveal of his life, dreams, and aspirations. It endeared him to the streets who saw one of their own tell not just his story but also their story.
As a mouthpiece of the streets, Dagrin helped to highlight societal ills which had affected the mentality of the streets, and in one of his popular quotes, he showed he had a good grasp of his environment and what it took to effect change:
“How do you convince the upcoming generation that education is the key to success when we are surrounded by poor graduates and rich criminals”.
The success of the album, which won Hip-Hop World Awards best rap album, shaped how street music would be perceived from then on, and it caused a shift in Nigerian music culture as it made street hip-hop a big success among the mainstream music audience.
Dagrin is a cultural phenomenon who ushered in an era of embracing one’s unique cultural identity, an acceptance and awareness of who you are, and being proud to showcase one’s unique self to the world regardless of the standards being set by society.
Within a noticeably short period, he became a role model for numerous children, teenagers, and youths who not only saw themselves in him but also internalized his life story of working hard and fighting against all odds to achieve one’s dreams.
His personality left a mark on all who knew him and worked with him; there are numerous artistes that till this day speak glowingly of him, and the impact he made.
Examining the music industry today, it is evident that his music paved the way for the indigenous rappers that came after him, and many of them now dominate the rap music scene.
The fact that his name still comes up in music discussions, and he is compared to the present stars when fans try to measure the impact of their favourite indigenous rappers, whispers loudly to the universe that he indeed left his footprints on the hearts of Nigerian music fans.
As the years have gone by since his tragic passing, many music lovers, and fans of Dagrin still marvel at the immense potential he had to go to greater heights, and wonder what more such a Maverick could have achieved if he had more time.
The yearly outpouring of love and tributes in remembrance of this music icon has become a ritual in honour of his life and music, and today, many will once more look at the towering light house that was Dagrin, and let his light warm their hearts.