Shallipopi’s Incandescent Takeover of Afrobeats The Colourful, Incendiary Message of Shallipopi

The dynamic Benin-born artist has been the great revelation of the musical year in Nigerian music. His slang-heavy songs are indicative of young people’s cultural significance but he’s so much more.

Shallipopi, who may well be the biggest revelation of Nigerian music in 2023, moved to Lagos in March, earlier the same year. Before then, he resided in Benin City, where he was born and also where he grew up. The city’s lore is established for its ancient kingdom which was renowned around the world and especially by the visiting Portuguese traders in the 15th century. Now it’s one of the most culturally diverse and spiritually aware areas in Nigeria and that has translated into local pride, inspiring the city’s creatives who have emerged over the years, of which Shallipopi is presently the most transcendental.

‘Elon Musk,’ the March 2023 song which catapulted Shallipopi to national fame, was a freestyle. He makes light work of that fact during interviews but it speaks to his linguistic ingenuity that he doesn’t write his songs, rather allows experience to flow through him, unencumbered. Especially amongst a vibrant and primarily male audience, that song was undoubtedly the year’s first hit record, the then 21-year-old relaying his perspective on the immediate world around him.

Six months earlier, he had put out ‘Power,’ which had a similarly mellow sound and whose vocal direction showcased his rap roots more poignantly. Running under three minutes, it was the manifesto of a young man blazing his path towards the reality he desired. As with his other songs, the weight of young experiences were paired with an older man’s appreciation for witty wisdom, which often provides captionable lyrics such as, ‘In this world I gat nothing to lose na, in this world I gat no one to choose now/ You came to this life on your own, and I guarantee you will be leaving alone’...


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