A Tribute to Mr. Olanrewaju Fasasi (aka Sound Sultan)- Gideon Adeniji

As a way of embracing a little informality, it was deemed necessary to take some break from our constant discuss on socio-political issues, which has a high tendency to place our mental metabolism on a hyper-working rate. In this edition, we would like to take a cursory dive into happenings in our entertainment industry.

A lot of shocking deaths have occurred since the beginning of the year 2021, appearing like a seamless continuum from the year 2020, and thereby leaving majority of people in bewilderment. However, one of the most painful and shocking deaths that occurred this year has to do with the early demise of Mr. Olanrewaju Fasasi (aka Sound Sultan). His death affected me on a personal level because of how much I respect his music and personality. He was indeed a lot of things to a lot of people, but one thing stood out about this enigma of a person. He was indeed talented and versatile.

Sound Sultan was born on the 27th of November, 1976 in Jos, Plateau State to his father, Mr. Fasasi Alarape and mother, Mrs. Fasasi Ajarat as the fourth of six children. From 1981 to 1987, he attended Stepping Stone Nursery and Primary School, Jos and proceeded to the Federal Government College, Ogbomosho for his Secondary Education where he studied from 1988 to 1993. Lagos State University (LASU) was his next choice for higher studies among the prestigious citadels of knowledge in Nigeria where he studied from 1994 to 1999 and bagged a degree in Geography and Regional Planning.

His interest in music blossomed during his school days, partly due to his brother, Baba Dee’s influence. His elder brother Baba Dee studied Theatre Arts and had experience in music. Sound Sultan joined a band and learnt how to play the guitar in 1999 shortly after he left university. Due to his hardwork and dedication, or what I simply call “love for the arts”, Mr. Fasasi had to host shows and perform at various parties or occasions to raise capital for studio sessions as far back as 1996 when he was still in school. He won in several local talent-hunt shows leading up to the year 1999 and by the millennium year 2000, Mr. Fasasi released his first single “Jagbajantis” which became an instant hit that ruled the airwaves for a long time.

He released some other singles and after garnering some popularity on the entertainment scene, he finally got a leeway with Kennis Music where he was till 2007. Within those years, Sound Sultan released four albums with the giant record label before proceeding to found his own business oufit called “Naija Ninjas” in collaboration with his brother, Baba Dee in 2008. Naija Ninja was an umbrella company for various business interests such as record label, production outfit and clothing line.

The music maestro was multi-talented and quite versatile in various genres of music. He started with rap and later delved into R&B, Afrobeat, Soul and even Fuji. He was also gifted in comedy and acting, an aspect of him that many people were not too familiar with until his untimely demise. The music enigma was of the opinion that music artists should not be confined to or categorized with a particular genre and they should be able to switch genres as long as the message is passed.

Mr. Fasasi was privileged to have worked with international and local artists on various projects such as Wyclef Jean, together with other local artists such as 2baba and Faze on the Creole 101 album in 2008. He further collaborated with Wyclef on two projects: King of My Country (2009) and People Bad (2012). In 2012, Sound Sultan was made a United Nations (UN) Ambassador for Peace due to his exemplary lifestyle. It is also worthy of note that Mr. Fasasi was a great sports enthusiast and quite skilled in the game of basketball. He once played for the Dodan Warriors in Lagos and in 2015, he purchased shares in the Lagos Island Basketball team in partnership with some investors. He was also a key facilitator of the African Basketball League.

This fine gentleman was indeed one of the early Nigerian millennial artists who I respect so much, majorly because he fit into the specter or mental conceptualization of my idea of who a musician should be. Right from my younger days, I always conceptualized music as a tool for change in any society. Like the idea of the “Philosopher King” propagated by Plato, who he submitted as the most ideal leader in any political society, whose role is to be a deep thinker who can think for the people and betterment of the society, I also see music as the voice of society’s conscience.

Just like the philosopher, the musician should serve as a critique of his society and beyond, using the avenue of the wide reach he or she is privileged to have as a result of the ubiquitous nature of the art. With that privilege, the musician is able to awaken the consciousness of members of society to happenings around them and also stir their spirit of comradeship and responsibility in doing the needful. This, I believe Mr. Fasasi carried out to the best of his ability. Several of his songs harped consistently on issues of political change and responsibility, morality and social justice. These were evident in some of his songs such as Jagbajantis, Motherland, Ole, Faya Faya, Naija Jungle, Helo Baale among others.

Apart from his ingenuity in music, Sound Sultan also had an amiable personality and he knew what it meant to love and support his brethren in the art. It is said of this humane and down to earth man that he hardly turned down a request for a collaboration from upcoming artists and would do the little within his capacity to help the career of an artist in need to blossom. Such was the large heart of this man that he took out time to check up on his colleagues from time to time. As described by his former Boss, Mr. Kenny Ogungbe of Kennis Music, Sound Sultan hardly got angry and throughout his illustrious career with Kennis Music, Mr. Ogungbe reminisced that he saw the cascade of talents get angry only once. Indeed the list of outstanding qualities of Sound Sultan is inexhaustible and the entertainment industry will have a hell of a time filling the vacuum created by Mr. Olanrewaju Fasasi.

We cannot but mourn the exit of a star from the galaxy because his impact will be strongly missed. Your name is forever etched in gold in the hearts of not a few and you will always have my respects Mr. Olanrewaju Fasasi. May your gentle soul continue to rest in the bosom of its Creator.

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