Mohbad (1996-2023): A Promise Gone Too Soon        

“Part of why he is being celebrated is that Mohbad embodies a tragic music hero in a dramatic Afrobeats opera, seething with the character of one who has experienced martyrdom in unclear conditions. While he attempted to maintain the façade of a happy soul, there are still emerging images of the singer looking pinched and forlorn.”

On September 12, Mohbad, a gifted and rising star in Nigeria’s Afrobeats space, died in circumstances that investigating authorities have not entirely determined. The Lagos State government, where he lived, has since stepped into the matter with a legal and social determination, urging preternatural calm among his vociferous fans and assuring all that the circumstances of his untimely death at the young age of 27 will be made threadbare.

The intervening move by the Police and the government is encouraging, calming frayed nerves among his fans and former management team. The current peaceful mood in Lagos and further afield is a win for the government, his fans, and all the security agencies investigating his demise. But Mohbad was a blossoming talent whose death is a monumental loss to the creative industry and humanity. He died too soon when music lovers had woken up to the vast potential that he embodied in very clear, likable, and original musical terms.

Figuratively, Mohbad was a promise. In reality, Promise was also his legal name. Born Promise Ilerioluwa Olademeji Aloba, the singer sought an artistic representation as he started his musical journey. The Afrobeats star adopted Mohbad (I am bad), a creative wordplay that incorporates his native Yoruba and the English language as his stage name. When the songster realized that the moniker, which seems to borrow heavily from lines in Michael Jackson’s 1987 mega-hit, “Bad,” connotes a certain degree of street toughness and ruthless credibility that may not appeal to all music lovers, he began to rebrand himself as Imole (light) in the latter days before his death. While his human light has been extinguished by death, his musical beams are still shining brightly like early morning sunrays from the east. Enter the musical epic of Mohbad.

People are streaming his songs from Apple Music to Spotify and elsewhere more than ever. Mohbad is assuming legendary status in death. His demise is shaking the undergrounds in Afrobeats, threatening to engender a revolution in Artiste management and the overall character in the music industry, where several aggrieved people have complained about reigning hanky-panky that often emasculates them and their talents. Many observers of the country’s music landscapes will be genuinely happy if Mohbad’s death brings positive and sweeping changes to the entertainment industry where transparency and honesty are sometimes distant fantasies.

A charming voice marked Mohbad’s singing. Indeed, he possessed a singing attraction that was tough to sidestep with that baritone voice that echoed effortlessly like the strings of a cleverly picked bass guitar. While his name was brutal to the senses, he had softer singing and offstage carriage qualities. He was also a loving father and partner. Many analysts and observers are amazed by Mohbad’s posthumous status. Part of why he is being celebrated is that Mohbad embodies a tragic music hero in a dramatic Afrobeats opera, seething with the character of one who has experienced martyrdom in unclear conditions. While he attempted to maintain the façade of a happy soul, there are still emerging images of the singer looking pinched and forlorn behind all the confetti and glittering lights of his public career. The late singer has won the hearts of many because he now personifies the personality of a peacemaker with the emerging intimate clips that many have seen since his demise. Mohbad came from the city’s backstreets, where life is often short and nasty. But he carried himself with the charisma of one whose tough-kid character had been tapered by moral influences acquired in an elite and refined society.

Mohbad’s death has galvanized a national consciousness that has ignited a coast-to-coast mourning spirit never before witnessed in the modern registers of the country’s hip-hop and Afrobeats culture. Mournful marches have been held in his honor from the north to the south of the country and even in places as far-flung as Germany, London, and America. These global tributes are solid testimonies to the depths of his talents and the charm and beauty of his musical trademark. It will be tough to ignore the alluring collections of Mohbad when Nigeria’s modern Afrobeats history is written in the coming decades. He made his presence felt. Sadly, he has enchanted the country with a greater force in his absence when he should have been alive to witness the contagious power of his muscular sounds and lyrics that were true to his immediate human condition. There is a depressing tinge of glory and tragedy in the unfolding legend of Mohbad.

Everyday experiences are often laced with lessons for those who are profoundly observant and reflective. Pedestrian as this may sound, there are takeaways from Mohbad’s death. Our shared humanity must learn to rush to the aid of those who call for help. Most of Mohbad’s lyrics and public engagements were trenchant cries for help. But he never found the assistance he so desperately needed. Still, there is a poignant lesson to be learned from Mohbad’s demise. We must agree to trumpet some of our finest musical gems while they are here with us. And we must celebrate them without prejudice and considerations for tribe, caste, or manufactured social theories. We must do away with all divisions that cause evil and do not benefit the shared pool of humanity.

Mohbad had yet to record a full studio album, but he enriched Afrobeats with hits such as “Sorry,” “Feel Good,” “Ask About Me,” “Ponmo,” “KPK,” “Peace,” “Blessing,” “Ronaldo,” and many more.

The young singer also left behind his wife, parents, brothers and sisters, and Liam, a five-month-old baby boy, to mourn him. Those Mohbad left behind also pray God finds mercy on his gentle soul.

Summary

TDS NEWS

TDS NEWS