An Introduction to Naira Marley in 7 Songs

naira marley biography
Naira Marley | © Instagram

Naira Marley is arguably amongst the most influential figures in the Nigerian music industry right now. Azeez Fashola, now more famously known as ‘Naira Marley’, is not just an important figure in zanku movement, but in the afrobeats genre as a whole. His message is relatable in a way that he’s touching many people, inspiring the youths from the streets. He has an unfiltered, arrogance and stage presence which quickly caused him to be loved by fans. His fan base, is known as the “Marlians,” and marlians are always looking to any Naira Marley latest. Naira Marley’s music, despite its strong ties to zanku dance and controversies, has garnered attention across the globe, bringing in a massive following of fans and developing a trend of Marlian-themed lifestyle.

Born in Agege, Lagos State, Nigeria, and moved to Peckham, South London, England, at age 11. He released his debut track ‘Marry Juana’ in 2014, and released his first EP, ‘Gotta Dance’ in 2015. Since then, Naira with charismatic street swagger to take on different genres from UK drill to rap, and afrobeats. His smash hit ‘Issa Goal’ was Nigerians anthem to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He has proven himself, given the clubs and streets hit after hit – Naira Marley became a musical trailblazer, setting trends, and cementing himself as a massive influencer in the afrobeats landscape. No matter the controversies or egotistical outbursts, Naira is in his own lane and undeniably important position in moving the culture forward. With no further ado, here is an introduction to Naira Marley’s musical repertoire. From Japa to Am I A Yahoo Boy, listen to these 7 tracks to get acquainted with the AfroBashment pioneer.

Issa Goal (2017)

‘Issa Goal’, featuring Olamide and Lil Kesh, was a commercial success, and garnered him substantial attention in the Nigerian music industry and sparked the beginnings of his international fame. It was the theme song for the Super Eagles at the summer 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Japa (2018)

Following the success of Issa Goal, Naira jumped on the trending street slang “Japa” and makes a song out of it. ‘Japa,’ finds the afrobashment pioneer stock rising, no longer a one-hit wonder, but a certified hitmaker.

Am I A Yahoo Boy (2019)

On 3 May 2019, he released some of his most groundbreaking and controversial music to date, ‘Am I A Yahoo Boy’ featuring the buzzing Nigerian rapper Zlatan. The song finds Naira endorsing cybercrime and scammers — known as “Yahoo boys,” while calling out the government. It was trending moment on social media that saw a lot of Nigerian taking sides either in support or against the internet fraud activity. Almost immediately after the release of Am I A Yahoo Boy, Naira Marley was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The EFCC is a Nigerian law enforcement agency that investigates financial crimes such as advance fee fraud (419 fraud) and money laundering. The agency charged Naira with 11 counts of fraud before a Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos. Following the continuation of the singer’s cyber fraud trial on Thursday February 27, 2020, the matter was adjourned to May 13, 14, and 15 for ruling and continuation of trial. But is Naira Marley a Yahoo Boy? According to the statement released by Naira’s management, “He’s being used as the poster boy for fraud… Naira did not publicly defend those who commit fraud, he expressed his view on the situation, which was simply his opinion.” The statement further read “As an artist, music is Naira’s avenue of expressing himself… He is not a ‘Yahoo Boy!’”

Opotoyi (Marlians) (2019)

Even with the dark turns from his arrest, there’s not stopping this hit machine. While still in police custody, he released ‘Opotoyi (Marlians),’ a tailored hit for the fans, streets and club. This track had marlians and everyone busting a zanku dance move, and the song became an instant hit. He continued to impress with each single he puts out.

Soapy (2019)

A few days later, the “Marlians” president released ‘Soapy,’ a track about the sexual habits of inmates engaging in masturbation as the only alternative to sex. Soapy is a Nigerian street slang for masturbation. Known to never shy away from controversy, Naira launched the song with the introduction of the Soapy Dance – a dance that encourages masturbation. The song immediately went viral and soon became one of the trending jams. This caused a storm on social media, with many found the dance very unsettling, and called for him to be cancelled. Yes, you might not like what he does or says, but the harsh reality is that there’s no way to successfully cancel someone whose music stirs up uncontrollable emotions with a massive following and audience. How do you stop his music from having the effect it has on people? It’s simply impossible! The music video, tells the story of his experience while in behind bars after being apprehended by EFCC for their alleged involvement in internet fraud.

Mafo (2019)

Produced with the help of Young Jonn and Rexxie, Naira Marley dropped ‘Mafo,’ the single from his second EP, LOL (Lord of Lamba), giving fans a sneak peek before the EP was released. It dominated 2019 fourth quarter, an irresistible banger that got people on the dance floor everywhere. Mafo will no doubt stick in your head!

Bad Influence (2019)

‘Bad Influence’ was one out of many joints Naira dropped in 2019, it follows the release of his previous highly successful singles. ‘Bad Influence’ is a modest departure from his controversial ways, the song is a socially conscious music address his haters and Nigeria bad governance. Naira Marley’s career has been faced with countless controversies, but this undeniably shades light on the truth. While the world awaits the Naira Marley latest, a full exploration of his impressive discography thus far is absolutely encouraged.

We also recommend our guide to 10 female afrobeats artists you should know.

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