In recent times, global conquests have innately become second nature for Afrobeats stars and the latest participant in the feral takeover is Asake. Whoever could have foreseen a time in which African music acts would become synonymous with selling out worldwide arenas and stadiums? most definitely not this writer, at least not in the umbrella genre’s current speedy form.
On the 20th of August 2023, Asake became only the fourth African act to successfully headline and sell out the 02 Arena In London. Following in the footsteps of the often acclaimed Africa’s “Big 3” who have each previously conquered the twenty-thousand-capacity stadium – Wizkid(4), Davido(2), and Burna Boy(1).
Asake’s recent stint at the 02 is one for the books especially when considering the time-frame he has had as a mainstream act. Barely two years in the spotlight, and Asake has already eclipsed a vast majority of his peers, and his new 02 sold out status further calibrates his fairy tale apex.
However, the career defining night had its own dynamics of pros and cons as it is with most things under the sun. In this article, this writer attempts to break it down in reverse chronological fashion.
The Great: Without a doubt, the 02 sold out event embodied greatness, not just for Asake, but also for the brands affiliated with. For instance, the feat meant that his maiden label, YBNL nation became the first African label to spearhead an act who had been privy to have sold out the Arena. Of course, it was achieved in conjunction with the Ghazi Shami led Empire music.
Another remarkable and notable hallmark etched into the show’s greatness was the staggering coverage Asake’s 02 arena performance was able to accumulate.
According to statistics, the event had a total figure of one hundred and two thousand eyes glued to the performance- With twenty thousand of the viewers accredited to the live audience, while the remaining eighty two thousand optic sockets belonged to online spectators.
In a broader view, the 02 Arena represents Black and African excellence. The statistical success of the show is a testament to Asake’s protruding greatness especially for someone who can be relatively referred to as a newbie in the burgeoning music industry, an artist whose street style isn’t necessarily skewed into the zeitgeist of mainstream appeal- whatever the latter means.
Utterly Cringe: Asake’s maiden gig at the 02 Arena was scheduled to start at approximately 8:30 pm, with access granted to those who purchased tickets by 6:00pm, so naturally, the singer had substantial amount of time to be prompt for his own show, but instead, in classic Nigerian artist mode, Asake took an extra ninety minutes, further drilling nail into an ongoing argumentative thesis centered around the general Afrobeats act approach towards time management in shows.
As if his lackadaisical first impression wasn’t embarrassing enough, in a bid to kick start the show after the time wasted, Asake and his team gave a lifeless and quite contrived tribute to the victims of the infamous incident at his last year December show in Brixton which claimed the lives of two, Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson.The act in itself felt like a scene rehearsed and reeked of second hand cringe…shout out to everyone involved.
As the act climaxed, in what seemed like a grand entrance, Asake unwittingly descended from a Helicopter in a poorly executed demeanor and dare this writer say, “Rizz”.
To add insult to injury, Asake’s sound through most of his performance was bad as the quality of his recordings barely surfaced, even the genius of his band for the night, The Composers wasn’t enough. However, his saving grace proved to be his discography’s affluence, as Asake was able to perform a series of back to back hits albeit the outcome being mediocre and not befitting of his status.
Surreal: Asake brought out an array of stars who assisted and graced the events such as label mate, Fireboy Dml, Tiwa Savage, and Shallipopi. However, the surreal moments came full circle when on separate occasions, he brought out the legendary Tunde Baiyewu of Lighthouse Family Fame and label huncho, Olamide.
The former in whose 1995 song “Ocean Drive” had inspired one of the most beloved songs on Asake’s ‘Work of Art‘ album, ‘Sunshine’ brought a brief moment of Nostalgia and class to the stage.
Whilst performing their hit single ‘Omo Ope’, Olamide and Asake shared a Big bro and younger sibling moment that felt cinematic and surreal. As the performance beckoned to a close, Olamide whispered into his prodigy’s ears, and one could only hoped he muttered the words “I am proud of you bro”.