In the late hours of the 13th of April, Mayorkun dropped his highly anticipated tune Of Lagos. He had earlier promised on Twitter that he will drop a song where he will repeat Of Lagos at least a hundred times and he fulfilled his promise. This is coming off the back of the release of Geng Remix EP. This comes as his second single since the release of the viral Geng in January. Mayorkun bites off popular South African Amapiano sound in the song. After listening to the song, a couple times, it occurred to me, “what will artists be without their catch phrases or words”.
Of Lagos has been Mayorkun’s catch phrase since the release of his debut album Mayor of Lagos. On recent features we can hear him say Of Lagos, which seems a little eerie but nice to hear. He used all this buzz to release the Afro-pop/Amapiano tune. First off let’s start off from the definition of a catch phrase as relating to artists and music.
What is a Catch Phrase or word?
A catch phrase is those two or three words an artist utters in songs that identifies him in his songs. For instance, if a listener does not know the line-up of artists in a song and he hears an artist’s catch phrase he can easily identify the artist is on the song from a mile away. In this case it stresses the need for artists to make their catch phrases as catchy and groovy as possible.
On the other hand, a catch word is just a word uttered in songs by an artist that identifies him in his songs. It’s this stand out word that he repeats in his songs that gets the ears of the listeners in a trap. It gives them a sense of joy when they hear it over and over again
Over the years we have witnessed some beautiful catch phrases and catch words from our favourite artists, artists also change their catch phrases and words once in a while. People usually confuse these two terminologies as relating to music so it is important to state the difference between them. The definitions of a catch phrase and catch word have now been established now we can move into the body of the article.
Davido’s Shekpe is one of the biggest catch words to emerge in the last half of the last decade, let me explain why. I am sure we can all attest to the fact that the Davido vs Wizkid argument has been the biggest argument since the King Sunny Ade vs Chief Ebenezer Obey argument. That argument is one of the factors that made for the supremacy of the two big dogs. I overhead a bunch of kids deeply involved in an argument about who is bigger between the two industry heavyweights and one of them made a point, “my guy only Davido Shekpe fit blow your entire track, wetin Wizkid Okunole wan do for your song”, I laughed silently in my mind. It is no doubt that when Davido shouts Shekpe on any track it increases the probability of it being a hit. He started using Shekpe upon his second coming into the industry after a run of sleeper hits. Shekpe means any hot drink or local gin that can be consumed. It is not a doubt that if Davido releases a song titled Shekpe, it will become an instant banger.
Wizkid’s Okunole is another word that recently blew up but it was short-lived. The Star Boy frontman used the word in his songs in some part of 2018 and 2019. It is safe to say that it was his catch word during the rise of the pon-pon sound. He used it in Gucci Snake where he featured Slimcase, in Nowo where he was featured by Dj Spinall and a host of others songs.
Timaya’s Legal is probably the longest standing catch word and the sweetest to hear, the way he says it in a cool voice has a certain effect that calms the nerves of people listening to his music. He has been using it for a very long time now. At the mention of Legal there is always a high tempo instrumental rushing in like it was late, then bodies start moving immediately like robots doing the bidding of the music or statues that have just had life breathed into them. The meaning of Legal is not far-fetched but Timaya uses it to show that everything is nice, the vibe is right and there are no worries.
Mr Eazi’s Zaga Dat is another big catch phrase. I am not sure the article would have been complete without the inclusion of this. I remember 2018 when Eazi had all his early hits out and boys and girls were always like Zaga Dat. People anticipated the part where he would say Zaga Dat in any song just for them to repeat it with the same chill, cool voice that Eazi has. Sometimes instead of saying Zaga Dat he would say Zaga What and people would shout the reply, if some reason a person doesn’t like Eazi’s music there’s no force on earth that will make the person not like Zaga Dat. Zaga Dat seems to be similar to Roger that, in the sense that it answers to the affirmative showing that everything is okay and one can proceed.
Flavour’s Oyolimah is another big catch word out there. The singer uses it at the heat of his songs which makes it even more lovely to the ears as he chants it with that his manly voice that makes the girls weak at the knees. It is normally followed by “original Mr Flavour pon the dance floor” then at that point the song is already a hit. He doesn’t need to sing more than that. In an event he decides to pull a Mayorkun and release a song called Oyolimah, I am sure fans will rush it like it is manna from heaven. Oyolimah is Igbo for turn up
Probably the best catch word to emerge in the last decade, new Forbes list 30 under 30 member, Patoranking’s Wayase is bigger than the career of many. The patoi singer uses it to ask ‘what do you say’ but ‘what do you say’ doesn’t seem fluffy enough in the mouth so Wayase is probably better. He has used it to terrorize music speakers since his coming into the industry. It is highly instrumental to his brand.
Lil Kesh rocked Nigerians crazy with a lot of hits upon his coming into the industry in 2014. His famous catch phrase, Skiborobo Skiborobo eba oshey baddest was on everybody’s lips, people anticipated it in songs, the mention of it had people dancing shoki already they did not even need a beat. Sometimes he shortened to Skibo and that still slapped hard. I don’t think Lil Kesh thought about it but if he released a song titled Skibo that time it would have been a certified banger because that was the only catch phrase terrorizing the streets at that time. The phrase Skiborobo Skiborobo eba oshey baddest was highly instrumental to his blow up.
Self-acclaimed Odogwu, Don Gorgon and African Giant, Burna Boy is famous for his catch phrase they call me burna boy, sometimes he says burna lomo but since the release of his song Wetin Man Go Do in his recently released album African Giant he has been using the word Champion, this was once again heard in his recent Odogwu. It won’t be surprising if he releases a song called Champion apart from the fact that he might want to use the word to create a hit, we know he loves to sing songs with such powerful titles.
Dbanj is the most versatile artist with catch words and catch phrases. In different phases of his career he has used different catch phrases and words. He initially started with Koko master, then he switched to Bangalee which he is still using till now, once in a while he chips in Ejanla and White Lion. Apart from his music that made people love him, the influence of his catch words and phrases cannot be overlooked.
Swaggalomo has been Yung6ix’s catch word since his breakout in the early 2010s. A lot of fans don’t even to refer to Yung6ix as Yung6ix they prefer to refer to the Warri bred rapper as Swaggalomo. Although the meaning of Swaggalomo is not known, it seems to be a combination of Swagger and Alomo Bitters. As we all know to have swagger is to be extremely confident and proud and show it through the way one walks but in normal Nigerian terms it simply means, someone who dresses nicely or as they’ll say it can gadge and maybe walks in a way that is not normal but nice to watch. Alomo Bitters by the way is a local alcoholic drink, it is popularly called Alomo.
The list of Nigerian artists with catch phrases or words is endless, now let’s see whether we can point out some in the foreign scene.
A lot of foreign artists have also created identities with catch words or phrases. Artists like Rick Ross, Tyga, Kodak Black, Big Sean, J Cole, Nicki Minaj, Gucci Mane, Dj Drama, Mustard, Bas, Ty Dolla Sign, Royce Da 5’9” and others use catch phrases and words. Rick Ross is famous for using Boss which has helped in boosting the rich man image he is trying to potray. Tyga is known for making the sound of a roaring Tiger then saying Traww, he uses this to warm the body of his fans before he drops a killer verse. Kodak Black uses Project Baby as his catch phrase, Project Baby is the name of his first two albums which are Project Baby 1 and Project Baby 2. Big Sean’s catch phrase is Sean Don, anytime Sean Don is heard in a song Big Sean is about to bring in the rage with big guns. J Cole’s catch phrase is Cole World, this has been his catch phrase from day one, he uses it before he tells his lovely stories using words that rhyme and similies. Nicki Minaj normally starts off by proclaiming that she is the Queen Bee before she starts rapping about how these rappers are her sons. Gucci Mane announces his presence with Its Gucci before he goes on to rap about how he stole that ‘niggas’ babe and took her shopping and now the diamonds on her are dancing. High-profile Disk jockey DJ Drama doesn’t get tired of announcing his gangster name when he shouts Gangsta Gri-zillz!. In my opinion, Mustard who was formerly known as Dj Mustard has the best catch phrase in the US music scene. His catch phrase Mustard on the beat hoe is a tasty flavour of mustard he adds on the top of his songs. Dreamville rapper Bas’s catch word is Fiend, he uses it to show that he is addicted to certain things of the flesh for example secular music, women and parties. Ty Dolla Sign is fond of his catch phrase Dollar Sign, he always uses it to introduce himself, it serves as his identity. One of Eminem’s former proteges, Royce Da 5’9” decided to use his height, 5.9 as his catch phrase or in this case we can also go with catch number. The rapper is 1.75m which is 5.898 but it seems he approximated the digits to 5.9.
Catch phrases, words or numbers may look like a small and very unnecessary thing but they are highly essential to artistry, every upcoming artist is adviced to have a catch phrase or word or in the case of Royce Da 5’9” a number with which the fans will know them with, it has worked for the following artists. It serves as a nickname to an artist’s stage name or a statement fans would love to hear in songs and repeat.
By Cephas Oboh