I first met Wasiu Ayinde Barrister, as he was then known, in the early ‘80s when I was the anchor of the popular PUNCH Entertainment Column, SATURDAY HIGHLIFE. My friend, Fatai Ogunribido arranged the meeting. Even then, Wasiu was already a budding Fuji star; the third force in the genre behind pioneers, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister and his rival, Kollington Ayinla.
Wasiu held his own even as the popularity of his senior rivals surged. I knew then that once Barry Wonder and Kollington slowed down or leave the scene, Wasiu would dominate the trade. More than three decades later, that prophesy has come to pass. With a string of back-to-back hit albums (or CDs), Wasiu has established himself as the king of the Fuji idiom, despite the claims of many pretenders to the throne.
Beyond all of that, at the end of the day, it is the individual contribution of each artiste that will determine their greatness.
At 60, Wasiu has made a name for himself, through a niche within the Fuji genre that stands him out as a consistent hit maker. His brand of the music is noted for its vibrancy, crisp, catchy refrain and adlibs.
He led the new generation Fuji musicians who have now completed the transition of the art from Islamic choral music into a nationally popular crossover musical form. Originally, fuji grew from wére, (pronounced weh-raay) a traditional Yoruba-Islamic choral music sung at dawn during the Ramadan, into a social/cultural music that competed for the party circuit with juju music.
Today, fuji stars do collabo with their hip-hop counterparts. Yet, it is in the progressive development of the art that Wasiu’s place in Fuji history is guaranteed. He is daring innovative and dynamic in his experiments with elements of other musical styles, like Afrobeat, juju and highlife, which he fused into his brand of Fuji to give it a unique beat.
Wasiu’s husky voice is his signature and it blends effectively with his songs, which he often delivers brilliantly to achieve memorable melodies that resonate in the ears after the music is over.
Some of his albums like Fuji Collections are truly collectors’ items. When Wasiu was at his peak, he churned out back-to-back hits, a clear evidence of his depth of talent. The wide range of his songs reflects his versatility as a composer, and the themes he explored showed how current he is with socio-political events.
In those days when I visited him, I often saw Wasiu with several newspapers. His then manager, Dayo Olomu, told me that the music star is an avid reader of newspapers and that he tracked news and events like a Reporter. That is why he is so well informed. In conversation, Wasiu can be engaging. He is highly opinionated, and is never afraid to express his views.
Obviously, because he is so well informed, the reason for the currency of his music is not far-fetched. In a sense, the ability to live with the best of the age, has contributed to his longevity on the Fuji scene.
Still looking youthful at 60, Wasiu Ayinde Marshal appears ready to go another 20 years; of course, if he continues to reflect the tunes of the times in his music, he could still be on top of his game like King Sunny Ade (70) and Ebenezer Obey (75).
Ladi Ayodeji, a former showbiz journalist, is now a Pastor/ Motivational speaker. He wrote from Lagos.