Dagrin was just about to make something, something really big out of the nothing that was handed to him… until life was cruelly taken away from him… forever.
On Thursday April 22 2010, Nigeria lost of its most promising music stars. Olaitan ‘Dagrin’ Olaonipekun was a visionary that lived before his time and died before he could be celebrated enough for his amazing talent. Like Waje sang in a posthumous collaborative track by his industry colleagues, in a very short time, he made his mark and seven years later, it is almost impossible not to ackowledge that mark.
He drew his final breath after being a coma resulting from injuries he sustained in a car accident in Mushin on April 14, 2010. Just a few months before, he had released his now classic album CEO that positioned him as the next big thing in Nigerian music. It was not to be as his untimely death cut short his dreams and those of his family.
A tribute piece published exclusively in TheNetng a day after his death remains as poignant as ever, and pays homage to the artistry, dexterity, talent and the short life of one who was known as Chief Executive Omoita, Dagrin Barack O’Grin.
‘Life is good, life is exciting, life is breathtaking (literally); life is beautiful. But, life is unpredictable, life is pain, life is wicked, life is real, life is very real. You see, life is many things – it’s a bitch, it’s a burden, it’s a blessing. But no matter what our individual outlook on life is, we all seem to agree on one thing – life is short, life is very very short.
‘Some people dey wey dey live, wey no suppose to exist. The people wey we come need unfortunately dey 6 feet deep.’
We all die one day. As contradictory as it might sound, death is a part of life, probably the most important, right after your birth, that is. Those are the two days you can’t determine, you can’t speculate with your fellow earth dwellers about them, you can’t negotiate with your Heavenly Maker around them, they just happen. The in-betweens are what are left to you, that’s your life and it is whatever you make of it. Olaitan Oladapo Olaonipekun was just about to make something, something really big out of the nothing that was handed to him… until life was cruelly taken away from him… forever.
‘Everyday ni mo’n ji… everyday ni mo sun’ – ‘I wake up every day… I sleep everyday’
Born to a polygamous family, life was never rosy for Olaitan. The aspiring emcee went to Rosemary Nursery and Primary School and Good Shepherd Nursery and Primary School before attaining his secondary school education at the Community High School, Egbado College. Dagrin’s mother was the second of his father’s three wives and pursuing a higher education was never a certainty for Dagrin. He did however study in a computer institution somewhere around Lagos, but Dagrin’s heart was always somewhere else entirely, he found music at an early age or could it have been the other way around? Whichever came first though, one thing is for sure, neither of them let go from then on.
‘I just realized that I’m married to this game… and me and my b*tches never break up…’
The start was rough for Dagrin, its always hard for every artiste. His first album Still On the matter came and went without as much as a whimper but still he battled on and was getting his reward. His second album, Chief Executive Omoita, will go down as a classic, more so now that it’s become his swan song. But no one expected that C.E.O would be Dagrin’s last. And why should it have been? Life was beginning to take shape for the young hustler – it’s not the hand you’re dealt, its how you play your cards that matters, and Dagrin was beginning to make all the right moves. His imprint Mi So Fu Yin Entertainment was gradually taking shape; Dagrin had a performance in and out of Lagos every other week. Everybody wanted him on their album, mixtape, single… it didn’t matter; everybody just wanted a piece of Dagrin.
‘Aimoye igba ti awon eyan ni ki lo give up… Won ni mo local, pe o no mi o’nse hip-hop… But mo wa determined, mo de wa focus…T’orie ni oruko mi se spread bi staphylococcus’ –
‘How many times have people told me to give up…They say I’m local, that I’m not hip-hop.. But I was determined and focused… Because of this, my name has spread like staphylococcus’.
The adulation was good, the money was better and the accolades were beginning to flood in. But Dagrin didn’t do music for the award show judges, or the bank executives or upper class kids in Ikoyi, not at all. When Dagrin rapped, he did it for the street urchins in Egbado who have dreams of living in VGC, even though it means robbing another man to get there. He did it for the elderly lady selling ‘bole’ in Anthony who wants her children to escape the cycle of penury they were born into, go to school and get a job. He did it for the daughters of Eve who every night, allow a different stranger pin their backs to beds of hotel rooms all around Lagos just for their daily bread. Dagrin inspired the down-trodden, they were his constituency, he was their leader, he inspired them to live right and to become something just like he’d become. They called him Barack O’Grin.
‘E mi ni Kabeyesi – I’m the king’
It hurts that I have to refer to Dagrin in past tense. He was a talented artiste, an enthralling wordsmith; his wit, his delivery was second to none. His cadence and his persona like no one Nigerian hip hop had ever seen before. Dagrin didn’t invent Yoruba rap, he perfected it. He didn’t create gritty Nigerian hip hop tailored to the streets, he just did it better than everyone else before him and dear-I-say, after him, will ever do. The saddest part is he hadn’t even reached a quarter of his full potential before his untimely demise.
Just two days before the horrific accident that took away his life occurred; Dagrin was putting together his last song, Show Me the Money, for Lineo ‘Elepepe Master’. On April 14th, just a few hours before he fell unconscious, Dagrin paid a visit to the Hip Hop World office in Ikeja. The awards were drawing closer and with three nominations to his name, the hustler’s dream was finally coming true.
The last time he logged on to twitter was on April 8th at 1:01 pm. His last tweet was to a fan, Yewande Sobamowo – it simple said ‘lol’ (Laughing Out Loud). In hindsight, it was the perfect way for a man popular for his penchant to crack a giggle on wax to sign out to the world which might have been cruel to him as a child but he still managed to smile right back at it all the same.
Today, Dagrin is looking down on us, grinning from ear to ear and telling us every thing will be okay, carry on… but don’t you ever forget about me. You shall be sorely missed, good man but those who knew Olaitan would miss him even those of us who know Dagrin will do.
Rest in Perfect Peace Dagrin. You fought the good fight and even in death, you’ve emerged victorious.’