portable musician

Meeting Portable, The Mad Musician

A thousand street fights in one week will make a society hate you. Nobody will understand you — not even when your verbiage is a string of jumbled jargon. You’re famous, yes. Suddenly famous from just one radio hit. But now, they want to see you crucified because you’re too loud, you don’t know your place, you don’t genuflect to your elders, you don’t follow the familiar formulas, you walk like the gods of instant reversal of fortune (whom the entire country viscerally fears) have nothing on you. Who the F are you?

You are Portable, the scraggy jingle maker. Your music is neither fuji, nor is it hip-hop. It bops between genres, pops like a confusing concoction whose recipe no one knows. Yet we like the feel, the taste. We wish we don’t but we do. You astound us, this man. Who the F are you?

Apparently, as Chris summarised from listening to your latest track, you’re a tortured artiste. You have a lot to say.

Who is Chris? Chris is an intellectual and a friend. I have a handful of friends so he’s probably the only intellectual that’s my friend. He’s a student of world literature and the Arts. He’s done many reviews of some complicated works. When Chris says you’re a tortured artiste who has something to say, I believe him.

Plus, I listened to the same track he’s talking about. Ogo Forever. Good one. Not as catchy as Zazu Zeh, the one from which you became a hit yourself, but it’s still good. I listened till the end. Twice. That’s saying something because I’m not that patient with anything.

But there’s also this podcast on YouTube in which you appear. Jahbless, the podcaster, a music person himself, takes his questions from the mouth of the general public.

Are you rich? Do you have a girlfriend? Do you have children? Why are you starring in this many street fights?

From what you say in response, I learn you’re not rich. You might have made a few thousands through the decade you’ve been singing, but it’s not been enough to change your life.

Yes, you now have a girlfriend that you love, even though there are a thousand other girls who love you and want to marry you. Which is why it’s also shocking that your favourite girlfriend is now “fucking up.”

You have made two kids with two different mothers.

Most importantly, you fight because people want to take advantage of you. Like when you found out, to your utter shock, that this Zazu Zeh, the freestyle song that became an internet hit with the help of bigtime rapper Olamide, was released under another artiste’s name. After several years of near-death suffering, you were not about to miss your golden chance with this song, so you instantly caused a ruckus. The other artiste might have “shown love” by appearing on the song but the song must be under your name because you made the song!

And then there’s the other fight with a promoter who just so happened to be stringing you along towards a big pay day that was never going to come. Your showdown with him was caught on camera — it is what it is.

You fight people because you’ve learnt that you will get lost in the crowd if you try to fit in. They want you to wear what the other rappers wear, make your haircut less shocking, be humble, comport yourself.

Because you refuse, Kayode says you have “real street sense.” Kayode, another one from my handful of friends, knows the street. His business makes him deal with the street. So I have to trust his judgment on the matter of your street wisdom.

What you say in the podcast that confirms your street credibility for me is this: “Over-packaging dey kill artiste. Make dem free me.” In other words, the people should let you be yourself because if you pretend to be what you’re not, you die.

Makes sense to me, Portable. I think I now know who the F you are.

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I poke at ideas to see what's inside. A lot of times I generate my own. Sometimes, people pay for those ideas. And, obviously, I like to tell stories about creativity.

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