The Fuji musician of yore was reknown largely for two things: he sang and, occasionally, danced. In effect, the entire gamut of his art were confined within these two variants of performances. Until the late-90’s, that is.
Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, although a pretty good dancer, was effectively a ‘singer’; he was reknown more for the depth of his lyrics and less for the magic of his foot on the dance floor. The narrative, of course, is nearly same for Iyanda Sawaba Ewenla, Akangbe Waidi et al. Ditto Wasiu Ayinde Marshal who’s, by the way, a far worse dancer.
The artist who projected a self-conscious sophisticated image, Adewale Ayuba, for the later part of that era, held the unofficial record of ‘the dancer’ among Fuji acts. Almost.
So the divide remained that between the ‘singers’—widely define as those with deep lyrical contents rich in Yoruba idiomatic expressions—and the ‘dancer’—-the one who mesmerizes on the dance floor, much more than he does when handed the microphone. Put simply, the arrangement was quite devoid of an excluded middle.
To be sure, Abass Akande Obesere gave an insight into the emergence of an ‘alternative art’ when he came with a style that must have proven problematic to segment for art enthusiasts: lewd lyrics devoid of political correctness in an industry patronized by a legion of culturally conservative fans. And despite that the question of whether he was a ‘singer’ or a ‘dancer’ was quite puzzling, Obesere, unperturbed by the criticisms that trailed his sound, never provided any response.
So the one question lingered, still.
And finally came Alabi Pasuma, whose art, like Obesere’s, would not fit into the traditional dancing-singing dynamic, in the strict sense of it. Pasuma, like a true avant-garde, would supply an answer to the puzzle years later with the release of his smash hit ‘Entertainer’, effectively providing a nomenclature, a mid-point between singing and dancing, for artistes of his ilk—–the ‘entertainers’.
On the flipside, among Wasiu Alabi Pasuma’s numerous monikers, there is ‘Wonder’—-which, when made to appear in full, surfaces as ‘Pasuma Wonder’. If taken as a noun, the word captures the artiste’s trajectory as a collosus in the culture space in the last three decades.
Put matter-of-factly, if we adopt the traditional ‘singing-dancing’ template, Pasuma cannot quite dance, neither can he really sing.
So what has he done in the last decades to remain on our TV screen? Simple answer: Neither. Yet, that’s not where the wonder lies.
Again, what can he (Pasuma) actually do as an artiste? Again, neither of the two.
When, circa 2000’s, he famously declared that he doesn’t quite know how to ‘sing’, he only echoed the thoughts of many Fuji buffs.
Among Fuji acts, the very art of ‘singing’—measured largely by the depth of an artiste’s lines—belongs to a selected few: Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, Wasiu Ayinde Marshal, Sir Shina Akanni Scorpido, Rashidi Ayinde Merenge, Sefiu Alao Cardozo, Saidi Osupa and, perhaps, Muri Alabi Thunder, among other obscure acts.
Again, when he declared that he was an ‘entertainer’—at the time an unsuccessful euphemism for ‘dancer’—he was only being clever by half; because, frankly, Pasuma cannot quite dance. That art belongs to Adewale Ayuba and, to a lesser degree, Sule Alao Malaika.
(If dancing is the same thing as poor, disgusting mimicry of Michael Jackson’s/Usher Raymond’s dance steps, we may as well smuggle the hemp-wielding Remi Aluko into this category).
Again, the haunting question pops up: beyond his legendary propensity for acquisition of sobriquets, what can Pasuma actually do? Again, like a recalcitrant troublemaker, the answer remains the same.
Yet, for decades, he has nurtured this art of not necessarily ‘singing’ nor ‘dancing’, garnering fame and fortune along the way, becoming arguably the most decorated contemporary Fuji act of the last two decades.
Again,, if we judge by street credibility, then move from the streets of Mushin to Oluyole, from Abeokuta to Ila-Orangun, from Akure to Ado-ekiti, all the way to Ilorin and beyond, Pasuma is unarguably the most admired Fuji act among contemporary Fuji lovers.
So at 50, Pasuma has proven something to art enthusiasts: that the very eloquent act of not necessarily ‘singing’nor ‘dancing’, supported with humble braggadocio, and a special facility for accentuating the zeitgeist, is itself an art form.
This, exactly what makes Pasuma Wonder tick, is in many ways a ‘wonder’.
But away from the flipside, Pasuma has proven his genius by reinventing himself across every Fuji era, maintaining relevance in an industry where the competition gets stiffer every other day.
And more importantly, the artiste has remained at the forefront of pushing Fuji to the mainstream of pop culture, a feat he has achieved in ways more than one.
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