The Best of Victor Olaiya
Highlife is ranked so high as one of the most popular music genres in Nigeria that it is quite a feat to be considered one of its best promoters or musicians. With several memorable albums over the years, trumpeter Dr. Victor Ambibola Olaiya, is one of certainly one of the most successful.
The song Omo Pupa counts easily as one of Olaiya’s greatest hits. Released on July 29, 2003, under the Premier Music label, it is part of the album ‘The Best of Dr. Victory Olaiya’. The title, a Yoruba phrase for fair lady, makes reference to the general perception in Nigerian society that fair-skinned women are more beautiful than dark complexioned ones.
The song has a duration of two minutes and thirty four seconds (2:34), and begins with a skillfully rendered intro led by the electric guitar, with other instruments including the keyboard, saxophone, drums and trumpet, in support to produce the tonic sol-fa m:s:m:s:d: m:s:s:t:r:d:d:d:d: m:s:l:s:l:s:d: m:s:s:t:r:d:d:d:d.
“Omo pupa o, omo pupa le mi nfe; omo pupa o jowo ko feran mi o” (Fair lady, fair lady that I desire; fair lady, please love me) begins the song. Olaiya continues to woo her, Ti ba de London, ma fowo oko ranse; omo pupa o, jowo ko book de o (On my arrival in London, I will send you transport fare; fair lady, please arrive with the vehicle). An interlude on the same key as the intro follows and the song ends on a high note.
From the album ‘OGD All Stars’, is Baby Mi Da? (Baby Jowo), another of Victor Olaiya’s very best. Translated from Yoruba, the title means ‘Where is my Babe?’ (Babe Please). With sexually lewd lyrics, Olaiya pleads for his lover’s return, after a spat, so that they may make love.
The song which lasts for over four minutes begins with a brief intro and then dives into the lyrics: “Eba mi so fun sisi yen ko mai lo o, mo ti so wipe faaji tele la wa. Eba mi so fun sisi yen ko mai salo o, mo ti so wipe tele tele la wa. Aunty jowo ko mai lo o, omode se mi, sisi mi da a a? Sisi jowo ko gbemi saya, ko wa fun mi looyan tutu mu o. Omode se mi, dear mi da? Dear jowo, ko mai lo o, ebin pa mi, mo fe muyan, ko wa fun mi loyan tutu mu o.” The lyrics are no less desperate when translated to English: “Help me tell that lady not to go yet, I have said that we should enjoy. Help me tell that lady not to run away, I have said we are here. Aunty please, don’t go yet, I am being childish, where is my lady? Lady, please lay me on your chest and let me suck your breasts. I am being childish, where is my dear? Dear, please don’t go yet, I am hungry, I want to breastfeed; give me your breasts to suck.”
An interlude of solo renditions came in first, with of the tenor saxophone and then the guitar, is interrupted by the words: “Omode se mi, sisi mi da? Aunty (Sisi) jowo ko mai lo o, duro de mi, ko gbe mi saya. Dear, ko wa funmi l’oyan tutu mu o”, meaning I am being childish, where is my lady? Aunty (Lady) please don’t go yet, wait for me. Lay me on your chest, to suck your breasts. Guitar and then trumpet solos follow, with musical arrangements ending the song.
In July 2013, music lovers were thrilled by the much anticipated music video remix of Baby Mi Da with popular singer 2face Idibia, underscoring the song’s status as one of the greatest highlife tunes ever, and Olaiya’s continued relevance.
Born on December 31, 1930 in Calabar, Dr. Victor Olaiya has been described as “The evil genius of highlife”, a title that conveys notions of intelligence, wit and humour – all hallmarks of the music icon.
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