If it were a matter of choice, the conversation Sound Sultan would have preferred to be at the centre of could have been a retelling of his far-reaching influence on the contemporary Afrobeats movement. Better still, he could have — with held-up shoulders evoking the pride of conquest — preferred to be narrating his tussle with cancer to correct contorted accounts of why he unexplainedly went off the grid.
But the bombshell that struck on the morning of July 11, 2021, was that angioimmunoblastic t-cell lymphoma, the ailment which forced the iconic entertainer to leave for the US, eventually claimed his life. His family is struggling to come to grips with the loss; grieving fans are still in shock and music industry stakeholders are shattered.
But the gloom that marked his death wouldn’t be the last memory of him; his creative virtuosity and legacy remain unerasable.
Delivered 8 albums after break-out hit, ‘Mathematics’
Sound Sultan attended Stepping Stone Nursery and Primary school, Federal Government College Osun state, and Lagos State University in 1999 where he obtained a degree in geography and regional planning.
His showbiz career kicked off in the early ’90s when he hosted shows to raise money for studio sessions. By 1999, he had won multiple talent shows. In 2000, he released his breakthrough hit ‘Mathematics’ — a song on which he used BODMAS to advocate a new approach to governance in Africa. After independently releasing other singles, the musician joined Kennis Music.
Under Kennis Music, Sound Sultan made four studio albums. When his contract with the label expired in 2007, he partnered with Dare ‘Baba Dee’ Fasasi, his elder brother, to start Naija Ninjas, which served as the parent company to a record label, production outfit, and clothing line. Sultan worked in different music genres; from R&B to afrobeats, soul, and fuji music. Under Naija Ninjas, he released several albums and signed artistes like Karma Da Rapper, Young GreyC, Shawn, and Blacka.
The rapper started working with Wyclef Jean, the Haitian-American rapper, after he featured alongside 2face Idibia and Faze on ‘Proud to be African’ — a song on Wyclef’s ‘Welcome to Haiti: Creole 101’ album. They would later collaborate on two other projects. In 2012, Sound Sultan was made a UN ambassador for peace on account of his exemplary lifestyle.
Sound Sultan bagged the 2012 Headies Award for album of the year and the City People music special recognition award in 2018. In total, eight studio albums were credited to him, including Kpseeeeew (2001), Textbook (2004), Naija 007 (2007), Back to The future (2010), Me, My Mouth, and Eye (2012), Out of The Box (2016), and 8th Wondah (2020).
Mentored big-shots like P-Square, Wizkid
In 2017, Sound Sultan said he inspired many top Nigerian artistes who are big in the music industry. Among the names he called were Wizkid, D’banj, the now-defunct P-Square, and Timaya. He said their stardom didn’t stop him from retaining his status as an industry father.
“So many artistes that are big now, when they were budding artistes I inspired and motivated them. From P-Square to Wizkid, Dbanj, Timaya, Asa, and all the other guys. That I want to mentor young up-and-coming artistes doesn’t stop my own movement, it’s more like a positive energy; it’s not something you need to take a break from,” he said.
“You don’t have to wait for your fire to die before igniting another person’s, while your fire is burning you can use it to ignite another person’s fire, so they could feed off the good energy that you emit. That’s why I’m always here.”
Sound Sultan is said to have once allowed then-unknown P-square to open for him during a Lagos concert in what was the music duo’s first show in the state.
Passionate basketball supporter
Sultan was a basketball fan, former player and lifelong supporter of the sport who used his brand to attract fellow celebrities and fans to watch live games.
But he didn’t stop there; Sultan went further to find new ways to get promote the sport in the country.
In November 2015, entertainers like Darey, Tee Billz, Ikechukwu, Dr Sid, Jimmie, and Vector showed up for Sound Sultan’s ‘Face-Off’ event, which was a creative blend of basketball, music, dance and all-round entertainment.
In 2015, news broke that Sound Sultan had forayed into the sports business by acquiring a stake in the Lagos Islanders, a Lagos-based basketball club founded in 1984. It was revealed that the rap icon co-owned the club, which played in the private African Basketball League (ABL).
In an interview he had that same year, Sound Sultan noted: “I played basketball from 1991 till date. I was the basketball team captain of my secondary school and my university, that’s the kind of prominent role I’ve always played, so for me right now it’s not out of place that I now invest in the game. This time around a group of young men came together with the aim of taking basketball in Nigeria to another level and get new converts to buy into the basketball industry.”
Explaining that he wasn’t the sole owner of Lagos Islanders, he added: “We have a man called Damoye who was the incumbent owner of the team, Ugo Udeze, Tajudeen Sulaiman, and myself. I used to play for Dodan Warriors. So we all came together like Voltron and we all have our strong points.”
Married Christian wife and birthed three children
In 2009, Sound Sultan married Chichi Morah who later converted to Islam and changed her name to Farida Fasasi. They had three children together.
Five years after their marriage, Sound Sultan shut down speculation that he compelled his wife to convert to Islam. He said she converted on her own accord because she was in love with the religion.
“No one forces anyone to do a religion. It just happened that she married me and she really…really was in love with the religion herself,” he had said.
Mr versatile — actor, scriptwriter, musician.
Beyond music and basketball, Sound Sultan was an all-round entertainer.
Sound Sultan starred in films like ‘The Washerman’ (2018), Head Gone (2014), ‘Campus Queen’ (2004) and a web series by comedian Basketmouth titled ‘Papa Benji’ (2020). In a February 2021 interview, he spoke of some of his projects in the works including music compilations and sitcoms.
“I feel like artistes are actors. When you look at entertainment, it’s just one big estate of creativity. You can have a neighbourhood where there are both music and movies. They are just closely knit. I don’t feel like I have to wear a new crown to do something [different]. I act in my music videos regardless. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been acting. For 20 years now, imagine that you’ve not seen one-tenth of what I can do. That’s scary. But I’m not the type to rush it,” he had said.
Unfortunately, the world never got to see “one-tenth” of his potential as death snatched him prematurely.
Photos: IG/Sound Sultan
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