Be it highlife-oriented; Reggae; or Juju music, many would readily agree that a considerable number of the attention-grabbing and concentric crooners of the 80s attained heights in their career where they had to take the back seat and observe contemporary artistes seize dominance of the entertainment industry.
While some might owe their fizzling out of the spotlight to age-related decline in zestfulness; others are due to their inability to keep up with the ever-emerging taste of music lovers.
Whichever it is, the trend has always been to make fans nostalgic with out-of-the-blue appearances or axiomatic political comments.
However, Jide Obi is one of those impactful and indigenous music icons of the 80s who’s reasons for going completely off the grid remains unclear and has raised questions as to where he is and what he’s up to.
Born to a Nigerian barrister based in England in 1962, Jide studied law at the University of Nigeria in Enugu where he became friends with Chris Okotie, a politician and singer whose success inspired Jide’s early debut album ‘Front Page News’.
Of course, we can’t forget quickly his ‘Kill Me with Love’ and other numerous live radio and television performances that commanded the Nigerian music industry in a mad frenzy.
Jide Obi’s advocacy against inequality, his vibrancy and political criticisms, his condemnatory opinions on religious fanaticism made its way to MKO Abiola’s National Concord magazine.
His receipt of the reputed Gold Disc Award at Lagos National Theatre and his touring the Eastern Nigeria alongside Sierra Leone’s Bunny Mack — backed by Guyanese Coach House Band; the Dukes of Freetown; and the Apostles of Aba — gave the impression that, perhaps, he’ll be one of the ever-active music icons of all times.
But in the end, the then prevalent speculation leaves us asking what went wrong with the singer.
Jide Obi’s songs spanned Afro-funk; soul music and blues, the dominant genres among African-American communities at the time. Jide’s style fell under that of Chris Okotie and Felix Liberty, the likes of which eventually stimulated the Nigerian music industry we know today.
Jide Obi was only 52 when he released ‘I’m leaving Tonight’, a song with a uniquely penetrating edge wherein the singer poured out sheer emotion that hinted he’ll be “going far away” and that no one should “knock on his door”.
The lyrics of the song read:
I’m Checking for far away, don’t knock on my door.
Checking a long way, don’t give me your love.
I said I’m leaving, I’m moving away.
Oh, I’m leaving; I’m leaving tonight.
Cause I don’t want to know no heartbreak again.
That’s why I’m leaving, I’m leaving tonight.
The bane is that no one knows for sure where Jide Obi is, what prompted his “leaving” or what he’s up to. But widespread speculations have it that the singer had a hard time and eventually moved to the United States.
It is also believed that singer might be residing in either Britain or the United States, where he is barely seen in public.
No one is sure what sort of “hard time” he had. Following that only very little is written about him from archival records to biographies, details about the music legend sadly remains shrouded in uncertainty.
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