There is a fair chance that you may not have heard the name Fakoya Qudus Oluwadamilare, but if you haven’t heard the name Qdot Alagbe, or any of his songs, then you are wrong.
Qdot came into prominence about six years ago with his song ‘Orin Emi’, renamed ‘Alomo Meta’ by his teeming fans who recognised the earworm the song would become.
Produced by Antras, his frequent collaborator, ‘Alomo Meta’ is a solemn ditty after the order of the spiritual songs popular with white garment churches, the so-called syncretic African churches. These songs are repetitive, incantatory and hypnotic, and would often lull people into trance.
But trance is not what Qdot achieved. He took the repetitive gong sound and singing style to invoke a street-type trance-like experience involving three bottles of two different types of alcoholic herbs, three rizzlers (for moulding spliff cigarettes), and three fair sex workers for three days. His emphasis on the number three perhaps could be extended to the possibility of a ménage à trois-but quite frankly, he was speaking to a carnal experience that brought to mind reckless orgies as some sort of escapism to the table. And this caught on.
Expectedly, he persisted in this line of inquiry when he released another song about another alcoholic herbal bitters, ‘Orijin’. Qdot’s charm lies in his ability to observe the street and to relay his perception with spot-on descriptions. And his lyrics do so much at the same time. On the one hand he sings unbiasedly about the debauched life of street boys which includes drug abuse, multiple sex partners and thrift spending. On the other hand, he is cautioning and critiquing this lifestyle-but what is most powerful about his ability is that he sings from a place of deep-seated affection and with a non-judgemental stance.
One of his most accomplished songs is ‘Ibadan’. Featuring Olamide, Qdot sings rather lovingly about the ancient city with new interpretations for old metaphors while leaning into the familiar to excavate new meanings. Olamide’s rap verse is a gem exploring the city’s blossoming nightlife, playing a fine comparison to Lagos.
Qdot’s strongest gift is the humour which is often lost on those who don’t speak Yoruba. Take the opening lines of ‘Gbese’ for instance, where he is throwing shade at someone who buys a car for N150,000 and expects that the car will not malfunction during the wee hours. Then he moves on to Slay mamas on Snapchat with made-up faces and flowers adorning their heads. ‘Gbese’, like all Qdot songs, has several anchors.
He is singing about leg work and the Zanku dance, at the same time, he is riffing off late Apala maestro Haruna Ishola’s ‘Ina Ran’.
His best adaptation of Apala music is ‘Apala New School’ produced by Citiboi. A humorous reflection on Nigeria’s 2016 recession, this song begins with a shout out to the Ponzi scheme M.M.M and finds its way to the chorus around abject moral depravity in our society that makes a lad aspire to become an internet fraudster. This is done within the ethos of Apala music and masterfully crafted in a way that makes Terry Apala seem like a jobber with a coarse voice.
His latest song, ‘Koshi Danu’, is a quick tempo humorous inventory of hapless street minions including Kalimot, the suspicious early caller, who steals a phone with its charger. Over the past four years, Qdot has increased the tempo of his songs from the slow tempo he was first accustomed to. This presumably is as a result of his collaboration with producers aside from Antras. This has increased his appeal and fanbase quite significantly; his music is being played more often since it can now carry dance.
However, his music hasn’t moved out of its current sphere of influence. Qdot’s music is better known and loved by those in the Mainland suburbs than on the Island. He belongs to that crop of musicians that include Seriki, Junior Boy, Bharry Jay, Small Doctor, Klever Jay and Danny Young-those whose music have not been able to cross the metaphoric Third Mainland Bridge successfully.
Small Doctor is by far the most successful of this cohort since he crossed the TMB at least once with ‘Penalty’. Qdot has not had this kind of luck or love showered on him by the Island people. But those who love Qdot are proper stans. Fancy being at a party in Igando and you will observe youths doing invective and infectious leg works on ‘Gbese’ and requesting the DJ to continue to cue Qdot’s voice for an encore.
In his six years of prominence, Qdot has continued to stay relevant in his own way, courting his own crowd without an album to his name. He is an indie musician with the most original voice that harkens back to the traditional music of Juju, Apala, Sakara and Fuji, and clearly he will be around for a long time.