Beyond the Beats: How Mohbad’s Death Has Changed the Perspective of Music Students on “Getting Signed”

The recent untimely and mysterious death of Mohbad, a Nigerian singer signed to Naira Marley’s record label, Marlian Music, has sent shockwaves through the industry and the country at large. It is so strong that you rarely find two AFASites together without the topic cropping up in their conversation.

While alive, his talent as a music artist was famous for his unique blend of street hop and soul-reaching lyrics. His ascent was meteoric. Although his talent contributed to this, it was mainly due to his association with Naira Marley, a controversial and influential figure in the Nigerian music scene.

Now, however, his tragic death on the 12th of September 2023, has ignited a nationwide discourse, forcing the entertainment industry and those who wish to go into the industry to re-evaluate the dynamics of entertainers being signed by the “popular” artists with popular record labels.

Mohbad, born Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba, was a 27-year-old youth with an undeniable talent and whose path was destined for greatness. It is rumoured, however, after his death, that while his career was on the ascent, Mohbad faced alleged threats to his life. This has now resurfaced as a topic of discussion among fans and industry insiders.

The specifics of these threats are unknown and have been subject to the back-and-forth of speculations. Despite this, they underscore the challenges faced by artists, not just Mohbad, but also in the entertainment industry generally.

In addition to the discussions about the threats, the mystery surrounding Mohbad’s death has also been associated with the use of drugs supplied by the renowned Naira Marley. Naira Marley, who is now a wanted suspect, is the owner of Marlian Music and a controversial figure in the Nigerian music space. Due to his unapologetic music style that pushed the boundaries of societal norms, he has earned a massive following, most of whom are now turned against him.

In different posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, speculations have also been made about Mohbad being subject not only to physical torture but also spiritual ones. To back up these tweets, is a video of him dancing without his shadow showing, while that of his co-dancer is visible.

Overall, Mohbad’s death and the quest for justice for his presumed murder or vivisepulture by both the sincere mourners and attention whores, has revealed to Nigerians and the students under the entertainment cover, that fame and success sometimes come at high costs.

The tragic fate of Mohbad has raised questions about the increased mentorship offered by popular labels, substance abuse, the mental health of artists, and the sort of guidance given to them. Mohbad’s legacy has become a stern reminder of the complexities of fame.

This brings to the surface the music students at the University of Ibadan, who have sought this “signing” at one time or another. To them, Mohbad’s tragedy has been received with a mix of scepticism and contemplation.
While some have become sceptical about the prospect of being signed by famous artists, considering the risks and pressures that come with it, others have not given the matter much thought.

Speaking to two music students, who have requested to remain anonymous, the first says, “I want to be popular, but I don’t think the fame I’m seeking is worth the sacrifice of my life”.

The second who shares a different view about the place of fate says, “I believe so long as I remain focused on my musical career and channel my talent to the right places, I will succeed. Mohbad’s death is a painful one, truly, and I hope he gets the justice he deserves. But that shouldn’t stop the rest of us from rising, nor should it deter our passion for music. That was his own fate”.

With these two reflections on the situation, the issue of being signed by popular artists stands at a crossroads from the opinions of AFAS students. Hopefully, as the investigation towards Mohbad’s death continues, a balance of dreams, aspirations, responsibility, and sacrifice will be struck.

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