Portable: The Unorthodox Side of Afrobeat
Portable is undoubtedly one of the most prominent figures in Nigerian pop culture. It’s insulting to consider him a rookie in Afrobeats, given his influence on the genre since his meteoric rise to fame. His contributions to the growth of popular culture in Nigeria surpass those of every other artist combined.
Since his emergence in December 2021, the expressions he uses in his music have become commonplace in social media circles. From o tun ti zehh to dem go rip you and Are you mad or something?, his peculiar slang has become part of Nigerian youth’s lexicon. Portable, who proudly refers to himself as Idamu Adugbo, has maintained the intensity of the atrocities that initially brought him to the limelight, and his consistency makes him the most real musician in Afrobeats.
One of the most remarkable traits of Portable is his refusal to conform to the norms of the industry. His defiance against conventions quickly established the belief that he would not surpass his debut hit, Zazoo Zehh, and would fade into obscurity. Many Nigerians made this assumption based on sentiment. But he is the perfect example of what show business represents. The “street” singer from Osun State has always found a way to sell himself, boasting numerous cars and a studio/label he calls Zehh Nation.
Portable is the most controversial artist Nigerian mainstream music has ever witnessed. Comparisons to Terry G based on “madness” fail to recognize that Portable’s waywardness is not limited to his music alone. He could be regarded as the most fearless Nigerian artist if not for the existence of Fela Kuti, whose activist stubbornness in the face of military repression remains unparalleled. In one instance, an aggressive him stood up against a pack of policemen, later referring to himself as a baboon on live television. He would later appear in court to pay bail at Ifo Local Government, Ogun State.
In 2022, Portable became embroiled in controversy after a careless campaign put him at loggerheads with Davido, one of the industry’s giants. He even earned the distinction of being the first Nigerian artist to perform at a gas station. Portable’s sound is a form of Afrobeats that largely amplifies the ideologies of the ghetto areas of Nigeria, characterized by slangs and a certain level of craze that is deeply rooted in his music.
His discography boasts of three wildly accepted hits in two years: Zazoo Zehh, Apostle, and Azaman, off different bodies of work.
Despite his fame, Portable lost his nods at the 2022 Headies Awards due to his confession of being a cult founder, but this hasn’t dampened his spirit or popularity. He continues to be a judge assessing the blushes of his colleagues in the industry, including Seyi Vibez, Wizkid, BNXN, Ruger, Poco Lee, and many others, as well as a beggar acknowledging the mercy of more senior colleagues like Wizkid, Burna Boy, and Davido.
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