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15 Nov Written by  Ladi Opaluwa

I Remember Styl-Plus

Of all the musicians at the Runway 4 show, I remember Styl-Plus. They came in black apparel, walked to the middle of the runway, and stood singing 'Runaway.' They were two instead of three but the audience was too busy singing along, modulating in loud, discordant voices, to care about the incomplete ensemble.

Except for a brief buttock wriggling that Zeal did towards the end of their performance, it was a non-theatrical performance―and good, considering the size of the stage. They rendered their number with limited mobility, a restraint uncommon among musicians who are naturally endowed with an exuberance that propels them off the stage, into the crowd, seeking to serenade any particularly enthusiastic follower. They exhibited none of the antics entertainers required to engage an audience. They could afford such languor, after all, the entire audience was a fan; we were wooed ten years ago.

It was Styl-Plus as we knew them since 2003. In size and style, they remained basically unaltered. Two gentlemen in black, sporting mini afro cuts. With Zeal in long sleeve with suspenders and Shifi in rumpled suit, they looked like they had emerged from a time capsule or like from an old clip on VHS. Looking at them on stage as at a screen, they appeared not like stars, but in an endearing way, like choir boys miming this once hugely popular song.

It was an easy performance. They sang; we sang along, each wondering to his/her neighbours at the end of the first song, ‘where is Tunde?’

On starting 'Olufunmi,' many stood and hugged their chests in bliss and nostalgia. The songs remind of an era, perhaps those days in secondary school, in the university, wherever. They remind of a place, and a time.

The setting for me was Room 82, Inikpi Hall, a white, expansive female hostel in Kogi State University, in the year 2003/2004. I was in two hundred level of a four-year course; one year of fresher naiveté behind, at the onset of three years of hitherto inexplicable loafing. Part of it was spent looking out from my window on the second floor at the activities in the yard, their tracks repeated behind me and from adjoining rooms.

I remember a roommate's claim that Shifi was her friend and secondary school mate. They both lived in Abuja, and ran into each other occasionally, and had chit chats on such chance meetings during semester breaks.  And this was post-'Olufunmi'. I loved her stories despite my unbelief. Another roommate who also lived in Abuja claimed kinship with Da Kapo, the rapper on Olufunmi remix. This must be serendipity.

A section of the audience appropriated the interval it took the DJ to transit to the next song to ask, ‘where is Tunde?’

Then the question spread across the room in a yes-tell-us-now manner.

‘Where is Tunde? Where is Tunde?’

‘Tunde has retired,’ Zeal replied. ‘No, he is not tired.’

Then either Shifi or Zeal made remark about the two of them holding it down for Styl-Plus, and we all let it go and took solace in their rendition of, 'Imagine That', which brought us to the part where Zeal did the earlier referenced booty dance. Good thing then, they avoided any song more recent than that though. 'Iya Basira' would have grated the sensibilities of the elite, and 'Four Years,' after all, proved to be premature jubilation.

Styl-Plus minus Tunde still was a potent choice by the organisers of the Runway Fashion Show. The band was possibly invited for their antique value, and they, on their part, made no attempt to compete with the younger, contemporary musicians. We are now in thrall of Olamide, Wizkid, Davido, a decade of prodigious wizardry.

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