Whether it was using his music to address social issues, correct the ills of society, educate the young and old, or producing and starring in movies and playing basketball to the level of owning a basketball team, Olanrewaju ‘Sound Sultan’ Fasasi did it all with his talent.
“Sound Sultan was an extraordinarily talented creative who blessed the world with his multiple gifts of rapping, singing, songwriting, acting, comedy, basketball and so much more,” the editorial board of Nigerian Entertainment Today (Netng) and organisers of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference (NECLive) said in a statement on Sunday, July 11, 2021, after his family announced his death.
For more than two decades, his art confronted issues ranging from corruption and bad governance to anti-social vices, the traditional stereotypes of the female body, and other social issues.
A family statement said he passed away at 44 following a hard-fought battle with Angioimmunoblastic T-cell Lymphoma (AITL).
He was born November 27, 1976 in Jos, Plateau State to a Muslim household from Iseyin in Oyo State and raised with his five other siblings in Satellite Town a former middle-class estate along the Lagos-Badagry expressway, in Lagos.
He lost his father Liadi Alarape Fasasi on July 4, 2003 and mother Adeyinka Ajarat Fasasi, almost three years later, on March 29, 2006.
“My father was my number one fan. I remember that I’ll be writing my songs, and he’ll be around to make contributions,” he told Thenetng. His mother “had a good voice and used to sing a lot. Apparently, she used to work for some label where Barrister [late Sikiru Ayinde, popular fuji singer] was signed. So, she’ll always go on and on about Barrister.”
He was a Muslim devotee who held his faith very close to his heart till his last days.
Sound Sultan bagged a degree in geography and regional planning from Lagos State University (LASU) in 1999. Before then he had attended the Federal Government College, Ogbomoso in Oyo state. At LASU and FEGCO, he juggled music with basketball and he was the captain of the schools’ basketball teams.
“I started music in the year 1991 in secondary school. When I started miming, writing my own lyrics and by 1994, I had time for myself. I left school, then I started writing songs and poems,” Sound Sultan told The Nation newspaper in 2010.
By the time he left FEGCO in 1993, as the school is popularly called, his love for music had grown bigger but he never failed to credit his elder brother, Dare ‘Baba Dee’ Fasasi, who’s equally a talented creative and singer, for the big influence he had on his music and creative career.
Sound Sultan, like P-Square, was also a product of the Benson & Hedges talent hunt and he began generating buzz in the music world from the late 1990s after winning the Benson & Hedges ‘Grab the Mic’ Talent Hunt in 1999. Before then he had won some musical competitions but Benson & Hedges shot him into stardom.
Sound Sultan immediately built on his success at the competition by releasing his breakout single ‘Mathematics’ (Jagbajantis) in 2000. ‘Mathematics’ broke music charts, won him instant fans and became the favourites of many Nigerian millennials.
But Sound Sultan didn’t regard ‘Mathematics’ as his first hit single.
“People always say it’s Mathematics but if you ask me I would say ‘Gengen’ because I used it to win every stage I stepped on, every talent hunt stage I stepped on. That was the song that won me the talent hunt, Benson and Hedges ‘Grab the Mic’ in 1999. I won some other small, small ones. It was ‘Gengen’ that I used then, but of course Mathematics did justice to the thing,” he told The Nation newspaper in 2010.