Ayo Olumilua digs into the controversial life of a bourgeoning superstar
Court cases, controversies, and sold-out shows. Naira Marley’s life is like an unending movie that the public can’t seem to get enough of.
The “Soapy” singer spectacularly made a rapid rise to the top in recent years. A polarizing figure, Marley can’t seem to hide from public scrutiny. His ascent in popularity began under rather unfortunate circumstances.
On the 3rd of May, 2019, Naira Marley was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on charges of fraud after he released the single “Am I A Yahoo Boy?” featuring Zlatan. Yahoo Boy is slang for a “cyber criminal” in Nigeria.
But the arrest turned out to be the catalyst that sped up his rise to the top of the Nigerian pop music scene. After he was released fourteen days after being granted bail, he released what turned out to be his biggest hit till date titled “Soapy”, which was followed by other hits such as “Tesumole”, “Opotoyi”, “Puta”, and “Mafo” alongside Young John.
In early 2020, he was detained by the Nigerian Police Force for contravening the lockdown order imposed on Lagos State by President Muhammadu Buhari to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.
Everywhere he goes, controversy follows.
Marley has received countless criticism as a result of the content of his lyrics. “Opotoyi” explicity addresses a woman’s bum with lewd lyrics of base sexual adulation. While “Soapy” never made any direct reference to masturbation, the word means ‘to masturbate.’ The slang came about with how boys use lotion or soap as lubrication to masturbate.
For those who might not be too familiar with him, Azeez Adeshina Fashola, born 10th May 1991 and known professionally as Naira Marley, is a Nigerian singer and songwriter. He is known as the president of his controversial fan base, “Marlians”.
Marley was born in Agege, Lagos State, Nigeria. At the age of 11, he moved to Peckham, South London, England. He has managed to carve out a successful music career since his return to Nigeria.
Despite not being known for showing off his expensive possessions like his cars and houses, it is no secret that his pockets are heavy.
Marley once posted a picture of himself standing in front of his fleet of cars which included a 2019 Bentley Continental and a Mercedes G-Wagon.
On 13th June 2020, he performed at a concert in Abuja despite the interstate travel ban and social distancing rules aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19. He travelled to the venue of the concert via a private luxury jet he chartered alongside friends of his. Big boy cruise!
When he’s not shutting down crowds or getting on the nerves of law enforcement and public officials, he mostly stays out of the public eye. He recently bought a house in Lekki which is reported to be his 5th house. Wow! Quite impressive for a man still in his 20s.
Apart from the money he gets from his songs being streamed on several platforms, Naira Marley is an artiste in high demand for shows and events. As a result of his reputation for getting in trouble with law enforcement and his history of arrest and detention, it has been hard for him to get endorsement deals.
It will take a lot of PR work to clean his public image so that brands can be bold enough to make him their ambassador. Things took a different turn for him recently, though.
Patricia.com, a company that deals on selling and buying giftcards and bitcoins, offered him a multimillion naira endorsement deal.
His official net worth is still a mystery, but several sources have estimated that it might be in hundreds of millions. Many sources claim he is worth about $700,000, which is equivalent to roughly ₦271M in Nigerian naira.
What does the future hold for Naira Marley? Is his bad boy reputation his true pass to fame or will his talent be sufficient in the future? In this saga, he’s the star act and we’re all just the audience.