Bust a myth: Did King Sunny Ade really record a song with Eminem?

When it comes to the big picture Nigerian music industry, King Sunny Ade doesn’t need to try anymore. He has done enough work to command a significant level of respect. Besides, with over 120 full-length LPs recorded in his career, KSA is probably too busy touring to pay attention to whatever Twitter or Facebook is saying anyway.

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FYI, if you don’t know who King Sunny Ade is or what he represents to Nigerian music, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. The Afro-Juju king is a two-time Grammy nominee, who headlined sold out stadium concerts all over the world at the peak of his success, which automatically makes him one of the most successful black artists of his time.

However, one mind-boggling mystery that has lingered in the media over the years is a rumored recording between King Sunny Ade and rapper Eminem. According to multiple sources in the Nigerian media over the last ten years, King Sunny Ade and Eminem apparently recorded a song in 1994. Sources also went further to speculate that both artistes allegedly agreed to keep the song in the stables until 2020.

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It doesn’t take anyone who remotely cares about Nigerian music, to know how much this could mean for the soundscape or the world music genre as a whole. But while we don’t doubt the possibility of such a groundbreaking collaboration considering how successful King Sunny Ade was between the 70s and 90s, the years have gone by with neither King Sunny Ade nor Eminem publicly confirming or denying the existence of the song. We have searched the Internet high and low and save for individuals who have heard the same speculation retelling it over and over again, there is no other proof of a scenario where King Sunny Ade and Eminem were in the same studio.

But to check our skepticism, we left room for some doubt. Eminem released his debut major label album Slim Shady in 1999 under Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label. Until then he had only prior released Infinite, a shoddy LP, lost in the shadow of Eminem’s other successful albums till date . But at the time, King Sunny Ade had released years of material, maintained an active fan base and international media coverage like no other.

A year later, King Sunny Ade released his critically acclaimed Seven Degrees North album under a California-based indie label Mesa Blue Moon. Safe to say that about this time, both Eminem and King Sunny Ade could have been in the same locale since Dr. Dre was mostly based in the Los Angeles county area. However, that would place the speculated 1994 record year at somewhere in the late 90s or early 2000s. So we will leave a question mark on that.

Our other theory is drawn along a series of record label connections that may put some things into perspective. Aftermath Records where Eminem was signed has Universal Music Group as its parent label. Likewise, King Sunny Ade who was signed to PolyGram records via Island Records automatically became a Universal Music Group artiste after his parent label merged with Universal Studios in 1999. Though this even sounds more implausible than it looks on paper, sharing the same parent label is the only other reason we think a KSA and Eminem collaboration might exist.

Agreed, this still places the actual record year at around the late 90s and early 2000s, tight restrictions on material release and copyright ownership by major label corporations like Universal Records may explain the silence on the nature of the recording by all parties involved.

Safe to say, until 2020 arrives and neither Eminem, Sunny Ade nor Universal Music Group decides to come public, we will never actually know if it happened or where such a grand rumour even started from.

One thing is certain, however, the song was most definitely not recorded in 1994.

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