Appreciating the legacy of Tolu and Olu Maintain

Groups and collaborative efforts in Nigeria never really go on campaigns for too long before disagreements and unresolved differences send their members sprawling into solo careers. The story of Maintain, a group that rose to prominence in the period between the late 90s and early oughties is no different.


Before Olu Maintain danced yahooze with former US Secretary of Stateg Colin Powell, he was one of a duo known as Maintain. The group was made up of Tolu Oguniyi, Olumide Adegbolu and they had a frequent collaborator and label owner in Adeboye Bammeke aka Big Bamo. Their music was mostly famous for its often humorous, politically underlined lyricism.  They became household names in Nigeria after the success of their debut album Ni bo la wa gbe lo in 1999.


The group’s rise to fame was mostly based off samples and covers of other  international pop songs. Particularly, one of their biggest hits till date I Catch Cold, was a parody of Ludacris’ and Nate  Dogg’s 2001 smash hit Area Codes. Critics never failed to use this as an entry point when analysing their music and the duo went on to release six studio albums between 1999 and 2004. Although there is very little information about their discography, their successful singles speak in numbers till date.

Another salient success the group achieved was being a part of the revolution of the industry. Maintain was not the conventional hip-hop group by definition; the duo’s music especially spanned across different genres. This included  rhythms from conventional afrobeats to mainstream hip-hop and even the nether regions of instrumentation with oriental Asian elements.

The wide acceptance of these sounds despite their obvious foreignness relatively sparked the initiative for Nigerian music to experiment with sounds outside the comfort zones of its own genericism.

Maintain might have been unoriginal, but their place in Nigerian music should be unquestionable.


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