Portable, the Nigerian street-pop sensation, has never been one to shy away from controversy. With his music as his weapon, he’s taken on issues close to his heart and challenged the status quo, often finding himself in hot water with fellow artists and the authorities. In this feature story, ogunwatch delve into four of Portable’s songs that have made headlines, each addressing a unique aspect of his tumultuous journey through the music industry.
Azaman: A Grudge Against His Associates
Released in 2022, “Azaman” is a song that speaks of betrayal and mistrust, themes that have hit close to home for Portable. The lyrics reflect his personal experiences with associates he accuses of shortchanging him, singing, “Azaman, no trust person on, na them go rip you, them go call police oh.” It was a stark revelation of the harsh realities of the music industry, where loyalty can often be a rare commodity.
But the drama didn’t stop with the song’s release. Portable took to social media to publicly confront Poco Lee after the two had collaborated on the hit song “Zazu.” He claimed that Poco Lee had cheated him out of the $3,000 that Grammy award-winning singer Wizkid had sprayed him with during the Wizkid Livespot Concert. According to Portable, he received only $600. Furthermore, he accused Poco Lee of hijacking his song, “Zazoo,” a move that led to a public spat and the intervention of industry insiders.
Apostle: Challenging Hypocrisy in Religion
In 2022, Portable dropped “Apostle,” a track that sent shockwaves through the religious community. The song exposed the hypocrisy of pastors who preached about God’s miracles while relying on bulletproof vehicles for their own safety. Portable highlighted the tragic irony that, during an attack on Apostle Johnson Suleiman, his police escorts were killed because they were in an unprotected van, while the preacher himself escaped unharmed.
This song ignited controversy and criticism from members of Apostle Suleiman’s church, who saw it as an attack on their faith. The attack on Apostle Suleiman’s convoy, which left seven people dead, including three police officers, was a real event that shook the nation and was at the heart of Portable’s message in “Apostle.”
Igbe Ika : The Headies and Unfulfilled Dreams
In “Igbe Ika,” Portable lamented his absence from the Headies nominations, despite making a significant impact in the music industry. His lyrics convey frustration with the award show: “I am bigger than the Headies, you dey whine zazu, O si ma gba Grammy, even Tupac no collect Grammy.” It’s a raw expression of his discontent with being overlooked by the prestigious awards, particularly after the 2022 incident when he was disqualified for threatening his co-nominees.
Portable’s exclusion from the Headies nominations further deepened the rift between him and the award organizers. Despite being nominated for the “Rookie of the Year” and “Street-Hop Artist” categories in 2022, he was disqualified due to concerns over his behavior and negative interactions with law enforcement.
Am Not a Prisoner: The Real-Life Legal Battle
In 2023, Portable released “Am Not a Prisoner,” a song born from his real-life legal troubles. He had been arrested by the Ogun State Police Command after refusing to honor police invitations related to an alleged assault case. The song touches on his ordeal and the events that led to his detention.
Portable’s legal saga began when a studio owner accused him of assault and theft. The artist faced a five-count charge in court, including allegations of causing physical injury to a police officer. Despite the serious charges, he maintained his innocence throughout the legal battle.
Portable’s songs are not just music; they are reflections of his life, struggles, and unapologetic approach to addressing issues that matter to him. In a world where artists often tread carefully to protect their image, Portable’s boldness and authenticity have made him a unique and controversial figure in the Nigerian music scene.