“… 2Shotz lekwa see that babe, odikwa very delicious, very sumptuous”.
Everyone born before 1999 in Nigeria probably knows these lyrics. This line is from BigLo’s breakout song, ‘Delicious’ featuring 2Shotz.
However, he had been making music years before fans ever heard this song. Lotanna Onyeka Udezue, his real name, always loved to create the perfect melody. His friends and loved ones have reiterated how music was a part of his being.
He started playing the piano while he was still a little boy in St. Saviours Primary School, Ikoyi. He continued to develop his skill as a student at Kings’ College, Lagos Island. He followed up his passion while he was studying microbiology at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. By the time he bagged his BSc degree in 2001, he had become well-versed in the art of music production.
After he finished from university, he returned to his family house in Surulere, Lagos, where he started his career as a producer. It was from this space he started Dope Traks. The production outfit became a haven for upcoming rap and hip-hop artistes in the early 2000s.
Lotanna’s Dope Traks group had some of the best producers and rappers at the time, including Wizkid’s former mentor, Mo’dogg. Other members included Ziggy, The Lynxman, Aref Amoo, 6-O (Emmanuel Solomon), Martins Solomon, and K-Show (Keji Sowoolu). They worked together on an album that was never released. But they put out one of the tracks from the project titled, ‘Say What’ in 2001. It became the first song to make it to ‘Olisa’s Top 10’ within a month of airplay, and it stayed at Number 1 for 10 weeks.
Speaking about why the group never put out their album, Mo’Dogg simply said,
“He (BigLo) was a perfectionist”.
The rest of the team thought the project was great, but it didn’t meet the producer’s high standards, so it was never released.
Despite topping charts with ‘Say What’, he didn’t quite reach mainstream success until he and 2Shotz released the remix of ‘Delicious’ in 2004. BigLo produced the song under Dope Traks and featured on it. He also produced about half the songs on 2Shotz’s debut album, ‘Pirated Copy’, but they released it under Eldee’s Da Trybe Records. The other songs he produced include ‘Odeshi’ and ‘Na Dem Sabi’. The LP had only seven songs.
‘Delicious’ earned him his only Headies award for ‘Best Collaboration’ in 2006. BigLo also worked with other major acts of the early 2000s like Ruggedman, Shasha P, Jazzman Olofin, and Faze. After his hit song, he made more appearances in music videos alongside other members of his crew. He featured on the video for DJ Stramborella’s mega-hit song, ‘You Go Wound O’ (Efrebor) in 2005 and Styl Plus’ 2006 hit song, ‘Drives Me Crazy (remix)’.
In an email to Netng, Shiffi Emoefe of Styl Plus describes what it felt like to work with BigLo.
“We bumped into him in 2004 on the street of his Studio in Surulere. Introductions were made, numbers exchanged and we hit it off from there. The combination of his production talent, ability to rap in vernacular and his humour made him a special artiste. His down-to-earth and easy-going personality along with his humility made him a special person. We worked with him alongside 2 Shotz on 2 songs, ‘Drives Me Crazy (remix)’ and ‘Still Gonna Love You’. He also performed at both our launches of the ‘Expressions’ album in Abuja and Lagos”.
Beyond being a brilliant producer, BigLo was also a mentor to many and a source of inspiration. A mentee and former rapper and producer, Mo’Dogg speaks highly of him and his talent. He tells Netng,
“I think if he had put out an album when he was supposed to – early in his career, he may have actually REALLY changed the face of music, better than what we have right now. He had an awesome sound. He had some really beautiful music. He had melody, lyrics, and style. He had something great. He had the blend of the old and new school”.
Jazzman Olofin echoes the sentiment, saying,
“He was a very good guy, hardworking, a good producer. He was cheerful and charismatic. He was someone that liked to crack jokes”.
There are similar comments about him on his obituary page. They say he was one to take different people in and help them with their music.
One producer – Omah Beatz who trained under BigLo stands out. He writes,
“Lolo, I remember how it all started in 2006. When I started working with you as an apprentice learning music production. How you picked me up and started taking me out for shows and whatnot. What most people don’t know about BigLo is that he is a very intelligent and outspoken human being. A complete musician. He raps, produces, mixes and masters. I served you the most out of everyone you trained for five good years. You never gave me a dime, but the blessing you knelt to give me still follows me till date musically”.
The comments are not surprising as music was all BigLo wanted to do. His cousin, Zuby Udezue shares with Netng, “When I think of Lotanna, music and producing – those are really the big things that come to mind. I don’t know if there was anything else that was on that same level for him to be honest with you”.
BigLo continued to produce and release music through the mid-2000s. He reduced his only album, ‘Delicious’. Some of his other songs include ‘Aristo’, ‘Jeje’, ‘Let Me Hold You’, and ‘Wetin We Go Do?’ He then went off the scene for a few years until he resurfaced in 2011 to release his last song, ‘Money Identity’ featuring Flavour.
He moved to the US in 2012 to join his brothers, Dumeme and Ajulu Udezue. He fell off the scenes again and only resurfaced in July 2019 after his cousin, UK-based rapper, Zuby put out a GoFundMe page for him. The producer subsequently shared a video where he revealed that he was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure in July 2018. He said,
“It’s been very hard for me. I’ve been in and out of hospitals so many times. I’ve had three surgeries so far. I have another one. My life has turned upside down. I lost my job, my car, my house.”
Fans, friends and family immediately tried to help him raise money for his surgery. Through the GoFundMe page, they successfully raised £9,174 out of the initial £10,000 target. However, he was still fighting kidney disease when he contracted COVID-19 in 2020.
BigLo is one of a long list of Nigerian celebrities who have been affected and killed by kidney disease. Rhythm FM presenter, Meka Akerejola died in March 2020 after a long battle with kidney disease. Producer, singer-songwriter and BigLo’s friend, OJB Jezreel also died of kidney disease on June 14, 2016. Other popular Nigerians like actors Muna Obiekwe, Chris Nkulor and Enebeli Elebuwa, Mozzyx of Fellyx and Mozzyx, broadcasters Chaz B, Nzau Kalulu, and President Shehu Musa Yar’adua also passed away from kidney-related disease.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has previously shared that people with underlying health conditions are more likely to experience severe symptoms of the Coronavirus. ‘Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness’.
BigLo lived in California where the numbers have been increasing daily since October 26, 2020, after an initial decline. The second wave of the pandemic has been challenging in the state, and on January 11, 2021, they recorded 42,440 new cases. Worldwide, the WHO has recorded over ninety million cases and almost two million deaths. On Monday, January 11, 2021, alone, WHO recorded 799,712 new COVID cases. Nigeria accounted for 1,024 of those new cases.
Born on July 5, 1977, to Barr and Barr. Mrs S.P.C Udezue in Surulere, Lagos, BigLo was only 43 when he died on December 25. His death was caused by COVID-19 complications. BigLo, who was never married, is survived by his brothers, Dumene and Ajulu Udezue.
Apart from BigLo, other Nigerian personalities have also died from the novel Coronavirus. On-air personality, Dan Foster died on June 17, 2020. Former Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari and former senator and Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi also died last year from the virus. There are many others.
BigLo’s family put out a statement saying,
“Much against our preference, Lotanna will be laid to rest here in America with funeral rites hopefully commencing no later than mid-January 2021. It is our intention to hold a memorial event in his honour at home (Akamili, Umudim, Nnewi) after the COVID-19 has subsided”.
Although Lotanna Udezue, aka BigLo, aka Ogbuefi 1 of Hip-Hop is gone, his legacy will remain forever. He will be remembered by many as that funny, chubby, talented man, who fought bravely till the end.
The post The Obituary of BigLo: The Remarkable Producer Who Made ‘Delicious’ Music appeared first on Nigerian Entertainment Today.