By Olaolu Bilau
Many of the younger generation may not know him, but the older ones would sure remember Blackman, Akeeb Kareem.
For a long time, music enthusiasts have been asking about his whereabouts and asking for his return, well, they may not need to wait any longer as the legendary musician is set to return to the stage again.
Blackman Akeeb Kareem left Nigeria in the 80s and had been living in the United Kingdom. But, on July 26, this year, he would be in the country again for a show with Yoruba folk music artiste, Segun Akinlolu a.k.a. Beautiful Nubia.
For those who may not know Akeeb Kareem
He was a prominent musician, singer, songwriter, poet and music producer of the early 1970s/80s music era. He is famous for the hit track ‘Amebo’, which made him a household name and remains one of the evergreen sounds from out of South-west Nigeria.
Akeeb Kareem, also known as the ‘Hunter’s Beat King’ represented Nigeria at the world Youth & Students’ Festival of Arts and Culture in Cuba in 1978 and beautifully captured his experience in an album titled, ‘Abode Cuba’. He has many music albums to his credit and has toured different parts of the world with his band. Many would still remember the prayer song he recorded during his stint with the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), Olorunsogo Choir, Ibadan, titled, ‘Baba mi lo loko’.
Reviewing Blackman’s works, foremost music critic, Benson Idonije had this to say:
“Blackman Akeeb Kareem is one of Nigeria’s most talented musicians. At the time he left this country in the 80s, his last record, “Amebo” was doing well in the market. As a reflection of sales, it was occupying a comfortable slot on the hit parade chart in 1984.
“Blackman Akeeb Kareem made considerable impact as a singer, composer, guitarist and band leader from the 60s to the 80s. Long before the wind of change from the imitation of foreign music to authenticity began to blow across Africa in the late ‘60s, Akeeb Kareem was there, making his influence felt.
“As a matter of fact, before such Afro-inspired sounds as “Allah Wakaba” by Ofo the Black Company, led by the late Larry Ifediorama and “Jeun Koku” from the Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, adopted authenticity in terms of the Africanisation of their music, Akeeb Kareem was already recording Afro-Pop fusions for Decca West Africa.
“So consistent and committed was Kareem that his mode of dress and that of his entire band was in the true African fashion. Needless to say that his compositions, most of which were written in Yoruba language, were meaningful and replete with inventiveness.
“The era of Akeeb Kareem was that of Johnny Haastrup of Monomono, Segun Bucknor and Revolution, Fred Fisher and his Ogiza Band, among others, who all created their different styles of fusion within varying sound identities.
“Akeeb was perhaps the most successful, not because of his musicianship, but because of record sales arising from popular acceptance. He identified with the grassroots in terms of compositional themes and live shows. It was his popularity, as reflected by the sales of his music that recommended him, in those days, to almost all the record companies.
“On Shanu Olu’s stable in the early ‘80s, Akeeb registered an artistic impression with the recording of a hit called “Amebo”. Apparently inspired by the role played by the great actress Ibidun Allison on the memorable television series, Village Headmaster, Akeeb told the story of a rumour monger and backed it up with his simple but powerful music. But perhaps the album that has continued to paint him in good artistic light, even though not as financially rewarding, is “Ololufe” (which means My Love) produced by Odion Iruoje”.
He would be Beautiful Nubia’s special guest at a live Concert on Sunday, July 26 in Lagos and the show will be Blackman Akeeb Kareem’s first live performance in Nigeria in more than 30 years.
Back in the UK, Akeeb Kareem is an evangelist and runs a daily online devotional programme called Akeeb Kareem Media Ministries.