How Naira Marley Fell From Grace To Grass

Not too long ago, Naira Marley’s songs were played on every corner and street. But today, things have taken a sad turn for him. He was taken in for questioning by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the video gathered strong reactions from Nigerians, with some calling him a bad example for youth.”

As a child, Naira Marley had plans of becoming an MC and a voiceover artist. So, when he finished his college education in the UK, he decided to pursue a career in music, and well, it wasn’t half bad. His first track, which he released in 2014, was titled “Marijuana.” But that wasn’t the beginning of Naira Marley’s fame. In fact, 2019 was Naira Marley’s year. He moved back to Nigeria to continue his career and immediately released his first song titled “Am I a Yahoo Boy?”

Instantly, the song became popular in Nigeria, and Naira Marley was hitting it big until the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, came to spoil the party. A week after the song’s release, Naira Marley and a couple of his friends, including Zlatan Ibile, were arrested for Internet fraud. And although the EFCC claimed to have enough evidence against Naira Marley, many of his fans believed he was arrested merely because of the Yahoo Boy song.

And some of them even went as far as protesting and calling for his release at the EFCC headquarters. Naira Marley was not exactly a saint himself. Prior to his arrest in Nigeria, he had been arrested over a hundred times as a member of an infamous gang in Peckham, considering his criminal history and the fact that Nigeria’s EFCC has a long history of wrongful arrests, it wasn’t too surprising that they went after Naira Marley. Soon enough, Naira was arraigned on an 11 count charge of credit card fraud, car theft, and cybercrime, all of which he pled not guilty to.

The court then set a bail hearing for the 30th of May 2019 to determine his eligibility for bail. But on the day of the hearing, he did something a tad dramatic. He released a new song titled “Why” with a picture of him in handcuffs as the cover. While the move gave Naira Marley all the publicity he needed, it also put the EFCC in a bad position, and it looked like the court would have to grant him bail to avoid more controversy. Well, that’s exactly what they did.

Exactly two weeks after the hearing, Naira Marley was granted bail set at 2 million Naira. The entire saga culminated in Naira Marley spending 35 days in detention, and he made sure to use every last bit of publicity the arrest gave him. During that time, Naira Marley released another two songs. By the time he was released, he had become a big deal on social media, so he took advantage of the cloud and released another song titled “Sopey”.

The song did so well that it catapulted the singer to further start him, but amidst all that fame was a lot of criticism. For one, “Sopey” focused solely on the glorification of sexual activities, particularly amongst prisoners and unmarried people. And some felt like Naira Marley was a bad influence on the younger generation, who seemed to enjoy his song so much. While the song might have angered many, the strategy was simple, making songs that generate enough controversy to keep him trending. And so far, that strategy had worked brilliantly in getting him what he desired.

For the next few years, Naira Marley remained one of the top artists in the Nigerian music industry, but you can only get so far using controversy as your strategy. If there’s one thing we should have noticed about Naira Marley by now, it’s that he doesn’t really care what a particular minority thinks about his music, as long as it pleases his fans. And that soon became an issue. His mockery of certain religious beliefs, as well as his controversial statements regarding sex and drug abuse, kept generating public outrage and before he knew it, he wasn’t so loved anymore.

Naira Marley gradually lost his shine as the controversies reduced. Although he kept releasing songs, his relevance remained largely due to the artist’s sign to his record label Marley in Music, which had a number of talented artists like Zinoliski and Mobad. So when Mobad released a video accusing Naira Marley of assaulting him back in October 2022, it was naturally going to generate a huge conversation. Questions were asked about Naira Marley’s involvement in accusations when flying around on social media, with some believing he was responsible, while others felt the story was not completely true.

You can say that Naira Marley had enjoyed his fair share of controversy-fueled publicity, but this was certainly not the type he wanted to be associated with. It was too damning, especially for an artist that was, as they say, not the hottest in town. Naira Marley’s response to the incident was simple. Mobad was likely high and gave a false representation of the events that took place. The back and forth of accusations continued until Mobad decided to leave the record label, citing poor treatment as the major reason for his departure.

Everything seemed normal between the duo until Mobad mysteriously died. And while it was unclear if anyone had a hand in his death, most fingers were automatically pointed at Naira Marley. And the backlash that came with it was huge. In just a few days of Mobad’s death, Naira Marley lost more than half a million followers on Instagram. A huge amount for an artist with such a massive social media presence.

People were angry, and an already struggling Naira Marley was at the end of their anger. However, his social media following wasn’t the only thing that was affected. A number of radio stations banned his music from their playlists. To make things worse, major music channels like MTV stopped airing Naira Marley songs. And that’s not all. A lot of people, including Zinoliski, dissociated themselves from Naira Marley and his label.

At this point, the damage done to his already struggling music career was like the final nail in the coffin he had been digging for himself, with largely controversial songs and statements. The question now is, will he ever reach the levels of 2019 again? Maybe he can or maybe not? That will be decided in a couple of years from now.

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