Naira Marley, whose real name is Azeez Fashola, is a controversial Nigerian musician. He is a singer and songwriter that has many hit tracks spanning the period from 2017 to date.
Naira Marley has a strong following both offline and online, and they call themselves Marlians. The singer became widely known in Nigeria following his arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in early 2019. Before we dig more into the biography of Azeez Fashola, let us first look at the 10 facts everyone should know about Naira Marley.
To know more about this talented young musician, continue to read Naira Marley’s biography below. But first
10 facts you should know about Naira Marley
- Naira Marley will be 26 years old in 2020 as he was born on 9th May 1994.
- His real name is Azeez Fashola.
- Azeez studied in London and has degrees in Business and Business Law.
- Naira Marley coined his name from Bob Marley’s who he said he looked up to while growing up.
- The artiste spent 20 days in EFCC custody from 1oth to 30th May 2019.
- His fans base, Marlians, are one of the biggest and most dedicated in the Nigerian music industry.
- Niara’s fist song in Nigeria, Issa Goal, was sponsored by Coca-Cola for a remix and the Nigerian national team adopted the remix as an unofficial 2018 World Cup song.
- He has four children from two different women.
- Naira Marley won the 2020 SoundCity MVP Awards Viewer’s Choice for Soapy, this is his first major award.
- Azeez Fashola announced starting his own record label Marlian Music in January 2020.
Naira Marley Biography: early life and education
Azeez Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley, was born on 9th May 1994 in Agege, Lagos State, Nigeria. Naira Marley’s parents are Mr and Mrs Fashola. Naira has at least one sister and two brothers (possibly more). He rarely shows off his family on social media and this makes it hard to confirm some facts surrounding his early life.
Although he was born in Nigeria and attended primary school in the country, he relocated at the age of 11 to Peckham, South London, England.
Continuing his education beyond the shores of Nigeria, Naira Marley attended Porlock Hall for some time. Then he went to Walworth School where he finished his secondary school education and obtained his General Certificate of Secondary Education. After that, he proceeded to Peckham Academy for his A-Levels. At Peckham Academy, he obtained a distinction in Business. However, Naira Marley didn’t stop there, he also attended Crossways College and obtained a certificate in Business Law. Note that Crossways College has been renamed as Christ the King Sixth Form College.
Looking at the educational background on the biography of Naira Marley, one can see that he has some good educational foundation. Now let us take a look at the beginning of his career and his introduction to music.
Naira Marley Biography: Music career
In an interview, Azeez Fashola revealed that from a young age, he had always wanted to be an MC and a voice-over artist. However, as life turned out he discovered his acumen for music in 2014.
His first major singing experience was a result of his friends urging him to fill a space left on a song. Fashola had been hesitant from the start because he was unsure of how he would do. But he decided to just flow with the beat and he ended up delivering a well-received verse.
Spurred on by what he saw as positive feedback from those who head the song, he gained the confidence to jump on another track. This time, it was on the track, Marry Juana, featuring Max Twigz, released in 2014. Max Twigz is a part of the Cannabis Boyz. Both artistes released No Manners together as well.
Following another success with the releases, Marley went on to release Gotta Dance EP in February 2015. However, most of these early successes went unnoticed in the Nigerian music circle since he was unknown. It was not until 2017 that Naira Marley entered the Nigerian music industry.
Naira Marley music: 2017 – 2018
In 2017, Naira Marley teamed up with YBNL’s Olamide and Lil Kesh to serve Nigerians, Issa Goal. The catchy chorus and memorable hooks combined with electrifying delivery of the then trending dance steps, Shaku Shaku, made the song an immediate hit.
It became a street anthem from the moment it dropped and it’s popularity spread out. Issa Goal was Azeez’s first song in Nigeria and most listeners associated more with Olamide and Kesh as well as the free-flowing of the beat to the staggering steps of Shaku Shaku than for Naira Marley’s performance.
This is not to say that the Opotoyi singer did not hold his own verse-wise in the presence of seasoned lyricists like Olamide and Lil Kesh, but their popularity pushed the song farther.
It became so big that it was unofficially recognised as Nigeria’s national football team’s theme song for the World Cup in 2018. Many other popular artistes jumped on its Coca-Cola sponsored remix to further obscure Naira Marley’s full credit. Truly with Falz and Simi at the peak of their powers vying for relevance with Olamide and Kesh, Marley’s name on the track was just that – a name.
But this will not stand in his way. The next events we will describe seemed rather unfortunate but somehow helped Azeez reach the peak of his fame.
Naira Marley controversies and rise to fame in 2019
Back in April 201, Nigerian vocalist and songwriter Simi had pitched her tent on the side of the law after she openly stated that cyber fraud, popularly called Yahoo Yahoo is wrong. In her Instagram post, she boldly asked the Yahoo Yahoo fraudsters should stop buying her songs as well as desist from streaming them online.
Her post started a debate online with some people expressing a sympathetic view to the cause of internet fraudsters. Among such was Azeez Fashola, known commonly as Naira Marley.
In what was a bold retort the Naira Marley said: “If u know about slavery u go know say yahoo no b crime [sic].”
After saying this, Nigerians started to lash out at him for promoting a crime that was spoiling the image of the country abroad. The debate went on all through April 2019, a period when the EFCC was cracking down hard on alleged Yahoo Boys.
Naira Marley, however, did not back down from his stand maintaining his stand. He also claimed that fraudsters were important to the economy. His Instagram post read:
“Where the fuck do you think it’s coming from? You think it’s coming from the government?”
On 9th May 2019, Naira Marley released the track, Am I A Yahoo Boy featuring Zlatan on the back of the whole controversy that he and Simi’s beef had generated.
Watch the video of the track below:
Naira Marley EFCC Controversy: EFCC vs Azeez Fashola
We will now give an insightful explanation of Naira Marley’s following the Yaboo Yahoo controversy described above.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested Naira Maira a day after he the song, Am I A Yahoo Boy. Although the reason for the arrest was not immediately revealed to the public, the acting EFCC spokesperson, Mr Tony Orilade, in an interview, confirmed the arrest to Premium Times. His words:
“Yes, he is with us. He’s not the only person; he had some other persons also arrested alongside [him]. They were arrested in relation to advance fee fraud — Internet-related cases and all of that.”
Azeez Fashola was arrested alongside another musician Zlatan (whose real name is Omoniyi Temidayo Raphael), and three others – Tiamiu Abdulrahman Kayode, Adewunmi Adeyanju Moses, and Abubakar Musa. The arrest was because of their alleged connection to online fraud.
But within five days, Zlatan and the three others regained their freedom. They were released on what the anti-graft agents called “administrative bail.” However, Mr Orilade told Pitchfork that they were still investigating the released men.
Meanwhile, Naira Marley was held back because according to a statement by the law enforcement agency, there was “strong evidence” against him. It was until 16th May 2019 that they charged him to court.
The 11 count charge pressed against Marley include the following amongst others:
- Allegedly had connived twice to use people’s credit card without authorisation.
- Had three credit cards that weren’t his own.
- Also possessed five fake credit cards with the intent of using it to defraud people.
During this period, the controversial track became a leading controversy both online and offline because of its lyrics. Young men and women picked it up and were singing it at every turn. Its popular retort, “See me see trouble o, am I a Yahoo Boy?” became a popular slang.
Other people immediately linked the words to Naira Marley supporting cyber fraud.
However, there was a school of thought (albeit not as vocal as the opposition) that defended the song claiming it was art and the artiste should be separated from his art.
But the singer had also made some statements online that were clearly sympathetic towards internet fraudsters. It was, therefore, easy to pronounce him guilty in the court of public opinion.
Naira Marley was granted bail om the same day he was arrested. his bail was set at N2,000,000 with his trial scheduled for 22nd October 2019.
On his release, he had already gained some sort of hero-worship within the space of 20 days he underwent the ordeal with the law. He was once quoted as stating that the government was treating him like the late Fela, a revered controversial music icon in Nigeria.
Marley’s management had also released a statement at the time that read:
“Naira Marley does not practice fraud, neither does he facilitate it,
“He’s being used as the poster boy for fraud… Naira did not publicly [defend] those who commit fraud, he expressed his view on the situation, which was simply his opinion.”
The statement added:
“As an artist, music is Naira’s avenue of expressing himself. He is not a ‘Yahoo Boy!”
Azeez Fashola returned to the Lagos court to face his charges On 22nd and 23rd October 2019 as the court had ordered.
An EFCC witness testified against him when his case was heard again on 12th December 2019 before it was adjourned until 27th February 2020.
Naira Marley release from EFCC custody and the release of Why and Soapy
Azeez appeared in a federal court on 20th May 2019 and his mother and siblings were also present. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges. And on 30th May 2019, he released another song titled Why. Why was released by Naira Marley’s record label, Moves Records while the embattled singer was still in the custody of EFCC.
In the song, he talked about why people always make him the major player of any controversial incident, he also disclosed that his friends had betrayed his trust.
Not even up to a month later, Naira dropped a banger that shook the streets. He released his hit track Soapy on 27th June 2019. In Soapy, Marley made suggestive remarks about the act of masturbating using a soap. His lyrics and hook referred to men remanded behind bars by the EFCC resorting to self-pleasure because there was no woman around.
The song, predictively, brought him back within the crosshairs of moral snipers. They didn’t hold back from lashing out at the musician’s new single.
People complained that the song was a moral danger and would encourage loose conduct if not checked. Thus, many vocally called for boycotting the song. However, the song is easy on the ear and slowly gained followership.
With fame now assured and cemented in place, Azeez started to push out more tracks. Each new one threatening to outdo the previous one. The music world witnessed such songs as Opotoyi, Japa, Pxta, Mafo and Tesumole.
Then in December 2019, he dropped his first Nigerian EP, LOL (an acronym for Lord of Lamba). The tracks were masterfully curated and finely tuned by producers like Killertunes, Rexxie and Studio Magic. The EP also features artistes like Mayorkun, Young John and Cblvck.
To get a sense of Naira Marley’s cultural influence, each track he has released generated one or more slangs that were widely adopted among his fans. From words like, ‘Opotoyi‘ and ‘Mafo‘ to phrases like, ‘ole ni everybody‘ and ‘Am I a Yahoo boy‘, his influence is widely spreading.
Naira Marley controversies in 2020
Naira Marley’s car theft case and settlement
In the last week of December 2019, Azeez Fashola was named in a stolen car case. A Toyota Camry had hit a car in the musician’s motorcade around Eko Hotel and Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos. One of his brothers had allegedly gotten into the car and drove off with it.
The car’s owner had then contacted the police and charged the singer with auto theft. Naira Marley had denied the charges when it became public knowledge. However, the police got a court order that directed him to show up in court or be at risk of going to jail.
Later, the singer settled out of court on 2nd January 2020.
Child Protection Network accusation of corrupting children
A child rights advocate and coordinator of the Child Protection Network, Toyin Okanlawon, earlier this year blasted Azeez Fashola, aka Naira Marley. According to a Punch report, she said that Naira Marley was polluting the minds of innocent children in the country. She expressly told parents:
“Currently, there is a real madness going on among Nigerian youths all over the country. Many high school students and undergraduates are the chief followers of this guy (Naira Marley).
They call themselves Marlians. Watch your children and wards. The self-acclaimed female Marlians don’t put on underwear, while the males don’t use belts to hold their trousers anymore.
Monitor your children and wards. The manners [sic] and anthems are getting beyond our thoughts and are very ferocious. It’s high time we get hold of it before our future is taken away from us.”
Naira Marley did not respond to the accusations.
Naira Marley’s music style
Although Azeez Fashola has mentioned he likes Fela, his major music icon is Bob Marley. Everything he does is somehow tied to the Jamaican artiste. His name is a coinage from the late Jamaican reggae star. Naira Marley even wears his hair in dreadlocks just like the Rasta singer.
Naira claims that he created his popular brand of Afrobeat called Afrobaashment, a combination of Jamaican and British sounds. He executes different dance moves effortlessly in his songs, which seems to delight his fans.
Naira Marley’s record label: Marlian Music
Azeez Fashola held his first major concert, Marlian Fest, in Lagos at Eko Hotels and Suites on 30 December 2019. There, Naira Marley announced that he has launched his own record label, Marlian Music. He also announced that he has signed four artists – Cblvck, Zinoleesky, MohBad and Fabian Blu – to the label. The move is one of the fastest we have seen from someone who just joined the music industry. But it certainly signals that Naira Marley is determined to leave his mark in the Nigerian music industry.
Starting a movement in the Nigerian music industry is never easy because the market is competitive and dominated by top musicians. But just in the space of two years, Naira achieved has seemingly achieved that.
Although he was helped partly by his EFCC controversies, yet there is no denying that the artist is also talented and seems to understand the kind of music his fanbase wants. His fans base calls themselves Marlians or Omo no Manners. They are also known for the slang, “Zero belt but a thousand trousers” which is attributed to the singer.
Clothes that they are popular for includes a lemon jacket (with sleeves or without), orange sleeveless jackets and trousers without belts.
Naira Marley’s awards and recognition
On 11th January 2020, Naira Marley won the 2020 SoundCity MVP Awards Viewer’s Choice for Soapy, this is his first and only major award so far. The award is a testimony that the song Soapy is rather popular among fans despite the initial call to boycott the song.
Naira Marley Biography: Personal life
Azeez “Naira Marley” Fashola is not married but he has four children by two different women, popularly called Baby Mamas in the Nigerian entertainment circle.
He has a set of twins (a boy and girl) by one of the women, who remain anonymous.
Naira Marley’s net worth
The controversial singer, Naira Marley, is allegedly worth $90,000 according to blog site Nigerian Guide. This is not an impressive figure compared to that of other musicians. However, we also want readers to note that this is an unconfirmed figure.
However, the low wealth estimate may be tied to the fact that major brands in the country do not want to associate themselves with him. Thus, he does not have any big sponsors nor endorsements deals.
Final thoughts …
Azeez Fashola is an example of how controversies can help push the career of an artiste. Another thing to be seen from the biography of Naira Marley is that he is quite talented. He delivers memorable lyrics both on his own tracks and on those he makes guest appearances on.
Amid all the controversies, Naira is still a big art and we have to recognise this. More works from him are to be expected. In recent times, Naira Marley dropped Tesumole that comes with another dance step that is already a rave among music enthusiasts.
We hope that out Naira Marley biographical account has been informative and educating for you.
Bonus information on Naira Marley
Gotta Dance EP (2015)
- Praise and Worship
- Stupid Dance
- Dread Gang
Lord of Lamba (LOL) EP (2019)
- Oja (Challenge version)
Naira Marley tracklist
- Like Cheif Keef (2014)
- Facetime (2014)
- Praise and Worship (2015)
- Stupid Dance (2015)
- Dread Gang (2015)
- Outty (2015)
- Ermm (2015)
- Birthday (2015)
- Squadron (2015)
- +44 (2015)
- Stupid Dance (2015)
- Naija Issa Goal (2017)
- Flying Away (2017)
- Money on the Road (2017)
- Omode Meta (2018)
- Japa (2018)
- Drummer Boy (2018)
- Opotoyi (2019)
- Soapy (2019)
- Mafo (2019)
- Tesumole (2019)
- Ko Si Werey
- O Por (2019)
- PXTA (2019)
- Isheyen (2019)
- Tingasa (2019)
- Oja (Challenge version) (2019)
- Yanyanyan (2019)
- Puta (2019)
- Back2Work (2019)
- Illuminati (2019)
- Why (2019)
Naira Marley awards
- The 2020 SoundCity MVP Awards Viewer’s Choice for Soapy