The first time I saw Wasiu Ayinde Marshal was at a wedding in Toronto, Canada. The groom had this dream of Wasiu performing at his wedding and I wondered why he wanted an artist I considered just a “freestyler” to perform at such an important event. I put the freestyler in quotes because I never took time to listen to his music and based my conclusions off my ignorance. Wasiu walked into the room that day with his band and I remember the excitement from the guests, who were also his fans. Since that interaction with him, I’ve always wondered why he was the undisputed king of Fuji music and an iconic figure within the Nigerian entertainment industry. A few years later, I got introduced to his son, Musty Marshal. I reached out to Musty, who is also an artist to find out why he thinks his father had such an impact on Fuji music and why his popularity has sustained.
He modernized Fuji music by infusing it with different instruments and converting those with limited interests in Fuji into fans of the genre. Fuji was formerly known as Ajiwere but through Barrister, it would later become Faaji, now known as Fuji. My father was a protégé of Barrister, who pioneered the Fuji sound. When you assumed my father was freestyling, it definitely had some elements of freestyle but it was songs he had recorded and he would infuse it with names of the people or things in his environment while performing live on stage. He is a special musician because he studied the art, he jazzified the Fuji genere with him mixing the saxphone with the drums and so forth. He gave the genre a classical touch and when I speak to him he had an awareness of those before him and always paid homage. I don’t really have too many funny stories and I don’t want to get myself in trouble because he will know who told the story. He is a very hardworking and serious man and really pushed all his children to complete their education. He really didn’t want us to follow in his footsteps because he used it as a means for survival.
Special thanks to Musty Marshal.