January 2017 fell upon us all with speed, as I picked my way through the streets of Kwara and into the vehicles headed back to Lagos. On the bus, there’s hardly a soul who spared more than a glance, and a customary ‘Hi’ to each other.
All through the journey through Oyo state and Ogun state, there was a stiffening air of calmness. December 2016, had taken its toll on our bodies, and the cost of the festivities has left many of our pockets feeling lonely from lack of monetary companionship.
We cross into Lagos, and the driver, a thickset man who looked every inch ‘elderly’, turned on his radio, and searched for a station. As he twisted the knobs on his radio, we stumble upon a familiar beat.
A number of us begin to nod. It was pacy, with muscular drum kits and adlibs, and everyone raised their head when the opener came in hot:
“O girl your body is a miracle (miracle)…”
I nodded in appreciation. That was Dice Ailes, and he was no stranger to me.
Dice Ailes was signed to Chocolate City in 2014, as part of the new Chocolate City when the label was about to relaunch as a larger entity.
Born and bred in Victoria Island, Lagos as Shasha Damilola Alesh, he first experienced music at the church choir where he was engaged in beatboxing, (one of the basic elements of Hip-hop), to music composed and rehearsed for church services.
After years of hiding his talent Dice finally pursued his love for music at the age of 15, saving to pay for the track that would ultimately become his first single ‘I Can’t Wait ft Rado’ (his Uncle). Before the age of 16, Dice had aired his single on Rhythm 93.7, which earned him an appearance on DJ Jimmy Jatt’s “Jimmy’s Jump Off”.
Following this, Dice migrated to Canada with his family and continued to further his education. Here he met Stephen Oruwari (alias Tee Tash) a young entrepreneur who had a keen interest in Dice Ailes’ talent. Tee Tash signed him to a Production Agreement which sparked their prosperous musical collaboration.
In 2013, Dice with Tash by his side, flew to Nigeria to promote his music, this subsequently led them to M.I Abaga. After listening to a few songs by Dice, M.I was instantly impressed and called a meeting with Chocolate City’s Top Management. Several months of negotiations resulted in Dice being signed on as the newest member of Chocolate City in 2014.
Dice Ailes, who is in the final stages of getting his first degree in York University, Canada, has shown his intent to finish his education while pursuing his passion in music.
After a number of singles which bordered on Hip-hop, he clicked the reset button on his career in 2015, with the dance single ‘Machinery’. Gaining tangible success in the dance and club scenes of Lagos, he has continued in that path.
Dice Ailes possesses some advantages in the music industry that would put him ahead. He is insanely talented, has a boyish appearance that is bound to win him the female fans, can deliver in different genres, and has enough funding for his projects. ‘Miracle’ is the latest of them all, and it is currently growing.
“There’s something about the song. It just makes you happy,” a passenger in the bus responds when I ask the reason for her nodding. “It is sweet.”
She speaks the truth. ‘Miracle’ was designed as the ultimate party jam, a sweet song that is engaging and immersive. The record produced by Ckay features a haunting melody that Dice Ailes hops on and delivers. Lil Kesh, who is both foil and joker, seals it with one of his best verses ever. It feels like a club anthem pumped with steroids. Its video has also helped its promotion.
But it is yet to achieve the kind of overwhelming acceptance that it deserves. Although in the dance circuits of Lagos and beyond, it is a favourite. The clubs love it, the DJs have begun to play it based on merit, rather than the efforts of a PR machine from Chocolate City.
Dice Ailes is currently searching for mainstream acceptance. In industry parlance, he wants to ‘blow’. After three years and a number of singles, the man is ready for the big stage. ‘Miracle’, which gives him mileage, hasn’t fully done it for him.
But you always get the nagging feeling that he is close. These are early times in 2017. ‘Miracle’ might yet hold a surprise for the star.