This is an area of putting out countdowns that I know is going to cause some controversy, but what the heck. We’ve never shied away from controversy, so why start now right?
So what is a Lyricist? Standard definition is: A lyricist is a writer who specializes in writing lyrics. For the sake of this post we’ll focus on Lyricist who specialize in writing lyrics for rap/hip-hop songs.
Warning! This is NOT top 5 most popular rappers or those that fill their songs with only punch lines so let’s our head away from the popularity contest.
5. Ill Blisss
Ill Bliss sometimes goes under the radar in terms popular hip-hop acts in Nigeria, and he’s not about the flash or the shine that comes with being in the game, but don’t get it twisted Oga Boss is sweet on the mic. With heavy story telling lyrics, that often blends english and igbo, his lyrics come out very clear and straight to the point. No need for forced punch lines and trying to impress.
“We are not of the same make/Somehow Illy found that commercial break/You remind of drake without the mic skills, just a pretty boy rocking transgender jeans/ Go ahead look stupid with the eye brow piercing, Me & X just dey drop lessons /Feel free to learn, the question is when” – Deep Down with XYZ
4. Ghost (SDC)
Not to take anything from the other half of SDC, Tec, but when it comes to lyricism, Ghost so takes the cake in the group. Whether it’s doing the punch line thing or the story telling mode, Ghost leaves a serious mark on any track he blesses. Probably one of my fav verses from him is his verse in Wetin I Go Do, which he takes us through the initial conversation with a lovely lady. You can almost use that as a guide on how to approach a lady.
I wont type out every word, but here’s a microcosm of his skill. Other impressive showings include, Getting You from their Dreamer Project album, Speaking In Tongues & I Got That Yeah (Clone Wars 2) . Actually almost everything he’s been on.
“Excuse me darling, I’m sorry I don’t mean to interrupt / I’m sure you’ve been approached by every brother in this club / so you’re used the attention / but I have a confession / when I saw you, wahali my heart stopped a couple of seconds / But what you working with is like a deadly weapon / You’re blessed, I’m guess your father is a reverend.” – Wetin I Go Do (The Dreamer Project)
3. Kahli Abdu
One of the most respected names in Nigerian hip-hop, Kahli Abdu is highly underrated and is primarily because he is one of the few purists we have in the game. He’s really about the kpangolo ish, and stays true to the game. His Ministry of Corruption mixtape could be arguably one of the dopest mixtapes in Nigeria over the past decade. (Dont argue, just accept).
What’s even more impressive is that you get the feeling Kahli has barely even scratched the surface with what he’s put out, and it’s been a lot already. The one thing I love about Kahli’s verses is that it’s like a story. You can put in a mixtape, and listen a few short stories that you can feel, relate to or empathize with.
“I lost my girlfriend over bullshit / I just let it go, I’m like i need a new chick / A few weeks in the scene and it’s useless / Truth is all these other girls are loser dawg, I cant do this / Now my ex is spreading rumors saying that I’m ruthless / How I got to this, I’m clueless” – WTF (Rebel Friday)
2. MI Abaga
You can’t argue with this one even if your life depended on it. Without a doubt, he is the most successful rap act Nigeria has seen. He was not the first, neither is he the ‘best’ but he’s the one that took it to a whole new level. As commercial as MI is, don’t get it twisted when it comes to lyrics, MI is a straight beast. So much so that he actually writes for a few others (we wont mention). He’s a lyricist & a song writer.
MI best lyrical work comes from his earlier stuff, and actually some tracks that might not even be hit songs per say. His word play, story telling, and sometimes mixing that with punchlines is unrivaled.
“Now I see that I’m narcissistic, so sadistic, I must’ve missed it, over time it was me that was pulling me back. He said, I falsely accused you, then I used you, then refused your help to help me see, I was pulling me back. She said, I know I went ballistic, cos I don’t want to be a statistic, is this realistic, it’s been pulling me back. Then she said, I wanna do this again, so let’s pretend, close your eyes, count to ten, go back when, it was nothing that was pulling me back. ” – Pulling Me Back
1. Mode 9
Modo Baba! Did you really expect anything different? Mode9 has been a beckon of light all rappers look up to, and no rapper in their right mind will ever want to try (Just ask Ruggedman). But besides the diss track, Mode9 often gets passed on because he’s not commercial, but anyone that knows anything about hip-hop in Nigeria knows Modo is King, and anytime the time comes, Mode9 shows what he’s made of (check Naija cypher).
So what’s so special about Mode9? His lyrics are clear, well thought out, not always masked with punchlines, but more importantly he’s almost annoyingly consistent. You can’t wait for Mode9 to have a wack patch of form, and you’ll be waiting for a long time. Even what could be wack, is still better than a lot of acts out there.
Modo is King! Dont argue, just accept.
“You rap for mechanics I rap and you panic/ leave you manic depressed damn it/ im too NICE,I expose you, now your covers compromised, shame on you / now pull your head warmer over your eyes / Take it off , eh hen !! Modenine is with the prize/Im bigger than you lyrically forget about size / heard your third albums gonna be your last, bye bye/ Hustling to sell it to shoe makers they no buy / waka waka waka was a track that nobody felt / OJB rap better than you, you need help!! / Know your secrets but I wont hit below the belt / Huuuuuu@@ do I hear a sight of relief?? Too easy” – Death Blow (Ruggedman Diss)
Notable mentions: Tec (SDC), Vector, Terry Tha Rapman, Loose Kaynon, Pryse, J-Berg.
So that’s all folks. You probably wont agree with all I have here, but that for you to argue, and me to watch :). Not to take anything away from others doing their thing, but these 5 right here really separate themselves away from the pack.
So tell me, who are your top 5 lyricist in Nigeria when it comes to hip-hop? Let’s hear it. Drop a comment.