Gaining international recognition is one sure-fire way a Nigerian artiste gets a hard-on these days. The BET Hip Hop Awards recently added a new category ‘Best International Flow’ where it showcases countries like Nigeria, UK, France, South Africa, Ghana, and Canada.
Among those nominated were Sarkodie from Ghana and Falz repping Nigeria. Indeed it’s a thing of joy to see a Nigerian rep hip hop on a BET level. Falz has always gotten that unique flow and delivery that distinguishes him and the international award organizers looked closely to have chosen him.
Although Falz’s nomination is a win for hip hop in Nigeria, quite unfortunately, it shows how much hip hop genre has fallen in Nigeria. Most top hip hop acts have switched lanes or dabbled into pop music in the name of showcasing versatility.
Ice Prince, Olamide, Phyno, Skales, and others have left hip hop to score pop hits leaving the genre to die a slow death. Even the likes of Vector, Yung6ix, Jesse Jagz and Reminisce who insist they have stayed on course with the genre have not been consistent enough in taking hip hop to the next level. It almost always ends in bants.
The BET Hip Hop Award created the ‘Best International Flow’ because it’s not about the language used for hip hop but it’s all about the flow, delivery and other salient elements of the genre. Sarkodie’s nomination is proof that language is not a barrier, and frankly, Sark has been consistent with his craft year after year, with no downtime. Olamide, Vector, Phyno, have largely been ignored because they are now pseudo-pop stars or either very inconsistent about the hip hop and rapping.
Nigerian hip hop stars can also churn in huge numbers and cut bigger cheques if they are more consistent with the arts than trying to bite off pop. Olamide cannot become bigger than Wizkid or Davido as a pop singer but he can easily be the biggest hip hop artiste in the country and in Africa.
Ice Prince is the last Nigerian rapper who made it big on the international stage. The former Chocolate City rapper is still the only Nigerian hip hop artiste to have won a BET Award as ‘Best International Act: Africa’ in 2013. His run in 2012 / 2013 was crazy, he was getting more endorsement deals than some pop stars at the time. No rapper has been able to replicate that run as a purely hip hop artiste. No rapper has been able to bag a BET Award nomination until Falz and the idea is corny, to say the least.
Some days ago, dust was raised after Vector released his reply to the Martell Cypher led by M.I Abaga. Vector picked two rappers for his track ‘The Purge’ an obvious diss directed at M.I and his crew.
For some shallow reasons, some fans of Nigerian hip hop started nursing the notion that hip hop is back like it rises and falls on diss tapes. It was beautiful because at one time everybody was talking rap in Nigeria and it was sad because it ended so soon like a quickie with no time to hit orgasms.
The above summarises the fate of Hip Hop & Rap music in Nigeria. A few sparks here and there but no real conflagration. Hip hop has been dead in Nigeria for long and unfortunately, no cheap PR stunts, diluted cyphers or diss tracks are enough to resurrect it. The problem is that there is no consistency in the genre at all, nothing has been built upon what was left of the golden era of hip hop & rap in Nigeria.
100 Crown artiste Blaqbonez is now the self-proclaimed evangelist of hip hop in Nigeria. The believe is that his bars are anointed enough to reawaken what was dead (hip hop). As far as the story goes, Blaqbonez is pretty good and surprisingly many route for him. Having secured our attention and given the stage he has to deliver something solid, something that would stand the taste of time. His current buzz should be channeled into making something that truly substantiates his claim as the ‘Best Rapper In Africa’.
While it seems the OGs are taking a long deep nap, its about time young talented rappers took destiny into their hands and make destiny out of it. It’s not by hype, diss but by giving quality back to back consistency.
On a continental level, Nigeria takes several seats back in convos bothering on hip hop and rap. The genre can flourish again if only rappers took the game more seriously like the colleagues in pop music.