Nigerian Hip-hop is mortally wounded and straight up on the path to extermination or irrelevance.
One will not be far from the truth if your opinion is that the present economic situation of Nigeria has affected our music.
First of all, 2016 has been the year when all the hard work put in by all our music ancestors and contemporary artists have decided to yield very tangible results in terms of global recognition and acceptance. Even without much work from them. It’s like when fruits suddenly get ripe and they fall easily without us throwing stones and sticks to bring them down. That’s how it feels right now.
My point of concern is how much Nigerian hip-hop has dwindled, especially in 2016.
The evolution of Nigerian hip-hop surprisingly spans decades much to my amazement (I wasn’t even born yet when it all started, LOL). It’s a long history, dates back to 1979.
The first hip-hop record to achieve widespread popularity in Nigeria was “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang, in 1979.
A lot of names feature on this epic evolution, some names you may not have heard of, if you were born in the mid 90’s. Mr. Kool, Rapmaster Lexy Mella, Dili I. Jukson, I.C. Rock, Terry, MC Mouth, Junior & Pretty, Tony Tetuila, Eddy Montana and Eedris Abdulkareem.
You will be more familiar with names like Terry Tha Rapman, Mode 9, Eldee the Don, Ruggedman, Nigga Raw, Pherowshuz, Overdose, MI, Sasha P, Naeto C, Ikechukwu etc.
In the early 2000s the Nigerian hip-hop genre was bubbling and growing. It was really nice when Ruggedman brought a twist into the game by rapping in pidgin and bringing in the element of diss. Sauce Kid made rapping in pidgin even sweeter. Mr Raw was an early pioneer of indigenous rap which a whole lot of new breed rappers are now beneficiaries. Hip-hop was more adapted to befit the Nigerian audience.
Now the problem is mainstream hip-hop in Nigeria is dying. This is a story of its assassins and pallbearers.
Who or what really killed Nigerian hip-hop or left it mortally wounded? Who are the pallbearers?
Nigerians! You and I have brought Nigerian hip-hop to a near death experience. How? An average Nigerian likes to jolly. What that means is that we seek the easiest means to get disconnected from stress and general day to day hassle. So we find solace and escape reality by listening to feel good music which is essentially classified as pop music. We like to party hard. Our love for ceremonies has increased the demand for pop dance tunes.
Again, Nigerians barely settle to ruminate on lyrics. We never bother our restless minds with reading meanings to lyrics. We dance to the most ridiculous lyrics, and what matters most is a dope beat. Since we enjoy songs with gibberish and shambolic lyrics. We invariably discourage any artist who takes time to weave better lyrics. Some people will be like who lyrics epp sef?
This so called rappers and hip-hop practitioners should also share in the blame. They are the pallbears of the carcass of Nigerian hip-hop. These days, rappers want to make as much money as fellow pop singers. Rappers also want to headline and shut down sold out concerts like pop practitioners would do. In that case, many a rapper has ditched undiluted hip-hop to sing, safe for underground hip-hop heads. You can name them, Olamide, Phyno, Ice Prince are guilty. That momentarily switch of genre has so far helped them roll out hit records that we dance to, Shakiti Bobo, Connect, Fada Fada, Melo Melo and it goes on. However, it is sad that they aforementioned artists came to relevance on the heels of hip-hop.
Nigerian hip-hop is dying, let’s heap the blame first on yourselves, the so-called hip-hop fans. One for not showing much love to those very few artists that are struggling to keep it 100% hip-hop. Two for glorifying wack and gibberish lyrics over material of good reasoning and intelligence.
And to you our well-acclaimed hip-hop artist. Don’t bow to pressure to be cheap. Keep it real for the love of hip-hop and the chance to create a legacy.
In this lukewarm hip-hop era, Vector (Mr Headies awards lyricist of year), it’s high time you dropped your Lafiaji LP, and if need be school your colleagues or better still challenge them. It’s long overdue. Nigerian Hip-hop shouldn’t die in our era.