Ego and The Quest for Commercial Success Ruined Rap in Nigeria!

NotJustOk’s Boye shared hsi thoughts on the failure of rappers to make the art as profitable as it should be, a topic that is pretty close to my heart. I have a feature (video) in the works which would come after my thoughts in the ‘DirtyHiphop Head Podcast’ with Terry the Rapman and another surprise guest.

Read his piece below and do share your thoughts:

Hip-Hop/Rap peaked in Nigeria in 2010 when rappers were the most sought after artistes in the industry. There was also a long list of acclaimed projects released in that calendar year with M.I Abaga releasing “MI2”, Dagrin redefined indigenous rap with C.E.O (Chief Executive Omota), Modenine released Da Vinci Mode, Sauce Kid also dropped his debut album “African American”. Rap fans were treated to a lot of great music in 2010; in fact, the biggest song of the year 2010 was arguably Ice Prince’s Brymo-assisted single – “Oleku” which spawned the most covers for a Nigerian song till date. “Oleku” was so big, it helped unearth another rapper in Yung6ix whose cover was co-signed by M.I. Abaga on the microblogging site twitter.

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s when the likes of Eedris Abdulkareem and Trybesmen were in the forefront of Nigerian Hip-Hop, they served up songs with heavy melodies and easy-to-understand lyrics, blending pidgin with African melodies which made their songs dance-ready. Then came the emergence of boom bap-type-rap with Modenine championing that with his “Malcom IX” and Pentium IX mixtapes which was not well received by the Nigerian music lovers. Their argument: his lyrics were dense -too hard to understand.

M.I Abaga made rap cool again in Nigeria when he released his debut album “Talk About It”. The album was filled with melodies, dope hooks, relatable and easy-to-understand lyrics. The album also put artists like Wizkid, YQ and Praiz on because they were allowed to showcase their talents by delivering catchy hooks on the full-length.

The success of “Oleku” in 2010 also helped reshape the landscape of commercial rap music in Nigeria with several rappers trying the Ice Prince formula; heavy melodies, catchy hook, light lyrics and dance-ready, just the way Nigerians like their rap served. This saw a growth in rap in Nigeria for a few years.

Fast forward to 2017, the two biggest rappers in the country – Olamide and Phyno – will easily pass as pop stars with their biggest singles being Afro-pop songs. Are we going to put the blame for the current state of rap in Nigeria on the rappers or the fans?

When you think about it, Olamide started out rapping his heart out with “Eni Duro”. His debut album “Rap Sodi” was also filled with heartfelt rap songs. Before “Fada Fada”, Phyno’s biggest song was “Alobam”, a dope hip-hop record. Reminisce did not make his breakthrough until he switched up and dropped the street-tailored “Kako Bii Chicken”, Ice Prince’s recent buzz single – “Boss” is an Afro-pop song produced by Tekno, and obviously tailored for the clubs. M.I Abaga’s last album “Chairman” housed a bunch of club-tailored singles.

Continue reading on NotJustOK.

My thoughts: It is a complicated matter that boiled down to ego, lack of hindsight, partly selfish (maybe greed) and disunity but mostly unreasonable EGO. I remember the ‘African Hiphop’ movement I was working on with Modenine when he was at his prime before he found an issue with my review of one of his album, I was really excited about this (and saw that the industry would get to this where rappers doing it for the art form can’t eat off it or pop records take up nominations for rap and Hiphop award category) and everything fell apart with Modo. I leave the rest of my thoughts for the podcast. Out soon.