Whenever rap is the subject of any decision in any group of Nigerians, a name that is sure to come up is Babatunde ‘Mode Nine’ Olusegun.
Regarded by some as the best emcee in Nigeria, and by others as second to M.I. Abaga, there is no argument that Modo is a force in the rap industry.
With a host of classic albums and tapes such as E Pluribus Unum, Pentium IX, Malcolm IX, The Davinci Mode, The Paradigm Shift amongst others, Mode 9 is a veteran who many rappers have learnt and drawn inspiration from.
With his rap ability never in doubt, Mode 9 has hardly been a target for diss songs from other rappers. After his gruesome dispatch of Ruggedman with the tracks “Talking To You” & “Death Blow”, other rappers have stayed clear of Nine.
All in all, anybody with half an ear for rap will confidently tell you that Modo is a beast. But that is not enough.
In a recent story that went viral on the internet, Mode 9 reportedly appeared on Abuja’s Hot FM and spoke about the industry and his career so far.
The part of the interview that caught my hear were the following statements by Mode Nine.
I put out a whole album nobody cared’
‘A whole 20 track album ‘alphabetical order’ nobody gave a f**k’
‘You see how the industry is’ how do you expect me to feel?
‘Nigerians don’t like hip hop they only follow the hype, they don’t even know what it is’
I only cater for my real fans; I don’t really care about the fair weather, band wagon jumpers
‘I cater for my fans and they are feeling it’ i have put up too much effort in promotion of my materials’
‘It’s just some certain people in their minds feeling that am not doing well’
It’s no news that Mode 9’s career has not been financially productive. While we see pictures of other artistes on Instagram with their new rides and toys, Mode 9 is virtually almost quiet.
And while true rap heads admire Mode 9’s consistency and loyalty to the game, one must ask: Is Mode 9 fighting a lost cause?
He talked about dropping a 20-track album and nobody noticing. Knowing the kind of rapper Mode 9 is, it is safe to say that each song on that album is worth 200 Limpopos, lyrically.
I use Limpopo because that’s the song that won the best song of the year at the City People Awards. That’s the kind of music society we live in.
If Mode 9 were to be an American-based artiste, he would be a superstar. In the same vein, if rappers like Wale, Chamillionaire and Nas had remained in Nigeria, they would be in Mode 9’s shoes.
Mode 9’s constant battle to create a market for hardcore rap have proven that there is no place for such in Nigeria. There is a market, but that market is stagnant and grows at a very dilatory rate.
My personal opinion is that Mode Nine should let it go. If in 2013 Nigerians have not accepted hardcore rap, then they probably never will.
Plenty rappers have gone commercial, as you can’t go to a dance club without hearing a rap song. Those like M.I., who still have actual rap abilities, treat their hardcore fans to good songs once in a while and release the occasional pure rap mixtape for them. I suggest Mode 9 takes this route.
Nigeria is not the sort of country where you’d be appreciated where people will appreciate you for trying to lift the game the way hip-hop world stood still for Kendrick Lamar. People here just want to dance.
As a loyal fan of Mode Nine, I want to see him succeed. I want to see him posting pictures of Range Rovers on Instagram. I want to see him winning awards. And changing his style of music seems to be the only way to do that.
In business, you do not force your product on consumers. You study the consumer’s tastes, and you produce based on that.
It’s good that he’s started working with bouncy beat producers like Don Jazzy, and I hope to see him working with more of such producers like Sarz and Legundury Beatz, with features like Wizkid and Davido.
I really hope Mode Nine can successfully make the transition, and I hope his next musical piece takes him to the forefront where he belongs.