A lot of persons claim the Hip hop in our music industry today is broken, and not much of a force to reckon with anymore. I’m not one of them. I say Nigerian Hip hop is effervescent as we speak, boasting some of the biggest Arts in the country in an era where Pop Music holds sway. Think of Artistes as Ice Prince, Olamide, Reminisce and Phyno, clarity should come. Let’s not even add MI Abaga into the list.
We are in a new space altogether, a period where excuses of Hip hop being a ‘hard sell’ would most likely fall on deaf ears owing to obvious commercial viability of the genre as we speak. In spite of this, several Arts have failed to do the needful, failed to adapt and move with the times hence their considerable difficulties with shifting units. They have themselves to blame for the downturns in their records.
Anyways, in terms of doing Hip hop with the consumers in mind, Falz is perhaps one of the greatest on the scene today. He switches flows as quick as a horse can trot; interlacing every pair of rhyme with indigenous, humor-laden sweetness. Such mastery of the art. He understands the concept of adaptive innovation, which we must respect. This respect ensures that we do not dampen what is an exquisite set of skills in the Falz oeuvre, owing to his not selling out the most Shows today.
Another notable player we should take active interest in is Olamide. The kid definitely understands his grind, we must do well to acknowledge. Then there is Reminisce, one of the most consistent Rappers all through the last 18-20 months in Nigeria. The man knows his onion, definitely. We witnessed him in his pomp in the “Local Rappers” collaboration most recently, where he took the lead and directed the course of things for both Olamide and Phyno to hit a proper crescendo. The chorus on the cut is particularly glorious and things.
Phyno is… what do we call him? I guess ‘beast from the East’ suffices. Young man, virile, driven and all; he spots a space in the market and dives into the pool to plug the gaps, which explains why he is this sought after today. It’s laudable, as well as understandable how he raps in the Igbo dialect and gets the entire buzz. It’s really laudable, and if I were in his place I’d do the exact same thing.
Judging, therefore, from all we have said here today, it is obvious how much things have changed in Nigerian Hip hop. With Falz, Remi, Ola and Phyno running things major today, it is obvious how much power has shifted hands in rap down here. And it’s interesting.
However, the problem with the ‘intelligentsia’ of Nigerian Hip hop, the very ‘erudite class’ who with all their ‘wordplay and brilliance’ never get major portions of the cake is they put out unfitting sets of works for a consuming class that they do not exactly monopolize. The eras when Eedris Abdulkareem and co did shit and sold out major were eras when Artistes had considerable monopoly on the buyers. Same era gave birth to Rugged Man, before finally MI entered the scheme. But with MI and ‘Talk About It’ in 2004, there were signs that the game was changing, and changing for good. There were introductions from outside the elitist Mode9 flows to the radical Rugged Man bars and then the weak Eedris Abdulkareem huff and puffs.
But in all, Jude Abaga still stays relevant today because he understands the art as much as he sees the need to satisfy craving Fans and pundits alike. And this is key to everything show-business today, the very act of being able to make money off the art. This consistency through TAI, MI2 and most recently The Chairman is what ensures that Jude is one of the most adept MCs to have breathed air into a mic, on this part of earth.
In sum, Nigerian Hip hop has changed. The ‘intelligentsia’ has no hold on things anymore, not like they ever really did. Arts like Godwon, Mode 9 and co best modify their approaches to the business or go home. You see, their incongruence is like getting on a flight with the enemy and then opening fire, problem is they don’t realize what awkwardness this is as the minute a bullet hits the window, the plane starts to depressurize and that’s the end of everything. Who woulda thought, with all that ‘intelligence’, they wouldn’t know this? This being said, the answer to making a name today in Nigerian rap business is simple – stay focused, grind, but above all, connect with the consuming class. Better still, eLDees’s line from the album ‘Return of The King’ is something rappers today could use, the part where he says: “It ain’t about the metaphors you spit, if you can’t connect with your peoples Nigga you still ain’t shit!”
Henry Igwe (@ChibuzoHI)