Five Nigerian rappers Complex, Jay Z and everyone should know about
It all began very innocently one day in April when in a bid to defend his flailing music company Tidal, multimillionaire businessman Shawn Carter, revered world over as the rapper Jay Z, tweeted that his cousin was in Nigeria to scout for new talent.
The media went into overkill and memes flooded social networks. US-based magazine, Complex took things a little further and posted the ill-advised “Five Nigerian rappers you and Jay-Z should know” article that was inaccurate and for lack of a hard-hitting phrase, simply ridiculous. Like every other single Western media that has tried to dissect Nigerian hiphop culture, they failed.
Below in no particular order are five of the ACTUAL cool cats in the local rap arena that Roc Nation should be looking at. Mode Nine, grandaddy of Nigerian hiphop and popular Chocolate City trio (MI Abaga, Jesse Jagz and BET alumni, Ice Prince) are beyond the scope of this piece.
Folarin ‘Falz’ Falana raps mostly in Yoruba and pidgin English with influences from Fuji music and traditional melodies as well as a hilarious disposition. Easy on the eyes, good with the girls and sleek with a blithe flow, the son of the country’s foremost human rights attorney and a lawyer himself, is more often than not running social commentary with his music.
“We can’t be sleeping together ‘çause we dream different’ is the breakup line of the year and comes from Marry Me, his satire on societal pressure on long-term relationships featuring the continent’s most in-form songstress, Yemi Alade and is as hilarious as it is poignant. His debut album, Wazup Guy was released on his Bahd Guys Records imprint in 2014.
Everyone’s favourite louche rapper is a ‘voice of the streets’ and a best-selling performer who also runs his own label. Even though the 26-year old sings more these days, Olamide has been the most hard-working rapper on the continent in recent times, releasing a joint album and four solo albums — and a joint one too — in as many years.
The go-to man for the addition of new catchy slangs like ‘smellos’ and ‘frosh’ (corruption of ‘smelling’ and ‘fresh’ for Nigeria’s hiphop culture, his discography includes party jams such as Durosoke and Eleda Mi and core hiphop like Sitting On The Throne.
The mohawk-sporting Phyno’s hook on close pal Ill Bliss’s Anamachikwanu and his superb duet with Olamide on Ghost Mode set the tone for the rapper-producer’s entry into stardom. The first rapper from the South-East of Nigeria to fully break into the mainstream and become a true superstar, his strengths are his wordplay and characteristically pinpoint delivery.
Critics have compared No Guts, No Glory, his debut and arguably the best hiphop album of 2014, to Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City because of the thematic similarities. Parcel (above) and Alobam are two of biggest hits of the rapper named by MTV Base as one of the hottest in 2014.
It’s a straight battle between him and Phyno for the title of hottest and best emcee in the game but Reminisce just edges it with his jagged-edge flow. He has been recognized by TIME as one of the rappers revolutionalizing rap around the world. Baba Hafusa, his chart-topping third studio album is barely two months old.
Show Dem Camp:
SDC are an enigma; blessed with the gift of the lyricism and not lacking in subject matter, they are yet to achieve neither fame nor commercial success and as some say, their gift is a curse. The duo comprises Teckzilla, one of the most prolific yet under-celebrated hiphop producers around and Ghost, the better rapper of the two.
Their feel-good tune, Feel Alright with protege, Poe is a departure from their regular ‘90’s approach’ sound but just as dope. 2011's Dreamer’s Project features heavyweights Nneka and 2face Idibia while Clone Wars 2, their mixtape two years later was well-received, with a Nick Cannon endorsement to boot.
Boogey: Of Boogey’s metaphors, Lupe Fiasco would be proud so it’s a shame that his songs have not made it into the mainstream yet. Hiphop heads can listen to the Aboriginal Records signee smash the walls in on his brand new mixtape, This is Not an Acronym (T.I.NA.A) or Paybac’s Waiting Game.
The emotional storytelling ability and rhyming of 23-year old Caleb Hanson is above par. Three mixtapes in a year signifies a rapper hungry for success; it’s a shame he and Boogey are celebrated in only underground rap circles. Listen to him outrap Reminisce on the latter’s Hurricane and the dope lyricism on Beautiful Seed.