Fix Up 2: Piercing The Veil & The Successful Nigerian Rapper Template
Over the past few months across Nigeria and at Urban Central, we've intermittently addressed the issue of the stalling or more damningly stagnant Nigerian rap Industry that has refused to let its brilliance leave SoundCloud. Bege has disagreed with Joey Akan’s theory that the Nigerian Rapper is Dead, Nico has played defence attorney for MI-whom I think is destructively entitled, by the way. So I couldn't give care to aplomb and reverence across the media.
To restate facts, I've for eons stated that NO Nigerian rapper can make Top 10 African rapper’s list based purely on ability. I've also stated that no Nigerian rapper — MI inclusive, can touch a top South African rapper — he’s as bad as the rest of them. As aptly stated by ehis combs, fans and followers are the problem, not this time for patronage or a lack thereof, but of crappy delusions perpetually crippling the Nigerian rap game. The average Nigerian rap connoisseur will argue the first 5 lines of this paragraph because he deems it an offence to Nigerian rap, when actually, it’s a fact. Until Nigerian Hiphop followers start admitting my early allusions, Nigerian Hiphop will never grow. Why? Such questions reek of destructive ignorance.
No standard record exec will listen to Nasty C and MI with the chance of picking only one and pick MI, even if Nasty raps on a trap beat and M raps on a vintage 90s rap beat. It’s not gonna happen.
This kettle of boiling lipton tea has however refused to leave dry wood from the wild of Ikoro Ekiti, burning bright like no tomorrow, ridiculing the need for inflammable liquid. While I do agree with MI, as I’ve stated the view for years, usually getting stick from fellow Nigerians, I question MI’s motives for such allusion, I also think he’s a part of the problem. Just like I’ve restated some of my fundamentally held beliefs, I’d state another; rap won’t grow in Nigerian because of fundamental issues of survival and livelihood; no assured artistes wants to suffer while a mediocre talent thrives and makes millions, and quite persuasively so. If we all sat and slept the same way though, the change we crave will never come and it’ll be a shame.
Hiphop didn’t just up and become a household genre in South Africa, some people had to pay the price and feed it to the public, damming the price. They’re now reaping the fruits and because of people like that, Trap is a household genre in South Africa.
Yes, our society is averse to pure Hiphop and patronage is low. The truth however is survival and livelihood has continued to blind our rappers to facts like how Nigerians are slowly but surely gravitating towards good music; which includes substantial Hiphop brimming with essence. Someone(s) have to take up the mantle, or it doesn’t matter how many #FixUps Hashtags, the problem will keep burning bright. Forget South Africa, look at Ghana, Hiphop is definitely becoming a part of that clime and because of that, new insane rappers are kicking out the blocks — some people had to lay the foundation.
In Nigeria, we have no contemporary foundational excellence in Hiphop, worthy of pushing the culture asides maybe Mode9ine. Even MI who thinks he’s earned the right to talk and be right is a fundamentalist commercialist when it comes to album music genre — yes! Don’t @ me. He’s as much part of the problem as anyone else, he’s doing as much for the culture as Vector who has recently become started dragging thrones with Lil Kesh — no offence, but we’re taking notes and we have receipts.
Sorry MI, this isn’t the Nigerian version of Kontrol and once again, sorry, you’re not Kinging, just hungry for relevance which seems to be plummeting by the minute. Your latest act isn’t gonna fix anything, until people like you start doing stuff for Hiphop. But then, first off, you’re not even an elite rapper for ability, Jesse Jagz is better — I have nothing against you. In fact, I respect your achievements, but they’ve done nothing for Nigerian rap yet towards becoming a household genre — it was like this before you came, nothing has changed since you came, your template is that of how to become a commercial singer while claiming the titular description “Rapper” and your label is richly blessed with talents on turning pristine talents into commercial singers — Osagz was right. So, you have no right whatsoever to indict Nigerian rappers and tell them to fix up. Fix yourself first, others will follow suit.
Two weeks ago, I was the object of malicious invectives from supposed Nigerian Hiphop heads for claiming Boogie, while being one of “the better Nigerian rappers” isn’t a perfect rapper. We can’t keep living in delusions of completely endorsing imperfect outputs, no matter the excuse. He try nor win award, abeg.
Asides some rappers keeping the outputs pure to lay down the gauntlet, rappers shouldn’t all the way go completely pop to make money, there has to be a recognized commercial rap sound from Nigeria. I’d throw up a few suggestions in my next article because I understand radio hits make money and attracts shoe invites. But then, we shouldn’t destroy a whole culture, dilute it and expect miracles after saying rappers should “fix up”. It takes conscious planning and execution. Otherwise, you might as well shut up.
In all these, I find time to laud Falz. Asides his originality, he’s managed to keep his flows brilliant and lyrics either conscious, funny, articulate or simply brilliant. Raps don’t have to be serious-toned to be good. Falz has constantly managed to make a handful of his songs address societal ills, vices, issues and conscious trends with anecdotal essence destined to resonate with the human mind.
While he’s not blameless, some of his sounds being purely commercial, some of his sounds are worthy contenders for the Nigerian commercial sounds — kudos to Sess and Studio Magik. In such a short time, he’s addressed Success (Soft Work), Pedophilia, Pathological Lies (Wehdone Sir), Feminine Hypocrisy (Something Light) and a few other issues. His songs are never pointless and in a way, reminds me of HHP and his Kwaito/Funk sounds of the mid-2000s and Prokid’s sounds in Sekele, Bhampa, and Uthini Ngo Pro. Because no matter how radio worthy Falz’s singles are, they retain elements of fundamental Hiphop percussion or at least string patterns. If that’s not Hiphop, I don’t know what is. If we had more people like Falz, willing to go the extra mile in Radio worthy rap songs, rich enough on essence to incorporate ethos of Hiphop, Hiphop would be gaining enough traction and grounds to launch itself as a Nigerian household genre.
Others might be doing it, but no one does it better than Falz and it’s more than just concept and originality of style, it’s essence and output. Even on his Illegal Music Series, while production is usually pristine, MI’s flows and lyrics are mostly mediocre — note, not entirely — with majority of his lyrics about braggadocio, vaunting his legendary status and his ability which isn’t all that by the way.
If MI himself would be inspired by Falz, Nigerian rappers are talented enough to find newer and better ways to sound rap music radio worthy and audience friendly. With the foregoing, good rap songs will inevitably find their way into the hearts of people and earn a market share.
In all these though, we shouldn’t forget the uber-fundamental Nigerian music issue of us Nigerians loving freemium when it comes to downloads. It’s not just crippling rap, it’s also crippling other genres of music. Rap is just suffering more because it has no significant following ad market share — restricted to an elite few.
The Nigerian rap issue isn’t beyond solution, but it takes more than just fixing up lives. We need planning, dedication and execution, and even more dedication. We need people who will sacrifice because without sacrifice, Nigerian rap will still be here in 10 years.
One truth remains though; artistes will always thrive on radio worthy songs. Even Kendrick Lamar is making trap music and featuring Rihanna. It will be delusional to dream of a hypothetical world where hardcore and gangsta rap will ever have a significant market share. Rap has always and will always be a or the subordinate genre to other genres. MI is just delusional, as usual.
By PennedMusingsNG for Urban Central @Weird_Liberal on Twitter
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