Do you become wack if you rap in vernacular? Is it compulsory to rap in English or sound like a foreigner. A lot of old school hip hop heads would prefer to discriminate against rappers like Sarkodie and Phyno.
But what’s wrong with rapping in pidgin or Yoruba or any local language? This is the question a lot of us ask ourselves.
First, what is a vernacular? according to Dictionary.com
“A vernacular is a language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people of a country or region. It is spoken as one’s mother tongue; not learned or imposed as a second language.”
Some rap heads simply believe that artistes who rap in vernacular are wack. Its a dangerous idea. Here are 4 reasons why its better to rap in vernacular or in your tribal tongue.
1. The language of hip hop is the vernacular of the African American slum
Rap began about 47 years ago in the Bronx of New York city. The founders were not wearing a tie and a tuxedo, they were street kids. By street kids I mean uneducated ghetto slobs and hood rats.
These people didn’t speak the college acceptable language, they spoke a street vernacular called the “Ebonic English”. Its the accentuated flat American English.
They kept doing their thing and the street accepted them wildly. It became so popular and it eventually became the lingua-franca of mainstream music media today.
Word phrases in American hip hop like hit em, cussin, shiznit, 64′, set trip and 5.0 do not exist in English dictionary. But they are viable words that carry meaning in music.
2. We were colonized by the America mainstream media
Now, hip hop and rap music came to us in Nigeria via mass media. It brought an imported language. TV, radio and print all contributed to the popularity of the genre over here. They imported an already made product, one we swallowed wholly without modifying.
In other words, we were colonized by another man’s vernacular. It was done in such away that we developed an inferior idea about our own local vernacular.
Therefore we started hating our own languages, and loving the America thingy. We deemed it a taboo to make hip hop music in our local vernacular.
The earlier Nigerian rappers bragged about how “American” they could sound. They distanced themselves from the Nigerian lingo, and felt superior because they could speak more English. This is a case of misplaced identity.
Here is a line from Overdose’s “Don’t hate”
“O boy you still dey rap like say you dey for Hand
Dey drop something wey all man fit understand
Don’t hate I’m just way advanced
Cos its my show so shut your trap man”
That’s a conversation from the track. A guy is asking Overdose to rap in a way that the local Nigerian can understand. Overdose is refusing and stating how advanced he is.
This is why rappers like himself and Mode 9 do not get sales or fan attraction. The biggest Nigerian rappers in future have to find a way to appeal to the Nigerian audience.
3. Its best to rap in the language your audience understands
You will never sound more American than an American rapper. Rap in the language you speak best. What makes you hip hop is your ability old unto the key elements of the hip hop culture.
American rappers don’t try to sound like others, why are we so happy to sound like them.
Hip hop does not specify what language your rap should come in. If the audience you rap for is local, the Rapping in the local vernacular is the only way to make your voice heard. People don’t buy or pay attention to stuff they don’t relate to anymore.
If you’re in Warri, rap in Pidgin, if you’re in Lagos, rap in Yoruba. If you’re in the east, rap in Igbo.
Olamide is the biggest rapper in Nigeria because he’d rather rap in vernacular. He flows in widely accepted form of Yoruba slang. Same can be said about Phyno and Reminisce.
4. Go on and rap in vernacular because there is nothing wrong with it
You can be dope and it doesn’t matter what language you do it in. Whether you are Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo, hip hop is all inclusive.
However, artistes must imbibe the characters of a true emcee. The music becomes meaningless if a rappers stops making sense. Once you start making meaningless rhymes with gibberish on pop and dance hall beats, you can kindly consider yourself a non-rapper.