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Is There Anything Like Nigerian Gangsta Rap; Does It Even Exist?

What is gangsta rap anyway? It is a sub genre of hiphop the glorifies the lifestyle of a G. My emphasis is on the word “g*ngsta” it was the most commercially attractive style in the 90’s and early 2000’s.


Shina rambo, an artiste with HKN is named after a notorious Nigerian g^ngsta from Lagos. The real Shina Rambo pictured above, is now a pastor and lives with his 80 year old mother who he confessed sleeping with for diabolic purposes in the 90’s.

Shina Rambo

There is a huge difference between a g^ngsta and a g^ngster. The former refers to an uneducated street soldier making ends from unsavory means.

The latter is often associated with educated European organized white syndicates who may be high ranking members of society.

Hip hop comes from the black streets, uneducated and unrefined. Its no coincidence that Nigerian hiphop lives in the streets.

G^ngsta rap pronounced g*ngstah raaap with a flat African accent, was a reflection of the reality of African American people in the mid 80’s. It was a rough era for the black community. From a myriad of terrible experiences came this infectious art form.

These guys weren’t “acting” hard, they were actually hard and trying to get out the hood. This is in no way justifying the recklessness and hate it preaches. This is just a peep into its origin with the hope that you’d understand where these modern day “badass wannabes” get their inspiration from.

Snoop Dogg once responded to a criticism by saying he raps about profane things because those are the only things he knows.

They weren’t seeing peace and love in their neighborhood. You art reflects your perception, some more genuine than others.

READ: What does it mean to be hiphop in Nigeria

This influenced everything about the hiphop culture and its the reason why rappers feel the need to constantly talk about how bad and dangerous they are. So do we have rappers representing this sub genre in the Nigerian mainstream?

First we need to have local g*ngstas here for us to have this sub genre in Nigeria because our version should reflect the lifestyle of our Gs.

The foreign model of street hustling wouldn’t function the same way here, our security structure is much more relaxed and easier navigate for criminals considering we have no surveillance and little border control. So I believe that the Nigerian equivalent of g*ngstas and street hustlaz in Nigeria include but not limited to;

a. An aye confraternity member
b. A yahoo boy
c. Ballot box snatcher
d. Ritualist or highway men
e. A Runz girl in Abuja is a ho and also a “arangee” as long as she can connect her friends to daddy yo

Now we know that these elements do exist in our society, but are there artistes who go to the studio to do songs that glorify these lifestyles, in the underground or in the mainstream.

Kelly hansom did “maga don pay”, Olu maintain did “yahooze”, Goldie did “I’ma biz girl” These were hits in Nigeria and Africa, although a lot of people did not pay attention to the yahoo boy lifestyle glorification, all that mattered was that it was club friendly.

Those songs are not what a hiphop head will consider a hiphop track, I chose those tracks because they were g^ngsta in content, it was explicitly about scamming people of their money and the other was about being a proud biz girl aka ho.

One smooth gangster themed song I know though is Jesse Jagz “Nigerian G^ngsta” produced by shadybizniz, he plunders the semi-fictional track with his talent and story telling prowess. This sub genre is not celebrated in our culture but Jesse does a great job of explaining the life a Nigerian G. The typical braggadocio and arrogance is also on point in this one.

I think we have a little g*ngsta music here or there in Nigeria, its not so much of rap. No rapper is going to commit a full 16 to describe how he has been conducting illegal stuff at Lokoja. Our legal system isn’t coming to protect you from the consequences of making such statements.

Commentators won’t stress your freedom of expression as an artist when the police name you as a prime suspect, Baba Fryo knows more about this than anyone. The real g*ngstas come around after every four year with their faces on posters, we sent them to public offices. They don’t do music either.

So do we have g^ngsta rap in Nigeria? What we have is a vain imitation of the real deal, with traces of grimy content littered all over underground and mainstream verses. They do not fully represent the identity and activities of our hustlaz in this geographical area. Dare I say, the Nigerian g*ngsta rap game is weak.

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OG Adoga
I am a Rap Music Instructor, Hip Hop Culture Custodian, Promotion Expert, all round smooth operator and chief editor at Hip Hop Head. Call me on 09050391411 (No free jobs) ______________________________________________________________________________ To join our Whatsapp group copy and paste the link below in your browser (Lovers of Hip Hop only)

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