Drop a hot jam with Masterkraft, take flex photos on snapchat, make clean videos, get shows and endorsements, hit the bank and come up on Instagram to flash your fresh mint.
This is the summary of the state of hip hop in Nigeria. It is sickly, hip hop in Nigeria is dying. It’s in a bad state, as deplorable as the road connecting Imo and Port Hacourt. Hip hop has to be more than this, there has to be some meaning to it.
Hip hop has to be more than just an illusion of the good life. We have freak shows doing and saying anything to make hits. I remember when this culture was a voice, a medium of expression against oppression and injustice.
About two and half decades ago, NWA did the song “Fccc the police”. That was waaaaay before I was born. They got white America’s attention with that, no one cared about Compton before then. No one wanted to pay attention to the horrible issues of police brutality and racial prejudices against black people.
NWA put the reality in their faces in that song. That jam was the earlier and more vulgar version of the black lives matter movement. It represented something tangible and that’s why I can still make reference to it today.
Hip Hop is not for the weak, it has never been for the weak. If you have something to say, say it already.
Stop hiding, you could as well denounce hip hop and become a pop or RnB artiste if all you want to do was to love up with girls and red cups in party songs.
There are only a few songs one can make reference to as a landmark for either a political, artistic or social significance.
This is the reason why Eedris Abdulkareem remains a grand master of hip hop in Nigeria. He spoke up against the government and threw a shade at the then PDP led administration in “Nigeria Jaga jaga”
It got to the then president Olusegun Obasanjo. The country’s number one person listened to it, got engaged and was moved to react verbally. That is what hip hop was created to do. Hip hop isn’t for suckers. Can a Nigerian president or senator listen and react to the hip hop songs being manufactured today? Hardly.
A lot of weak, shallow minded people like to criticize Eedris for enraging a man as powerful as Obasanjo. They want dwell on how Eedris’ made a career mistake, how he should have being more passive after all “na naija we dey o”. But I say to you, Eedris practiced true hip hop.
We are all going to leave earth one day, so there isn’t really anything to be scared of. So what do you stand for, what history is your hiphop going to make for you before your inevitable end. Hip hop in Nigeria is sick because mainstream rappers are too busy liking boots.
Politicians may be too far off the reach, yeah. Let’s bring it down. Can anyone, just about anyone listen and react to your songs? Recently a Nigerian Christian rapper by the name Daboomsha released SMH, a confrontational hip hop single.
The song threw the Nigerian Christian hip hop community into chaos. That is hip hop, when you see something you don’t like, you call it out. When you see something you like, you praise it.
One problem we have in Nigeria is our ability to adapt too well. We adjust because we have accepted that “na so e be”
Nigeria should have the most active and controversial hip hop music industry, considering the myriad of problems we have in the society. The corruption, the injustice, mismanagement and tribalism are all viable talking points but only a few are making music to address these issues. Those few are ignored, in fact what they get is a big “WHO YOU EPP?”
Another problem is that a wrong status quo does not challenge us, we are alternative seekers rather than problem solvers. Rappers are waiting for gifts from children of corrupt politicians, everybody looks for the easy way out so we have a music industry full of average people.
This character is reflected in our hip hop. There are just a lot of words, but no voice. No one is saying anything because Nigerian hip hop has been reduced to a mere means to an end.
A young, unknown artiste makes his first or second song and already sells you the idea of the good life he lives and how he is a “Boss”. He goes through hell to get studio time, he borrows money for transportation to the studio just the day after his girlfriend dumped him, and he just lost a friend or family member.
He walks into the studio, sits down to write, and the first thing that pops in his head is “I pulled up at the club in my lambo”. Pause. Rewind.. now play it again. See what I mean?
If it comes with a new dance (I have nothing against dancing. I love to dance), it probably becomes his hit song because many of the fans have been programmed to buy into that happy celebrity lifestyle, regardless of personal identity and experience.
The next guy shows up with that formula, his song more catchy and his dance more exciting. Everybody moves on to him, and so it continues.
So you know there is a problem when Phyno, Reminisce and Olamide teams up to do a song that ridicules hardworking rappers who spend time crafting witty punchlines.
I’m talking about the hit song “local rapper”. Its an outrage, and it makes for painful listening. Its your favorite rappers openly denouncing lyricism, its the height ineptitude and a celebration of mediocrity. You know there is a problem when your favorite rappers cant rap anymore.
But its not the artistes that I blame. I blame us fans, observers and content creators. We are the ones destroying the Nigerian hip hop identity. We are not buying rappers mix tapes, we are not demanding rap songs on the radio and we are not buying tickets for hiphop shows.
Then we turn around like hypocrites and blame them for not staying true to the game. We criticize them for being broke while we retweet Wizkid songs and pay 5k to attend just about any show as long as it isn’t hiphop. Think about everything you just read.
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