Christian rap is a legit sub genre of hip hop music. It’s followership is growing and we would like to discuss some of the issues Nigerian gospel rappers have to deal with. A lot of folks tend to take it less seriously since its a religious genre, but its actually a very big deal.
Christian rap in Nigeria has the potential to create its own vibrant industry. It can generate demand and raise mega artistes to supply the product.
But I think that those who have the responsibility to fix this have not done a great job, I included. Ironically, Christian rap requires practical thinkers with rugged industry experience in the background.
Music promotion and industry business is like carpentry, you hit the nail on the head if you want to hammer well. Christian rap in Nigeria will not reach it’s potential as long as we treat is as a “church thing”. Its an actual genre, with an ability to create an industry.
Nigerian gospel rappers need to work with the best professionals, it matters not if he’s the devil or a fellow Christian.
The framework Nigerian gospel rappers need
I believe that Nigerian gospel rappers are intelligent and skilled enough, but they lack appeal and more importantly; a talent marketing system.
Mainstream pop artistes get by without skill or lyricism, but they are able to reach the right audience with the right songs.
But wait, they already have a set audience to reach. That’s because their followership was groomed over 3 decades. This structure was built through toil and pain.
Those who started the pop movement in Nigeria are now irrelevant and penniless. But their offsprings are building sky scrapers on the foundation they laid.
This is another irony, in a country as religious as Naija, Nigerian gospel rap should have a big crowd of paying fans. The foundation has been laid but it seems really difficult to lay a block on it. The factors aren’t coming together, yet.
Music Industry style and preference
Firstly we have to recognize that pure hardcore rap is not selling in Nigeria. Yes people listen to Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper but those are from free downloads.
What ordinary people really pay for are Davido concerts and expensive celeb hangouts. The top 5 richest Nigerian artistes are afro pop musicians. That should tell you about our spending patterns.
Secondly Nigerians do not pay attention to rap that they can’t understand. That’s why a lyrically bankrupt Falz is a bigger artiste than a genius Boogie. As a gospel rapper in Nigeria your goal is preach your message and reach as much people as possible.
You can’t make people listen to something they don’t want to listen to. So should you dumb down your style, no, switch it up and make it better. Have it at the back of your mind that your audience is probably not as exposed as you. They may not know that a snap back is simply a cap.
A cue from the Hallelujah challenge
The hallelujah challenge is a big hit, but it wasn’t simply because people repented or needed a revival. I get the mushy talk, but allow me to be more pragmatic.
It was a big hit because its an innovative religious activity with social value. Its your obtainable worship concert with Nathaniel Bassey, its on fleek because its live on Instagram and guess what? your favorite celebrities are showing up and typing comments.
This is an example of how a few factors can come together to set up a stage.
Nigerian Christian rap following and poor orientation
That is what Christian rap in Nigeria needs to fix. There has to be innovation with deliberate marketing. The hallelujah challenge has shown us that people will follow if its great.
The fans in Nigerian music industry do not hate Christian rappers, they just don’t see enough of you to get emotionally attached. They don’t think you’re going to be as interesting as the other guy. Everybody goes to church, no body listens to Christian rap.
Here is where the Nigerian Christian rap following needs to wake up. A lot of Sunday christians rather pay 5k for a Wizkid concert than attend a free Eazy Bob Wizzy show in Barnawa.
They have a stereotypical image of the Christian rapper; boring, over serious mood kill and full of condemning words that inspires guilt. But this is a lie, in fact the Nigerian gospel rappers I’ve hung out with are the most “turn up” people I know.
The poor artists development structure in traditional church organization
Nigerian gospel rappers face an uphill task. They have to beat the competition for social visibility. And at the same time convince their base crowd that they still represent the faith.
The organizations will need to protect their interest, which is to spread the gospel. So they will lay a lot of emphasis on the content from Nigerian gospel rappers.
It comes with prejudice too, traditional church still can’t see how hip hop can glorify God. By church I mean the leadership structure. So when you’re handed an opportunity, you will be watched with more scrutiny compared to the “worship” artistes.
However skill and lyrical dexterity isn’t all it takes to blow. It takes an industry with a proper organizational structure. Here is where Christian rappers in Nigeria lag.
Their base; the religious organizations, is yet to recognize them as co-flag bearers of the Christian ideology in the music industry. So “worship” songs will blow up fast because they have been accepted as the staple genre for the ideal Christian identity. You know, slow and solemn, humble and meek.
Mega artistes are not created from nothing, why do you think Christ embassy established a music and talent management academy. Now we have Frank Edwards, Eben, Joe praise and about 10 others come from that system. Its not a mistake.
You find out that most Nigerian gospel rappers don’t represent or even rap at churches. This is the reason why the most popular christian rap group in Nigeria comes from YWAP; a more non-conventional organization.
Christian rappers in Nigeria get more support from non denominational bodies. The church needs to realize that young people are not listening to hymns, they are listening to “bad and boujee” by Migos. They are bored of church music.
Church bodies can key into this move. By promoting your local Nigerian gospel rapper, you’re promoting the gospel you hold dear. You’re also creating more awareness for your denomination.