Tribal rap is dictating the pace of the culture of Nigerian hip hop. Each of the four cultural strongholds have put out representatives in the music industry.
We have the Hausa rap, Igbo rap, Yoruba rap and it would be very wrong for us to ignore the south south rap community. There are many other minority rap niches in Nigeria. But the above listed sub-genres have a strong core following and have produced A list super stars.
Nigerian Hip hop takes the form of the environment in which it finds itself. It adapts and begins to look like the people who practice it. This is the nature of hip hop. In Nigeria, we have tried to recreate the foreign art form but it has proven difficult to sell. The listeners are looking for something that looks and sounds like them.
Regional Evolution of Nigerian Hip hop
(a) Igbo rap in the east
(b) Yoruba rap in the West
(c) Hausa rap in the North
(d) Pidgin rap in the south south
Igbo rap in the east
Phyno has succeeded Mr Raw and now reigns as lord in the east. This is the same East that produced Rugged man, 2Shots, Big lo and Ill Bliss.
Why do you think that Phyno has a deeper connection to the Easterners? Why do you think he has beaten all those who came before him?
The core Igbo rap listeners have now discovered that mainstream hip hop can be performed in their dialect. Its not local anymore. And this makes Phyno look like a messiah.
The Igbo man is naturally competitive; this has now become an opportunity for him to express his rebellion. Its not just rap for them, Its Igbo vs the other tribes.
Yoruba rap in the West
Lord of Ajasa passed the baton of Yoruba rap to Dagrin. Olamide then took over from Dagrin and now sits on the iron throne of the west. We have Reminisce, Lil Kesh and CDQ following in his trail.
With Lagos as its capital, the west is more musically aware. Its the capital of Nigeria’s entertainment industry. With so much variety, its difficult for any one rapper to lead the line for a very long time.
But Olamide has shown consistency, churning out hit after hit. With 11 HipHopWorld awards (Headies) as at 2017; he has equaled Mode 9 in the accolade count. And at this rate, by next year he’ll become the most decorated Nigerian rapper.
The west is home to rappers like Vector the Viper, Mode 9 and Eldee. But none of them will ever know what’s like to have a fan base a huge as Olamide’s.
However, the artiste had on a platter of gold. Dagrin had already started a movement that was gaining massive ground. Nigerian hip hop was waking up to his carefree gangsta music.
But with his death at the tender age of 23, there was a vacuum and Olamide filled it with his razz street sound.
This is not in any way trying to discredit Olamide. He is talented and deserves his place. Rappers like Seriki who started with him are no where to be found today.
Hausa rap in the North
Classiq and BOC Madaki are grand sons of Zakki Azzey. In case you do not Know Zakki, he’s the torchlight wielding veteran artiste who we all listened to while growing up in the 90’s and early 2000’s. He might not have been the devoted rapper per say, but he practiced hip hop.
With his hit “Waiyo Kaduna” track, he created a lot of awareness about the deadly Kaduna riot; something a lot of people didn’t know about in an era where there was no android and no social media to disseminate news.
Eedris Abulkareem, Ice Prince cannot be classified as Arewa rappers. Even though they hail from the northern parts. This is Because their choice of language and identity caters to a different audience. However, they are great Nigerian hip hop artistes.
Classiq and BOC Madaki are creating a unique Hausa rap sound that is busting heads in the north. They face an uphill task to modify their content to suit the more religiously unforgiving North. There are some things you can’t say or do up there. Its a big deal if a girl dances in your video.
Nollywood sweetheart Rahama Sa’adau got the big ban from Kannywood (the Kano based movie industry in the north). According to the spokesman, She got kicked out for “dancing romantically with a man (Classiq) who wasn’t her husband” in the music video for “I Love You”.
Such is the situation in the north, there is an inhibiting Islamic undertone. Cultural restrictions is a major reason why Hausa rappers will find it hard to export their sound to the rest of Nigeria. However the BOC Madaki and Classiq are pulling through and satisfying the Hausa speaking people.
For the Arewa men, its about pride and supremacy.
Pidgin rap in the south south
In the south south of Nigerian hip hop; there is a constant reflection of the rough ghetto street life. This reality is mostly expressed in pidgin. Pidgin is the most spoken language in the south south. It’s an ever evolving mishmash language. It borrows words from Portuguese, English, Yoruba, French, urhobo, itsekiri, Igbo and any neighboring tribe. In essence, pidgin changes with the speaker.
In the west, there is a more Yoruba-based pidgin. In the north, it sounds like Hausa and in the east its more igbotic. The flexibility of pidgin is in such a way that it allows the speaker to infuse his own words according to the audience he’s communicating to.
Erigga and Yung6ix is leading the line in the south. With a mix of pidgin and English, these rappers are creating sounds peculiar to the south.
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