Since hip hop arrived the shores of Senegal in the 80’s, African music has never remained the same. It took over straight up, and by the 90’s, it was all over the place. Nigeria had always been the “Giant of Africa” and it was no surprise that we soon came to the forefront.
The new century ushered in a new era for hip hop in Nigeria and in the whole world. There was Ruggedman, Mode9ine, Eedris Abdulkareem, Lord of Ajasa, eLDee and Naeto C.
I remember listening to Beautiful Nubia in 2008 aged just 7. My big cousin always bought tapes and Asa was a regular voice in the house. However, Wande Coal was the favorite of the house. And Olu Maintain’s “Yahooze” album was fire. But as the years rolled by, hip hop took over more than ever.
I’ll like to note this; one defining moment in the hip hop music of this era was “Ehen” by Ruggedman. Ruggedman actually influenced the culture with this single. And it justifies what he was saying on the outro of 9ice’s “Religion”.
Now this is a list of rap songs that stood out among others every year starting from 2008. In compiling this list, I did not take the year of release into consideration. Let’s proceed;
2008: M.I Abaga – Safe ft. Djinee
M.I started kinging in 2008 and the song meant a lot to the culture. It changed everything about Nigeria hip hop; it announced the arrival of “Naija’s rap messiah”. He Sampled almost every hot pop song available. From P Square’s “Do Me”, to Faze’s “Kolomental”, “Timaya,” and even “Street Credibility” by 9ice. The short black boy composed a well crafted song although it sounded like a freestyle.
It had punchlines and metaphors. He even warned rappers to go home “to their spouse, ‘cos to stay might be detrimental”. Djinee, a veteran singer also jumped on the song and did an unconventional hook, that made the song memorable.
Another notable mention is Naeto C’s “Kini Big Deal”.
2009: Dagrin – Pon Pon Pon
In 2009, Dagrin released the song that’ll go on to solidify the indigenous rap wave that took over Nigeria This track, which came off his “C.E.O” album is one of the reasons people think if there would be no Olamide if there wasn’t a Dagrin.
- It was all-Yoruba, and it brought indigenous rap to the mainstream.
- It took street music to a whole new level.
Pon pon pon became an instant hit, especially on the streets in the west. I can remember trying to learn the lyrics aged only 8. It became the anthem of the street, and funny enough, it’s instrumental became a classic and a soundtrack for rap battles.
2010: Olamide – Eni Duro
“Eni duro” means “none of you is gonna wait” and to be honest it kept every other rapper on their toes. It also meant the decline for many other rappers, especially those who rap in English. As the first single off his Coded Tunes debut project “Rapsody”, full hype was given to the song. And in the same vein as “Pon Pon Pon”, it dominated the whole place and the streets as usual.
The result of this was, he was nominated for the Next Rated category at the Headies in 2011. Only WizKid could stop him.
2011: Ice Prince – Oleku ft. Brymo
This is one of the records I’ll always use to back myself up, when I’m trying to prove to y’all that Chocolate City is the biggest Record Label in Nigeria. Tell me one song from two label mates, that’s as big as this. And you should know, Ice Prince rapped on this one.
Oleku is one reason Ice Prince won’t be very successful as a singer. The song comprised of a pop beat, with a poppy-hook from Brymo, and then a fly hip hop verse from Ice Prince. This really made us wonder whether Ice is a Prince, if M.I is a King. Guess what? This was the song that eventually made another rap star by the name Yung6ix.
2012: Phyno – Ghost Mode feat. Olamide
When the beast of the East, and the best from the West (notice my rhymes biko), join forces together, the result is usually “Ghost Mode” or if they are singers, “Fada Fada”. This should be in Nigeria hip hop’s hall of fame, because apart from being a trendy collaboration, it was also a memorable one.
Igbo and Yoruba became friends although they weren’t enemies before. But it took the native lingo to a level where I as an Igbo boy can stand in Nnewi, and say Olamide’s my best rapper. Ghost Mode went viral. But seriously “Ndi Ara,” means “Mad People”, you should know.
One notable mention was Vector’s Angeli feat. 9ice.
2013: Olamide – Durosoke
I was just going jeje on the streets, when I heard “She ko wale oh” and people replying “Ko durosoke” in a chorus manner. I stopped, only to discover it was Olamide. Catchy stuff!
Durosoke was a hit, and I think it’s arguably Nigeria’s most commercial rap song. Olamide was all street, but it wasn’t difficult to notice from the vibes that he was doing it for the market. And he actually rapped.
2014: Reminisce – Tesojue
Baba Hafusa is a good rapper. But sometimes he gets funny. Not that what he does makes you laugh, but somehow you’ll know that he’s having fun. Maybe, he makes music for fun.
“Tesojue”, a word which quickly became a popular street slang, became popular especially in Lagos. The hook was very catchy, and had Reminisce saying “Wa a fe ku la le yi” which means “you’ll almost lose your life tonight”.
2015: Vector – King Kong (Remix) ft. Phyno, Reminisce, Classiq, Uzi
In my opinion, this single the best rap collaboration in the history of Nigerian music. And only Vector could have done this. He even wanted M.I on it and I was wondering what type of classic it would have become.
However 2015 was a big year that gave us Reminisce’s “Local Rappers”, iLLBliss’s “Chukwu Agozigo Gi” and the break-out “Jagaban” by Ycee. Big year indeed, but King Kong’s Remix stood out.
2016: Olamide – Eyan Mayweather
This happened to be the song Olamide used to tell all these small small boys claiming best rapper, to shut up. But unfortunately, this was the last time Olamide did real hip hop.
The song, even without a hook became a hit, instantly.
2017: M.I Abaga – You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Life
What a long title. In a year when all the rappers became singers, M.I the usual suspect felt the need to call these rappers to order. So he got in the booth and from the first day it was released, it became a classic. Don’t tell me 2017 is not over yet.
In the past decade, Olamide, has been the only consistent rapper, dropping buzzworthy stuff every year. So what year do you think I got wrong? drop a comment with what you think I should replace.
About the author
Tylz Ceazar Yo is a young rap artiste and an outspoken music industry commentator. He writes in a very controversial manner and is known to “never let the sleeping dogs lie”. In October 2017, he was inducted into HipHopHead as a contributor.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of HipHopHead.