A female Nigerian rapper, songwriter, and producer known for her English/Yoruba lyrics. Weird MC, also known as Shola Idowu and The Rappatainer, is one of Africa’s token number of female rap artist’s, and one of the few Nigerian women associated with Afrobeat.
Ogun-native Idowu was born in England to conservative parents who discouraged her from going into showbusiness, but this obviously didn’t stop her. She attended secondary school education in Nigeria where she met four other girls formed the hip-hop group “Weirdos”. Despite their popularity on the campus circuit, they failed to land a record deal and soon disbanded. Idowu gained admission into Ogun State University to study Law, but left a year later to focus on her music career. Influenced by Fela Kuti, Lauryn Hill, Da Roots, Miriam Makeba, Queen Latifah and Jimi Hendrix, Idowu travelled back to England where she competed in rap contests in London, including Club 291 contest, similar to America’s Apollo, in which she placed third. After working with music producer Kevin Best for two months, Idowu released the single “Wanna Make You Jack/Let’s Get Wet” which received positive reviews from music critics and reached number one in the Choice FM charts. Idowu began going by the name Weird MC which was coined from the name of her former group.
After a long sabbatical, Idowu returned to her homeland where she released the album “Simply Weird”, a blend of American-style hip hop and Afrobeat, and featured the video-single “Allen Avenue”. She was the first Nigerian artist to release a video-single in which she also produced and was one of the most prominent rap songs of the early nineties in Nigeria. The song had three verses capturing the danger lurking beneath the glitz of the Lagos hub, relying on the bass in the rapper’s voice and a head-nodding, but under-produced beat that barely whispered its presence. The hook, repeating “Allen Avenue” monotonously as though it were a mantra, ensured the song never left your head. The careful enunciation reminiscent of late eighties rap recalls an era where one’s pride was more in lyrical prowess than in bling. The Allen Avenue video raised controversy as her androgyny made fans question her true gender.
Despite the popularity of Allen Avenue, the album failed to sell an impressive number of copies. Critics agreed that Simply Weird was ahead of its time (people felt it was too foreign… not rootsy, or ‘African’ enough). Despite this setback, Idowu was honored with several awards, including the very first AMEN award for Best Hip Hop Album. In 2006, Idowu released her second album “After Da Storm”. Hip-hop was now becoming a major recognized form of music in Nigeria. Her single “Ijoya” which means “time to dance” produced by Don Jazzy and JJC was a massive success. “Ijoya” earned her an AMEN award for Most Pop Song, and a Channel O Music Video Award for Best Special Effect. Following the success of After Da Storm, Idowu continued her studies at the Music Technology in London. Apart from being a solo artiste, Idowu has collaborated with other artistes including Femi Kuti and close friend Kween.
While American female rappers have the benefit of a more defined cultural ground, it is not so clear for Nigeria. This is a country very much in transition in our cultural history, wanting to move forward but casting too many sidelong glances at the past. Perhaps we will see more woman break barriers in Nigerian music when we decide what these barriers are. (“Women In Nigerian Hip Hop“)
Citing herself as an example, she said she had to fight her way to the top back then when the industry was dominated by men. “I use myself as an example, Allen Avenue came out from nowhere and it became a huge success. Then I took my time and I came up with Ijoya. I was standing side by side with the male artistes and I was doing major shows. I tell them that they need to work hard.”
“This is not a business where you have to be timid, neither will things be handed to you. You have to stand up and earn your place. I tell them, it is not just about your nails and Brazilian hair, it is about content. If you do not have the content, you will never get the recognition and respect that you deserve. If you stay timid and at the back of the line, no one will ever recognize you.”(Nigerian Female Rappers Are Scared)
You need to watch the videos below to understand and appreciate what Weird MC has contributed to the Nigerian Music Industry. Her story is in itself an inspiration for those out there who have a passion. She followed her’s and has become an Icon in the Nigerian music industry.