Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is known on the music scene for its Afrobeats genre boasting a lot of Africa’s music heavyweights including Burna boy, Wizkid and Davido, to name a few. However, it has a long history of rap/hip hop music with several notable artists including mode 9ine, Eedris Abdulkareem, Da Grin, Jesse Jagz, Weird MC, etc.
In the past decade, the rap scene has enjoyed less airplay and sales compared to the ever burgeoning Afrobeats scene which has seen several rap artists ‘dilute’ their sound to be commercially viable and popular. This dilution takes place in different forms but most popularly in singing more than rapping or having bars, or making the focus of their music on dance rhythms and beats rather than contents. Fortunately, we have had M.I. Abaga (Mr. Incredible, The Chairman) holding the rap fort for the better part of a decade. Described by many as Nigeria’s “Hip Hop Messiah”, and with over 4 critically acclaimed album including his debut album Talk About It (2008), M.I. helped show rap could still be a popular genre that can still sell in Nigeria. He has also been instrumental in gaining exposure for many upcoming artists including Wizkid, Ice Prince and Jesse Jagz. Internationally acclaimed, he has received awards from MTV Africa Music Awards and was also nominated for Best International Act at the BET Awards in 2010.
In his most controversial music video to date- You Rappers should Fix up your Lives-M.I. comes at the younger, upcoming rappers in the Nigerian Rap Scene albeit without mentioning anyone by name. He alludes to the fact he’s been top of the game for so long and should be retiring but can’t because none of the current rappers are inspiring or attempting to address the many ills in Nigerian society. He laments that the Nigerian Rap scene is getting bossed by its counterparts from South Africa, who many would say boasts the continent’s top rappers as of right now including AKA, Cassper Nyovest, Anatii, etc. Since MI, there hasn’t been another breakthrough rapper on the Nigerian rap scene and the Chairman knows this and takes shots at everyone. Silver lining of the video despite the backlash and social media fervor, the video promoted conversation and sparked many cyphers on the same topic. Several young rappers also took up his challenge and made their own versions of the song on the same beat, proving that despite the picture, Nigeria’s rap scene remains burgeoning and ripe.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti: Visionary, artist, freedom fighter, human rights activist, and pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre. However, this blog post isn’t about the great icon but rather about the huge hole he has left in Nigerian music scene which has now finally reared a contender capable of filling that chasm. Enter “Falz” Folarin Falana: artist, actor, songwriter, and lawyer born to famous Nigerian lawyer-activist Femi Falana, who also at some point represented the maestro Fela. Falz recently dropped his fourth studio album Moral Instructionon January 15, 2019. Falz (also known as Falz The Bahd Guy) has established himself in recent years as a creative force to be reckoned with and has dropped several mixtapes and four albums since his debut album in 2014.
Falz is one of the few in a Nigerian music scene where the mainstream wave is focused on beats and catchy lyrics with no substance, a true deviation from the Afrobeats genre Fela started and popularized. Able to hold his own, Falz reminds many of Fela through his songs which are entertaining but addresses a myriad of social issues in Nigeria. In 2018, Falz dropped a cover of Childish Gambino viral song This is America but focusing on Nigeria which he calledThis is Nigeria. It currently has 16 million views as of the time of publication which is remarkable despite the radio ban on it in Nigeria. The song examines many of the harsh everyday realities Nigerians live in and have become accustomed to. These include government corruption, poor electricity, drug addiction, Boko Haram, herdsman attacks ,and low food production etc. The video begins with a speech from Femi Falana describing Nigeria as “operating on a predatory neocolonial capitalist system which is fueled upon on fraud and exploitation and thus will yield corruption”. Also notable was the fact that the video was released a few days before June 1 which is celebrated as Democracy Day in Nigeria and marked the 19th anniversary of democracy in Nigeria.
Falz has become the voice of the people in a nation where many are afraid to address these issues for fear of retaliation by the government; Fela himself was arrested, jailed and beaten by the police on several occasions. He has also shown that socially conscious music can sell and needs to be expressed more so conversations can be had about these issues for change to happen. Despite the radio ban because the NBC decided the lyrics “This is Nigeria, everybody be criminal” was too vulgar, the video gained international awareness after media mogul Diddy shared it on social media while the hashtag #ThisIsNigeria generated thousands of tweets.
We see all the time in the United States artist claim there titles. You got the King of New York or The Queen of Rap, but meet the Prince of South African Rap. Kiernan Jarryd Forbes, known by his stage name AKA. AKA is a South African hip hop recording artist and record producer. Continue reading “The Prince Of The South”
Who is Astou Gaye, and how did she set the contemporary precedent for aspiring female rappers in the banlieus surrounding Dakar?
Better known by her stage name Toussa Senerap, Astou began her career calling out a highly-patriarchal Senegalese culture that withholds respect for women in both marriage and the hip-hop industry. There is no questioning Astou’s commitment to overturning society’s status-quo: her first experience with rap was in 50 Cent’s international banger, “In da Club” – a testament to selling drugs and pimping women that Astou transformed into a struggle for women’s emancipation. Continue reading “Toussa, or all-inclusive”
Shane Eagle, a twenty-one year old Johannesburg Hip Hop artist, is one of the most prominent rap potentials in the South African music game right now. Born to an Irish father and Black mother who divorced when he was young, Eagle received a heavy influence of European culture growing up attending predominantly white schools, and frequently visiting his mother in Rabie, Johannesburg, a primarily caucasian region of the province. Needless to say, he received a mixed influence of several african cultures through his interactions in the Johannesburg area. He presents himself with an overall semi-woke style. In one of his songs, Let it Flow, Eagle openly references black culture yet uses only western-influenced visuals in the music video. One of his first lines claims that “the only nigga to own time is Ben Franklin,” but then goes on to talk about how he doesn’t wear diamonds because they killed his ancestors. Now, it should be commonly known to those cultured in black history that a black man did invent the first clock, and therefore should at least be credited where it’s due as opposed to the faux historical figure he is commonly mistaken for.
Shane also raps about forcing himself to become “commercially viable,” which only makes sense as Gauteng, where he grew up with his dad, stays at the top of the ranks for South Africa’s wealthiest and most populated province. Eagle is aware of the need to keep up with a rapidly changing environment and uses his music style as his platform for growth. Continue reading “The Rise of a Prospect: Shane Eagle”
Artist Profile: Graffiti Writer Behulum (Ethiopia) at the 12th Annual Trinity International Hip Hop Festival. This is a special podcast episode recorded at the Trinity International Hip Hop Festival, by guest host Seth Markle and guest producer by Kalalea
Artist Profile: Graffiti Writer Behulum (Ethiopia) at the 12th Annual Trinity International Hip Hop Festival
Shadia Mansour is a hip-hop artist who raps in Arabic. Many called her the “first lady of Arabic hip-hop,” which mean she is breaking down barriers for a female in the Middle East. Mansour is from Palestine and majority of the population there is Sunni Islam. She is a political figure in the Middle East. Mansour is a young voice that bridging art and activism. She grew up listening to American rappers like KRS-One. She wanted to relate the injustice and oppression expressed that she heard in American hip-hop to the experiences of the Palestinian people. In her interview with Cultures of X Resistance Network, she stated: “We’ve got police brutality going on right here in Palestine.” Her song that is called Sho Eli Saar explains her feeling for the police in Palestine.