From her stellar lyricism, to her calm confidence Little Simz is riding on a powerful new wave of hip-hop. The 24 year old rapper has separated herself from the pack with a talent groomed for over a decade. Her approach to the medium is breathing new life into the perceptions of female rap today.
Demonstrating a knack for the arts at an early age, her family invested heavily in her journey into all the elements of performance including music, dance, and theater. Her Nigerian roots are mixed with the influence of growing up in North London to create a wealth of cultural experience to shape her sound and expression of herself. After realizing her call to the stage wasn’t for the being a dancer as she initially thought, she began developing her skills as an emcee. In between releases of a series of mixtapes in her teens, she also was able to pursue and acting career. This all led up to 2015 when she released her first full scale project, A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons. Since its release, she has continued to explore her lyrics, storytelling, and imagery on her next album Stillness in Wonderland. With her third major project, GREY, set for release in early March 2019.
She maintains a consistent tour and recording cycle, having worked alongside artists like Gorillaz, Cleo Sol, Mahalia, Kehlani, and more. She hits the roads again after the release of her new album. Included in these dates is a feature show at Coachella in April 2019.
She challenges the common conceptions of female rappers today. With the progressive and powerful imagery of women in rap today, she has a fresh approach and regards herself and her writing as something that sets her apart from the pack. She has been featured with several platforms including the COLORS Show prominent on YouTube. The release of her last album is highly anticipated and she is a breath of fresh air in the game.
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.
Eva Alordiah or simply Eva, is a Nigerian rapper, entertainer, makeup artist, fashion designer and entrepreneur. She is considered one of the best female rappers in Nigeria. When I first looked her up, I only saw her YouTube channel. She has multiple talents from makeup and rapping. Her platform reaches many audiences. After listening to her songs, I can agree that she’s one of the best female rappers in Nigeria. She has great flow in rhymes and has a lot of personality in her songs. She still has a small following in her work, however she is still growing as an artist. Some of her biggest influences in music are Michael Jackson. Bob Marley, and John Lennon. It was actually Eminem’s Cleanin’ Out My Closet, that influenced her to pursue a rap career. Most of her songs deal with the theme of improving oneself, female empowerment, and bragging.
I’m not sure if Eva was influenced by Nicki Minaj either, but she has certain aspects of her songs that sound similar to her. It happens when she changes the pitch in her voice or speed up the tempo in her song. I honestly believe she would be better than Nicki Minaj, if she had the same exposure. I really enjoy her songs because she reminds me a lot of how I would be a rapper, if I was one. One of my favorite songs by Eva is called Double Double. The song has a sample of Rihanna’s song Pour It Up, which give it a very relatable and noticeable song to it. She is a good songwriter and I can tell that she gives reasoning behind her lyrics. Unlike many men in the hip hop industry, Eva doesn’t recycle the same lyrics or sounds. She strives to be different. I would love to see her future work and how she changes the game.
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.
It’s been about a year since Wale has released his 6th studio album SHINE and one of his main singles “Fine Girl” still resonates with me. I love the song so much because the Nigerian-raised artist really represents his roots here. The term “fine girl” is often used in Nigerian and other African cultures to describe a beautiful woman. Wale definitely has ‘endless fine girls’ in his video as it is filled with myriad beautiful women from the Diaspora in a variety of shades and sizes wearing Ankara attire, showing off their killer dance moves as they wave their flags from Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Liberia and other African countries. Continue reading “One Year Later: Wale’s “Fine Girl” is Still a Hit!!”
Twenty-nine year old rapper Olamide, has been hot on the scene since his debut album Rapsodi. Recording mostly in his native tongue, Yoruba, Olamide reaches out mostly to native Nigerians and the youth of Nigeria, even though most of his songs are perceived as controversial. Continue reading “Olamide Reaches All Yoruba Speakers”
Nina Simone has famously been sampled by several American heavy weight rappers such as Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Common and many more. Nigerian rapper Erigga, also known as Paperboi, took a note from the greats and included Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let be Misunderstood” to serve as the background on his track “Death Bed”. Continue reading “Erigga Samples Nina Simone on “Death Bed””
African identity and culture remain omnipresent and inescapable in all aspects of life, pervading even Eurocentric spaces of art, music and self-expression. As a result, African artist within the diaspora reflect their roots consciously, and often even subconsciously, as Africa presents itself within any channel. Born and raised in Northwest, Washington, D.C, the Nigerian-American hip-hop artist, Olubowale Victor Akintimehin, popularly known as Wale, proudly embodies his Nigerian heritage as well as his culture as a black man of the African diaspora in the music video of his 2010 hit, My Sweetie, through his lyrics, beats, mannerisms, and cast choice. Continue reading “Wale’s “My Sweetie” and the blending and mixing of the African Diaspora”
Other diaspora artists like Wale and Skepta seek to incorporate aspects of their family’s culture to the culture that they have grew up in. For example, Wale’s identification as a DMV artist does not stop him from incorporating elements of go-go music, while making references to Nigerian culture in his songs. However, Jidenna is markedly different from other diaspora artists because he not only integrates his Nigerian culture into his music, but into his fashion and entire image. Continue reading “Diasporia Artist – Jidenna’s Long Live the Chief”