M.I. Abaga’s unapologetic stance on the state of contemporary Nigerian Rap

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.

Social media Links: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. M.I. also has his own music label called Chocolate Music.

Samuel Sonnyboy Tubman : Liberian Rapper “Scientific”

Scientific was born in Bong County, Liberia but he grew up in Ghana in a refugee camp due to the first and second civil wars happening in his hometown. Like your average school kid, the young rapper once aspired to be a doctor but it was not until high school that Scientific found passion and purpose in hip-hop. He became infatuated with artists like Nas and Biggie Smalls, so much so that he wrote down their lyrics and memorized them. He believed that if he studied them close enough he could figure out what it takes to become a rapper of high rank, essentially they set the standard for the work he was looking to produce in his rap career.

At the brink of his artistry, Scientific’s first success as a rapper was in high school where he won best lyricist in a rap competition. Shortly after that he held titles like best street rapper and Africa’s best rapper.

It was only a matter of time before Scientific rose to fame. He has been consistently growing in his career and has won countless awards. By the time of 2016, the rapper had claimed his third LMA ( Liberia Music Award) for best hip hop artists. The rap artist went from aspiring to be like Nas, to dropping hit singles, to opening shows for multiple notable hip hop icons like Jay-Z, Fat Joe, Akon and other artists who performed in Ghana, and is still producing work for his Liberian fan base and fan base around the world.

Taking a look at where the rap artist is now, according to one of Scientific’s latest hits, he ‘ain’t got time this year’.The song provides insight to some of the struggles the rapper has had to face growing up in Africa and suggests that he has prevailed through the all things he has been exposed to, “ This life taught me a lesson, 0 to 100, it’s a blessing”.

The Rise of a Prospect: Shane Eagle

     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”

Put On For My City: How Lyricist K’naan Represents the Diaspora Through His Music

Somalian-born lyricist K’naan can never forget where he came from and he makes it known that he came from the struggle through his music. When he speaks about his country, you can see pride in his face, despite all the havoc and killing that’s going on, he makes it known that he is not ashamed. In his smash song, Wavin Flag, K’naan speaks about the struggles the people in Africa face on the daily and being that K’naan and his family are Somalian refugees, he grew up in Somalia during the civil war. The song starts off with K’naan saying that when he gets older he wants to be free, that’s why he waves his flag back and forth just like any other normal flag. The flag symbolizes freedom and many African nations struggle with their independence and freedom, so by K’naan mentioning that he waves his flag he wants to help liberate his country along with others from poverty and wars. K’naan also talks about how his country, Somalia, was once a rich and successful country before it became the war zone it’s known to be today when he says “Born to a throne, stronger than Rome.” but he respects it for what it has become and still calls it home. Unlike many people who often flee their country because of grief, K’naan is proud that he made it out alive because not many people have many success stories coming from Somalia. When it comes to speaking about the Diaspora through his music, K’naan is quick to educate the unknown about the good, the bad and the ugly and suggest that no one should forget about Somalia because it once was a well known place once upon a time. And although the song has grown to the likes of being used in a Coca Cola commercial, it just goes to show that the song itself has stability to be whatever it wants to be.