Student Project: 5 Nigerian Artists to Know

This is a special episode produced by our students for their project looking at Nigerian musicians: In our episode, we are focusing on the top five Nigerian artists that have an influence in American mainstream media. We are giving you a breakdown of these artists, their beginnings, and of course, a listen to one of their most popular songs. Each artist has their own distinctive style and sound, and some even do much more than just sing/rap. You should definitely have heard one of these artists on the radio, or even while you’re out partying, but if not, be sure to listen and get to know a bit about each of them. Stay tuned all the way to the end to hear which American hip-hop artists we think they should collaborate with.

Follow the artists we discussed on social media to keep up with their music, events, and more!
1. WizKid
Instagram: @WizKidAyo
Twitter: @WizKidAyo
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sounds-from-the-other-side/id1245549634?app=music
2. Davido
Instagram: @DavidoOfficial
Twitter: @iam_Davido
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/davido/id254654363

3. Tekno Miles
Instagram: @TeknoOfficial
Twitter: @AlhajiTekno
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/ng/album/diana-single/1165390646

4. Korede Bello
Instagram: @KoredeBello
Twitter: @KoredeBello
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/korede-bello/833611554

5. Maleek Berry
Instagram: @MaleekBerry
Twitter: @MaleekBerry
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/last-daze-of-summer-ep/1158084658

This is a special episode produced by our students for their project looking at Nigerian musicians: In our episode, we are focusing on the top five Nigerian artists that have an influence in American mainstream media. We are giving you a breakdown of these artists, their beginnings, and of course, a listen to one of their most popular songs. Each artist has their own distinctive style and sound, and some even do much more than just sing/rap. Continue reading “Student Project: 5 Nigerian Artists to Know”

Comparing Ghanaian Hip Hop to Nigerian Pop Culture

I’d like to draw your attention to two very talented African artists that have been making major mainstream noise in the music industry and show no signs of slowing down in the future. African rapper Sarkodie and African pop artist WizKid both are musically talented artists but vary differently in the deliverance of their genre of choice. I am going to compare style and lyrics from Sarkodie’s song Adonai ft. Castro to WizKid’s song Ojuelegba. Adonai begins with a nice beat and then soon goes into a steady uptempo tune with Castro speaking and then followed by Sarkodie. Now, this isn’t your average hip-hop song that normally would catch you off guard but Sarkodie is making an ode to God for blessing him with gifts such as his talent amongst other things that he is grateful for. For an artist such as Sarkodie, he raps mostly in his native language which is Twi so you will not understand anything in the song except for the part “Hallelujah”. As noted, he does rap rather fast and he carries all the qualities of being a rapper such as the dark glasses, the choice in clothing and the hand gestures he uses. His style can be considered multifaceted which is always good for rappers trying to tell stories. On the other hand, you have a softer mellow beat when WizKid’s Ojuelegba comes into play. I first heard this song on the radio because the remix had featured Canadian recording Drake. Ojuelegba speaks about Wizkids experience in his native land Nigeria. Unlike Sarkodie, WizKid sings in English use what it sounds like, a little of autotune to enhance his voice. There is one shot in the video that shows him in the studio wearing dark glasses and his chains which definitely separates him from Sarkodie but both artists show gratitude in their songs.

Hip hop and Pop in Africa

” War Ready” by Casper Nyovest a South African hip hop artist is an example of more “authentic” hip hop. His hardcore beat reflects the context his lyrics, and the story being told through the music video. In the article ” The Struggle for Hip Hop Authenticity and Against Commercialization in Tanzania” it talked about the importance of artists maintaining the distinction between elitism and self- preservation, this song is a good example of that because while the beat is similar to those that are often times heard in rap music by American artists it still embodies aspects of his own culture. His lyrics seem very genuine in the sense that he sounds as if he is speaking from a place of experience rather than just what would appeal to the masses, and by doing so he is making himself more relatable.

WizKid a Nigerian artists style of music is much different from Casspers Nyovest. While he has a traditional hip hop sound Wizkid is more of an example of a pop artist. His beat is very upbeat and provides a rhythm that can make you want to dance. His music may be deemed as less “authentic” because of the simplicity of the lyrics and beat, it creates a vibe that may be better suited for a party or club environment. Because of the lack of complexity of his music i think it would be easy for WizKid to be received by different audiences, and in terms of the separation between elitism, and self preservation i think that he does a good job of maintaining his culture, and genre while still incorporating some aspects of what is considered to be “authentic” hip hop. I think that both artists represent a clear distinction between Hip Hop and Pop music in Africa.

Nigeria’s Modern Day Musical Renaissance

With widespread popularity of music artists from Nigeria to other countries it is no surprise that Nigerian’s music scene is experiencing a rebirth in it’s own right. A musical renaissance of sort.

Popular artists such as Wizkid, Patoranking, Tekno and alike blend a range of different elements to create a type of cross over music that can appease any crowd and is versatile in nature. This blend includes pop and traditional african instruments coupled with hip hop flare. This type of music has been dubbed a modern day take on “Afrobeats.”

Two videos are linked in this post. The first is Nigerian rapper Boogey freestyling to Wizkid’s “Ojuelegba.” The second video is of Wizkid’s original track of the song.

Both have different styles entirely. Boogey in true emcee form is freestyling. One of the most striking things about his video is that he is simply rapping in the entirety of the video. Boogey isn’t worried about melodies or pop appeal. Furthermore,  you can trace his rhymes by the story he tells like a modern day African griot. He also touches on his skills as a lyricist and how he can enlighten us to, “a main verse, one that [we] have never heard.”

In comparison, Wizkid’s song “Ojuelegba” lyrics shed light through his struggle of working hard and giving thanks to God always. With careful inspection I found the lyrics interesting due to the fact that I’ve listen to this song many times never knowing the message of the song. The song’s upbeat tempo and melodies contrasts with the seriousness of the message of the song. In the song he covers tough topics such as people in Nigeria suffering yet still having such tremendous faith in God and praying for blessings.

Although some may argue that this modern day “Afrobeats” genre is susceptible to sponsorship and turning into a commercialized entity, it is important to note the vast benefits this could have for African countries such as Nigeria. This genre can be used as a stepping stone, bridging western and African culture. With this bridge more interest in African music will lead to a pathway of understanding and tolerance for a more globalized and interconnected world.

It is crucial however, that these artists remain true to their musical messages and do not fall prey to capitalistic nature of the music industry. African artist can use their music to advance compelling messages that will invoke social change. They can use this modern Afrobeats genre as worldwide platform to reach many with whatever message they choose. In the end it is up to these artist as to which message they will send across the world to their millions of listeners. We will be waiting and listening.

Emtee’s Roll Up (Re Up) ft WIZKID & AKA (Official Remix)

Emtee, artist of Roll Up (Re Up)
Emtee, artist of Roll Up (Re Up)

Emtee rose to fame with his debut single “Roll Up”. The club hit was created in only one day with his friend and producer, Riff however the hype isn’t over yet. With the help of popular rappers AKA and WizKid, he has created the “re-up”, a remix of the popular single. In an interview with Sowetan Live, Emtee explains how far he has come from a year ago where “now I can get a call from even AKA saying we should chill”. Turning 23 in September, Emtee has taken the unconventional route to success. Instead of making education his key, he turned to his drive and commitment to the rap game. His gamble was the right move as he is rising in the rap game with each debut.

Globalization takes heed in this remix as the song continues the theme of flaunting cash, cars and clothes; similar to many American rap songs. The lyrics “private jet in my jays” paired with visuals of Chicago Bulls jerseys instantly rises the song to a global level, creating a level of relatability with each listener. While many criticize these lyrics as shallow or one dimensional; they fail to realize that these are the key concepts to globalizing hip hop. The same cars featured in Emtee’s video can be seen in the garages of American rappers Future or Young Joc. The materialism allows global listeners to find a level of understanding, regardless of geographic location. Both WizKid and AKA’s lyrics follow suite, speaking of “Mary Jane” or Marijuana, a substance that is globally used recreationally. While seen as generic to others, it expands the listening base in actuality.