It’s very common to hear Nigerian music lovers, fans and industry stakeholders say things like “rap no dey sell for Naija” and I often wonder why they are of that opinion? Not that they aren’t entitled to their thoughts and assumptions (cos they are) but being a music person myself, I just can’t help but ponder upon their distaste or lack of faith in Nigerian Hip Hop music. Could it be because rap music tends to be extremely technical in it’s delivery? Could it be because the art of rapping itself doesn’t give much room for ear-friendly melodies like the ones R&B or Pop music provide? Or could it be that they simply assume the American rappers are way better than the Nigerian rappers so why listen to them? Is Nigerian Hip Hop dead?

I’d like to look at this from both sides, the side that suggests Nigerian Hip Hop is dead and the side that suggests it isn’t.

In Nigeria today, Davido, Wizkid & Burna Boy are arguably the 3 biggest artistes at the moment. You could throw in some Tiwa Savage as well just to spice it up. None of the above mentioned artistes are Hip Hop artistes, even though some uninformed journalists who don’t know what Hip Hop really is address them as such. The point here is this, currently there is no Nigerian Hip Hop artiste ranked among the present crop of “Big Dogs” who are “barking” locally and internationally, especially internationally. Davido recently had his 2017 hit song “Fall” become the 27th most played song on American radio, he has also been on an American radio tour, doing interviews and shows on some of the biggest platforms in the world! Wizkid & Burna Boy have also been doing the same. Besides M.I Abaga (in 2008/2009) I don’t think any other Nigerian Hip Hop artiste has sat on the throne with the title of Naija’s hottest artiste (rapper or not) well maybe Mode 9 in 2006. It has really been a while! Is Nigerian Hip Hop dead?

From that standpoint, you may be able to understand why lots of fans believe rap music isn’t the way to go in Naija anymore, the rappers ain’t just popping like David and Ayo at the moment and so many upcoming rappers have dropped rap music for the now trending styles in Afro-Pop.

Now, let’s look at this from the angle that suggests Nigerian Hip Hop isn’t dead.

Rapper iLL Bliss who is an industry veteran with so many hit songs to his credit recently scored a very rewarding endorsement with a beer manufacturing company.

Rapper (sometimes singer) Olamide who also has a load of hit records scored a nice endorsement with a beer manufacturer. It doesn’t stop there, one of Nigeria’s most skilled rappers, Phyno just got endorsed by a candy company.

OK let’s say some of the above mentioned rappers infuse a little bit of singing into their music to make it more marketable, I can confidently pick out pure, undiluted rappers to add to the list of those who are doing well for themselves. Rappers in the frames of AQ, Loose Kaynon, Blaqbonez and M.I Abaga who are currently brand ambassadors for Martell, a foreign liquor producing company are all doing fine. They made waves (and money) with their Martell Cyphers & endorsements.

Speaking of Cyphers, Hennessy Cyphers over the years have always been packed with Nigerian Hip Hop artistes haven’t they? And yeah, let’s not forget Falz the bad guy. He put out one of the best albums Nigeria has heard in a long time. I am talking about “Moral Instruction” which did well critically and commercially. With all the success the above mentioned have enjoyed in recent years, can we really say Nigerian Hip Hop is dead?

I can go on and on, but I’d arrive at the same conclusion — Nigerian Hip Hop isn’t dead, it’s not just doing as well as it should at the moment, and that could be for several reasons. I can bet you the quality of the music isn’t one of them!

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