It is safe to say that the Hip-Hop scene in Nigeria is beginning to take form and may soon become a viable and more commercial genre in the Nigerian music scene; only time will tell.
In the past year, summer of 2012 to summer of 2013, a handful of rappers have dropped music consistently or have released a body of work such as a mixtape or full length album to stay relevant in the hiphop scene. Because not all rappers are made the same, we gathered all the material from these relevant rap artists and listened diligently. During this process we judged each EMCEE on skill, from wordplay ability, delivery style, catchy and versatile flow, lyrical potency, punch line, rhyming not just to rhyme, and story telling.
Here is the list of The 10 Most Gifted Rappers in Nigeria.
Reminisce is a very skilful rapper when it comes to his local dialect, Yoruba, and pretty decent when spittin’ in the English language. His street appeal and commercial success have made him very relevant whenever rap is mentioned in Nigeria. His versatility, catchy phrases describing his thoughts tend to usually solicit a rewind to verify that you heard right while listening to his music. He displayed this perfectly in “Government (Ijoba)” featuring Olamide and Endia.
Naeto C came in the game and took rap to an unprecedented commercial level with Kini Big Deal and his debut album. You can also tell that apart from being a rapper, he is a music composer who focuses on building the structure of his songs. Naeto also tends to pay special attention to details from his very catchy hooks to his bars. He displays all these on Tony Montana, I gentle O, Can You Do It and even his older tracks.
Other than his work ethic, Vector‘s strength is his word play ability. He tends to put words together to make meaning and then goes ahead and uses that meaning to explain a point. So for the most part, he uses inference as opposed to laying down lyrics that will paint a clear picture. It’s almost like, sometimes he wants his audience to do some work in order to figure out the point he tries to make. In addition, Vector keeps a strong flow for the most part and delivers the right voice tone/inflection to each beat/instrumental and music context.
Panshak Zamani unofficially holds the current title for “most commercial rap artist”, but still makes the list for a couple of reasons; his canny ability to coin catchy rap lines and hooks in his commercial songs such as “Aboki” and his fierce delivery that commands attention when we listen to his hard core rap freestyles such as “Truth”. Like it or not, it requires real skills to go commercial as a rapper and still switch it up when required.
The duo Ghost and Tec are true rappers of this time. When they rap, they tend not to emphasize their punchlines or wordplay so as not to compromise the big picture. Instead, they use their wordplay as tools to stay on topic and to paint a very clear scenario or story. Ghost spits the lyrical fiya and Tec delivers catchy flows, but together they are able to rap without compromising or mumbling words just to rhyme. SDC’s ultimate focus in most of their verses is to deliver a full story or use descriptions to make a point that you will see play out in your head as you listen, and they still manage to make each line rhyme. They also tend to be big on rapping about their experiences and lifestyle.
No one is touching Sinzu when it comes to maintaining the same level of delivery on any kind of beat or song; party, conscious, gangster, local… you name it. He is as versatile as they come. Most of us know that Sinzu grew up partly in Ogba, Lagos and Los Angeles California. His strength is his impeccable delivery (flow, bars and words) when he does any type of track. So when he is rappin’ with a down South or an L.A type flow, he does it properly and is still able to switch to Naija street type flow within the same 16 bars. Sinzu is also big on infusing humour into his music which keeps his listeners very entertained.
Since M.I Abaga dropped his debut album in 2008, rap music has never been the same. He single-handedly upped the standards of Naija rap music. With M.I, his voice coupled with his skill (strong flow, punch lines, story telling ability and uncommon and unexpected joining of words to make meaning which is popularly known as wordplay) make him a master at rapping. On LOST, the 1st single of his iLLegal Music 2 mixtape, instead of just saying some folks are taking the piss, he put words together and delivered these lines ‘these dicks made a quick move to zipper down a piss take‘ … You can hear more from the aformentioned mixtape… Don’t be fooled by Chairman.
When you rap in a native African language (Igbo) and you are able to deliver it in a polished manner that gets even those who don’t understand the words that are coming out of your mouth to not only listen, but wish that they understood your language so that they can experience the entirety of what you are spittin, then you are on your way to greatness. This is one of Phyno‘s core strengths and it is obvious that he has won the hearts of most music lovers in Nigeria to where his name has to be mentioned whenever rap music is the topic of discussion. His style can easily be exported and liked outside Nigeria.
Other than his apparent work ethic which is evident in the rate at which he releases music, Olamide’s nonchalant, street flavored and playful delivery of words which surprisingly, typically make sense and rhymes, tend to draw most of us to listen to him; so he has taken care of the attraction factor where most people actually feel the need to listen to his verses all the way through. Digging deeper to his lyrics both in English and Yoruba, Olamide is not much of a storyteller but he is able to make a clear point with strong metaphors, which are difficult to rhyme in Yoruba, and out of this world comparisons that are guaranteed to crack you up.
Whether he knows it or not, ModeNine, who we can all agree is the GrandFather of true lyricism in Nigerian hiphop, has the ability and skill to go commercial. This fierce emcee can do anything with words from punch lines, to clear and vivid story telling, to using metaphors that will make you put a puzzle together in his verses. ModeNine’s flow is extra fluid and floats exactly to the beat; he spits his lyrics right within the confines of whatever beat he is dealt in an effortless manner. For all his fans praying he goes commercial, there is hope because he can if he decides to.
Phenom‘s potential is obvious; all you have to do is listen to his TKG freestyle where he switches flows at will whenever the beat switched. He also delivered on all songs he featured on including Maleek Berry’s New Bounce ft Wizkid.
Boogey is a fast rapper so you have to listen fast so you can follow him when he skilfully delivers his bars. The kid can rap very well and it appears that ModeNine and M.I agree and respect his skill level enough to feature him on their Occupy The Throne and iLLegal Music 2 mixtapes respectively.
Ibo Boy iLLBliss who dropped his new album in December of 2012 raps with a calm flow without too much force and delivers his bars in a regular talking tone which fits his size and demeanor. BOSS-type delivery, its no wonder he named his most recent album OGA BOSS.
Jargo as most of us know him, has turned all the way spiritual and can rap his lungs off. In his most recent album, he spits long bars on most of the songs to a point that you actually realize that he has been rapping for a while. Above his ability to rap for long at one go, Jesse Jagz also tends to speak lots of sense; personal and social-wise in his music.