From being denied University show performance slots and entry to clubs, Blaqbonez (born Emeka Akumefule) has emerged from the shadows into the spotlight as this generation's most relatable rapper, cultivating an internet-savvy community that idolizes his message and is entertained with or without new music.

This is how the 27-year-old has engineered the resuscitation of Nigerian Hip-Hop and featured as the genre’s most relevant protagonist over the past five years. 

When Blaqbonez arrives at our photoshoot, he settles in quickly, exuding an aura of familiarity while checking out the outfits on display. His manager, Morin, indulges him in a conversation about the maintenance of his fresh purple braids, and he fusses about the tightness of the Maison Margiela boots he is expected to wear, but there are no shoes too big for Emeka to fill. His rise to the throes of Hip-Hop royalty within the past five years is a testament to this. 

Blaqbonez cover of Reinvention issue
Blaqbonez cover of Reinvention issue

Starting out as a battle rapper on the internet, Blaqbonez established his first layer of popularity through competition and creativity, dissing anyone who found him unworthy in battle raps and creating multiple alter egos such as Mr. Emeka, Rasaqi, and Mr. Thompson to portray his many obstinate sexual fantasies. To this date, Blaqbonez’s core message has never waned: he is the best rapper he has ever heard of, and sex is better than love. 

As a Computer Engineering student at Obafemi Awolowo University, Blaqbonez was campus-famous for his gritty bars and witty delivery. During his university days, he became a fountain of bragging rights for campus Hip-Hop faithfuls — emerging as the winner of Terry Tha Rapman’s Zombie competition against 3000 rappers and appearing as a member of Hennessy’s prestigious VS Class Cypher — but these accolades were never enough for someone like Blaqbonez.

I think human beings, we are built not to be satisfied. Coming back to Lagos was probably the most important thing for my career. My career became more than a dream; it became my livelihood


Moving back to Lagos, the city that raised him, after his university education spelled the rise of Africa’s most controversial rapper of this era. In 2018, the same year he released the compilation “Last Time Under”, Blaqbonez signed to Chocolate City, the Nigerian record label responsible for powering the ascendance of Hip-Hop legends; M.I., Ice Prince, and Jesse Jagz, among others. “I recorded Last Time Under in my room at the university. I didn’t have the recording setup that I have now. At the time, I was getting tired, but it felt like a prophetic statement.” he quips. 

Blaqbonez, the hiphop artist
Blaqbonez, the hiphop artist

Signing with Chocolate City catalyzed BlaqBonez’s leap, arming the rapper with financial security and the largesse needed to power his creative ideas and funnel his music to an elusive audience. His first album under the label, Bad Boy Blaq, registered critical acclaim, but it was the second single off the album, Mamiwota, with Oxlade, that earned him his first taste of mainstream success. “Mamiwota is what really made music serious for me,” he explains. “Alpha Ojini had this song on his album that Oxlade had taken the hook for. He said he had some songs that the guy had not finished, then he played Mamiwota. All I knew was that this song sounded good.” 

The following year, while Nigerian and South African rappers battled for Hip-Hop supremacy on the interwebs, Blaqbonez earmarked his presence on the scene with his vivacious single, Best Rapper In Africa. The self-proclamation broke the internet locally, sparking a renaissance of Hip-Hop appreciation through a wave of diss tracks from fellow rappers and going as far as incensing a long-time feud between rappers, M.I. and Vector. “If it was someone undeserving that made that statement, people would have laughed it off. When there is a chance you might be right, it pisses more people off. I think that’s what made that Best Rapper In Africa thing hurt so bad.” Blaqbonez reflects with a peel of laughter.

That singular statement garnered Blaqbonez continental attention, but it paled in comparison to the uproar he created on social media while promoting his 2020 single, Haba. Fusing the phrase ‘Stream Haba’ with hilarious creative content across social media, Blaqbonez finagled his way to the top of social media conversations, gathering over 10 million streams for the song and stamping himself as a multifaceted creative and ultimately a marketing genius.


People don’t actually realize how important it is for me to do what I do. Music is fun. Aside from making music to release, I make music I want to listen to. I can make music that's just fun, that I’ll never release, and that I’ll just be jamming to.


These many moments of virality would consolidate to become the driving force behind Blaqbonez’s first number one single in Nigeria, Bling. Released in 2021, Bling, which features Amaarae and BNXN, proved to be Blaqbonez’s missing infinity stone “I recorded Bling the same night I lost the Best Hip Hop Act to Khaligraph Jones at the Soundcity MVP Awards. Instead of recording the Khaligraph Jones diss track, I was recording Bling. ” He smiled a sheepish smile. “I just needed people whose voices are just beautiful to complete the song, and that was Amaraae and BNXN.” The Type-A-produced song marked a watershed moment for the trio of collaborators, fueling BNXN’s rise to mainstream success, galvanizing Amaarae’s as one of the most exciting voices in African music, and propelling Blaqbonez as the bridge between modern-day Hip-Hop and commercial success. 

Although Blaqbonez has never been subtle about his profane message, his major label debut album, Sex Over Love, released in 2021, threw caution to the wind and asserted the quintessence of the 27-year-old’s career. The message of the 14-track debut was as simple as the title, Sex Over Love. “The only song I ever produced, the title is sexual music. This was years ago.” He struggles to place his grillz back in his mouth while he speaks “I think my greatest achievement is being able to be who I am. The guy that says stuff people will not say, the guy that approaches music differently,”

Blaqbonez showing his grillz

Sex Over Love, which had a deluxe release later in the same year, proved to be the sliding door moment for Blaqbonez’s annual concert, which holds on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, with the theme, Breaking The Yoke Of Love. The concert plays host to a dedicated yearly audience of over 5,000 people who are devout to Blaqbonez’s message and are keen to witness his gospel firsthand. 

While he changes from a green leather suit to an all-white dress outfit, I ask about the origin of his last album, Young Preacher. “Young Preacher started when I was recording my first album, Sex Over Love. I was recording on a lot of beats, and the normal love route was not slapping. I just felt like all these love songs were not believable for me. People might not know why, but it will just feel off.” Blaqbonez explains. Arguably his most melodic offering yet, Young Preacher is a thirteen-track iteration of Blaq’s effervescence but his sermon remains the same despite mirroring the current realities of Lagos’ dating circle “You can’t say the dopest shit but if you don’t say it with melody that slides, it won’t work.”

Young Preacher started when I was recording my first album, Sex Over Love. I was recording on a lot of beats, and the normal love route was not slapping. I just felt like all these love songs were not believable for me. People might not know why, but it will just feel off.


Despite the gravitational pull of Blaqbonez's transition through multiple eras, Emeka, as he is affectionately known by his core fans, remains steadfast in his pursuit of intrigue and boundary-breaking adventures, sharing his “sex over love” message with passion while detailing the hubris of evolution. "I always have an album somewhere; if I am not working on an album, it makes me feel like my head is not balanced," he says before settling in for some shots in his all-white ensemble. His aspirations expand as time passes and the legacy he craves is not one of momentary influence but of exceeding generational impact

Blaqbonez rugged
Blaqbonez, the rapper

I think a Billboard number one hit, I think having the biggest song in the world would be the pinnacle. What else could be bigger than that? At the end, I want to be that guy that is able to make music that is fresh across different generations.”


Read more about Notjustok's Reinvention Four