- An argument has become rife lately; is Hip-Hip and rap music dead or alive?... Some persons have declared it dead and buried with the glorious rise of the Afrobeat culture
- Who are the pioneers of this hip-hop culture, especially in the rap genre? That's what this article intends to highlight
- Rap music in Nigeria has witnessed some great music talents; however, who are the pioneers of this genre starting way back from Stevano UGO to Eedris Abdulkareem down to M.I
- In this article, we intend to highlight the Nigerian hip-hop artists with the biggest contributions in the early days of this genre
Some people have said that the modern Nigerian Afrobeat is an offshoot of the predominant hip-hop/rap culture of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Hip-hop is alive if the recently released album by M.I and A-Q is anything to go, and I stand to declare that rap music is about to make a huge comeback on the Nigerian music scene.
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The place of hip-hop and rap music cannot be displaced when you talk about the contemporary evolution of Afrobeat.
One truth about hip-hop that can't be contested is that it helped usher in the now globally acclaimed Nigerian music prowess.
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On this note, the article intends to celebrate some Nigerian rap artists who are the pioneers of the hip-hop game in Nigeria with the most significant impact in the industry at their heights.
In no particular order, below we highlight 7 of the biggest Nigerian rappers who laid the foundation of hip-hop music in Nigeria:
1. Mode 9:
The veteran rapper Babatunde Olusegun Adewale, aka Mode 9, is rated as probably the greatest lyricist Nigeria has ever produced.
Mode 9 made his debut on the Nigerian music scene in 2004 when he dropped his first studio album Malcom IX. He holds the record for the most Headies award for the 'lyricist on the roll.'
Olusegun Adewale is credited for bringing a lot of seriousness to Nigerian hip-hop and rap music. His level of lyricism and technicality is still unmatched.
Mode 9 has the longest discography of all Nigerian rappers, with 8 single albums, 5 featured albums, and 5 mixtapes. He is a legend in a league of his own.
2. M.I Abaga:
Jude Lemfani Abaga, better known as M.I Abaga, is one of the greatest rappers ever to grace the hip-hop scenery in Nigeria and Africa. He made his debut in the industry with the track 'Safe' in 2006.
He is regarded as the leader of the new generation of rappers that came after people like eLDee Tha Don, Mode 9, Ruggedman, and Eedris Abdulkareem.
M.I is the first Nigerian hip-hop artist nominated for the BET Awards in the 'Best International Act' category. Aside from being regarded as one of the greatest rappers of the late 2000s, he is also famed for his list of proteges whom he gave a platform, including Jesse Jagz, Ice Prince Zamani, A-Q, Blaqbones, Ruby Gyang, and even Wizkid.
3. Eedris Abdulkareem:
Veteran rapper Eedris Abdulkareem was once the king of the Nigerian rap industry. He dominated the hip-hop scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
He is one of the forerunners of the hip-hop game in Nigeria. Practical speaking, Eedris can be called an ancestor of the rap game. He helped lay the foundations of the modern Nigerian music culture.
The Obasanjo's best friend musician started in the industry as part of a music group, the Remedies, in the 1990s. However, his career only finally took off after he went solo and released tracks like Nigeria Jaga Jaga and Mr Lecturer.
He is also famed for his altercation with the American rapper 50 Cents during a flight to Port-Harcourt, which to date is regarded as the moment Nigerian artists began to gain more respect from their international contemporaries.
Ugochukwu Stevens, better known as Ruggedman, is one of the most successful rappers in Nigeria and another of the earliest pioneers of the hip-hop genre.
Ruggedy Baba is regarded as the founder of the idea of making commercially successful hip-hop tunes.
Ruggedman was famed for his blend of hardcore English, Pidgin, and the use of indigenous lingo to rap. He was one of the first rap artists to make Nigerian hip-hop music that people could easily dance to and relate to.
The veteran musician, during his heydays, was prevalent for his diss tracks and punchlines fired at his other industry colleagues. He has a long-running diss battle with Mode 9, Eedris Abdulkareem, and 9ice.
5. Da Grin:
For over a decade since Oladapo Olaitan Olanipekun, aka Da Grin, passed on, his legacy still lives on.
The impact of the Yoruba indigenous rapper on the Nigerian hip-hop culture was so significant that it still lingers on.
He isn't particularly the first Yoruba hip-hop artist; before him, there was Lord of Ajasa, but his impact on the industry puts him heads and shoulders above those who came before him.
Da Grin's debut album 'Chief Executive Omoita (CEO),' is an evergreen classic. It shook the music industry, bagging several nominations and awards. CEO also won the Headies award for album of the year in 2010.
Lots of contemporary indigenous rappers to date always reference Da Grin as their biggest inspiration, including Nigerian music greats like Olamide and Phyno.
6. N*gga Raw:
Igbo rapper Okechukwu Edwards Ukeje with the stage name N*gga Raw is another hip-hop game legend with a pioneering impact.
He laid the foundation of the rap game using the Igbo dialect, which has now seen the likes of illBliss, Phyno, Zoro and others consolidate.
Shortly after the untimely passing of Da Grin in 2010 in a ghastly car accident, we saw the emergence of the little-known Yoruba rapper Olamide Adedeji who took the music like a storm.
Olamide Baddo was first hailed in his early days as the heir to the throne of Da Grin, but he has since gone on to carve his name into immortality in the Nigerian music industry.
No active or non-active Nigerian musician to date can boast of the number of upcoming artists who have gotten their big breaks through them compared to the YBNL boss.
The likes of Adekunle Gold, Lil Kesh, Chinko Ekun, Fireboy DML, Portable, Asake, Viktoh, Lyta, Naira Marley and many more.
The Baddosneh is not only an ace talent identifier but also a tremendous rapper and a fantastic extraordinaire musician.
Since releasing his debut album Rapsodi in 2011, he has dropped 6 hip-hop albums and 2 Afrobeat studio projects.
Ace rapper M.I Abaga finally drops his hugely anticipated album
Ace Nigerian rapper Jude Lemfani Abaga, better known as M.I, made a banging comeback with a new album titled The Guy.
The veteran music icon clarifies on the new studio project that he is still the king of the Nigerian rap scene and is set to kill the rife argument that hip-hop is dead.
The album features artists across different lines and divides as he brings together some of the biggest young hip-hop artists currently making waves on the music scene.