“Wetin him dey yarn, I no know/ But I dey surprised when him ‘migiddy’ and people start to cheer”
-Ruggedman on Eedris Abdulkareem, Eh-en, 2003.
Nigerian music has changed tremendously over the last few years, it’s almost impossible to believe how far we have come as an industry. History is important because sometimes, petty as it seems we have to highlight just how indefatigably bad Nigerian music used to be, for a clearer picture of what the success of the soundscape today means in the grander scheme of things.
In the late 90s, hip-hop group turned collective Remedies rose to become one of the first and the most prominent voices in the Nigerian pop scene. The trio of Tony Tetuila, Eedris Abdulkareem and Eddy Montana were signed to Kennis Music where they rolled out two smash hit albums before splitting to lead solo careers in the early noughties. But their success did not mean they strayed too far from everything that made up Nigerian music from those wander years.
Singer, Eddy Montana was unarguably the most talented one of the group, till date, he served as the lyrical glue to Tony Tetuila’s crackly voice (which was unsurprisingly often muted on some of the groups biggest hits) and Eedris Abdul Kareem’s play pretend attempt at rapping in obvious gibberish that always somehow made it past the scrutiny of producers, label heads — and literally every sane person you’d at least expect to wonder how a hip-hop song can double as a tongue-speaking session.
Eedris perfected this art of lyrical mumbo-jumbo by slipping real words in between nonsensical ramblings, a style of adlibs Haitian rapper, Wyclef Jean also employed in his days with the Fugees. But for Eedris, this was a shortcut to delivering the hardest verses without thinking too deeply about meaning or even bothering to use real words. The style was effective for its intended purpose, Eedris landed a spot in Nigeria’s hip-hop hall of fame with six recorded solo albums. Let’s just say in simple terms, he got away with it.
Well, Unlike today where at least eight in ten people own smartphones with internet access bursting with miles of data and information, Nigeria used to be in the darkness of ignorance. In a world where Nigerians were importing counter cultures in its wholeness alongside tepid Americo-British accents, this mass ignorance allowed people like Eedris AbdulKareem to fester with half-baked concepts stolen from the abroad because Nigerians didn’t know any better standards to compare with. So yes, in case you were wondering, funny as it sounds, while Eedris rapped in his trance-like man of many tongues mode, many presumed he was doing what Yankee rappers do by slurring his words so much that they become mostly inaudible.
Today, we’re grateful for the growth of Nigerian music. But most especially, we’re grateful for RapGenius and the internet. There is nothing from before these two things remotely worth re-visiting (trust us we’ve checked) and Eedris Abdul Kareem just about proves that point.