by Tosin Adeda
Rap music in Nigeria has been through lots of ups and downs. The struggle for acceptance, respect, and recognition has been real and the journey has never been less than turbulent.
There has always been this clash between English speaking rappers and the indigenous speaking rappers, often tagged as local rappers. While fans of the former feel that the local rappers are not doing hip hop the right way, the latter are of the opinion that rap music has no language, and deserves to reach wider audiences.
I am not much of a core hip hop enthusiast, so I hardly review rap music/projects, so as not to get on the nerves of the core fans. But some while back, M.I Abaga’s final project off the “Illegal Music” trilogy of mixtapes was scheduled to drop, and Nigerian Twitter was lit to the extent that rap music was actually trending. At a point, I could count about 5 Nigerian rappers who were trending at the same time. It was a rare moment for rap on Nigerian Twitter, so I decided to get the opinions of people on who their top 10 favourite Nigerian rappers are.
I got over 200 tweets, which was quite overwhelming. This was a big deal for me, so I decided to compile a top 10 rappers list with the highest votes. This article will do a review of all 10 rappers that made the list, their strengths, weaknesses (if any), and 3 of their songs that are my favourites.
First time I heard of Boogey was on the “Zombie” competition put up by Terry Tha Rapman, now known as Lord TR. My first impression was “Who is this guy, where did he come from, where has he been hiding?”
Boogey is a lyricist; his intelligence is unrivalled in Nigerian music (yes he’s that deep). Sometimes I listen to Boogey and I just feel like he is in a wrong environment because his talent might never be appreciated around here.
Boogey started to make an impression on his “Art-ificial Intelligence” mixtape, where he was a tad too fast for even me to keep up. I often listened to that mixtape at the same time reading through the lyrics manual (he was that fast).
He improved over the years and people began to pay attention, and respect the genius that he is, which I must say is a huge plus for him, as his fan base can only get bigger.
Boogey has a catalog of 3 mix tapes and a joint collaborative album with Paybac.
All Love – Boogey
Sanctum – Boogey
Said No – Boogey
- Show Dem Camp
The duo of TEC and GHOST, might not be the most popular of rappers, but they have between them, talent that earns them respect anywhere.
GHOST has this delivery that makes him a beast on tracks with ease, sometimes you might have to listen twice to get the depth of his lyrical abilities.
TEC has the catchy punch-lines with a delivery almost impeccable.
Together, they form a solid team, a formidable force that ensures they are one of the best in the Nigerian rap game. The confidence they ooze on track is one that shows that they are aware of their gifts. Definitely no push overs, their strength lies in their lyrical abilities, and the art of telling stories with same abilities.
The duo has an album and two mix-tapes to their credit.
Farabale – Show Dem Camp ft May D
Heart of the City – M.I ft Show Dem Camp
Ewele – Show Dem Camp ft Ms Iye
Most people wouldn’t know that FALZ actually did drop a mix-tape around 2009 titled “Shakara the mixtape.” Most people also don’t know that he dropped his debut album “Wazup Guy” in 2014.
Falz’s rise to superstardom came on the heels of his debut album, which he followed up in 2015, with “Stories that touch”, an album that can unarguably lay claim to the best rap album released in 2015.
Falz is intelligent, very intelligent. Behind the comical delivery aimed at getting the attention of listeners, you hear his lyrical brilliance and abilities.
How far – Falz ft Sir Dauda
Karishika – Falz ft Phyno
Softwork – Falz
For someone who started rapping in 2010, Phyno’s influence in the rap game is quite rapid. The Igbo speaking rapper with just one album to his credit, as well as a collaborative disc “2 Kings” with Olamide, has somehow found a way to put Igbo rap on the map. No disrespect to veterans like Nigga Raw, but Phyno took it all up to a new level.
Phyno might not be that deep lyricist especially when he raps in English, but he most definitely knows his sound and has utilized it to the maximum. His debut album is one of the best rap albums you will ever hear from a Nigerian rapper.
Phyno has gotten endorsements off rap music and sold out a stadium. Surely, this attests to the durability of his brand as an artiste.
Phyno’s ability to rap and make music in general is a very big plus for him. His song “Connect” was one of the biggest songs of 2015.
Connect – Phyno
Alobam – Phyno
Ghost Mode – Phyno ft Olamide
When Olamide started off with ID Cabasa during his “Eni Duro” days, it was something new and fresh. The youngster was out to make an impression that he could rap and he was here to stay.
Though not without some difficulty, Olamide was able to register his name as a rapper to be reckoned with. His hunger and thirst for success, ensured he grew and morphed from being just a rapper to an all round artiste.
With 5 studio albums and a collaborative album to his name in 5 years, Olamide is definitely one of the most hard working rappers in Nigeria.
A brand ambassador, number one artiste in Nigeria for about three years running, label executive and mentor, Olamide has successfully brought the likes of Lil Kesh and Adekunle Gold to the limelight via his YBNL platform.
Though rap heads might disagree about his rap abilities, Olamide has consistently proven to those who want to listen that he’s here to stay and fears no competition.
Eyan Mayweather – Olamide
Confession Aiye – Olamide
VOTS – Olamide
Rap god, legend, connoisseur, Modenine is your favourite rapper’s mentor. Most rappers in Nigeria probably listened to Modenine before they started rapping.
This lyricist has consistently proven to everyone that he is in a league of his own, nobody crosses his path, and the only rapper who once tried beefing this rap god, had his career lyrically destroyed.
Modenine is a word smith and poet, which explains why he does not appeal to the average music listener. He is perhaps the only Nigerian rapper who never seems to run out of quotable lines, the only rapper in Nigeria whose lyrical skills can never be questioned by anybody.
Despite his not so appealing style of rap, Modenine has enjoyed endorsements, sold records, won awards and headlined nationwide shows, all in his prime.
Modenine has about 7 albums and 5 mix-tapes to his name.
CRY – Modenine ft Nnena
Elbow room – Modenine
Spazmodic – Modenine ft Terry Tha Rapman
- JESSE JAGZ
Emperor Jagz the greatest is unarguably one of the best lyricists in Nigeria. His beat making skills, his total understanding of music makes him a different kind of rapper. He is art.
His ability to create visuals with his lyrics in the minds of listeners is one of his greatest gifts; Jagz is a poet, a conscious rapper who also likes to address the ills of his society.
Jagz has three studio albums to his name; the last two are his best projects yet.
Redemption – Jesse Jagz
3rd World War – Jesse Jagz ft Femi Kuti
Sunshine – Jesse Jagz
I have been a fan of Vector tha viper ever since he hit stardom. I particularly love his wordplay ability. He is blessed with a gift that makes him unarguably the best freestyle rapper in Nigeria.
Vector has had his ups and downs, but has found a way to be one of the most prolific and recognized rappers in Nigeria. Vector has all the attributes to rule the rap game in Nigeria.
Vector has two albums and two mix tapes to his credit.
King Kong – Vector
Born Leader – Vector ft Movado
Angeli – Vector ft 9ice
Unarguable the best indigenous Nigerian rapper around, Reminisce’s ability to switch flows effortlessly between English and Yoruba is a rare talent.
His versatility is vital to his success. Widely read and vastly intelligent, these attributes give him an edge over his fellow indigenous rappers. One of the rappers to watch out for (TIME Magazine,) Reminisce is the only Nigerian rapper to get on the Billboard charts, ranking No 12 on the World Music charts for his third studio album “Baba Hafusa”.
Reminisce, a brand ambassador of major brands and a label CEO can stand toe to toe with every rapper in Nigeria.
Reminisce has three studio albums to his name.
3rd World Thug – Reminisce
Let It Be Known – Reminisce
Baba Hafusa – Reminisce
Jude Abaga is arguable one of the best ever out of Nigeria. When M.I hit us with “Crowd Mentality” way back, it was a breath of fresh air; it was as though someone understood what was lacking in rap game in Nigeria at the moment.
M.I’s success is monumental, his popularity in Nigeria is unrivalled, and guess what? He’s an English speaking rapper.
M.I came in the game with a strategy, a strategy that has so far worked out perfectly. His ability to go hard when he needs to and tone it down when he needs to is one of the major KEYS to his success. This explains the logic behind his albums and his mix-tapes. It is not surprising that he’s the number one favorite rapper in Nigeria.
M.I has three albums and three mix-tapes, a lot of awards both local and international, several brand endorsements and he’s the CEO of one of the biggest record labels in Africa.
It is safe to say that M.I is the most successful rapper to ever come out of Nigeria.
Crowd Mentality – M.I
Safe – M.I
Undisputed – M.I