Rap music is the most controversial thing since Tonto Dikeh, and we all know it. Every once in awhile, there’s a conversation about rap going on. Sometimes they are cool, sometimes they’re just about who’s the best, and who’s not?
For instance, Blaqbonez has managed to stir up the rap music scene when he said he’s the best rapper in Africa. He’s been roasted by quite a number of rappers, yeah, but that’s what makes these conversations interesting, isn’t it?
Let’s take a little trip. Back in 2013, renowned music blog, Notjustok, published a list of “10 Gifted Rappers in Nigeria”, with guys like M.I Abaga, Ice Prince and Vector on the list. To most people, it was a perfect list. Or at least, a fair one.
Then from nowhere, came a guy named Rukus. He was an artist signed to eLDee’s Trybe Records, and well, he thought he was gifted too, but he didn’t make the list. So he dissed most of the big guns on the list. Again, we knew it was just another failed rapper, dissing for clout.
Many guys these days ain’t good, and some don’t even do rap, but if there were to be a list, they would be on top? Yeah, they paid dues or something like that. We get it.
In recent years, though, street music has taken over. Olamide did rant “street ti take over” on Headies stage, that year. He wasn’t wrong. There’s been a real rise in the number of guys who will be referred to as street singers, rather than rapper no matter how much they tried to be rappers. The reason being, they sing nonsense, most times.
Perhaps a case study would be better. Slimcase is one the closest things we have to “street” in Nigeria, and his music hits on the streets of Lagos, and everywhere. Throughout last year, he was dishing out lambas, and even giving some of his sauce to artists who cared for it. D’banj was the first to put him on, on “Issa Banger” and then a number of guys followed.
We know Slimcase as a street guy, but he can rap. “Industry OT” is one of his songs that proves that. The beat was hip-hop, and he delivered. So, guess that means we can call him a rapper if we have to?
Zlatan Ibile is the hottest guy on the street now. No doubt. His Zanku movement that faded shaku-shaku has become something on the streets, and with that street orientation he has, he can still continue to churn hits that will be the favorites on the street.
But, Zlatan also is a talented rapper. Back in 2014, he won an open mic competition and got signed to ID Cabasa’s Coded Tunes Entertainment, and he has songs that were pure hip-hop. He even has an old collabo with Oladips, “Ringtone”, which was like the Ikorodu boys anthem, back then. These days though, he doesn’t even have a wordplay or punchline, he just says slangs and makes music.
Naira Marley isn’t far. He does exactly what Zlatan does. Deliver street hits, and get the people crazy. His hit “Issa Goal” with Olamide and Lil Kesh brought him to the limelight. Well, it wasn’t a hip-hop track. And all he’s done since will make you wonder, will he be able to burst sixteen real bars if you take away high tempo beats from him?
Most of the time, he has watered down lyrics, and his voice isn’t even sexy or anything like that. He doesn’t even have enough street slangs in him like Slimcase or Zlatan. Sometimes, he has irregular rhymes and you’ll never hear him do a wordplay, either.
But somehow, he’s managed to go up the ranks. So what exactly has he got? Talent? Maybe not. But charisma, he’s got plenty of that. He’s not extraordinary in such way everyone thinks of all-stars, no. But he’s got a fire burning in him, that can’t make him stop.
“Soapy”, however, shows he’s getting better. As he took a more story-lined approach on the hit. He did sound some lyrics that made sense. You can’t compare that to what he was doing on “Issa Goal.” That, and the old song of his, “Back 2 Work” that recently resurfaced online. On the rather hip-hop track, you can hear Naira Marley dropping some bars in the same manner foreign guys like Tyga would. Perhaps, he just might have an interesting history with rap we don’t know about. With “Back 2 Work” trending, I doubt it’s going to take long before we find out, anyway.
And even though he doesn’t have any known solid history of being good at hip-hop, if he keeps going at his current pace, it’s only a matter of time before we start putting him on our talented rappers list. The whole network of events just leaves us wondering with questions like “how much of him have we actually seen?”