Zoro: The Rapper pushing Indigenous Rap to mainstream success

    Over the years Indigenous Rap has become a selling point in the Nigerian Music Industry and Zoro is one of the sub-genre’s leading men.

    Zoro: The Rapper pushing Indigenous Rap to mainstream success
    Zoro: The Rapper pushing Indigenous Rap to mainstream success

    Born Owoh Chimaobi Chrismathner, Zoro who was born in Anambra State and hails from Enugu State first came to the limelight after the success of his Indigenous rap song, “O42“, an ode to his state of origin.

    O42” was a success in the South Eastern states especially Enugu which the song references and steadily dominated the airwaves in Lagos, Nigeria’s Capital of Entertainment.

    The song came two years after “ Mode” an Indigenous rap song by Phyno, another successful Igbo rapper found success in the mainstream Industry, a feat that helped Igbo rappers like Zoro make their own big break.

    After the success of ‘042‘, Zoro then released songs like “Usain Bolt” and “Otu” and while they were good songs, they weren’t as big their predecessor until two years later in 2016 when he dominated airwaves with “Ogene

    Ogene” featured Flavour on the original version and later Lil Kesh and Ycee on the remix. The song was popular thanks to the fusion of Ogene sound, a type of Igbo music named after the familiar metal bell used on a Hip-Hop beat.

    The fast-paced song was a mixture of hard spitting bars from Zoro and a catchy hook from Afro-Highlife icon, Flavour who totally delivered on the song.

    That same year, Zoro replicated the success on ‘Achikolo“, another Ogene-fused rap song, this time featuring his fellow Igbo heavyweight, Phyno.

    With the success of these two songs alongside Phyno’s progress in the Industry, Igbo rap was finally beginning to take its place in the mainstream industry the same Yoruba Rappers like Olamide and the rest were taking over the Industry.

    Zoro wasn’t however done in 2016 as he dropped one of the biggest Christmas anthems of that year, “Mabuza Mabuza“, which he describes as a street thanksgiving song.

    The song was a huge success in the South East largely thanks to DJs in that region putting it on rotations at events.


    Zoro: The Rapper pushing Indigenous Rap to mainstream success
    Zoro: The Rapper pushing Indigenous Rap to mainstream success

    When Zoro first made his breakthrough into the Industry, Phyno was practically the face of Igbo rappers and finding success with “042” meant he had up his sound to stay ahead.

    Some Music enthusiasts have claimed that the Nigerian Music Industry is tribalistic and while this claim isn’t exactly black or white, it does hold a certain weight.

    When it came to Indigenous rap, it was mostly dominated by Yoruba rappers from the likes of Dagrin, to Olamide and Reminisce ruling the scene.

    Igbo Rappers like iLLBliss and Mr Raw were at some point the face of Igbo rappers.

    However, iLLBliss wasn’t a pure-based Igbo rapper, with most of his hits rapped primarily in English and Mr Raw was fading into the background.

    Phyno’s entry into the industry with “ Mode” and his “ Gut Glory” album changed the game for Igbo rappers and proved that Igbo rap songs could become a mainstream success.

    For Zoro, the typical Hip-Hop beat and bars weren’t going to cut it, this was where the fusion of Ogene music began.

    Although fusing other genres into Hip-Hop isn’t a new concept but Zoro was the first of many to pioneer Ogene-Fused rap songs.

    This concept was a unique selling point as it gave him some of his best hits in the industry.

    After a while he switched to another concept, evolving his style of music and venturing into other sub-genre of Rap music like Trap.

    Just like most contemporary Rapper, it was only a matter of time for Zoro to explore Afropop which he on “Landlady” and several other songs.

    Zoro has managed to stay on top of his game in the industry for quite a long time not just because of his rapping abilities but more because of his versatility and ability to evolve with time.


    Zoro: The Rapper pushing Indigenous Rap to mainstream success
    Zoro: The Rapper pushing Indigenous Rap to mainstream success

    One selling point for any artist in the Nigerian music industry is the ability to collaborate with other artists matter the genre and Zoro has been able to successfully use this to his advantage.

    His first prominent collaboration was with Flavour on “Ogene” which was a hit and the two would go on to collaborate on another hit in 2017 on the smash tune, “Echolac.”

    Other artists which Zoro has featured in his songs include, Phyno, Falz, Chidinma, Simi, Lil Kesh, Ycee, Mayorkun, Oxlade, among others.

    These collaborations have become hits in their own way despite that the fact most of his collaborators are of another tribe.

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