An expression of mediocrity in Nigerian hiphop: A case of Olamide, Phyno and Reminisce

This article will surely attract bitter and deep criticisms from listeners of Nigeria music coupled with a reduced number of praises from readers but the truth must be told.

This write up is motivated by the ‘Local rappers’ song recorded by Olamide, Phyno and Reminisce recently which is an obvious campaign against the use of punch lines, word plays, metaphorical expressions in rap music. It should be noted that all these figurative expressions depict hard work, level of intelligence and level of thoughts of the artiste. Another rapper who has an amazing record of sticking loyally to the true culture of rap music as portrayed by Tupac, Notorious B.I.G, Rakim, Talib Kweli and the other hiphop greats came out openly on HipTv to voice his displeasure about the song. Personally, I think Olamide has ended the era of good rap music in Nigeria.

Modenine started the movement, he made an outstanding impact but I feel he was so much ahead of his time. Ears in Nigeria were not at that listening stage of development. Eedris Abdulkareem came with a short-lived success before Ruggedman who had studied the game so well as an outsider mixed it with a blend of pidgin English and some hot dance tracks like ‘baraje’ and booooom! He took over the whole entertainment industry like an air borne disease. Then came M.I in 2008 with the kind of English rap trend that didn’t work for Modenine but this time in a simple and understandable punch line style, adding a bit of commercial flavour, a singing style and in general his own style of rocking the beat. I was never a big fan of his but if you rate the songs he released with that of Olamide, you will create a statue for him and worship him. As for Olamide, the beats are good, the rap style seems okay but he raps with so much emptiness. Probably I think he should reduce his alcohol and indian hemp intake. You will listen to his songs atimes and realize there is nothing worthwhile to gain from his words than follow the tone of the beat to compensate yourself. Rap music is like poetry, composed to lift the soul, it’s like a story in rhythmic form but Olamide is the kind of rapper you will not want growing children to listen to due to the high level of adult contents of his songs. I wonder what the ladies did to him in his past life or probably while he was hustling because he raps to demean them; probably reducing them to the status of sex slaves that are controlled with a remote control device called money. Don’t get me wrong, Olamide has done some songs I like too e.g. ‘Higher feat Bez’. He is a great guy and I must confess that it’s hard to be successful in times like this in Nigeria but this is my own personal view about his music. Yes my analysis could be termed as being too subjective and I am ready for the criticisms.

Nigerian rapper, A-Q

Moving to Reminisce, I heard he started his music career doing the core rap thing, using punch lines and never got a recognition until he went “local” i.e embraced the indigenous rap style. I don’t need to analyze his songs, like his counterpart Olamide, they only do songs for drunk and horny people in night clubs and beer parlours. Probably it will be nice for him to do a theme song for a p*rn movie. Portraying himself as an ambassador of internet scam which he showcased in the ‘too much’ track where he hailed the so called‘keyboard warriors’ in Nigeria. I believe he isn’t using his thick voice for the right occupation; probably getting a permanent job at the motor garage would earn him a more beautiful career. I laugh when he talks about the street. This is a young man who has a decent roof over his head and a nice car to drive around. He should probably ask the homeless people sleeping under the bridge in Lagos for the full definition of the street concept.

Without wasting much of your time, let me share what I feel about Phyno. He is a great rapper to those that understand igbo language, I love his beats. I think his usage of English language reduces from track to track. His flow on the beat is amazing with his commanding voice and stature. Judging him will be going too far and not fair because I don’t understand igbo. I think he should at least for the purpose of unity in Nigeria add 15 to 20% of English language so that people from other tribes in Nigeria and internationally can get a clue of what he is rapping about. I was disappointed when I heard Phyno’s voice on the ‘local rappers’ track, he employed the usage of punch lines when he started his career, you can get a clue of that from his ‘‘we don’t die we multiply” song and his famous ”ghost mode” song then but I am sure he got too lazy to think and started rapping lame. Phyno, I just want to believe Olamide your ‘supposed’ best celebrity friend Olamide lured you into recording that song. That’s not an encouraging influence though. Peer pressure has its negativity too but I believe you can deal with it if you recognize it as a problem.

I am so glad that rapper A-Q boldly came out to voice out his disagreement with them over the content of the song. It shows that we may be crying in Nigeria in a time where only the money counts and not quality but for sure, people are not hindered from seeing by their tears.

The trio can decide to be wack, quack and empty but under no circumstance should they try to assume the position of moderators in a game that is ashamed of them. In a game where some of them cannot be classified as singers, rappers or something in between both. Can you imagine Olamide, Reminisce and Phyno on BET? Well we never say never. Some whites may dance to the beat blindly, afterall Awilo Logomba took over Nigeria then while we were growing up, he got us singing his song in our own unique mother tongues.

I leave you with this note that music is not all about dancing alone, the message from the lyrics go a long way. Let us learn to support good music in Nigeria instead of leaving a bad legacy that will irritate us when we are old and off the stage.

Osayimwen George Osahon

Online Editor,

Jetheights Services Limited.
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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on Phone number: +2347053302356.
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