In my last article “Has the quest for commercial success ruined rap Nigeria?” I talked about how the Nigerian rap scene lacks sponsorship and backup much needed for the game to grow. This article shares similarities with the aforementioned.
What does it take to be a rap legend in Nigeria, have your name stamped in the history books as a legendary pioneer of the game? Not much, I guess, but being able to pave way for others under you.
I have come to realise that even the potential sponsors of Nigerian hip-hop are waiting for sponsors before they can take a step or stick out their necks for the culture, because it’s only when Hennessy or Sprite or Nokia come out to bankroll a hip-hop themed event that you hear all the celebrity rappers talking about the “art” or “passion” That’s when everyone remembers that rap is this and rap is that, nonsense talk. But nobody wants to see that fake passion, it is irritating to watch and hear about.
Question: What stops an A-list rap artist from using his clout in Nigeria and Africa to champion growth for the culture?
Even if said artist needs sponsorship his clout will get that for him. But every A-list rap artist in Nigeria acts like a struggling artist while waiting for Mattel Cognac or Hennessey to pay them to do a real rap cypher.
How much can be invested in a rap event, something as simple as a Cypher or a freestyle rap battle? I doubt it will take as much as shooting a video that does not correlate to the audio of the song a Nigerian rap artist has put out.
Corporate entertainment is always cheap to organise, all an organiser need is clout. Companies that sponsor events, like Hennessey or Coca-Cola or Pepsi or Sprite, actually set money aside every year for events and shows because for them it serves as a form of advertisement and brand promotion, an A-list rap artist like Ice Prince can get sponsorship from just about ANY company in the country, the only reason it seems hard is because every one of them think about money first. But it should be about the culture, advancement of the game and to create a Legacy.
So-called pioneers of rap music in Nigeria are short sighted. It’s so easy to become a legend, simply do stuff that makes you immortal and brings in revenue, create opportunities and an avenue for talents to be cultivated.
I do not see any way Guinness can turn MI down, or Modenine, or Illbliss. The Nigerian Breweries, Samsung, not even Techno and Infinix.
Nigeria has got hip-hop backwards.
Because it’s a hustle first and then passion when an artist “blows”, but it’s hard to fake passion always. Passion is a thing that cannot be faked. When will our eyes open up? It’s just like that lie they told us about “when u finish school, you’ll have time to do any other thing you want”, but you cannot be about the money and then switch to the passion later.
Since Jay Cole came out and started making money he signed a lot of young and aspiring artists. Kendrick has done so many low-key features, I wonder if he got paid at all. Artists abroad are always on the lookout for real talent because they know they will never have the shine forever. The only Nigerian artist I have seen following in that righteous path is Olamide; he knows what to do with new talents. YBNL as a record label and rap group seems to be the only record label cultivating rap talents and doing the right-rap thing. They support each other, act like a clique and at the same time are a movement, that’s love for hip-hop. Every other record label is nothing to write home about.
If you look at the grander scale a perfect example of talent cultivation and creating avenues for younger talents to shine is Usher and Justin Beiber, or Akon and Lady Gaga. See Lil Wayne and Drake or Jay-Z signing Cole, Olamide and Davolee or Lil Kesh in regards to Yoruba rap.
In the aforementioned scenarios, the latter mentioned have surpassed the former but the former got a hell of a lot richer in the process. So even if you are about the money you want to make it can still be made. These Giants know they won’t be there forever but while you try to be a star till you die, there are ways to contribute to the game, make a whole lot of money off other people and still have your boss level.
Because another truth is, life is about growth.
Whether you like it or not the game will outgrow you as a rapper at a point in time. The new guys kick the old out eventually. Why not be part of the growth, why not even facilitate that growth? Can anybody not see that that is the way to move the culture of Nigerian rap forward, the future?!
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