How has the quest for commercial success ruined rap in Nigeria is a great question. I wonder why no one ever thought about rap in Nigeria being ruined from that angle, the chase for commercial success which by-all-means means the switching of Nigerian rap artist from “Real Rap” to something much more acceptable like Afrobeat or pop or something close related to a danceable vibe, like highlife.
Another question to ask and angle to look at the poor and understructure of rap industry in Nigeria is: How much can an upcoming artist make in other to pay for the rising cost of being featured on a Nigerian blog to get their rap music listened to by a wide audience who might also be interested in that genre?
It is common knowledge that most Nigerian music blogs are money driven (cost of running a blog?) and for that reason, they gravitate towards paying customers who might not be the right ambassadors of the rap game. We all know great knowledge often comes from humble backgrounds and without sponsors, most Nigerian rap artists lack the opportunities to properly promote their work. And that is the reason most Nigerian Rap artists switch style and reinvent themselves as Afro-beat artists or highlife crooners. That is the only way they will get sponsors, or even when they do not get the sponsors there is no pressure of being asked: “Why don’t you make real high life or Afrobeat.” But there is a constant pressure to make Real Rap.
There are no Highlife heads in Nigeria, and even if there are the support they show is different. In Nigerian hip-hop, the only people doing anything for themselves are the rappers. Also, how can Hip-Hop be upheld to premium quality when the guardians of the airwaves do not even care about music but only about ratings. On-air-personalities only complain about the sorry state of Nigerian Hip-Hop and sprinkle pepper comparisons of Nigerian rap with South African rap but do nothing to move the culture forward. I remember in 2013 when Big Sean put up control and featured Kendrick Lamar and Kendrick went hard calling other rappers out and putting a pep in the step of the rap industry overseas, a Nigerian on-air-personality asked why “NO rapper in Nigeria was that bold enough?”. There are much bold enough rappers in Nigeria but they get love from only family and friends.
Why are there no sponsors of rap music in Nigeria someone might ask?
As far sponsorships are concerned for any Nigerian rap artist, music like every other investment needs to yield money and sponsors have seen the ability of the rap industry to not be able to produce monetary returns and so they do not wish to invest in a failing business. It is actually a smart business move if you ask me, but not idealistic, or supportive, or futuristic for promoting another industry that has the potential to yield a lot of income.
The most ironic Nigerian rap industry phenomenon is that Nigerian rappers who somehow made/make it in the industry DO NOT consider investing in their own industry and help other upcoming rappers like it is done in other countries, like South Africa.
I wish more people would support Rap for the sake of it and not only complain about the state of art, that does nothing to help.
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