Earlier this week, Complex published an unfortunately erroneous article titled 5 Nigerian Rappers You, and Jay Z, Should Know. Since taken down, the article referred to Afro-pop artistes Wizkid, Davido, Seyi Shay and Kiss Daniel as rappers. The Nigerian corner of the Internet was rightly offended, with tempers flaring particularly on Twitter. We think it's only proper to set things right with a list of actual Nigerian rappers worth listening to.
Originally a producer, Azubuike ‘Phyno’ Nelson has grown to become the most acclaimed Igbo rapper in Nigerian music. After shaking up the airwaves in 2012 with the irreverent single, Ghost Mode (featuring Olamide), the 28-year-old Enugu native started a dream climb to stardom that culminated in the release of his debut album, No Guts, No Glory in 2014. Phyno raps in Igbo and is known for his audacious delivery. You may not be able to make out most of his lyrics, but there's no denying the potency of his art.
With one new album to his name every year since 2011, Olamide is Nigeria's most prolific musician across all genres in the 2010s. Unapologetically indigenous and down-to-earth, the Yoruba spitter is a man of the people and a cross-cultural icon for Nigerian youth. His rap style? Outrageously raw, humorous and laced with singing. The icing on the cake is his YBNL label, one of the country's fastest-growing music imprints. Proof of greatness: his body of work.
He's a serious rapper, Mojeed, working as much intelligence as two ears can take into his punchlines and selling his art with a flow that's equal parts smooth and cocky. The Aristokrat Records/960 Music artiste's Westernized West African mixtape is solid proof that he's a respectable lyricist. All he needs now is an album to cement his place as a Nigerian hip hop disruptor.
If Olamide is a man of the people, then Reminisce is the champion of the streets, matching lyrical depth with untouchable wordplay and clearing a path for himself with sheer talent. He's only just beginning to come into his own, but the never-say-die spirit that defines Reminisce's career is already an inspiration to everyday Nigerians. Download his Baba Hafusa album here.
Jude ‘M.I.’ Abaga's music blends the appeal of commercial hip hop with the feistiness of hardcore rap, and his Illegal Music mixtape raised the bar in Nigerian hip hop. M.I.'s latest album is The Chairman.
If there's anyone who believes his own hype, it's Vector. The king of Nigerian rap outliers, he's never really been in the mainstream, but he's far too talented to be ignored. He makes up for his hit-or-miss punchlines with his classy flow and addicting confidence. Further listening: his#A7 mixtape.
A crossover artiste who makes feel-good music effortlessly, Naeto C has mastered the art of crafting irresistible hooks to support his light verses. And it doesn’t hurt that he has a delightful style of delivery. For more justification, see 10 Over 10 and I Gentle.