Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tapping the Untapped

I learnt that the Nigerian Hip Hop music does make an impression internationally especially when it carries that Nigerian flair. By ‘Nigerian flair’, we mean that the rap is in conventional English but with a chorus in the Nigerian cultural English popularly referred to as pidgin or broken English. It is said that Nigeria’s Hip Hop star of the moment, M-I’s song, ‘fast money’, is one such song that finds a lot of international airplay due to the excellent job the guy on the chorus did by decorating the song with an attractive Nigerian flavor.

As far as the demand for Nigerian Hip Hop with the right flavor in the international market is concerned, I am of the opinion that even M-I has failed to take full advantage of that window. As far as I am concerned, that song is the only one with the right Nigerian thing, of all the songs made by M-I that I know. One would have thought that M-I should have engaged the guy in a whole album since people with such gift are rare.

I have listened to Ice Prince’s ‘oleku’. The guy who sang that chorus did not do a good job as his counterpart did in ‘fast money’. Reason being that the native accent in ‘oleku’s’ chorus is too heavy to a degree where I could say that the guy drifted too much into ‘Fuji’ so that the song is more on that side than on the Hip Hop side. Hip Hop lovers are proud of the exclusivity of their culture which abhors anything that is fundamentally exotic or with some elements of clowning. In that ‘oleku’, there is one expression that goes woko woko in the chorus whose meaning, as well as the word ‘oleku’ itself, I don’t know. It is for the same clowning effect that I cannot accept Nigga Raw’s music as Hip Hop. Let us see ‘fast money’ more critically to see what makes it different.

Money slow to enter

Money quick to go

Where money dey go?

I don’t know!

In this, there is hardly any word that an ‘oyibo’ man will not understand. What made the chorus is the Nigerian approach to pronunciation of English words where the voice descends when it should rise as in money where each of the syllables is pronounced with the voice pointing downwards.

Singers that can be careful enough to observe this are rare. It is however the responsibility of the artist to work towards discovering such persons through deliberate talent searches. They will be helping their ambitions as well as the industry. The sky is the limit but we are just scores of meters above the ground.

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