Hip hop in Nigeria has come a long way. We have seen the birth of talents and creation of all kinds of music that are competing internationally. We have even seen some of the popular rappers like MI and Ice Prince being nominated for international awards like the BET Awards. Out of the vast youth population of the most populous black nation in the world who are hip hop/rap enthusiasts is a group of young people who equally love hip hop but instead, want to do it differently in terms of infusing their faith in Jesus Christ in the music they make. Christian Hip Hop as a subgenre has been around for a while in Nigeria- boasting names like Gamie, Provabs, Bouqui and the veterans, Rooftop MCs. These guys have been expressive about their faith within a genre that isn’t faith based and have managed to capture hearts of fans across the country. But there is a big question that has been looming over the head of the subgenre.
Is Christian Hip Hop (CHH) relevant enough in the Nigerian music community?
Over the years, have we had people who have managed to make a name in the industry while at the same time managed to stay true to their faith? The answer is YES and NO. While the subgenre has enjoyed some level of considerable success years past, the state it is in now is not encouraging. Some years ago, the Nigerian hip hop scene witnessed the release of a banging rap song titled Lagimo by rap duo, Rooftop Mcs featuring super producer, Cobhams. The song was so massive that children on the streets had a special play song adapted from the hit track. The duo later went on to perform the song at the Headies (then Hip Hop World Awards) alongside Cobhams. There was also Bouqui with her hit songs ‘Molejo’ and ‘Take you away’, enjoying massive airplay across media outlets in the country. She even had a track with US rapper, Da’Truth. Those are some of the exploits CHH made in the Nigerian music industry. Fast forward to 2016, and CHH has moved back to obscurity. Many great talents have and are springing up, but with the present reality, there has been no real impact. Is it a matter of lacking proper structure or Christian rappers are just too comfortable?
It is quite disappointing . Rap songs nowadays lack relativity. Making dance music all the time with cliché catch phrases lacking real substance makes me wonder. Songs that have failed to address struggles Christians are facing daily seem to be on airplay every day. Why do you think people listen to Flame, Lecrae, Andy Mineo, Bizzle, Swoope and other foreign Christian rappers? Apart from doing songs that glorify God, they make music that address real day to day issues- some go to the extent of narrating their own personal experience. Be original. The major reason the subgenre has been AWOL in terms of impact and relevance is the fact that fans cannot connect to what rappers stand for. Yeah we know ‘God gat you’. How else has he helped you with in your walk with him as a young Christian? Rappers need to start identifying with the day to day struggles or the subgenre will lose its relevance altogether.
It is time to start saying what really matters. Only then can there be true relevance.