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Lyrics War

13 Jan 2013

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Olamide-coded and Phyno


By Yinka Olatunbosun
Punch lines, rhyming skills and poetic flows contribute greatly to what some would consider tobe great lyrics. For die-hard hard core rap enthusiasts, rap is not just made up of neat end rhymes, catchy hook or danceable beat. In fact, most core rap songs do not have any of the aforementioned music spices. It is not surprising then to find that hard core rap is not popular in Nigeria where the funk rap is still finding its feet with the help of other genres of music like fuji, hip hop, highlife, techno and pop in the music industry.

What is indeed surprising is the idea that an artiste could transit from the lucrative business of hip hop to hard core rap and still hope to thrill his audience as usual. Music business, drawing from recent trends in Nigeria, is not business as usual. Unusual discoveries and artistic experiments have given birth to a wide range of artistes, both local and international. What is more exciting is the lyrics war going on in the industry as typified in Phyno and Olamide’s Ghost Mode.

Ghost Mode is essentially an example of hard-core Nigerian rap. It is Nigerian because of the content and context of the rap. In the song’s use of language, it is settled that the contemporary music industry is moving towards National Unity. Ghost Mode represents what King Sunny Ade and Onyeka Onwenu’s “Wait for Me” and “Choices” (respectively) represented in the quest for national integration, without scandal. Aesthetically speaking, Phyno’s Igbo and Olamide’s Yoruba lyrics seem to have bonded, whether they were saying the same thing or busy doing the traditional rap’s individual boasting thing. The song’s airplay is astronomical and it is a wonder whose magic is it. Arguing who did the magic is to set the stage for Lyrics War.

Olamide’s First of All is a reminder that he is a rapper for whom language is not a barrier. Sadly, some still see him in the shadow of the legendary Da’Grin forgetting that Lord of Ajasa ventured into industry with his hard core Yoruba lyrics with comical twists and not too profitable turns long before they did. Olamide is just a good learner who has added English to his lyrical vocabulary without doing a disservice to his own street people. In addition, his collaborations are always off-the-hook. For instance, Omo To Shan blew the roofs with WizKid’s intervention. Some fans are also giving Phyno the credit for Ghost Mode’s success. The fact is- Phyno is hot but it is hard to imagine Ghost Mode without Olamide.

Also, Lyrics War is never won. As long as there is creativity, the war goes on. It would be recalled that that the Black Entertainment Television (BET) last year gave select Nigerian rappers such as Mode9, MI, Naeto C’,  Ice Prince and Sauce Kid the floor for the lyrical battle and it was noteworthy in that these Nigerian artistes’ performance may have revealed that they reserve better lyrics just so to please their Nigerian audience. They were at their best on BET because they were just being artistic. Some artistes stand to be respected for being lyrics war veterans but that does not make them ultimately the winners. Still, some artistes make lots of money but their lyrics should not be retrieved from recycle bins. Hence, given the nature of lyrics war, an artiste can never afford to be defeated. It is either you are making your audience refer to your lyrics or your audience is making you refer to your bank account digits in your lyrics.   

Tags: Entertainment, Featured, War

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