Hip-hop has come a long way from the ’80s in Nigeria. From Weird Mc, Ruff Rugged & Raw, The Remedies, till date, the craft has evolved over time to become our craft and not just a borrowed genre.

The Golden age of hip-hop in Nigeria came with the turn of the millennium when DaTrybe came into the picture with The Big Picture, and hip-hop moved from a slow rhythmic bop to improved flows that were influenced by Biggie and Eminem.

By the 2010s, we had created our own hip-hop lingua; people could rap in every language they could speak or understand and it would still be relatable and sellable.

Here’s a list of hip-hop 2010s (2010 -2019) projects that pushed the limits of the genre, challenged the existing acceptable music standards, and gave us the audacity to flawed challenge cultural norms.

1. 1960 – Eva (2016)

This debut LP somehow went under the radar. A no skip album with great features and amazing songs. Eva shares her story with great verses and hooks. The replay value of this album is very underrated.

2. Strings & Bling – Nasty C (2018)

Another no skip sophomore album by the Zulu Man with some power. Nasty C came with a new sound as he sang and rap. It is another no skip album that pushes Nasty C’s range in sharing different emotions and it set his place as a superstar.

3. Talk About Poe (T.A.P) – Ladipoe (2018)

A terrific alternative hip-hop project, executed with such excellence by Ladipoe. Poe goes on to show his range on different tempos, topics, and concepts. The emcee also should his different sides on this project; Hard guy, soft boy, ladies man, and the vulnerable Poe. A no skip album filled with punchlines; my bad, Lifelines.

4. Baba Hafusa – Reminisce (2015)

This project was the much-needed crossover the one and only Abaga Ibile needed to make in order to mix his fanbase. An interesting blend of vulgarness and mellowness made it a project the street thug and the corporate CEO would both bop to at their own time. He tackled several genre types of beat and gracefully infused it with uncompromising lyrics; stayed true to his originality. Amazing body of work.

5. A Study of Self Worth: Yxng Dxnzl – M.I Abaga (2018)

This project brought to the forefront the demons we all silently fight in our rooms and head. It tells us it is ok to be vulnerable (talk to a professional about it) in other to get better. It’s the therapy session most Nigerians can afford; N15-N20k/session, while the album is less than 20MB/stream. The album spotlights mental health as something we all need to protect.

6. Sarkology – Sarkodie (2014)

King Sarkcess’ performance on this project was on another level. With almost 2hours of playtime, the project features artistes from different countries with a range of different topics and concepts. The Twi rapper glided graciously on the brass-influenced beats to create some classics like Illuminati and Rap Attack (with Vector).

7. No Guts No Glory – Phyno (2014)

I don’t even speak or understand Ibo, but this debut project by the producer turned rapper made me learn the lyrics of Man of The Year. The hardcore songs are as hard as hardcore rap goes, and the soft melodious rap songs are exactly that. The album was simply a catalogue of hits; Alobam, O Set (with P-Square), Man of The Year, Ghost Mode (with Olamide), Anamachi, etc.

8. Baddest Guy Ever Liveth – Olamide (2013)

Olamide’s consistency in the early 2010s cannot be ignored and although some debates would go on about which album to select for this spot, let me explain. This was Baddo’s crossover album, he took the streets mainstream with this project; Eleda Mi, Durosoke, Turn Up, and Baddo Love were instant hits with Ladies in all works of life, while Dope Money, Sitting On The throne, and Anifowose stayed true to traditional hip-hop. A hell of a project.

9. The Second Coming – Vector (2012)

Vector’s Second Coming is full of range and some excellent collaborations. It pushes both limit of hardcore, soft rap, and a taste of several genres. TSC hands down was a wild untamed Vector and it changed the tide of the young emcee’s career by increasing his core fanbase.

10. Clone Wars IV: These Buhari Times – Show Dem Camp (2019)

SDC has every right to have more than one project in this category, and Clone Wars IV is the hardest alternative hip-hop project ever produced. The A&R team of this duo is very efficient and every feature on all their project is always on point. The Buhari Times properly documents the goings-on in the country and the mentality of its citizens in that period. Pass it on to your progeny.

11. Super C Season – Naeto C (2011)

Naeto C’s 2011 sophomore album was a collection of hits that he started sharing with his fans since 2009; Ako Mi Ti Poju. The album includes features from the mainstream and underground music industry. Collaborations that spanned from the musical world of Asa, down to the pop and rap world. It set Naeto C aside as the leader of the pack in the hip-hop genre and he wasn’t even a hardcore, gangster rapper.

12. Everbody Loves IcePrince (E.L.I) – Ice Prince (2011)

Definitely one of the biggest and most successful debut albums in the Nigerian hip-hop world. E.L.I was packed reach with several genres; ragga, Afrobeat, dancehall, reggae, soul, and highlife. It had hits like Superstar, Olofofo (with Wizkid), Oleku (with Brymo), End of Story (with Samklef), and Choc Boiz’ Thank You. The album made it ok for rappers to do whatever they want musically and not just stick to the traditional hip-hop album.

13. Jagz Nation, Vol. 1: Thy Kindom Come – Jesse Jagz (2013)

Jesse Jagz’s first project after his first exit from Chocolate City was a huge success to back up his claim that his sound is being limited by the label. The album was a smooth cocktail of ragga, reggae, afrobeat, and hip-hop. This was the manifestation of a Jesse Jagz we would have seen on his debut project.

14. Stories That Touch – Falz (2015)

Falz‘ sophomore LP has left its footprint in the sand of hip-hop times in Nigeria and Africa. Upon its release, it was something fresh and new to the scene. The infusion of intellectual humour in the lyrics alongside solid production and awesome writing ability is yet to be unmatched. Falz made it seem like a cakewalk making hits like Soft Work, Karashika 1&2, Ello Bae, Celebrity Girlfriend (with Reekado Banks), and Soldier (with Simi).

15. Half Price – Alpha Ojini (2018)

Why Half Price? This is a well-put-together project. It keeps you entertained for the entire 12-tracks. No filler songs, relatable & knowledgeable lyrics, great concept… This is simply a no skip album that seemly went under the radar. It deserved much more attention than it got at the time it was released (2018); hip-hop wasn’t in the mainstream anymore. Alpha Ojini simply showed the world he was born to do this hip-hop thing on his debut LP.


Honourable Mentions

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  1. Pingback: Rhyme & Reason® – Gen Z: The Nigerian Hip-hop History Crash Course.

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