A couple of weeks ago, Penthauze Records trap sensation, Cheque, took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the evolution of hip-hop in Nigeria. The rapper who released his debut album Bravo last month to an appreciable level of success, dropped his two cents on the age-old conundrum of “why hip-hop in Nigeria is dead”.
As expected, the tweet stirred quite the controversy and had hundreds of tweeps divided across both sides of the turf. Some people agreed with Cheque and claimed it was the reason for his album being dope. Others were not pleased with his stance and didn’t hold back airing their disappointment.
Now while Superboy Cheque is very free to have his opinions on whatever matter he chooses; his tweet betrays him as being horribly uninformed (or misinformed at the very least) on the genre and culture he is very active in. He tweeted so authoritatively about.
The first mistake is that he gives credence to the very stale idea that “hip-hop in Nigeria is dead”. Honestly, at this point, anybody who agrees with this dead talk simply isn’t a fan of the genre as a whole. Such a person should be content with being a passive listener who waits for whichever song bubbles to the surface of the airwaves.
As a result, it is rather unfortunate that an artiste who is enjoying a substantial amount of mainstream success from operating in one of the sub-genres of rap/hip-hop would not only fall victim to this misconception but also proffer a very ill-informed explanation or solution to the supposed problem.
That amounts to his second, even bigger mistake.
Cheque seems to believe that at the heart of why Nigerian hip-hop is deceased is the lack of melody. According to the program he received, it’s all melodies now. Everyone who doesn’t subscribe to this idea is stuck in 2010; a period of hip-hop that was devoid of melodies.
Jokes aside, one can’t help but wonder if the said era was a very different experience for him rap-wise. As a matter of fact, since the years of its inception, hip-hop has always been entwined with melodies. It is black music after all.
This is even more emphatic here in Nigeria and the whole African continent, where our cultures are so powerfully defined by our colourful music, melodies, and dancing. Forget about 2010, as far back as the ’90s, Nigerian hip-hop has always had its very proportionate share of melodies. Acts like The Remedies, the late Sound Sultan, Eedris Abdulkareem, Trybesmen, to name a few, ruled the airwaves with melodies in their time and were very much as hip-hop as you can get.
Even the 2010 era he referred to blessed us with hits from the Chocolate City boys like Oleku, Anoti, Number 1, etc. Dagrin, Terry G, X-Project, Sinzu/Sauce kid weren’t R&B acts either.
Cheque’s claim smacks of recency bias, which often disregards history and cultural background. If there’s anything Nigerian hip-hop doesn’t need right now, it’s the few artistes who go international with it, throwing shade at the genre.
Hip-hop has never been able to overtake afrobeats in Nigeria, for obvious reasons, and yes, the genre has really evolved from what it used to be 10-20 years ago, Nigerian hip-hop never died regardless. The idea that hip-hop is “all melodies” couldn’t be more wrong. There are many subgenres under the big umbrella of rap/hip-hop available to cater to the needs of whatever you are a fan of.
Perhaps Cheque’s misguided tweet was a poorly worded attempt to stake his claim as part of the community – which he has every right to. It would be really disappointing otherwise.
For anyone looking for the heartbeat of Nigerian hip-hop, it is not hard to hear. It never disappeared. Fantastic artistes are putting out incredible stuff by the truckload every day and we’ll do our best to put you on to as many of them as we can, but you have to do your bit by being a true fan and supporting the culture.