The artists owning the “afro-trenches” space of Nigerian street-pop music have created a template that’s uniquely theirs. In their native tongues, street lingo and code, they lay their personal experiences, frustrations and vices, religious affinities and narratives from their environment, cautionary or not, on their songs.
On today’s edition of #BumpThis, we present to you seven fire songs from seven lyricists evangelising the gospel of the trenches.
Believe — Dapop
With moody chords that slowly build into a solemn vibe, drawing out an uncanny level of honesty out of the artist, Dapop starts the song with the chorus and first verse. He reveals how he was a G-boy but has nothing to show for it. The second verse has the featured artist, Billirano, rapping about his dad’s unlawful imprisonment and the struggles his absence brought on the family. All in all, Believe expresses a yearning for breakthroughs to escape multi-dimensional, generational poverty.
Olisa — Zyno
One thing that’s very prominent on this drill jam is the gospel music samples, from church hymns beaming with organ-piano to Mercy Chinwo’s Excess Love. As Zyno and fellow South-Eastern artist, Jeriq the Hustler, seek God’s face for goodness and mercy, this song could easily pass for a special number in church.
Big Dreams — Billirano
The message is clear. Billiarano has big dreams, but his humble background won’t let things go smoothly for him, even though he’s steadily making moves in music. If he was born with a silver spoon, he’d be partying every day of the week. Big Dreams is a motivational song produced by LarryLanes.
G B H S — T DOLLAR
G B H S stands for Guided by Holy Spirit. In this song, the thick kick drum afro-pop production guides T DOLLAR’s vocals as he sings about shutting up haters when he begins to shine. Religious doctrine is ingrained in T DOLLAR. His lifestyle may be streets because he comes from it, but his faith always shines through.
Time (Remix) — Damo K
Damo K understands the concept of waiting one’s turn as he sings “Everything on God, yeah / ’cause my time no be your time / Make you buckle up, make you shine.” Bella Shmurda is a guest artist on the remix, and he sonorously preaches that “Hustle no dey kill person / hustle to the top / hustle no dey wait person / me I no dey rush.” Whether you’re waiting for your turn or your turn has finally come, just remember that time is still an essence.
Problem — Heli Kush
The lyrics to this song read like a soliloquy, conversation between young hustlers motivating themselves or a street motivational sermon. Problem is the typical “Cut your coat according to your size” song, but the production leaves the ultimate impression. Trumpets blow to African percussion as guitar chords drag with it – giving lush palmwine sound.
LA — SAMGARD
This jam is about destiny — people are put on earth for different purposes, so it’s needless to envy others. “À ní mo ma là,” SAMGARD sings with the confidence that his success is inevitable; “LA” here means to break through. He and Diamond Jimma deliver the message in eloquent Yoruba and pidgin, through simple proverbs and idioms.
Listen to them here: