From Eedris Abdulkareem dragging President Olusegun Obasanjo on Jaga Jaga to M.I making a whole rap song from the titles of other popular songs on Safe, Nigerian rap has been anything but boring. And while we may have switched actual rap beefs for Twitter fights, newer rap gods are taking the game to a whole new level.
Is rap still the way it was when Modenine, Sasha P and Dagrin ruled the game? No. But that’s not to say the genre’s not alive and kicking in 9ja.
These are some of the Nigerian rappers you should have on your radar in 2022.
You know you’ve made an impact on pop culture when there’s a dance named after you. Despite being on the scene for a while, 2018 was the year we all got our real dose of Zlatan with his breakout hit, Zanku (Legwork). Since then, the rapper has scored big hits with Burna Boy, Naira Marley, Tiwa Savage and Davido.
Continuing the legacy of rappers like Dagrin and Olamide, Zlatan’s Yoruba-heavy flow has crossed over into the mainstream and made him one of the leaders of new school street Hip-Hop artists. Still can’t get over the “You’re not Ayefele, so what’s your excuse?” line from Killin Dem.
Psycho YP is one of the most dynamic rappers in the country right now. Going through every emotion from his rage on songs like Smoke 4 Free to badass confidence on Big Moves, Psycho is creating his lane when it comes to rap and no one can cross his line. From trap music to Afropop, Psycho is doing the thing and we’re fully invested.
You may not know SGawD now, but trust us when we say you need to get into her now. With a sick flow that can stand toe to toe with most of the rappers in the game right now, it’s no surprise that her 2021 Savage Bitch Juice EP made our albums/EPs of the year list. SGawD is anything but subtle when it comes to telling her stories through rap. With every bar, SGawD demands our attention.
While the world may view Lagos as the only entertainment hub in Nigeria, a not-so-quiet storm of experimental rappers is brewing in the capital city of Abuja with Tomi Obanure at the forefront. Flipping drill music made famous by artists like Chief Keef, Pop Smoke and Unknown T on its head, Tomi has created something unique to the Nigerian flavour. From his 2019 drop, FFPO to this year’s I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Tomi reminds us that he is 6’ 3”, sexy and one of the ballsiest rappers around.
The world was in deep lockdown mode when Odunsi (The Engine) dropped the EP, EVERYTHING YOU HEARD IS TRUE. But while we were all excited to hear brand new Odunsi, Body Count was the song everyone just couldn’t stop talking about. Exiting the stage for female rappers to shine, the track introduced us to the badass DETO BLACK. There’s no way you could’ve missed the rapper whose unapologetic lines remind us of the fun, in-your-face flow in the style of faves like Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion. With women taking centre stage in rap on a global scale, rappers like DETO are holding it down for the women here.
If you’ve been to an EESKAY show, you’d know that the rapper has a habit of turning the crowd into a mosh pit. Owning a big part of the drill scene in his own right, EESKAY’s flow is witty, hedonistic and infectious. On his new mixtape, Drill.Or.Nah — Nah here means New Afro Hip-hop — which features the rave-starter, Agbalagba, EESKAY shows us once again that he’s not your average rapper, instead he’s an artist ready to shift the culture.