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The Rise Of Igbo Rap Through Time


Before the 2010s, rapping with the Igbo language was a niche for a select few artistes coming from the southeast of Nigeria. It was also mainly accepted by its people. Fast forward over a decade later, many rap artistes from the east would adopt the style and see their music careers achieve mainstream success.

Somewhere in and around the country, as far back as anyone could remember, there had probably been an indigenous artiste or some artistes rhyming bars with the Igbo language to carve a name for themselves in the Nigerian hip-hop scene. To go by facts, the stories of these uncertain artistes weren’t successful. This directs us to the sole pioneer of Igbo Rap, Mr. Raw.

“I started rapping in Igbo when nobody was doing it.” Mr. Raw claims sometime in 2014. We can barely throw stones against this claim.

In 2005, Okechukwu Edwards Ukeje born and raised in Enugu, released his debut album Right & Wrong. That album would be the birth of Igbo Rap, as the rapper flaunts his rhymes and punchlines with his mother’s tongue, mixing it with pidgin and subtle English language. The LP achieved commercial success, creating a route to fame for the then-upcoming Nigga Raw.

Three more albums followed in the year 2007, 2010 and 2012. The biggest hit would be “O! Chukwu” from the 2010 project which music video won Best Afro Hip Hop Video at the NMVA Awards that year.

Raw had set the stage for his tribesmen to thrive in. IllBliss, Ruggedman, Slowdog and Phyno followed suit to cement Igbo rap’s place at the map of Nigerian hip-hop.

If Mr. Raw is credited for the emergence of Igbo Rap, Phyno should be praised for being the driving force behind the genre’s nationwide acceptance. He took Igbo Rap to the next level.

It was in 2014 when Phyno released his debut album titled No Guts No Glory to massive critical acclaim. “Ghost Mode” which the rapper featured Olamide, is a deadly rap combination of Igbo and Yoruba. It was a statement of intent by the Enugu born.

“Whenever I rap in Igbo, I end up being the real me.” Phyno said in 2014. “I think the presence of music has done a lot of good to the Igbo language. Outside this country, Igbo songs are being played and listened to. Even white people are singing Parcel.” Parcel is one of Phyno’s singles from the 2014 Album.

Phyno has achieved prominence in the industry bringing along with him the Igbo Rap culture to the fore. The Igbo rap is thriving with artistes like Zoro Swagbag, Kola Boy, Lucy Q and a whole host of other rappers carrying the touch.

See also: Top 3 Nigerian Musical Artistes

“It wasn’t that easy then for people to accept it(Igbo Rap), but now it makes a whole lot of sense. I actually feel entertained seeing other artistes do what I started. I feel great when I see people like Phyno doing what I started.” Words of Mr. Raw on the increasing heights of Igbo Rap.

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