words by Cyrus tha Virus

Rap, rapper, rappest….

I’m better than you, these other suckas are lame…
Nothing more has been the focus of any man or animal, place or thing who could wield a microphone – be it in the studio, rocking a crowd, or interviews, hell even in their own sitting room. It’s on this premise, the average rapper is born.

Cyrus tha Virus

It’s a potpourri of testosterone-driven, mad thumping beat-laced, poetry-laced diatribe that may go on for ages, generations yet unborn. Born in the late 70’s, it’s still the most talked about topic in hip-hop: “I’m better than you, you suck!”. And such wanton spew of superiority has found its was into our own Nigerian hip-hop community, naturally.

I’m not going to bore you with the long story of how hip-hop was born in Nigeria and all that journey, I’d leave that to custodians like Osagz, Chiagoziem, Tola, Ayo and Fazillion (where the hell is he??) because I’m not as emphatic or cohesive as they can put it, plus my mind travels a lot at a million times the speed of light. I’d rather go on to be direct, nail-in-the-coffin, objective like I always am. So here goes!!

You Rappers should fix up yourselves!
No, you fix up your lies!
No, i’m the Top 5 dead or alive!
How about simply……fixing yourself?

No one else, but yourself. I’ve been an innocent (okay, maybe not so innocent) bystander, as Nigerian rappers proceeded on a Holy Grail chase of spit-and-prove to debunk claims by the usual culprit, I call him the politician, MI Abaga (why always him though?) that South African rappers are better than their Nigerian counterparts. According to MI, rappers need to have a rethink and re-approach to this imaginary, non-revenue-generating brag of being the best in Africa.

Even the South African don’t know anyone is at war with them, but oh well, it’s just a bunch of Nigerians fighting themselves, when No one is fighting with them. This is similar to the never ending jollof battles with Ghana, and that that balderdash. Focus, Cyrus. FOCUS.

It’s been fun, interestingly so, as all shapes and sizes and colours and manifestations of rappers, rapper-wannabes, fans, fan-wannabes, OAPS, hip-hop heads, journos and bloggers have all chimed in relentlessly. It’s been a mix of egusi and banga and efo riro and ofe onugbu and, to be honest, the main goal is actually lost in the din of ramblings and pseudo-misinformed cries.

Nobody is fixing nothing.

The problem has never been the rappers, it has always been the structure. It has been how media, connoisseurs, show promoters, OAPS and DJ’s have sold the average Nigerian rapper to the masses: unserious. There’s this e-too-dey-rap-abeg-make-e-rest, poverty-stricken, Timberland wearing, e-nor-go-make-money-from-rap-so-no-need-to-give-them-chance potrayal of rappers but it will shock you to know that Nigerian rappers are still the most creative, intelligent, driven, industrious, brilliant minds in the Nigerian music sphere. They’re incomparable, with their lyrics, verbs, puns, similies, metaphors and personification, even in an industry that has continually failed them and reduced them to abject nothingness, save for a few.

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So let the games begin!!

MI riled up the Nigerian hip-hop sphere with his medium acidic spew, dotted with bars of brilliance here and there and every one cried for blood. Act 1 scene 1 done. If you look at the timing of its release, which is weeks to his album Yung Denzl dropping, MI couldn’t have chosen a more precise time, FOR HIMSELF, to rally and rail-road attention to himself. Why wasn’t this track released earlier?

This Nigeria vs SA rappers has been brimming since Cassper dropped “Doc Shebeleza” and won Best hip-hop act at the MAMAs and South Africans went on social media to say they run African rap now! Why not then? Why now? Because Nigeria’s Number one rapper is stewed and sauced in not only the show, but also the business side of music, and he’s a cerebral chess player who let’s you think your line of thought is independent of him, yet, he pulls the strings and smirks somewhere in the background evilly. He plays the chess pieces to favour himself only. ‎Politician Aye!

MI knows Nigerian rappers can rap, he didn’t get to be Number One and retain that spot, without constantly checking on what’s hot, and who’s the new standard. MI knows, y’all, he KNOWS! And in the center of all this brouhaha, after wordsmiths have gone to concoct replies to his “fix up”, he tweets that he is responsible for the wake up, and for the bile and the fire y’all bray right now, keeping the focus on one person only: him.

It’s like in the Japanese martial art of Aikido, where you use someone’s momentum against him, he crashes and falls, while you still stand. MI is Steven Seagal. My guess is that by Sunday when the Premier League matches come, EVERY single one of them “fix up” replies, would be gone, outdated, bleh, because social media has too many worries, they quickly get on with the speed of thought. And all this cacophony will just be another bright spark that did nothing apart from rake up SoundCloud plays, etc. Next year this event won’t even be remembered. You got played y’all. Nothing will be fixed! At least not like this. And then when he is bored, he will rinse, he will repeat, and y’all will wear this same garb again.

King Move

The thing about “Fix up” is, it will do more harm than good, especially in the short term. It will divide rappers, who will bicker and spit bile amongst themselves, tiring themselves out, while MI retains his position of power. Rapper. King. god? Yung Denzl will drop, and it will sell, because everyone is going to want to hear and laugh at MI if his album doesn’t measure up to par (word to Lord Vino) and that is where you all will be hoodwinked.

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For this kind of attention he has generated, surely MI would’ve prepared his body of work to its lyrical best. And that’s where everyone will blindside themselves and eventually, young and upcoming Nigerian rappers who were temporary foes, will tuck in their ties, become fans again, and scream: “baba Judo! Nice wan! Great album! Yung Denzl of life!!!”

But still, guess what? NOTHING has or will be fixed. And we are back to regular programming. Do not touch that dial. Act 2, Scene 1.

Of Pawns, Knights and Bishops

A lot of people are happy rappers are replying MI, after all “him own don too much!” Twitter followers are going crazy, hi-fiving themselves, while emcees are hitting the booth to post online and mention him, for some sort of validation or even a name drop on Twitter. Foggosakkes it’s all free music! You put out free music, someone will listen, it’s free. We are all hailing the pawns and knights. Wohoo! yeeha! Swashbuckling!

But Wait. Pause. Look at who is NOT replying. The Bishops. Because they KNOW a single war cry isn’t going to change the industry. They KNOW where not to focus their energy, because it is a marathon, not a sprint. And it’s sad to see, even on our timelines, enemity is being forged. Nor be where war start, e dey end.

And how do you unite to go against the unassuming SA rappers, when you are taking shots at one of your own? The exact same thing MI did to Nigerian rap? It’s a double standard, really. Case in question, i’d mention Lord Vino. Lord V is brilliant, confident, braggadochio-fuelled, he is a student of pure hip-hop, an original bloodhound. So on his “Fix Up” reply to MI, he takes shots at Vector, Fresh L and Ice Prince.

Now to a Cyrus back in the day, i’d LOVE this. His followers love this. They love a good name drop. But the thing about followers, they aren’t there when shit hits the fan. But they say: after all that’s what hiphop is all about. Dare to dare, being unafraid, blood in blood out – shey? A war-loving Cyrus read a quote somewhere: “a good warrior knows when to fight…but a great warrior knows when to sheath his sword….most wars are won, when you don’t even fight….”.

And now, here is the walk of a Warrior

Lord Vino is a brilliant full-time architect, a fashion connoisseur, and a part-time rapper. Yup, part-time rapper. Even he says he raps for fun, or when he’s bored, or when, you know, he can’t go golfing in the sunny greens of Abuja.  That’s how part-time he is. And yet, he takes an unregistered nine millimetre glock shot at Vector, who does this rap/music shit full time, has paid his dues, knows how the market swings, how to shape-shift, survive and adapt, who has done a lot of shows, secured losses, was taken by a record label to court and re-birthed himself just to survive. Yet Lord V smirks at Vector’s versatility, and judges a journey even he himself is scared to take.

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The real ones boldly abandon their craft and pursue their dreams – Vector did, Lord V didn’t. Maybe rap is now his dream but Lord V is buffered by the cushion and confines of architecture, probably makes good money from it, so he is scared to become a full-time rapper in the ailing Nigerian industry. YET, he takes shots at Vector who lives, breathes and walks in the industry, day in, day out? “Only a coward stand and laughs at the ruins of the house of a brave man”.

Don’t get me wrong; Lord V is right to not want to be involved in the vile Nigerian music industry, architecture pays better. But why take shots at Vector who lives, breathes and walks the path, every damn day? It’s akin to Caitlyn Jenner becoming a woman and scoffing at real women who have monthly periods, because he/she/it doesn’t go through what real women go through. It’s unjustifiable.

Focus on the enemy you have, not the enemy you WANT”. MI Abaga told me this during my own turbulent years of trying to obliterate anyone or anything in my path. Lord V can’t chime in on Vector, because Lord V is an MC that is scared to weather the storms Vector has. You cannot judge a soldier who has seen wars, while you’re an army personnel who sits behind a desk, in administration.

This is the warrior’s walk, it breeds respect for each other’s craft. It is disrespect that causes a great abysmal divide between the OG’s and the new school, and is part of the actual problem that needs fixing. The attitude. And Lord Vino owes Vec an apology, Ice prince can be fair game because he is MI-affiliated. But Fresh L? Who? I’d love to hear more from him.

I’m not good at this article shit, I’m not a journo, so I don’t know how Osagie Alonge, Ehis Combs, Tola, Ayo and co end theirs on an emphatic high. All I will say is, if we REALLY want to fix Nigerian Rap, take a good look, a study if you will, of how Opa Williams built the Comedy Industry with Night of a Thousand laughs.

That show is solely responsible for where the burgeoning and very successful comedy industry is today. It’s what Nigerian rappers need, a platform to showcase their stuff. Not infantile call outs and bickering and wanton disrespect of each other, that will lead to nowhere. And that, ladies and gents, is how we help our Queen, saunter effortlessly across the Chess board.

Checkmate!! (I think…)

God bless Nigerian Rap. God bless Nigerian Rappers.