John Boyega joined the Star Wars family in 2015 with his appearance on the Force Awakens but the amiable actor isn’t the only Nigerian to have strong ties to the iconic sci-fi franchise. Hip-hop mainstays Show Dem Camp started a mixtape series in 2012 called Clone Wars – an offshoot of Star Wars. After initially threatening to cut the series at number 2, the duo surprised the internet by releasing the third installment, deep into 2016 injury time.
Despite all the noise that surrounds Star Wars globally, the franchise isn’t very popular in Nigeria. The nerdy themes and pseudo-intellectual plots go over the heads of most of us, much like the raps and clever references of one of Nigeria’s most underrated hip-hop groups. It’s unfortunate that after releasing a handful of critically-acclaimed projects over the years, the Camp would release new music for free and it wouldn’t absolutely Kim K the Internet.
Tec seems to think that the lack of recognition is all their fault though, on the “Intro”, he talks about how he sometimes gets frustrated and charges at Ghost – let’s go harder, let’s give this music thing all we’ve got – as if there’s something that the Camp is doing wrong. With renewed enthusiasm on “Rise of the Underdogs”, the more visible half of SDC declares that since there are no longer gatekeepers these days, SDC has a good a chance as ever to touch the people directly.
One way to cross over to the mainstream is to make records that are able to and “Happy Weekend Sir” is sufficient evidence that the duo can, if they want to.
On CW3, the Funbi-assisted “BMW” sounds like a record that many radio OAPs could find useful on the late nightshift but it also has the feel of something out of the 2000’s. Not a lot of songs on the radio have the rap verse / sappy R&B chorus / rap verse sequence these days, so finding a playlist that “BMW” fits right into might be a challenge. “How far” too has a broad appeal, the record begins as if SDC was about to dumb down their flow over a generic party beat. The chorus even sets up the perfect alibi for the kpalongo-hip-hop hybrid that’s about to assault your eardrums.
Streets been talking and I heard that the Camp sold out and went commercial, chappy how far? Chappy how far?
Look I just know you have to know your worth
If you can’t stop the wave, learn to surf, omo sharp sharp, omo sharp sharp
In no time, the production dims, the bass is turned up and SDC approach the record the way they know best – with bars! And bar for bar, there simply aren’t many rappers on the continent on the same level as Ghost. The fact that SDC is underrated is bad enough but the fact that Ghost isn’t widely recognised as one of the best lyricists of his generation is abominable.
That said, I liken SDC to Outkast sometimes – Big Boy is supremely talented but Andre 3000 is the guy you see on more people’s top 5 lists. The only reason you don’t see 3 Stacks on more lists is because his brilliance is often overshadowed by that of his group’s. To my mind, Tec is like Big Boy, while Ghost is Andre 3000. Andre has reached legendary status but calling Ghost the same would be taking the praise singing a decibel too high.
On “10,000 hours” though, the rapper boldly declares that, when he raps, some of the black legends – Mandela, Ghaddafi, Malcolm X, Nkrumah – speak through him. The writer Philip Guo said in order to be great at what you do, you have to have practised it for 10,000 hours. Over the years, both Ghost and Tec have definitely put in their shift. On this project though, Tec seems to have taken a step back and allowed Ghost dominate.The growly-voiced rapper uses the space masterfully, only a handful of MC’s can pull of a reference to Mr. Snuffaluffagus on a record as serious as “Love Naija”, even fewer can tell a story as engaging as “Tales of a Side Nicca”. But Tec is no spectator, on “Respect My Name”, the usually suave rapper shows his ruthless side –
This is what you get when you mix Fela with the Blueprint
Again, comparisons between Jay Z’s iconic album trilogy and that of SDC is definitely a reach but the combination of high quality hip-hop, subplotted by conscientiousness and a local, timely relevance makes Clone Wars, the series, an outstanding body of work as well. CW3 – the Recession, in particular, is definitely the best hip-hop project we listened to in 2016 and it was released on the last day of the year, no less.
Whether the mixtape will catch on in Nigeria – in ways that John Boyega being featured in the Force Awakens couldn’t do for Star Wars – is a question that only time and good promo can answer. But there’s no denying the greatness of the iconic sci-fi series or the music from the veteran hip-hop crew that has been inspired by it.