Music Business

NOTJUSTOK.com’s Rap List IGNITES NIGERIAN RAP WAR: GODWON v. SINZU

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There is a distinction between rapping and getting deeply personal and hurtful. It appears Notjustok.com’s ’10 Most Gifted Rappers in Nigeria’ has just ignited a Nigerian rap war like no other.

However, I think it is not quite rap but just overgrown fellas taking very personal attacks/swipes at each other. As you all know, Godwon had something to say about Sinzu not being on NJO’s rap list via twitter. Catch up here. Sinzu responded via twitter. Godwon then went into the Studio and dropped a joint called ‘Overanalyse.’

Sinzu, clearly bothered by it, returned with a rap song titled ‘Exit Strategy’ and went in on Godwon. He annihilated the fella. I listened and thought “aight.” However, when Sinzu left all he was saying and attacked Godwon as a dead beat father leaving his three kids “to suffer” to run loose in Nigeria, I thought “oh boy,” dude just took it too far and made it deeply personal.

It’s one thing for a woman to accuse a man of being a dead beat father. But, when another man looks you in the face, virtually speaking, and calls you a dead beat father, in front of the world, that’s on another level. He is outright  attacking your masculinity and your ability to protect and provide for your family. That’s deep, personal and low.

Needless to say, Godwon responded with ‘I was Waiting for You’ and boy did he go even deeper on the personal insults, and even lower than Sinzu.

I have ignored this “rap” battle but a few AML readers wanted my take on this whole rap war shenanigan. So, here is my take.

Honestly folks, rap music for me, as a kid and an adult, has always been very fascinating. I have indeed compared it to law because I believe true hip-hop is an absolute brilliant play on words that leaves the listener not only wanting more but is truly life changing.

It is beautiful story telling that translates fear, pain, agony, passion and so much more, that many would otherwise ignore if it did not come in the form it does. It is African. It has its roots in Africa and is yet another medium of expressing self.

I fell in love with hip-hop growing up because I believed it told the true story of the streets, the poor and the less privileged, one I could relate to.

A big part of hip-hop, nevertheless, has always contained immense braggadociousness i.e. loads of bragging and boasting. It is also what the whole battling form is all about. The likes of Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, KRS-One, LLCoolJ  are just a taste of some of the MCs that showed us such battle forms through their music. They showed us, among many solid MCs, that it was about who had the tightest rhymes, who had the wittiest lines etc.  These battle form is what made me run, as fast as I could, whenever I became aware there was some rap battle ongoing, in my vicinity, to take it all in. It is what made me never miss any episode of MTV Yo’ Mama when the show was on the popular music channel.

So, when NJO, a leading online music site,  puts up a list identifying who NJO thinks is the “most gifted” rapper, you best believe rap heads in Nigeria will have issues with it, and worse, fight each other. NJO’s list is essentially waking up the battle spirit that is already part of the hip-hop culture.

For me, I don’t believe Nigeria has a true hip-hop community. I believe there are a lot of wannabes serving up hip-slops and this is one of the core reasons hip-hop continues to be disrespected in Nigeria by the average Nigerian. We can’t  point to rappers with great rhythm, rhyme, wordplay and just plain amazing style and story telling.

Many of our rappers have no vision, no story, no passion. Their rhymes are as weak as someone dying from anemia and their delivery, laughable at best. There are no punchlines and what they spit is forgotten just as quickly as when they spit it. It is no wonder  many think our rappers have lost their minds. I don’t blame them.

Majority of Nigerian rappers do not have a story. They do not speak to their identities as Nigerians or Africans. They do not speak the language of the average Nigerian, Nigerian-American, British-Nigerian or any Nigerian/African, period. I believe it is indeed why when the streets see rappers who do, they hang on for dear life like rapture/the Second Coming of Jesus just happened.

The likes of Da Grin, Olamide and Phyno appear to fit the prototype/sample/blueprint of what Nigerian hip-hop, in my view, ought to look and sound like. The rap can still be in English. However, it is an unapologetic acknowledgement of your identity as an African, more specifically a Nigerian, while embracing and paying respect to the West for taking what Africa birthed through our town criers, talking drums et al. and refining it.

By the way, Rukus of Trybe Records dropped a joint on the NJO rap list thing. No disrespect Rukus but that joint didn’t even make the cut on my list so there was no way I was going to share that with anyone. Come harder, please.

Back to Sinzu and Godwon, check out the joints they dropped. I hope this doesn’t become a bloodbath and it stays in the studio. These two clearly had a falling out of sorts but I am unsure what they are doing here is rap, only because they bring their children into this.

Rap battles have nothing to do with your children. It is immature and stupid when you bring in the kids. Real men protect their children. Boys get on a joint and do ‘open ya yansh’ style and place their children in the middle for the world to see. To me, that is not a good look.

GODWON, that Storm Obi Asika line though? Ouch!

“You Couldn’t win if Ovie O was your step-dad.” Na wa o. Double Ouch!

Sinzu that line, “you can’t afford to play daddy and that’s disgraceful.” Choi! See vexing.

I wish Mr. X.O Senavoe , a brilliant lyricist, would go beyond just being brilliant and translate his work into  something more consistent for the fans and the industry that way true hip-hop fans  don’t have to suffer all these lyrical assaults.

Why would NJO put up a list when someone like X.O Senavoe exists and consistently delivers? #Jussaying

Cheers,
Uduak
Photocredit: NJO

Godwon-Sinzu

WARNING: Expletives used. Click at your own discretion.

SINZU
[audio:https://www.africamusiclaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/01-SINZU-Exit-Strategy.mp3]

GODWON – I’ve Been Waiting For You
[audio:https://www.africamusiclaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Ive-Been-Waiting-for-You_-www.africamusiclaw.com_.mp3]

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AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law website and podcast show empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

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ABOUT THE FOUNDER

Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at https://msuduak.com.

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