It will not be far-fetched if I say the above dialogue has taken place in the homes of the few brave enough to tell their parents they want to be rappers. Survey interviews after interviews of today’s musicians and you will see almost a unanimous consensus that their parents were unhappy and not proud of them venturing into music or even other creative fields. For many, it was not until they gained nationwide recognition and started making money that their parents finally embraced their music careers. This has been the story that media personalities like myself have heard over and over again.
So, obviously I gotta ask, “Am I missing something?” If so, please somebody enlighten me. I gladly welcome it. Don Jazzy was recently interviewed by Hip-hop World Magazine. The full context of the interview is not provided. But apparently, as reported across twitter and numerous blogs in the last 24hours, a fellow artist and a contributor to the aforementioned publication, Terry Tha Rapman, took to twitter and was very vexed over statements Don Jazzy made in his interview about Nigerian parents not being proud of their kids who rap. You get to read the excerpts that have been quoted all over the internet. Don Jazzy has also subsequently apologized to the artist in a statement where he tried to clarify what he meant.
It is Don Jazzy’s prerogative to apologize as he feels that is what best suits him. But, after reading all of these, I keep wondering, “what exactly is there to apologize about?” A factual statement about how most Nigerian parents view a career as a rap artist does not make the statement false or wrong, even if the whole music industry is pissed off about the statement. Nigerian parents, in general and overwhelmingly, are not thrilled, much less proud when their children state they want to be rappers. They act like many have even committed a crime when they say they want to be musicians much less rappers, almost like they have failed at something.
You are either a doctor, lawyer or engineer. The creative industry in Nigeria is barely taking wings and when you compare Nigeria’s creative industries with America’s, it is full of ex-engineers, ex-healthcare professionals, ex-lawyers and ex-financiers who got a degree because their parents said so and now, have the independence to pursue their dreams.
Have you attended a Nigerian party comprising of a good size of Nigerian parents and young people lately? Even in 2012, have you noticed what happens when a hip-hop song comes on? Overwhelmingly, among adults, it becomes talks about the evisceration of the Nigerian cultural identity among Nigerian youths. Often these adults lament and ask that the DJ “turn off that rubbish and play real music.”
Has Terry Tha Rapman forgotten the opinion piece the current Special Adviser on Media & Publicity to the President wrote in 2009? Recall Reuben Abati wrote in 2009 an article titled “A Nation’s Identity Crisis?” He blamed Nigeria’s hip-hop musicians for a perceived erosion of the identity of Nigerian culture. Abati is now in a significant role in the current administration. Further, lest you be dismissive of Abati, his views are shared by many Nigerian parents today. In addition, Lest Terry Tha Rap man forgot, let me remind him with a few excerpts from that article:
You may not have noticed it: Nigeria is suffering from an identity crisis imposed on it in part by an emergent generation of irreverent and creative young Nigerians who are revising old norms and patterns. And for me nothing demonstrates this more frontally than the gradual change of the name of the country. . .
Music is about sense, sound, shape and skills. But there is an on-going deficit in all other aspects except sound. So much sound is being produced in Nigeria, but there is very little sense, shape and skills. They call it hip-hop. They try to imitate Western hip pop stars. They even dress like them. The boys don’t wear trousers on their waists: the new thing is called “sagging”, somewhere below the waist it looks as if the trouser is about to fall off. The women are struggling to expose strategic flesh as Janet Jackson once did. The boys and the girls are cloaked in outlandish jewellery and their prime heroes are Ja-Rule, Lil’Wayne, Fat Joe, P. Diddy, 50 Cents, Ronz Brown, Chris Brown, Sean Kingston, Nas, Juelz Santana, Akon, Young Jeezy, Mike Jones, T-Pain, F.L.O-RIDA, Will.I.am, Beyonce, Rihanna, Ciara, Keri Hilson, Jay-Z, Ace hood, Rick Ross, Birdman, Busta Rhymes, Cassidy, Chamillionaire, Soulja Boy, Young Joc, Kanye West, R. Kelly, Kevin Rudolph, T.I.P-king of the South, Ludacris, Plies-The real goon, The Game, Young Rox, Flow killa, Osmosis (2 sick), Flow-ssik, Raprince, Bionic, Fabulous, Jadakiss, Nas, Swiss Beatz, Dj Khaled, Maze, Yung Buck, Maino, MoBB Deep, Lloyd Banks, Olivia, Lady Gaga… Well, God Almighty, we are in your hands.
And so the most impactful musicians in Nigeria today, the ones who rule the party include the following: D’Banj, MI, Mode Nine, Sauce kid, Naeto C, Sasha, Ikechukwu, 9ice, Bouqui, Mo’cheddah, Teeto, P-square, Don-jazzy, Wande Coal, 2-face, Faze, Black Face, Dr. Sid, D’prince, K-Switch, Timaya, Dj-Zeez, Dj Neptune, Banky w., Big bamo, Art quake, Bigiano, Durella, Eldee, Kelly Hansome, Lord of Ajasa, M.P., Terry tha rapman, Weird MC, Y.Q., Da grin, kel, Roof-top Mcs, Pype, Niga Raw, Ghetto p., Kaka, Kaha, Terry G, Ill Bliss, Zulezoo, Pipe, Dj Jimmy jatt, X-project, Konga, Gino, Morachi… Well, the Lord is God. These are Nigerian children who were given proper names by their parents. Ikechukwu bears his real name. But who are these other ones who have since abandoned their proper names? For example, 9ice’s real name is Abolore Akande, (what a fine name!), Tu face (Innocent Idibia), Sauce Kid (Babalola Falemi), D’Banj (Dapo Oyebanjo), Banky w. (Bankole Willington), P-Square (Peter and Paul), MI (Jude Abaga), Timaya (Enetimi Alfred Odom), Sasha (Yetunde Alabi), Weird MC (Adesola Idowu). But why such strange names? They don’t sing. They rap. Most of them don’t play instruments, they use synthetic piano. . .
At public functions, they mime. They are not artists, they perform. They are not necessarily composers, they dance. The more terrible ones can’t even sing a correct musical note. They talk. And they are all businessmen and women. They are more interested in commerce and self-advertisement, name recognition, brand extension and memory recall! They want a name that sells, not some culturally conditioned name that is tied down to culture and geography. But the strange thing is that they are so successful. Nollywood has projected Nigeria, the next big revelations are in hip hop. . . “
Banky W saved the day with a beautiful comeback and reminded Abati that the industry is full of professionals and we are no less intelligent or morally corrupt just because we like, create, publicize or listen to rap music.
I LOVE rap music. If I wasn’t a lawyer and could have the patience to learn how to rap, I would pursue a full-time professional career in the music industry as a rapper. Rappers are brilliant people, geniuses if you ask me. Exhibits of hip-hop musicians in my book are: The Late Da Grin (RIP), Sarkodie, XO Senavoe, Blitz the Ambassador, Ill Bliss, Modenine, Fr3Style, M.I, M.anifest, Lecrae, among some really talented artists out there. Often, where I have been at upscale/posh events within and outside corporate America where people seem to be in awe of my doctorate degree in law and me as a person, when the question of favorite music is discussed and I respond with “rap,” they visibly squirm, exchange glances that seem to say, “I can’t believe she just said that.”
In my head I am thinking, “please. Like, whatever. I am not going to mention any other genre of music just to fit in.” I love rap and I consider it to be the most closely aligned with law, my passion. It is all play on words and may the best wordsmith win or rise to the top “like condiments.” Sowwy folks, had to use X.O Senavoe’s line on the condiments part. Lol!
On a more serious tone/note, also, in counseling and working with youths, I have had parents, particularly black parents, tell me they were disappointed because their child wanted to become a rapper. There was a time it seemed that every young black boy I ran into wanted to be a rapper. The parents always seemed apologetic and wonder why their child had no ambition. They didn’t say, “I am proud of my child. He wants to be a rapper.” They wanted help from me to motivate their children.
Are these parents not aware of Russell Simmons, Jay-Z, 50cent, Eminem and other successful rappers? They are. But, they are not proud that for the most part, their child will be rapping with songs that degrade black women and women in general just so they can earn a living. They associate rap with adding to the further assassination of the black community, black culture and the humiliation of their black daughters and women with its inevitable “niggas, bitches, hoes etc. ” laced throughout most rap songs. They are not proud, despite the success of rap moguls, about a rap culture that they believe glorifies guns, violence, drugs and puts gang banging and gang wars as the definition of what family is all about.
When they bring their kids to me and ask me to please advice them, they say, “motivate him to be a lawyer like you.” I usually tell them I can’t do that. I love rap music. What I can do is discuss with their children that the child needs a rap education and the “bitches and hoes and niggas” will not cut it.
To be the best, they have to understand the business of music because they need to know how to keep the monies they intend to earn from rapping. This means they need to stay in school and get an education. I can tell them how the law collides with rap music, I can discuss the substantive aspects of rap and the need to be great with words which requires studying English and learning how to use words from similes to metaphors in a compelling way, among other topics. But, I cannot tell their children not to pursue rap if it is indeed their passions.
If American parents are not proud to proclaim that their children want to be rappers, how are our Nigerian and/or African parents with a completely different culture, langauge, music and history expected to be “proud” or “very proud” of their children who all of a sudden want to be rappers? Let’s call a spade a spade and not be overly sensitive within the music industry on something that simply is what it is. Since when did Nigerians become politically correct people?
Crucifying Don Jazzy for calling it as it is, is not the answer. Using this opportunity to educate our parents is what we should be doing. Don Jazzy’s analogy of McDonald in his statement quoted below makes total sense. His advice providing information about the formula that works for him makes even further sense.
There are not many rappers in Nigeria that have been very successful. Yes, we have M.I, Naeto C, eLDee and a few others but for the most part, majority of what is going on is noise with no real tangible dollars and cents to prove a track record of success. Our successful musicians include Asa, P-Square, D’Banj and the list goes on. They all do not rap.
Also, how long have many of our rappers been in the music game? What have they got to show for it when compared to artists in other genres? They hustle, sometimes twice as hard, and even with support, they still have a hard time connecting and having sustained long term income from their Nigerian fans. Millions of Nigerians will buy a Flavour, Terry G, J-Martins, P-Square etc. album and songs before they do a Terry G rap album. Why? Not because Terry G cannot be great as a rap artist. It is because they don’t resonate with rap music as much.
At the end of the day, many rap artists are finally tuning into their Nigerian demographic and realizing the way forward is a fusion of rap and Nigeria’s unique sound. It is why, as Don Jazzy correctly points out, Sinzu is on top of the world with Carolina ( I love this song die), Davido and Naeto C’s ‘Back When’ was a hit, M.I’s Number 1 was a double hit (I love this song die) and many more hits continue to emerge from rappers and more solid recognitions.
As Don Jazzy correctly points out, it is why the aforementioned have expanded their reach to include the demographic that includes our parents and their age group.
Being offended because Don Jazzy, in my view, called it what it is, is sort of energy misdirected on educating our parents and letting them know, not everyone has to be a lawyer (although I think we need a lot more Nigerian lawyers in the USA, our communities are suffering silently), doctor or engineer.
By the way, as Nigerian rappers start incorporating more use of “niggas, hoes and bitches” in their songs and also sing about smoking marijuana (Wizkid, what was that?), I doubt our Nigerian parents will proclaim they are proud of their rapper sons and daughters, especially if they know the meaning of what is being said. I think they will be appalled.
If you disagree with me, I want to hear from you so please feel free to drop your dissenting opinions in my comment section or email me ([email protected]), help me see things from a different angle, abeg.
NOTE: The only apology I think may be needed is his comment on Modenine. It would have been enough to just say, “I respect his work. He is talented” and leave it at that.
Don Jazzy’s Quotes from HHW Magazine
‘If you decide that you want to do rap, there is one thing that you should put at the back of your mind; you parents are not proud of you whether you like it or not … I think Modenine is a very good rapper but I’m not a big fan of his music because that’s like the old school of rap. I really can’t understand, I can’t take dictionary and be listening to your lyrics, I’m sorry … You can’t expect to go to Ajegunle and you put McDonalds on one side and ‘Mama Put’ on the other side and expect the McDonalds to sell more than ‘Mama Put’ that more people can relate to”.
Terry Tha Rapman
“Just read wat @DONJAZZY said about rappers and rap music,with all due respect datz just WRONG! Its a diss 2 us rappers tho. #BANS‘ If you decide dat u want 2 do rap,there is 1 thing u shld put at d bk of ur mind,ur parents r not proud of u’ @DONJAZZY (Haba!), tweeted Terry That Rapman”
Don Jazzy’s Apology to Terry
My bro I am so sorry about what i said. Pls do not take it the wrong way. i would do my best to explain wot exactly i meant Sir.
I like rap. I wish I could rap but unfortunately i can’t. That aside what i mean’t was simply the fact that i don’t know any Nigerian parent above 40 that can recite our rap word for word. That would be something. If there are hip fathers and mothers in Nigeria i don’t think they would be more than 5% of parents.
Our parents love to dance and sing along to songs that they like and brag to there friends that their son is the one singing. You can only imagine how upset they would be inside if them and their friends don’t understand or can’t rap along with their loved son.
Ok i apologize for using the words “not proud of” ‘cos you could say a parent is proud of a child that is a surgeon and can brag to his or her friends about that doesn’t mean that the parent can join the son to carry out a major operation on a patient. Doctor Sid for instance used to be a rapper (and yes i know he was not the best at it). His father used to hate that he was a musician. I personally think he was just frustrated ‘cos he didn’t understand the kind of music he was doing.
Today his father is a true believer since he could sing “Something about you” to his wife. Davido’s father didn’t like his music until he heard “Da mi duro”. Obviously he can join his friends to sing along to the song and be proud about the moment. I have had this discussion with some of my rapper friends too – M.I can tell u that his biggest song today should be African Rapper, Jesse jags – Wetin dey, Ice Prince – Oleku, Saucekid – Undergee or Carolina, Mode nine – Cry. And all this songs are big and widely accepted ‘cos of the sweet melodies on the chorus, meaning more kids and adults alike can sing along. I might be wrong but i have succeeded in this game by knowing the market i’m selling to.
I think i just speak the truth too much sometimes and it gets me in trouble ‘cos i like to be real to myself and everyone around me. That’s one of the reasons why i don’t like granting interviews.
To those that feel offended by my statement, i am sincerely sorry. I definitely wish us all well. No bad belle or bad blood towards anyone. I do hope i have been able to explain how i mean’t what i said sha na there the english wey i know reach. Thanks
The kind of songs Nigerian parents would be proud of from rappers
The kind of songs they would say, “rapper ko, musician ni.”