N a i j a m a n i a c

...nuts about Naija

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Language Of Hip-Hop: A Case Study Of Mode 9 (PART ONE)

 “Hip-hop is nonsense”, said an elderly Nigerian. This is the general perception of many Nigerians (especially the elderly) towards the art of hip-hop. Hip-hoppers are noise makers’ blabbing under the influence of hard substances says another elderly colleague of mine (on a radio station). They perform inaudibly on strong, up-tempo beats, dress shabbily and relate with such arrogance. Hip-hoppers are people who have refused to grow out of juvenile exuberance. They just don’t make any sense, she concluded.

Rapping on the track “Shebi Dem Say”, Pherowshuz, one of Nigeria’s wittiest hip-hopper asserted rhetorically: “Dem say rappers no dey make sense. Your ear na decoration?” Obviously, for those who do not listen carefully and consciously, hip-hop will forever remain a mystery.

Hip-hop is a genre of music; music is a genre of entertainment. Entertainment is amusement in whatever form. It includes clowning and comedy; it doesn’t necessarily have to make sense. Hip-hop in its original form however insists its musical entertainment must make sense. Encarta has it that, “Rap vocals typically emphasize lyrics and wordplay over melody and harmony, achieving interest through rhythmic complexity and variations in the timing of the lyrics. Lyric themes can be broadly categorized under three headings: those that concern human relationships, those that chronicle and often embrace the so-called ‘gangsta’ lifestyle of the inner cities, and those that address contemporary political issues or aspects of black history”. The penultimate theme however, is yet to be popular in Nigeria and the beef in the Nigerian hip-hop industry has not taken a gangster dimension yet it appears Naija hip-hoppers possess the typical Bronx style in behavioural attitude: battling lyrically not physically.

There is a popular misconception that hip-hoppers are uneducated dopeheads. Some people even believe that hip-hop is a soft option for school drop outs. Although a handful of rappers may fall into this category, most rappers, especially in the Nigerian industry which I’m very familiar with are highly educated with most of them having graduated top of their class. Over 85% of Nigerian rappers are holders of first degrees and equivalent qualifications. Some hold higher degrees while a female rapper like AfriGang’s Ezzie B is pursuing her doctorate degree in pharmacology. Some Nigerian rappers have worked on Wall Street while some are currently working with multinationals, telecoms firm and big time industries.

This piece demystifies hip-hop in a literary criticism of the works of one of the pioneers of the African Hip-Hop Movement, Babatunde “Mode 9” Olusegun.  The lyrical colossus has in his over 10 years professional career carted away back to back five golden Headie monsters in the “lyricist on the roll” category at the Nigerian hip hop awards since its inauguration in 2006 amongst a litany of other awards. His entire career span over 20 years having wrote his first rhyme in the late 80’s. He was a member of the lyrical mafia group “SWATROOT” which gave hip-hop a definition in Nigeria. Mode 9’s genius in the hip-hop art has earned him so many aliases: The Lyrical Warlord; the Lyrical Mufasa; the Black Rap Messiah; Dr. Ninestein; Nigel Benn; Samurai-IX; Malcolm IX etc. There is no gainsaying that he is the image of Naija hip-hop and disputably the number one African hip-hopper based on the continent. The choice of Mode 9 for this discourse is beyond being his number one fan, any other rapper would have been used but some are bubblegum; with one unreleased album, five released albums, two Mixtapes and numerous singles which are all on course sets him ahead as the best choice. He remains the only Naija rapper who would turn down a request to feature on another’s work if he considers such an artiste to fall below the ‘wack line’ of hip hop. As he states on one of his recent tracks which features Mo’Cheddah, Whut You Want: “...this man’s got the wack man’s allergy....”

The Encarta encyclopaedia defines hip-hop as a type of popular culture that includes rap music, dance styles, graffiti art, and fashion. The word is believed to have sprung from New York City in the 1970s, specifically from the club DJs (disc jockeys) of the era. The term according to Encarta appears in the lyrics of some of the earliest rap hits, including “Rapper’s Delight” (1979) by the Sugarhill Gang. Breakdancing became a very popular form of hip-hop dance in the 1980s. However, today the term is most commonly used as a synonym for rap music and this is the centrepiece of this discourse. Herein, all noun forms of rap and hip-hop are used interchangeably.

Lawrence “KRS One” Parker popularly referred to as The Blastmaster; The Teacher or The Philosopher who happens to be one of Mode 9’s greatest influences authoritatively defined hip-hop on his 2007 hip-hop definitive album “Hip Hop Lives”. On the track “Hip Hop Lives” KRS One gives an exclusive dissection of hip-hop. In his words: “Hip means to know, it’s a form of intelligence, to be hip is to be update(d) and relevant. Hop is a form of movement, you just can’t observe a hop, you got to hop up and do it. Hip and hop is more than music. Hip is the knowledge, hop is the movement. Hip and hop is intelligent movement...hip-hop culture is eternal...an ancient civilization is been born again...Helping oppressed people, we are unique and unequalled...holy integrated people having omniscient power, the watchman’s in the tower of hip-hop...” The art of hip-hop is a craft of lyrical dexterity. The Mode 9 style delineates this to the fullest.

Generally, hip hop is classified into hardcore, gangsta, underground, political, conscious, alternative, horrorcore, and nerdcore. Hardcore rappers are referred to as being “true to the game”. They are called underground rappers because they possess the true ideals of hip-hop which includes social consciousness and liberation of the ghettos, from which most of them emerge. More so, why they are called underground is because they are not very popular. Commercial rappers are referred to as those doing rap for the sake of paying bills: Commercial rappers water down the content of their rap verses so that it is easily related to: because, it is understood by most people, they remain very popular rocking clubs and out of this they get invitations to shows which bring in the most coveted bills. However, my study reveals that some rappers who are referred to as commercial overtime have also remained “true to the game”. This category of rappers I am tempted to refer to as hardcore commercial rappers. Another classification is gangsta rap. Gangsta rap could be hardcore or a mixed breed of both hardcore and commercial but not only commercial. Gangsta rappers emphasize and promote violence: they do not exist in Nigerian hip-hop.

In understanding the language of hip-hop, one must possess a strong appetite of literary appreciation and also an encyclopaedic knowledge to entirely grasp the theme of a track. Sometimes, the reason for recording a hip-hop piece may just be found in a single line. For short, every word in an outstanding lyrical hop-hop piece counts. To understand a particular hip-hoppers craft, one would need to understand the vernacular of the hip-hoppers region or area. For instance, a listener who does not understand Nigerian pidgin would not understand the track “Na Beans?” by Terry Tha Rapman. Because one needs to understand what the phrase means. The question, “Na Beans?” in Nigerian vernacular simply means “is it easy?” More so, this point is further lucidly buttressed on Mode 9’s track “Spectacular” when he asserts: “...you only pass the Courvoisier walking by the bar not passing the Courvoisier...” Now, there are two distinctive dialects on the above line though the phrases are the same. As Mode 9 asks: “...English or vernacular?” In English language, if you pass a Courvoisier it means you move past it but in Nigerian vernacular, if you pass the Courvoisier, you hand it over to someone.

A hip-hop track like any other typical music piece is written in verses or stanzas, a chorus and sometimes a bridge. Some are written in freestyle formats: This means, the former format is jettisoned. Usually, in a freestyle format, a rapper’s delivery is unscripted. Freestyles are a sort of an intelligence measure of a rapper and the art. On a rap album, it is common to find skits. Most skits are comic reliefs. However, some skits are very meaningful and as they serve as an intro to a following track or a descant to a previous track. Sometimes, a hip-hop album may contain an intro and outro which could introduce the album, or summarize it or serve as comic reliefs.

Besides, hip-hop is poetry in motion and like poetry it widens a listener’s mental horizon, nourishes and refines feelings and emotions. A good hip-hop piece is capable of moving the listener deeply by vibrating some notes or plucking a chord on the listener’s emotional and spiritual being. It brings to the listener, knowledge and inspiration, arousing feelings of mental and spiritual well-being. It easily catapults a listener’s psyche from one end to the other psychologically. Unlike sex, you keep on enjoying a hip-hop hit years after its release as its intelligent punchlines leave an indelible graffito on your mind.

Just like poetry, the language used in a piece may be difficult to understand because a hip-hopper is a wordsmith. The difficulty in understanding a piece or otherwise is a scale for measuring the intelligence of a rapper (and a listener): this has been proven by how often the listener has to replay a track to grasp the entire meaning. A rapper just as a poet, possesses a poetic licence but maximizes its usage more than a poet. This is one aspect which gives a listener much pleasure and enjoyment as it provides the vision of things not as they are but as they ought to be and this is where the pleasure lies.

Part 2 coming soon. (Proofreaders: Judy Sambe & Chioma Iwunze)

Friday, July 30, 2010


Recently, I received a very interesting mail and I thought it wise to share with you. Here below is the mail sent from: musa.ibrahim.027@msn.com and it reads:

Dear Friend,

                                          Greeting to you and your entire family!!!!!!!!!

I am Musa Ibrahim, a banker with the above mentioned bank in Ouagadougou Burkina Faso in West Africa, holding the post of the Audit & Accounts dept. On January, 31, 2004, one Dr. Mujeeb Islam Ahmed, a Lebanese National, An Astute Business man of international repute, a contract with ecowas country, whose endeavors spans various areas of Business interest, (Real estate, contract and Farming .etc) made a numbered time (Fixed) Deposit, valued at $15.8M (Fifteen Million Eight Hundred Thousand United State Dollars) for twelve calendar months in my Bank Branch.

Upon Maturity, we sent a routine notification to his forwarding address but got no reply. After a month, we sent a reminder and finally we discovered from his company that Late Dr. Mujeeb Islam Ahmed. died on a plan crash with his entire family on January, 31 2004. After further investigation, it was discovered that he died without making a WILL and all attempts to trace his next of kin proved fruitless. On further investigation, it was discovered that Late Dr. Mujeeb Islam Ahmed, did not declare any next of kin or relatives in all his official documents, including his Bank Deposit paper work here in our Bank. The total sum, $15.8M is still in my bank and the interest is being rolled over with the principal sum at the end of each year. All efforts to trace and locate his next of kin proved abortive.

In accordance with the country's banking laws and constitution guiding this banking institution stated that  after  the expiration of 5 years, if no body or person comes for the claim as the next of kin , such  money will be revert to the Burkina Faso government  treasury if nobody applies as the next of Kin to claim of the fund. Consequently, It is upon this respect, I seek to present you as a foreign partner to stand in as the next of kin to the late Dr. Mujeeb Islam Ahmed, since no one will come up for the claim.

Upon acceptance of this proposal, I shall send to you by mail the ADB Bank "Next Of Kin Payment Application Text Form" as well as detailed information on how this business would be carried out. And you will be in position of 40%after the deal is done, I guarantee that this will be executed under legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law, as I will use my position in the Bank's here to perfect this business transaction & secure Approvals and guarantee the successful execution of this transaction.

Please be informed that your utmost confidentiality is required. If this interests you, I want to remind you of the confidentiality of this Transaction at hand whatever your decision is. I await your urgent response and fill those question below to enable us proceed this business onward.

Your Full Name.............................
Your Sex........................................
Your Age........................................
Your Country.................................
Your Passport Or Photo.................
Your Occupation............................
Your Personal Mobile Number.......

As soon as i receive your positive respond i will send you the text of application which you will use to apply in my bank as next of kin.

Musa Ibrahim
Tel:+226-75 34 12 94.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cleaning The Web

A villager just logged on to the internet. I’m told with the internet, the world is a global village, thus everyone online is a villager. Little wonder the things people do online: walk into a cyber cafe or look around if you’re in a cafe reading this piece then you’ll be amazed at what some 80% of your fellow online villagers are doing right now.

Someone is logged in to Facebook whom you might probably help with this piece of advice: please, why not face your books or do something more reasonable? Time na money, you haven’t heard? Mike Okri has been singing it since the 1970’s. Most Facebook users don’t even know what it means to poke. They think it means lovemaking so they poke photogenic users with sexy profile pictures. Some Facebook fellows have over a thousand friends with just two followers. I don’t even know what advice to give them, guess they sent fiend requests instead of friend requests: the edit friends’ option might be the right decision. Some Facebook users change relationship status like panties - an indication they will end up polygamous or never see the dusk of a stable marriage. I’m making plans on contacting Mark Zuckerberg so that soon, Facebook will have a Sex Hormone Metre which will aid such people to put their hormones under check.

The next gypsy over there is logged in to Badoo searching for e-love. WYSI(N)WYG, you’ll both masturbate and fondle yourselves to utter discomfort. Such a sorry situation! Some feeble-minded men even get duped by very sexy smart female ‘Badoos’, they never get to meet them or see anything above their knees let alone catch a glimpse of the bushy junction which they so lustfully desire out of sight.

Some Twitters are parrots, good comedians. Talent dey waste! The Ali Baba business would profit them if they were to commercialize this talent. My very good friend calls people who always chat, ‘chatters’. Monkeys chatter and to chatter means to converse about unimportant things. So, between twitters and chatters, choose ye this day, whom ye shall be.

Yahoo! You have a new spam mail: some Yahoo-Yahoo yahoo online villager just sent you a scam mail. These Yahoo-Yahoo online villagers are smarter than Gates; they chill out online a whole day feeding on cookies conning their cookie so they can’t be trailed. Time up! No beef, Newsflash: the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) just beefed-up their security tracking systems. Advice: log out before the eagle eye sights you and hands you over to the men in black. Reciting Ave Maria in a Black Maria would be too late.

Some passwords are too weak, please toggle them. Some security checks are meant to protect your interest, please abide by the instructions. Some sites are x-rated, the controls are necessary. Some rude blog comments are posted by e-thugs: paper tigers, they can’t hurt a fly. Some malwares are dangerous; they’ll crash your ‘system’, trash your invaluable works and although a current and regularly updated anti-virus will cost some cash, save the crash. Some users never find what they’re looking for on Google, they need goggles. Some Uniform Resource Locator’s (URL) are notjustok(.com), they define their course. Some websites do not include Nigeria in their list of countries: it’s either the web owners have a low IQ and are scared Nigerians will outsmart them or need to peruse a copy of an encyclopaedia of nations.
Some online villagers are following the naijamaniac’s blog blindly. They’ll never see a piece of sense in any piece.

The web is filthy. Just cleaning up the cobwebs.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Attempted Forestalment of Immunization In Damaturu

On Monday, June 21 2010, a group of youths attempted to forestall the immunization of children against childhood killer diseases in Damaturu, Yobe State. The youths who fought the immunization officers trying to prevent them from immunizing their younger ones also destroyed a good quantity of the vaccines in the process.

We are happy however, that the Nigerian Police Force was up to the task and forestalled what would have been a full blown crisis perhaps between Christians and Muslims as it is always the case.

The Emir of Damaturu, Alhaji Shehu Hashim Ibn Umar El-Kanami in a swift reaction sued for peace and called on all Muslims to bring out their wards to be immunized as he is convinced that the vaccines are safe and will ensure the survival of children.

It will be recalled that a few years ago, a similar incident was witnessed in Kano where children were denied immunization for no just reason.

Last year, the richest man in the world, Mr. Bill Gates visited Nigeria. Bill Gates through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had joined the crusade against polio in Nigeria by supporting it financially. On his visit to the country recently, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) recounted that through the efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in conjunction with other Non-Governmental Organisations and the government; only three cases were witnessed in the country out of the 288 cases of polio cases witnessed last year. Kano State which had hitherto been the centre of polio in the country has not witnessed a single case in the last 17 months. This goes a long way to prove the potency of vaccines administered in the country.

It is disheartening that healthy youths who benefitted from these vaccinations while they where young instead of using their energies to campaign for the vaccination of their younger ones to also grow healthily turn around to put them at the risk of contacting some of these incurable diseases.

Our youths must resist been influenced by desperate politicians seeking selfish gains to the negation of life. Immunization against child killer diseases is a worldwide practice.

All vaccines used in the country are certified by the relevant government agencies like the Ministry of Health and National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). These institutions comprise both Christians and Muslims. It will be wrong for a group of people to assume that impotent or rather poisonous vaccines will be channelled to a particular group of people for suspicious reasons that cannot be ascertained. Moreover, there is no state in the federation that is inhabited by a single religion.

Nigeria is amongst the few countries in the world that have high infant mortality rate with 94 deaths per 1000 live births.

All hands must be on deck to ensure that this record is overturned.

The youths who were arrested must be interrogated and brought to book alongside their instigators or sponsors.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Amusing Naija Snacks

Unless one is born again, one cannot enter the kingdom of God. The Holy Bible further reveals that to be born again, one must be baptised by water and the Holy Spirit. This includes anointment in some Christian doctrines.

It may surprise you to know that for some typical Naija snacks to be consumed, they first must be baptised or anointed.

This afternoon, I witnessed an amazing incident where a young man performed the spiritual rite of anointing a snack before consumption at a roadside kiosk in my neighbourhood.

The young man who was obviously at work in a nearby construction site, tiredly walked to the kiosk in his ragged piece of dirty white shirt and brown colour three quarter trouser. He picked up a big loaf of bread, held it in his left hand, requested for a chilled bottle of coke, popped it open with his teeth, and said a short grace before meal before sipping a pint. He dragged out a stool from beneath a nearby table with the loaf of bread in his left hand and sat down.

Keeping the bottle of coke between his legs on the ground, the hungry young man without loosening the bread from the polythene bag held the big loaf of bread in both palms and halved it. He looked around and kept the piece in his right hand on a leaf beside the stool.

Turning his attention to the half in his left hand, he created a little opening in the middle of the bread with his thumbs while holding it with his nine fingers. He picked his bottle of coke and anointed it before biting off a hunk of the bread and munching on. He looked up, caught me smiling and murmured discreetly in a language I couldn’t comprehend while shaking his head and I replied; enjoy!

In Nigeria, depending on which part of the country, there are different types of snacks patronized especially by the lower class although a few persons of the high class strata also consume such having imbibed it while growing up from lower backgrounds.

If you are in the Northern part of the country, chilled Zobo or Kunu with Bons may just be the right therapy for cooling out after trekking or perhaps after lectures on a hot sunny afternoon.

At work in the South-South region of the country, cucumber and groundnuts could just do a good job helping you out with your work while you munch. Banana and groundnut can be an accepted substitute just in case you don’t enjoy cucumber or can’t find it around.

You can also have fun chewing biscuits and groundnuts while sipping on a bottle of coke. I tell you its so much fun especially if you’re cracking a crackers biscuit and freshly fried groundnuts well prepared with the right quantity of salt.

Bread and coconut could simply pass for a driver while on a journey. It does not obstruct driving. Just keep your loaf of bread and coconut on top of your dashboard. Pick one at the time and munch with either of your hands while looking straight ahead. A bottle of water will push it down, no sweat. Now you’re heading from Lagos to Sokoto and you will arrive in time.

I thought Guguru (locally prepared popcorn) was out of existence until I got to Akwa Ibom State. Is your pocket holed? Guguru and groundnuts is just the perfect snack to keep you on a balanced diet of 1-0-1.

Garri is the most popular. With Garri you have nothing to worry. Perfect snack: Good for people working in fields and construction sites. With high contents of carbohydrate, you are guaranteed enough energy to get back to work. Garri and milk or groundnuts are the widely accepted combinations. Recently I have been thinking of how Garri and milk or groundnut or even any other combination can be packaged in disposable cups and sold, so it can be consumed on the go. This, I think is an unexplored business idea. Imagine walking into MacDonald’s or Walmart and picking up a cup of Dangote Cflakes. Made in Naija for real.

The Deposed Monarch

The Deji of Akure, Oba Oluwadare Adepoju Adesina (Osupa III) was recently deposed by the Ondo State Executive Council.

Oba Adepoju was found guilty of assaulting one of his wives. The decision to depose him was arrived at after he answered a query issued to him by the state council of chiefs.

It is very embarrassing that a monarch who should be the judge of his people in domestic affairs was engaged in such a show of shame by assaulting his defenceless wife on the streets.

Adepoju’s challenging of the state government at an Akure High Court only show how recalcitrant and remorseless he is and further justifies the decision of the state government.

The decision of the state government to depose him must be commended. It reflects some tenants of democracy: the rule of law, equality before the law, fundamental human rights and supremacy of the law.

For men who still believe that paying the dowry of a woman makes her a material property to be used as a punching bag, the battle line have been drawn. The women who have cried foul for so long a time against similar acts can now sigh with relief.

This singular act shows that the state supersedes the marriage institution. Senator Yerima must know this fact.

As we approach the 2011 elections, Nigerians expect that traditional rulers who allow politicians to use their palaces as election rigging grounds will desist. A repeat of this immoral act as witnessed in the 2003 and 2007 elections must not hold. If this happens, the full dignity of some of our traditional rulers will be restored. Our traditional institutions must be sanctified.

The ongoing constitutional amendment should also include roles for our traditional rulers. The recommendations of the presidential committee on the review of the 1999 constitution as submitted in February 2001 will suffice.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Strength of a Mosquito

A mosquito can be stronger than a human being. Doubt it? Ask Bem Max. Barely four days of publishing this blog with the mission of uploading materials on a daily basis, had I got my vision blurred by acute malaria. I was so sick to a point I became a ‘drug addict’.

While on my sick bed, all I could think of was how disappointed you would be after spurring your reading appetite. I appreciate your followership and will live up to expectations.

Today, I woke up hale and hearty. Hopefully, new write ups will be posted before the day runs out.

The vision is now brighter than a laser beam.

Remember to use your insecticide treated mosquito nets, so you do not get hit by the 50kg punch of a weightless insect.

Thank you for your understanding.