Reppin' Naija, BET Cypher 2011
2009 was the first time BET Hip-hop Awards, the American award show dedicated to hip-hop, included African rappers in the video segment section known as the Cypher. Wale is as much American as Nigerian, so it was the inclusion of Tanzanian rapper Gsan of the X-Plastaz that was truly significant, especially as he chose to rap in Swahili.
Since then the inclusion of African rappers has been done by country, Ghana in 2010, Nigeria this year.
The male contingent featured X.O Senavoe, Ice Prince, Sauce Kid, Naeto C, Modenine and M. I.. Impressed with X.O Senavoe and Sauce Kid, but M.I. was smokin! What say you?
Great platform for exposure, and by having separate vidz for African rappers it allows more rappers to get that exposure. But you've probably you've probably wondered yourself if having an "African" segment, rather than simply mixing African and American rappers, might risk presenting hip-hop from Africa as something "other", perhaps the poor or "exotic" cousin of American hip-hop, when it really isn't. The cornerstones of hip-hop remain the same, wherever the artists are from: Improvisation, verbal dexterity, word-play and rhyming to the beat.
The Nigerian femcees! Muna, Zee, Sasha, Eva and Blaise giving the guys a run for their money. For flow, hard to choose between Muna, Eva and Blaise. Loved Sasha's references, the Yoruba rhymes and her tribute to DaGrin, but overall we think Blaise edged it, don't you think?
We published a piece the other day about how music is helping to break down the barriers between different African nationalities in the diaspora, i.e. the barriers that existed because Africans from different countries didn't have anything they could share or indulge in together. But we also talked about how the DJs at the club we focussed on, the Cream Ultra Lounge in Atlanta, keep the sets short, 15 minutes urban African music, 15 minutes of Latin or urban American music, etc., 'cos playing non-stop African jam might overwhelm the mixed crowd of clubbers. In that scenario, however, the African music played probably doesn't come across as something "other" because the audience itself comprises Africans, Latinos and indigenous Americans of all shades.
But perhaps we're worrying for nothing. Maybe BET will go back to mixing the African rappers with the American ones once its audience is at least used to hearing African rappers do their thing. What do you think?
In the meantime, enjoy the clips of some of Nigeria's most gifted rappers dropping verses for this years BET Cypher.