Rolling Stone takes note of prolific Nigerian rapper Blaqbonez‘s role in shaping rap’s development in the next 50 years.
In 1973, the dynamic art form of rap emerged in the bustling neighborhoods of the Bronx, USA. Over the following five decades, this genre, which has become a cornerstone of modern musical culture, has seen profound transformations and adaptations, shaping the way we understand and interact with music. While rap’s inception might have been thousands of miles away from Nigeria’s shores, its journey and impact within the country have been nothing short of remarkable.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Nigeria was introduced to hip-hop alongside its rise in the US. The song “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang inspired Nigerian youth. However, the existing popularity of highlife and fuji music made it tough for hip-hop to be taken seriously. Moreover, the notion “hip-hop is not music” and early Nigerian rappers copying American styles further impeded its acceptance.
Even when facing tough times, Nigerian hip-hop began to grow. Back in 1980, Ibrahim Salim Omari released Nigeria’s first rap single titled “I am an African,” which marked the start of Nigerian hip-hop. This cultural movement honored its origins while carving its unique path.
As global rap evolved, Nigeria produced rap icons that transcended boundaries and generations, leaving a mark on the country and the global scene. Rolling Stone magazine celebrated rap’s 50-year journey by listing 50 individuals, including rappers, producers, directors, and comedians, set to shape the next 50 years. Among them, Afrobeats star Blaqbonez stood out, a testament to his commitment and talent, solidifying his role in shaping rap’s future. His journey from a battle rapper to a versatile artist showcased resilience, leaving an indelible mark on Nigerian music history.
Blaqbonez began as a battle rapper and rose to fame by winning Terry Tha Rapman‘s Zombie competition in 2011, hinting at his future success. His artistic evolution unfolded in different eras:
- The Bad boy Blaq and Mr Bombastic eras featured his controversial style during the “Best Rapper in Africa” phase.
- The Sex Over Love Era showcased his daring take on sexual satisfaction versus love, using humor to engage listeners.
- The recent Young Preacher era highlighted his reflective side and versatility.
Despite changing styles, Blaqbonez’s authenticity remained, winning over fans and critics. His unconventional self-promotion strategies set him apart:
- For “Haba” in 2020, he flooded Twitter with the phrase “Have you streamed Haba today?” creating buzz and enthusiasm.
- During the Sex Over Love Era, he used personal skits and videos to build anticipation for his album.
- In a more recent example, the release of his two singles “Like Ice Spice” and “Bezos” resulted in Blaqbonez’s domination of Nigerian TikTok, where his sound echoed across the platform.
Recognized by the New York Times in 2019, Blaqbonez is a Nigerian and global hip-hop icon. His unique style reflects authenticity and growth, inspiring artists to navigate rap’s landscape while staying true. As rap evolves, Blaqbonez’s influence will likely continue shaping the genre worldwide.