The rap categories in the 12th edition of the Headies show long awaited progress.
One category that has caught the eye of many is the ones that cater for the rap genre.
Leading the rap pack across three categories in the 'Best Rap Single', 'Lyricist on the roll' and 'Best Rap Album', are M.I Abaga with 3 nominations and the quartet of A-Q, Erigga, Falz and Phyno bagging 2 respectively.
This year's Headies makes progress in mirroring the reality of the rap scene,
Here is a breakdown of each category;
1. BEST RAP SINGLE
1. YOU RAPPERS SHOULD FIX UP YOUR LIVES – MI
2. SOMETHING LITE – FALZ FT YCEE
3. LINK UP - PHYNO FT. BURNA BOY, M.I.
4. UP TO YOU - SDC FT FUNBI
5. ME VERSUS ME - ICE PRINCE
In October 2017, Rapper M.I heated the rap scene when he released his 'You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives' single throwing shots at rappers and stating that South African rap has taken over. The single generated a lot of responses as emcees caught feelings and recorded their own versions.
This all played into the hands of the Choc City boss and he went on to shoot a video for the hit song. 'YRSFUYL' was easily one of the most played and debated ra songs in the year under review.
Off his '27' album, Falz teams up with Ycee to deliver one of the best rap collaborations of the year. 'Something lite' is a familiar slang across social media, which the rappers jumps on in a comical way weaving his amusing lyrics in addressing trendy societal issues. Something Lite was one of the standout tracks off his commercially successful album.
Track 7 off the sophomore project, Playmaker, sees the beast from the East, Phyno team up with two of the most talented acts on the scene in Burna Boy and M.I and they duly delivered a worldie. The flow is insane as the two rappers brought their A-game and Burna provided the perfect hook to deliver a major hit tune.
Show Dem Camp had a great year with the Palm Wine Music which they have turned into a movement and 'Up To You' with Funbi was one of the songs that propelled it's success.
Just when everyone thought Ice Prince had lost it as a rapper, from his 'Jos to the world' album is this gem of a track.
While the song didn't exactly become a hit, this is one of Ice's feisty bars in a while and it deserves its place on the list.
LYRICIST ON THE ROLL
1. YOU RAPPERS SHOULD FIX UP YOUR LIVES - MI
2. POLITICAL SCIENCE - AQ
3. LIQUOR NIGHT - BOOGEY
4. INDUSTRY NITE - ERIGGA
'Lyricist on the roll' is a category that caters for the songs with the best lyrical depth. The category has been won in the past by the likes of Mode 9 and Vector.
With his fluid pidgin rap style, Erigga details happenings in the music industry and delivers a relatable and delightful story. His verses had lines like, 'My teacher tell me say na army go kill me die/ but instead na Clarence dey shoot me now'.
Not the biggest song of his Rose album but Political Science is Gilbert A-Q Bani's crossing the political lines. The song which samples former legislator Patrick Obahiagbon addresses certain issues as he states, 'Banky W keep slaying yall rappers, he should not bring it my way though, he knows/ I'll smack his RnB ass back to the keynotes'.
On Liquor Nite, Boogey brings Tay along for a drunk ride as they create magic after an hangover. He details the effects of alcohol while rapping in a mix of English and French language.
BEST RAP ALBUM
1. 27 - FALZ released in October 2017 (Standout songs: Jeje, Wehdone Sir, Bahd Baddo Baddest)
2. TRIP TO THE SOUTH – ERIGGA released in July 2017 (Standout songs: Lagos, Industry Nite)
3. EL HADJ – REMINISCE in August 2016 (Standout songs: Asalamalekun, Nobody Knows, I Remember)
4. THE PLAYMAKER – PHYNO released in November 2016 (Link Up, Pino Pino, Fada Fada)
5. THE GLORY – OLAMIDE released in December 2016 (Pepper Dem Gang, Owo Blow, Who You Epp)
6. ROSE - A-Q released in August 2016 (80s Baby, Political Science, Agu Ji Ndi Men)
One of the major controversies that lies with rap albums is how it should be judged. Should a rap album be judged on numbers and commercial impact? or on its influence on the culture and the critical part of the art?
We have seen the Headies adjust to not just appealing to rap albums which get mainstream appeal, but spread their search to those with critical acclaim and this reflects in the nominations in this category. 2017 wasn't a spectacular year for Nigerian rap, so it understandable seeing 4 albums from 2016 feature on the list.
With that said, the nominees in the rap categories of the 12th edition of the Headies are the strongest it has been in a while.