RANKED: Show Dem Camp’s ‘Clone Wars’ franchise from great to greatest [Pulse Lists]

The ‘Clone Wars’ bar is set on a high as possibly Nigerian Hip-Hop’s greatest franchise.

RANKED: Show Dem Camp’s ‘Clone Wars’ franchise from worst to best. (TBD)

On ‘Ghost’s Rant’ Ghost rapped that, “The clone wars series are time capsules / Future Generation mementoes / With each volume / Peep the rise in crescendo…”

Clone Wars II: The Subsidy, Clone Wars 3: The Recession and Clone Wars IV: These Buhari Times represent social commentary from the perspective of the average Nigerian, crafted as bars.

On Clone Wars V: The Algorythm, Show Dem Camp mostly speaks from the perspective of older millennials about the drama around 2020.

The ‘Clone Wars’ bar is set on a high as possibly Nigeria's greatest Hip-Hop franchise. ‘Clone Wars V’ will be better than 90% of most rap albums that will drop in 2020, but it’s the second weakest ‘Clone Wars’ project.

However, some of them are better than others. This list ranks the best ‘Clone Wars’ instalments. In all honesty, this might be the hardest ranking ever in the history of Nigerian Hip-Hop because Show Dem Camp has just been that consistent at producing high-calibre quality. Not much separates these projects.

The criteria is simple; critical acclaim, enjoyability and bars. Each criteria is ranked on a unit of 5 marks and a total of 15.

Check the ranking below;

In November 2018, former Music Editor at Pulse Nigeria, Ehis Ohunyon ranked SDC’s six bodies of work and ranked CW2 at the base of that list.

Here is what he said, “Working with regular collaborators like Poe, Lucci and Yaylow, the 17-track mixtape remains one of SDC's most conscious bodies of work inspired by happenings within the country at the time.

“Stand out tracks include, 'O.D', 'Just A Melody', 'I Got That Yeah,’ ‘Ha Gawd’ 'Sweet Love', 'Word to Kobain.’”

First off, ‘The Subsidy’ was slightly too long and it could have done without three or four tracks. Secondly, the legendary Show Dem Camp were still in maturation and the depth they reveal on CW4, CW5 and the Palmwine franchise was still in formation.

Personal moments like Ghost revealing his family’s struggles with his career in music and Tec revealing that he didn’t have a father figure and had to find heroes like Chuck Norris on TV stood out.

For that time, it was a moment in Nigerian Hip-Hop, but it hasn’t aged well when you stack it up against other ‘Clone Wars ‘ projects. It also feels like they mostly documented socio-political realities from the popular perspective. The level of personality they showed on other albums in this franchise is slightly higher.

However, nostalgia will make most people in my generation blind to some of these flaws and that would be fair. Even this writer struggles with that brand of nostalgia.

In the conversation of the best Nigerian Hip-Hop albums ever, ‘The Subsidy’ will definitely be in the conversation. The SDC standard is that high. This is simply about outdoing yourself.

Critical acclaim: 3/5

Enjoyability: 3/5

Bars: 4.7/5

Total: 10.7/15

The problem is that ‘Clone Wars V’ struggles to consistently produce strong, memorable music on the level of CW4, CW2 and CW1. A lot of that is also because its tracklisting led with some imbalanced records where Tec - mostly - or Ghost outshine one another.

Thematically and by delivery, ‘Clone Wars V’ is the most realistic of all. The rest produce good music about known topics, but CW5 is more reflective and its topics aren’t as polished. They don’t just peruse topics, they go deep with scenarios like Ghost’s barbershop tales on ‘Bright Skies.’

In terms of bars and metaphors, only CW4 might outrank CW5. Show Dem Camp is on another level here. The reason for this is simple; Show Dem Camp has matured and become veterans with a myriad of things to talk about through the knowledge they’ve amassed over the past 10 years. They’re not SDC from The Dreamer Project anymore.

That’s why the bars are pristine.

Critical acclaim: 3.5/5

Enjoyability: 3.5/5

Bars: 4/5

Total: 11.3/15

While The Dreamer Project set SDC on the path to success, it only had minimal success. ‘Clone Wars Vol. 1’ was their first true classic which opened them to a wider audience beyond the ‘cool kids’ and the Hip-Hop community.

I was in my fourth year when this album dropped and my friend, Gbolahan Borokini used to say, “‘The Dreamer Project’ and ‘Clone Wars Vol. 1’ is to Show Dem Camp what ‘Infinite’ and ‘The Slim Shady LP’ is to Eminem” and it still makes perfect sense.

Both are great albums but one has greater impact on a wider audience.

Ohunyon describes the project as incorporating, “The Nigerian story into their artistic expressions, painting relatable illustrations on songs like 'Victoria Island of broken dreams', and 'Memoirs' with Lucci.”

There were also impressive moments like the interpolation of ‘Summer Breeze’ by The Isley Brothers on ‘Free My Mind.’

While it arguably lacks the gems/deep cuts on CW2 and it sees a largely formative Tec, it’s a more cohesive body of work. However, it could have done without three or four tracks as well.

Critical acclaim: 3.7/5

Enjoyability: 3.7/5

Bars: 4/5

Total: 11.7/15

Created around the infamous advent of Nigeria’s recession, CW3 is where SDC’s peak, assured run started. They were no longer just experimenting, even with the beats. Moments like the transition from Konto to Banging Hip-Hop on ‘How Far’ could have only been executed by assured MCs in their element.

Show Dem Camp also led their themes, topics, ideas and images with personal perspectives. The music is also a fine balance between ecletic production and pristine MCing. When the EP dropped, most people were simply blown away by the constantly improving and evolving duo.

The one true critique of CW3 is that it drifts in and out of its concept and supposed central theme.

Critical acclaim: 4.0/5

Enjoyability: 4.2/5

Bars: 4.3/5

Total: 12.7/15

When ‘These Buhari Times’ was named one of the best Nigerian rap albums of 2019 by Pulse Nigeria, the excerpt read, “In 2016, Buhari had only been in office for one year as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Yet, a comical skit went viral on the internet. Nigerians in the video blamed every negativity in their lives on Buhari. We laughed about it, but the Buhari administration has been that nonsensical.

In January, Nigeria’s premier rap group Show Dem Camp announced yet another project - the fourth installment in its Clone Wars franchise. Interestingly, it had a subtitle that Nigerians could resonate with. ‘These Buhari Times’ came in the thick of Nigerian frustrations with its president.

At times, that subtitle seemed an afterthought on an album that primarily shines on personal issues and introspect, but it is a great album. It’s only arguable blemish was its length.

Ladies and gentlemen, just play CW4 to feel the greatness. It will go down as one of the very greatest Nigerian rap albums of all time.

Critical acclaim: 4.7/5

Enjoyability: 4.5/5

Bars: 4.5/5

Total: 13.7/15

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