The Foreign Flows of Nigerian Hip-Hop Nigeria’s Hip-Hop Problem

As military rule in Nigeria came to an end, a new generation of singers, heavily influenced by the ‘golden age of American hip-hop’ was born.

In ‘A Million’, a bonus track off his 2012 mixtape, Occupy The Throne, rapper, Modenine’s excitement verges on the explosive. Delivered with characteristic élan, the track is a quickfire memoir of a trip to Johannesburg. In it, Modenine recounts, among other experiences, a performance at which he is surrounded by ‘real heads’—a reference to an audience schooled in hip-hop—who ‘got up as he spat.’ Modenine is in his element as he fashions his travel memoir, a transgression into a narrative practice that is usually the preserve of Fuji artistes returning from trips abroad. But masked behind this joie de vivre—‘O what a feeling/hip-hop is life’—is a longing for the acceptance of hip-hop, which, back home, remains an aspiration.

The Dawn of Nigerian Hip-Hop

For much of the 1990s, Nigeria’s popular music scene was saturated with highlife, local reggae and Fuji. As the country’s long night of military dictatorship wound down, a new generation of singers arose, heavily influenced by American hip-hop of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, the so-called ‘golden age of hip-hop’ that threw up The Fugees, Naughty By Nature, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Nas, and Jay Z.

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