As I pick up my pen there is so much on my mind but I need to let it out gradually, my understanding of Robert Greene’s books has helped me to analyze issues objectively. I am the number one hip hop fan in Nigeria; I could remember when I saw Remedies’ video on TV with the duo serenading Nigeria with these lines ‘‘She is been messing around eh oh eh oh she is been sleeping around oh oh’’ ¦I was intrigued; hip hop came to mother land at last.
My stay in J. Town opened a revelation I could hardly believe when some couple of dudes I hung around with referred to the sound tracks of Richard Mofe Damijo’s Out of Bounds as J. Town material.
In the nineties when I saw a scene from the movie where Bimbo Akintola acted the role of a drug addict. It never crossed my mind that the hip hop music in the background was Nigerian. It just didn’t occur to me that there were thoroughbreds such as LD Xtra Large, Black Masqueraders, the Baron in the game.
In the early 2000, Lagos, a city known for hustle and bustle housed so many hip hop acts like never before in the history of this country. Every rapper was at ease doing rap music the best way he knew how, with Eedris Abdulkareem on the lead.
The first time I saw Eedris Abdulkareem on stage was the year 2000, himself and Eddie Montana went by the name Remedies. It was a moment to remember at Plateau Hotel Rock Garden in the city of Jos. Eedris was electrifying and I can tell the Brother hasn’t lost that skill of his because I have seen him lately.
Eedris who was the self-acclaimed king in the early 2000 was taken a shot at by a little known rapper who went by the name Ruggedman.
The underground community actually knew who Ruggedman was but the mainstream observer might not. I had heard what if a single by Ruggedman on Benson and Hedges Golden Tones Show a musical network program on radio. It was a creative piece.
After a year or two Ruggedman stepped up his creativity with a hit single Eh-hen. Ruggedman was daring, he took a swipe at the mainstream hip hop acts; never in the history of hip hop rap game in Nigeria had a Single MC dissed about seven to eight established acts with so much impunity and audacity.
A revolution began to take shape label execs marked Ruggedman as an outlaw, true heads on the street saw him as a hero. His debut album Thy Album come didn’t fail to establish Ruggedman as a rugged individual and a battle MC who put the drama surrounding his elevation in the industry into his musical tracks. Big bros. and Baraje were hip hop delights. Baraje the dance track kept Ruggedman on major shows in the country and the money kept coming in.
At this point many people thought Eedris would come up with a diss track at Ruggedman but the rapper seemed to have his eyes set on higher drama. A look at the life of the late hip hop Legend Tupac shakur, highlights the powerful nature of controversy. Mr shakur drew attention and doubled his record sales with the aid of controversy. Eedris waited for the right moment to keep his name on everyone’s lips in the shady music industry by engaging in a saga with 50 cent an American rapper billed to perform in Nigeria over a first class reservation of an aircraft. The PMAN and multi nationals in Nigeria were not mild on Eedris whose appearance on big shows will suffer subsequently.
At this point Eedris had dampened the wackness subject propelled by Ruggedman. His decision to stay off beef with Ruggedman also won him bunch of fans and admires alike as hits after hits such as Mr. lecturer and Jaga Jaga kept building his enigma.
Eedris released Letter to Mr. President another controversial move under his La cream records. As his contract with Kennis music was not renewed at a time, this might be necessary as no label exec would want to keep an artiste who was fighting against the powers that be. The powers in this context would be the multi nationals who had the money and the PMAN who was in charge of the structure.
Eedris eventually found peace outside the country a move he made to cool off the tension and probably to build his fan base outside Nigeria. At this point Ruggedman maintained the number one spot in Lagos with no opposition until the lyricist stepped on the scene.
Apart from the hip hop addicts, hardly would a casual hip hop rap lover understand that rap music goes beyond beats, rhymes and storytelling but modenine dared the consequences of low record sales by bringing wordplay, metaphors and punchlines a shade of hip hop rap that is usually applied by the purists and the rapper seemed to be crossing over, with Channel O awards, his performance at MTV Base Alert and appearances on multinational sponsored shows.
The street is watching and fans are talking, who is the best Ruggedman or Modenine. There was a reason for this development, Mode 9’s Pentium IX mixtape was certified classic by Jordan Selbo www.rapreview.com, hip hop greats such as Nas and Talib Kweli took notice of Modo when they visited Nigeria.
Modenine's efforts put a brake to the notion that a Nigerian rapper is better as an Afro hip hop act. The idea behind Afro hip hop is the use of broken English for mass appeal while mode 9 saw the watered down effect this would have on his craft so he maintained the path of a purist.
Ruggedman understands the hip hop politics he created a revolution with Eh-hen and Peace or War. His Thy Album come backed the singles up with other beautiful materials. Awards of various categories kept coming his way. Ruggedman whose game was to make money from the industry came up with a standard documentary video to establish his individuality as a rapper with a difference, his business sense saw him through the audio and video sales of his project as he never pinched a tent with any label but maintained independence under his Rugged Records.
His contemporaries and upcoming acts were never neglected as he collaborated with a bunch of them. He used his controversial figure to make money and worked on unifying warring factions through subsequent video appearances and collaboration on musical tracks.
As Ruggedman continued to build his hip hop entrepreneurship a silent war kept developing as the street kept talking about who the Naija’s hip hop finest status fits. In revisiting the subject on who is the best MC, Ruggedman came out with Ruggedy Baba, the hit track of his second album expressed the position of Ruggedman as the mainstay of the Nigerian hip hop rap and Ruggedman appeared as a king in its music video. This picture didn’t go down well with the purists in some quarters.
The entry of Eedris only presented a sort of mediation as he featured Ruggedman on a track in his The King is back album a final move Eedris needed, to put an end to the wackness subject.
Ironically as Ruggedman is needed by Eedris to put an end to the wackness subject; Mode 9 has officially reopened the subject, but this time around Ruggedman is the target.
Mode 9 is an epitome of self-help, the type of dude that would acquire a laptop instead of blings, with software that could meet his developmental needs, a book worm whose love for hip hop as an art form grows by the day, an activist that would do anything to elevate the game and its elements.
It has been rumored, speculated or announced that Ruggedman would be making his exit after the release of his forth coming album. Mode 9 has little time on his hands to correct an impression. If Ruggedman makes his exit without a challenge it might go down in the history of hip hop rap game in Nigeria that Ruggedman remains the pillar of Nigerian hip hop rap; this, Mode 9 views as a misconception.
Mode 9 wants the hip hop community in Nigeria to understand that there is more to hip hop than what some party boys (commercial rappers) keep painting. Hip hop to Mode 9 is a self-development art, a hip hop album should function as a text book with chapters that teach, address and solidify the art form.
Mode 9 did his homework I am convinced Robert Greene has been digested by this dude likewise some Sun Tzu in his bid to answer the disturbing, nagging or bugging question i.e. who is Naija’s hip hop finest. The street would not allow Ruggedman and mode 9 to rest, hence the battle is set.
The above scenario constitutes the beef, the battle. But what is beef? As a hip hop analyst I can go on nonstop in providing explanation to what a beef is but right now the Mode 9 Ruggedman’s beef from mode 9 who has taken the offensive position is that of supremacy and record sales. Before the Paradigm shift album dropped Mode 9 had left his label Question Mark. He has created Red Eye, a moniker for his franchise and invested his hard earned money on Room 9 his own studio where he will be dishing out his classics.
The paradigm shift album which is enjoying the mainstream embrace has an underground touch. How best can he create the right buzz for his latest effort, the question on supremacy will have to be answered and agitation laid to rest, time flies, secondly, the controversy this move will create would serve as its sales power.
The beef has been diagnosed; the street which is a mixture of fans, true heads, Afro heads, mass media audience and followers of popular opinion and others should comprehend the beef with this presentation. And the right attitude should be applied as we watch our hip hop scene grow in Nigeria.
Beef is part of hip hop as long as it is not abused. As an individual I enjoy the Ice Cube Cypress Hill Beef and I recommend you study that beef and how it got settled.