The great Nigerian Hip-Hop debates

Banky W (From

Publicity photo of Banky W (Coursy of

In recent blog browsing, I came across a critique and response on Nigerian hiphop that illustrates the kind of cultural dialogue I am fascinated by: an article by Reuban Abati, which seemed half satirical/half serious, seeming to blast young Nigerian musicians for not being more “respectful” of the Nation, as well as a lack of artistry, and a response by the musician Banky W, who says:

Our country has not yet given us steady electricity, adequate education, safety from armed robbers or standard healthcare, yet artistes have risen like the Roses that grow from Concrete… and these very artistes love and represent their country proudly on a global stage. This music industry has given hope, jobs and income to countless youth of today. We are Rappers, Singers, Producers, Sound Engineers, Managers, Promoters, Marketing Consultants, Record Label Owners and we will not apologize for making the best of our circumstances; and all this in spite of the fact that we have Marketers that exploit but refuse to pay for our Musical pieces, Royalties and Publishing income that hitherto has been non-existent, a Government that is just now very slowly starting to enforce anti-piracy laws, and Event Organizers that would rather pay 50 Cent One Million US Dollars than give D’banj or P-Square 5 Million Naira.

To read the entire articles, see “A Nation’s Identity Crisis” by Reuban Abati, originally published in the Guardian, June 21, 2009. (If having trouble accessing this link, it can also be found duplicated on Jeremy Weate’s Naijablog.) To see Banky W’s response  “My Response to the Recent Guardian Newspaper Article by Reuban Abati, see his blog.


2 responses to “The great Nigerian Hip-Hop debates

  1. Carmen, that is fascinating stuff ones more …

    it ties in quite interestingly with a presentation I attended at SOAS about a month ago. Caroline Mose who is writing her PhD about East African Hip-Hop was looking at some of the so-to-say battle lines Abati suggests, in particular the tension between the adaptation of a Western musical model (though the fact that is is an Afro-American rather than primarily “white” cultural form is certainly of great significance here) and regionalised/localised originality …

    equally interesting also that Adeline Masquelier’s presentation in Liverpool 2008 suggested the importance of HipHop to local Hausa youth while most of my (Muslim) Hausa friends in Nigeria seem to have preferred Hausa music of the kind more commonly used in the films … not sure to which extent this might have to do with the circles in which I moved but all immensely fascinating (and distracting from what I should be reading and writing about) …

    Wishes to Kano


  2. oh, I forgot to mention Masquelier works on Hausa youth culture in Niger rather than Nigeria … some of the arguments of youth she collected are just amazingly sharp and clever – basically: God made them a Rapper.


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