(March 15, 2019) For years, djrobblog has covered American hip-hop artists. And to my surprise, at least using the blog’s readership as an indication, there’s been no greater international response to American hip-hop than on the continent of Africa.
Thanks to the continued worldwide popularity of hip-hop, the blog’s African readership has been through the roof, especially in countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Senegal and South Africa. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the passionate commentary and the feedback readers in the Motherland have provided over the years – mostly about our hip-hop music and the blog’s coverage of it – and I hope my African brothers and sisters continue to support us for years to come.
But now it’s time to give back – to flip the script – so to speak.
This week djrobblog begins its five-part series “Ten African Rappers Americans Should Be Listening To Now,” a look at hip-hop artists that I believe should be receiving greater exposure right here in these United States.
These are artists who’ve been doing their thing for years and whose music has had a major impact in their homelands, with some of them even receiving exposure in America through BET and other U. S. outlets.
They are a group of artists who are wide-ranging, both stylistically and geographically, and who hail from countries with hip-hop scenes that are arguably as creative – maybe even more so – as those originating in the 50 states today.
I recently researched and gave several African artists a listen – upon the recommendation of a very credible source – and picked ten I thought to be worthy of getting a shout-out here. Quite frankly, I haven’t been able to stop listening to them since, particularly the second artist featured in this week’s part.
This week, I cover the first two artists – a couple of Nigerian rappers who’ve made waves in their native land for years and who should have blown up in America a long time ago. In the coming weeks, I will feature more.
Please check out this week’s first two featured artists below…and let me and others know what you think in the comments section.
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Falz – Full name is Folarin Falana (also known as Falz the Bahd Guy); Age: 28; Nigerian rapper from Lagos; Rap style: Afropop; Latest album is Moral Instruction (released January 2019); Falz is the son of renowned lawyer and activist Femi Falana and he also has a law degree.
Other noteworthy facts: Falz released a cover of Childish Gambino’s Grammy-winning, No. 1 U. S. hit, “This Is America,” entitled “This Is Nigeria” (2018). Falz’ song provided a similar take on corruption in Nigeria that Gambino’s did on the U. S. Falz even made a similar music video for his tune.
Falz, who doubles as an actor and has won or been nominated for numerous awards in his native country, including Headies awards for Best Performer, Best Rap Album (27) and Best Rap Single (“Something Light”) last year, has had some American recognition as well, including winning the BET Viewers Choice – Best New International Act Award (2016) after the release of his second album, Stories That Touch in 2015. That album featured “Soldier,” a song that has over one million streams on Spotify to date.
His fourth and latest album, Moral Instruction, was released January 15, 2019. In short, the album is 🔥 and is likely destined for more awards!
Best Tracks on Moral Instruction: “Follow Follow”; “Talk”; “Paper”
Check it out below.
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M.I Abaga – Full name is Jude Lemfani Abaga (a/k/a Mr. Incredible; Age: 37; Nigerian rapper from Jos, Plateau State; Rap style: hardcore; socially conscious; Afrobeats; Latest album is A Study Of Self Worth: Yxng Dxnzl (pronounced “Young Denzel”; released August 2018). Jude is the son of a pastor of Jukon-Nigerian descent. Since 2015, he has been the CEO of Chocolate City Records, a renowned Nigerian record label.
Other noteworthy facts: Now one of the elder statesmen of Nigerian hip-hop, M.I had been considered the “Rap Messiah” in his homeland. He was heavily influenced by American hip-hop artists like Jay-Z, DMX and Lauryn Hill. He’s been in the game for more than 15 years and is now one of the most critically acclaimed rappers in Nigeria. He’s won numerous awards for his albums and singles, including the Headies Award for Best Rap Album (The Chairman) in 2015 and Best Rap Single (“You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives”) in 2018.
Like Falz, M.I’s fourth studio album, Yxng Dxnzl, is considered one of his best, with the rapper baring his soul while reaching for a “higher realm of self-love with an understanding that perfection is a journey not a destination,” per one critic’s most favorable review.
In my own view, the music on Yxng Dxnzl is superior to that on many American hip-hop releases in recent years, from both a production standpoint as well as lyrical content and subject-matter.
Check out both the award-winning Chairman and Yxng Dxnzl below.
Best tracks on Yxng Dxnzl: “Another Thing! Do Not Be A Groupie”; “You Rappers Should…”; “I Believe In You, You Should Too, Believe In You”; “The Self Evaluation of Yxng Dxnzl”
These artists, as others, were initially recommended by my colleague and friend (and music aficionado), Ayo Ayegbusi, whom I thank for being this brother’s keeper by opening my eyes and ears to some great music. It is indeed 🔥🔥🔥🔥!
Feel free to comment on this site or on the blog’s Facebook page or other social media about these artists and let readers know what you think.
Check out Part 2 of the series, “Ten African Rappers American Hip-Hop Fans Should Hear Now.”
Peace and love,
DJRob is a freelance blogger who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter @djrobblog.
This article is dedicated to Ayo.