(March 30, 2019). For the past two weeks, djrobblog has highlighted some of the best rap artists from the Motherland who have hit big in their homelands but who’ve not had major success (yet) in the U.S.
This week we do Part 3, and it includes two of the most talented rappers their respective countries have to offer. Let’s just get right to it.
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Mode 9 – Full name is Babatunde Olusegun Adewale (popular by his stage name Modenine, also stylized as Mode Nine); Age: 43; British-Born Nigerian rapper from Osun state. Genres: Traditional Rap, Old-school hip-hop. Latest album is The Monument (released January 2019). Modenine has recorded solely for the Redeye Muzik label.
Other noteworthy facts: Long considered an intellectual, Mode Nine says he got the stage name from being able to work scientific calculators’ most complex functions during his first year in college. The Nigerian rap lord also says he was inspired by Grandmaster Flash after first hearing him in the early ‘80s.
Mode Nine, who shares a birthday with this writer (June 14), is a well-read, complex lyricist who often rhymes above other rappers’ levels. His rap style is conscious, late-80s/early-90s throwback, with no Auto-tuned singing vocals like many of today’s hip-hop stars. He’s also been critical of hip-hop in the past, particularly other Nigerian rappers or “pretenders” whom he considers not on his level. He’s under-appreciated in many mainstream hip-hop circles because he doesn’t make music for the clubs, and thus hasn’t had as much commercial success as others – even in his homeland.
What Mode Nine lacks in commercial success he has in critical acclaim. Aside from having a very loyal fan base, he has been the most recognized rapper in his country’s Headies Awards, where he’s won the Lyricist on the Roll award seven times and nine awards overall.
His eighth and latest album, The Monument, was surprise-released January 23, 2019. Check it out below, the whole album is dope!
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M.anifest – Full name is Kwame Ametepe Tsikata (also known as M Dot, M Diggidy, god MC – the latter not to be confused with the Jacksonville, FL rapper of the same name); Age: 36; Ghanaian rapper from Accra. Genres: Hiplife, Afrobeats. Latest album is Nowhere Cool (released September 2016). M.anifest records for the Singitdamnit Music label.
M.anifest is the son of a Ghanaian lawyer and academician (father), and a lawyer/pastor (mother). He is also the grandson of Joseph Hanson Kwabena Nketia, a man who was considered Africa’s premier musicologist. Nketia passed away just three weeks ago (13 March 2019) at the age of 97.
Other noteworthy facts: M.anifest is considered by many to be the current best rapper in Ghana, even over rival artist Sarkodie. This debate was stoked recently by diss raps both MCs released about the other in 2016. M.anifest’s claim to the crown was validated by his diss track, “god MC,” winning the Ghana Music Award for Hip-Hop Song of the Year in 2017. He also won the coveted Best Rapper of the Year at the 2017 awards.
Diss track aside, M.anifest mostly sticks to Afrocentric and positive themes, known for delivering strong messages to young hip-hop fans without sounding preachy.
Prior to his rap career taking off, M.anifest took up residence in Minneapolis, MN, USA, where he received his education at Macalaster College (Bachelors degree in Economics in 2005). His debut solo album, Manifestations, won critical acclaim when it was ranked by Minneapolis-St. Paul’s Star Tribune paper as one of the five best “local” albums of the year 2007. Unfortunately, that recognition did not translate to national success, a fact djrobblog would love to see change, given M.anifest’s immense talents as a rapper, producer, public speaker and teacher.
His fifth and most recent album, Nowhere Cool, was released September 8, 2016, but M.anifest has been actively releasing new singles ever since, including several that we’ve collected in a special Spotify playlist. Check it out below:
Best tracks: “Azumah Nelson Flow,” “Feels,” “Me Ne Woa,” “Nowhere Cool,” “Rich People Problems,” “Okay,” “Simple 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.