Christian Hip-Hop in Nigeria: Evolving or Losing Relevance

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You may be wondering about caption? But believe me, it’s a hard question that I think should be asked, especially since this may be the third year of having the CHH Week on Xclusive Gospel. The question I asked myself is “Has Christian Hip-hop in Nigeria made progress in these past 3 years?.

The Christian Hip-hop journey in Nigeria hasn’t always been an easy road, having experienced many era, through struggles of acceptance in the early years and the push to stay relevant. CHH in Nigeria, i would say was the first to get to a place of uncertainty, but the truth is the whole of Africa has come to a tipping point when it comes to the future of Hip-hop. Will it evolve into the now popular and accepted Afro music or will it try to keep up and maintain relevance.

I have always asked, “What is Hip-hop?” is it the beat, the culture, the rap or a state of mind. Having being associated with thumping beats, snares and hardcore lyrics, but isn’t that because the music came from a place where those were the beats associated with its particular origin. That is why CHH for a long time has been limited because we think Hip-hop as a style of beat or a hard core way of life, underground beats and deep spoken rhymes, hence we stuck to that culture while the mainstream or our secular counterparts evolved into a more accepted African or local sounds that associate with the people in our African continent. Hence CHH boxed itself for so long.

We associated Hip-hop to only be beats that sound like gangs from Compton and forget that the streets of Africa and Nigeria have a different heart beat. Maybe that is why CHH has faced huge rejection and have fought to gain relevance in Churches and Christian events, because of that sound it has yet to put out. The sound for the people of our origin, where we belong. CHH has fought this battle for so long and but why keep fighting with the wrong tools, the wrong sound. The sound is just below our feet, it is our heart beat, in our way of life. That is us.

Although, one good things that CHH artists got from being categorised as unaccepted by Churches, media stakeholders and Christian events organisers in the last five years or more in Nigeria, is that they were able to turn their attention to building online fanbases and Digital distribution. When one door closes, they say you open another. While our Nigerian gospel artists are just starting to see the importance and opportunities in building their online fanbases, digital distribution and selling their music online, they came quite late to it, some of our CHH artists have been cashing in on this huge technology already.

So, is Christian Hip-hop in Nigeria willing to evolve to a genre that has fought its way for many years to gain the recognition and attention of the world or will it continue to carry a dim torch that hardly shines a light. We are glad that the international Christian music community is catching up to the Afro genre and associating with gospel artists in Nigeria, with some of our artists leading the pace such as Limoblaze, Protek Illasheva, Giljoe, Angeloh and many more who had made Afro – Hip-hop more accessible such as Kelar Thrillz, Obarengy, Sam Jamz, and lots more. It is a whole new drift for the better for every CHH artist out there in my opinion.

The question is; are we looking at an evolution for the Hip-hop community to really gain huge relevance and acceptability through the Afro genre, or have we reached the point of extinction for Christian Hip-hop in Nigeria?

 

 

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