This was a keenly argued placement on the list. In 2010, the Nigerian rapper passed away at such a young age and at the height of fame. A few months prior, he released his critically-acclaimed and commercially successful sophomore album, C.E.O.
He didn’t do much this decade, but his impact in the Nigerian mainstream prepared the ground for rappers like Olamide and Reminisce to flourish.
9.) Show Dem Camp
8.) Jesse Jagz
Before Reminisce released ‘Kako Bi Chicken,’ he had released three singles and even featured 9ice. They performed well in Lagos neighborhoods, but didn’t crack the big time. When ‘Kako Bi Chicken’ dropped with Sarz’s ridiculous beat to support Reminisce’s rap and catchy hook, everything changed.
The next time, he dropped ‘2Mussh’ and never looked back. The same year, he dropped his debut album, The Book Of Rap Stories. After then, he released three more albums. Of all his four albums, only Baba Hafusa had some form of critical acclaim, but El-Hadjj did beat Phyno and Olamide to Best Rap Album at the 2018 Headies.
With his rap career, he has forged a reputation as a sex symbol amongst women who love his bad boy looks, street voice, seeming intelligence, eloquence and music. He also played Makanaki in 2018 movie, King of Boys.
5.) Ice Prince
Ice Prince came into the decade with a handful of features and Chocolate City. As MI Abaga rapped on ‘Head of The Family,’ a track from Illegal Music 3, Ice Prince told MI Abaga just to give him a chance. He got it and released, Everybody Loves Ice Prince,one of the best albums of the decade.
At the start of the decade, Falz was the Lawyer-turned-rapper who had just graduated from the Nigerian Law School. Heavily produced by Studio Magik, he released ‘Wazup Guy’ in 2011. That title became the title of his 2014 debut album and it housed some successful radio songs like ‘Jessica’ and ‘High Class.’
3.) MI Abaga
MI Abaga is Nigeria’s most important English speaking rapper by a country mile. All the most exciting things in Nigerian Hip-Hop somehow involve him. At the turn of the decade, MI2 and it basically made English-speaking subject to mainstream consumption. He found a way to bridge the divide between English rap and the Nigerian mainstream. With it, he had hits and things changed. Since then, he has released successful projects, Illegal Music II, Chairman, Illegal Music III, Rendezvous and A Study On Self Worth: Yxng Dxnzl. He has also won numerous awards at the Headies. You can deny it all you want, but the man is a genius.
“‘East coast n**** but I’m banging in the west…” Phyno rapped on ‘Obago (Man of The Year).’ But even he couldn’t have fathomed what was to come next. Before his debut album even dropped, it disrupted the soundscape with its own brand of commercial rap.
At helm of affairs was Major Banggz while Phyno was spat fire. If Nigeria will ever have its own brand of rap music, we have to go back to that sound or go a little forward to Young Jonh’s serial madness on ‘Awon Goons Mi’ and ‘Cause Trouble.’ Phyno was the producer-turned-swashbuckiling Igbo-speaking rapper with an avant-garde appearance. ‘Ghost Mode,’ ‘Obago,’ ‘Parcel’ and ‘Kush Music’ were mega-hits before his album dropped. When the album dropped, ‘Alobam’ became a cultural moment.
Over the past 10 years, Olamide has been the most important figure in Nigerian Hip-Hop. He has been the flagbearer and head honcho. He has created hits and stretched the boundaries of Hip-Hop in sound, style and delivery. He has won three album of the year awards at the Headies.
He has also been named artist of the year once. Every year since 2010, Olamide has had at least three hits to his name. He has not been able to successfully pivot into western markets like his peers, but in Nigeria, he has been peerless with nine albums released to his name – seven of those albums are solo.
Critical acclaim is not the problem and neither will awards. Earlier in the decade, he became a label owner. Since then, he has produced at least five highly successful acts in Nigerian music. Now that he is a veteran, he has become a King of Hooks.