The competitive nature of rap makes it one that places premium more on lyrics than any other element that makes up the song.
It is also the reason why the culture has thrived on rap battles and beef songs like ‘Ether’ and ‘Death Blow.’ It simply brings out the best in the emcee.
2018 will be celebrated as the year where the rap discussions actually led to more projects getting delivered.
From M.I‘s contributions on three projects released in three weeks to the likes of Modenine, Boogey, Paybac and Terry Tha Rapman releasing multiple projects within the calendar year, there was a lot to talk about this year and of course plenty to curate, not to mention the recurring conversations on SA and Nigerian rap.
While a number of veteran rappers proved that they still got game, a host of new ones boldly took a shot at the crown and through it all, here are the 10 best rap verses that the Nigerian rap scene offered in 2018.
Boogey – ‘Diplomatic Immunity Level VI’
Dope line: ”You lose to every warrior when you are too cavalier/ toughen up, I know I’m a threat to such and such, you suckers suck, your luck is up… Don’t tell me no rappers in Naija, even if we are only five alive, we’ll still have some juice in us”
Over Drake‘s ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ instrumental, Boogey brought out the ‘hyena’ in him as he makes a list of his top five favorite rappers and expresses a few thoughts about their contribution to the game.
From a lethal delivery to sneak disses and witty punchlines, this was the next in line taking the battle to those who sat at the legacy table of hip-hop in Nigeria.
Ghost – ‘Garden’
Dope line: ”When dealing with affairs of the heart, you need finessing/ cos everybody got old wounds that need some dressing/ when it feels too good to be true, reassess it/ life moves fast, but taking things slow could be refreshing.”
This is Ghost in his grown man bars mode. On ‘Garden’ off the ”Palmwine Music 2” project featuring Falana, Ghost is talking love in a cryptic form, the elder statesman passing out words of advice and this is as good as it can get.
A-Q – ‘Gang Gang’
Dope line: ”Six accounts no catfish… Three companies, I’m CE (O), best album two years in a row, Y’all should check out my CV…”
Off the critically acclaimed joint project by Loose Kaynon and A-Q, ”Crown” comes this standout record, ‘Gang Gang’ featuring Torna.
Listening to this song, you are likely to get blown away by Loose’s first verse which was quite impeccable on its own, but then A-Q shows up with some clever and brag-filled rhymes, flawless delivery and it was a blood-fest.
Ghost – ‘Crown’
Dope line: ”See when it comes to this rap game, most of these cats are just acting, from the start, I pick them apart, call it casting.”
Ghost is your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. With his gritty voice and fierce delivery, he puts the fear of God in you when he rhymes.
On the posse cut, ‘Crown’, the rapper goes ham delivering one of the centerpiece verses by which Nigerian rap in 2018 will be defined.
Terry Tha Rapman – ‘Open Letter’ (2nd Verse)
Dope line: ”Can’t figure out what really happened with ‘Satan Must Fall’, is that the reason why you and M.I hardly speak at all?”
In a manner similar to Eminem’s ‘Stan’, Terry Tha Rapman addressed some fans observations concerning his music.
From accepting the criticisms to attempting to explain some of his actions and touching on some of the issues he has dealt with in recent times, Terry poured out his heart like never before on this record and the second verse is one of the most introspective self-takes on his long career.
Paybac – ‘Seeds of Faith (2nd Verse)’
Dope line: ”I don done so many f**k ups I could write a book about em/ I been running from my fears the confessions of a coward/ but I’m bouta face off with the devil if he allows it/ Face off was number one now they think I’m money counting”
On a record with his frequent lyrical sparring partner, Paybac delivered a verse that contained his battles, fears and insecurities.
While Boogey‘s verse sandwiched in-between two of his, he threatened to steal the show, but Paybac totally spazzed and outdid himself on the final, rapping like a beast let off the leash.
MI Abaga – ‘I Believe In You, You should too, Believe in You’
Dope line: ”I don’t know Pusha-T but if he ever heard about me/ then he should be honored to be mentioned in the same breath as an African myth/ a legend, living king of the mic now shouldn’t he?”
MI’s eight studio album, ”Yung Denzel” continues to divide opinions along two sharp divides.
For a section, this is contemporary big boy rap, a residue of what Jay Z exhibited on his ”4:44”album, while for others, the word ‘boring’ is what they constantly use in labeling it.
Irrespective of the opinions though, one song they all agree on is the track, ”I Believe In You, You should too, Believe in You”. The technique alone on the verse is epic and he fills it up with lines soaked in confidence and self-realization.
Alpha – ‘Award Winning Intro’
Dope line: ”It’s Mohammed, no fakers in my administration/ I’m a Jihadist with the bars, dropping bombs, no to reconciliation”
This gifted rapper/producer created a body of work, ”Half Price” that hit home this year.
Although he softened down on his bars, focusing more on the music, Alpha still packs a punch every time he raps and on the opening song, Alpha provided a hint of his ability to unleash hell with his references and sharp delivery.
Ghost – ‘Double Homicide’
Dope line: ”Respect my n***a that’s all we ask, not to be slept on like a vampire who’s an insomniac/ hate to brag but any kid who got our autograph/ Should feel honoured coz it’s gonna become an artefact”
Ghost has made a habit out of killing guest features and he did it yet again on Ladipoe‘s ‘Double Homicide.’
Poe’s verse came heavy but the moment Ghost kicked off his flow, he menacingly gave a new definition to the title track.
Phyno – ‘Fuwa Sewa’
Dope line: ‘’Turn gucci pant to carry onye abali Nkponye lu gi paa in the morning (early mor mor),’’ which can translate being rich enough to use ‘gucci pant’ for his morning walk.
The indigenous rapper is criticized for choosing to sing more these days but as he proved on his debut album, ‘’No Guts No Glory’’, he is no slouch when it comes to bringing the bars.
In ‘Fuwa Sewa’, Phyno provides his most lyrical song in a while. He is at his braggadocious best, rapping about how music and music only has given him the best things in life.
With lines like “Worst come to worst men eburu ónu; Kama olu anyi ga ako; Arughalia legit n’iru oru,” he hints that he prefers to go hungry rather than do anything that’s not legit.
He’s also very certain about his hitmaking ability, rapping; ”See n dropu kwana egwu a ‘It’s gon be a hot summer,” which means, when I drop this song, it’s going to be a hot summer.’
Notable mentions: Shayjtoday – ‘Real Talk’, Tec – ‘Garden’, Poe – ‘Voices’