50 Years of Hip Hop: Rappers Who Shaped Africa in the Past Five Decades (Part 2)

A pioneering female hip-hop artist from Nigeria, Weird MC

By the late 90s and early 2000s, the hip-hop scene in Nigeria began to grow significantly in the number of rappers and gender representation.

Weird MC

Born Adesola Adesimbo Idowu on 9 July 1970, Weird MC is a Nigerian-British rapper, songwriter, and producer. Known for her English and Yoruba lyrics, Weird MC is one of the most electrifying performers of Africa’s descent. She taught Nigerians to be gender blind when she arrived on the music scene looking like a tomboy.

Prior to her arrival, she had been a music buff weaned on the music of Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba, Queen Latifah and Jimi Hendrix. She weathered the storm of intense rap battles including Club 291 contest, similar to America’s Apollo, and she came third. Subsequently, she went on tour of the UK with DJ P Tee Money in late 1990 and throughout 1991. In 1992, having worked with music producer Kevin Best for two months, Idowu released the single “I Wanna Make You Jack/Let’s Get Wet”, receiving positive reviews from music critics. The song reached number one in the Choice FM charts. 

1996 was her homecoming year. Idowu returned to Nigeria and released the album Simply Weird – a blend of American hip hop and afrobeat – and featured the self-produced video-single”Allen Avenue”, making her the first Nigerian artist to release a song via that medium.

Although Simply Weird has been described as the first ever full-length hip hop album, this milestone had been reached nearly a decade earlier by Nigerian-American band Sound on Sound with the album From Africa From Scratch,[9] and Pidgin rap duo Junior and Pretty were also a household name in the early nineties. Despite the popularity of “Allen Avenue”, Simply Weird was not a commercial success. Some critics thought the Nigerian market was not ready for the forward-thinking artist.

Still, Weird MC was honoured with several awards, including the very first AMEN award for Best Hip Hop Album. “Allen Avenue,” shaped the hip-hop culture in Nigeria and sent shivers down the spine of conservative music audience who were in awe of her courage at breaking the barriers.

Eedris Abdulkareem

One of the most iconic figures of this period is Eedris Abdulkareem. Born Eedris Turayo Abdulkareem Ajenifuja on December 24, 1974, Eedris was the lead rapper of the Nigerian hip-hop group, The Remedies. The group was largely influential in the growth of Afrobeats genre due to their versatility with hip-hop instrumentation. Having been raised in Kano by an Ijesha father and his mother who hailed from Ogun state, Eedris’ lyrical craft drew upon Hausa, Yoruba as well as English languages. He is more than just a rapper but a socially conscious artist.

His infamous clash with American rapper, 50 Cent would remain an indelible mention in his story. While on a tour in Nigeria, 50 Cent and Eedris boarded the same plane but the latter to the seat assigned to 50 Cent. This led to a brawl as Eedris’ protest against preferential treatment for a foreign artist fell on deaf ears. He was arrested and held in police custody while 50 Cent’s visit was cut short. Today, he is considered an unsung hero in the rebranding of Nigerian A-list artists.

Also, his hit song, “Jaga Jaga” was considered offensive to the former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. But the truth embedded in the protest song is undeniable.



2Shotz is perhaps the voice of music piracy in Nigeria. In the studio and at the courtrooms, this relentless rapper battled against the most challenging plight of creatives in Nigeria. Prior to the era of internet and streaming platforms, artists like 2shotz had to sell the music on the streets and at the mercy of unauthorised vendors who make copies of their records and sell for personal gain. Musicians of this period relied solely on performances to earn a living.

2shotz had some affiliations in Alaba, the electronics market famed for film and music content distribution. But beyond those stormy years, 2shotz had made a name for himself in the hip-hop culture.

Born Williams Orioha, 2shotz is a Nigerian rapper and songwriter. who performed in English, Pidgin and Igbo fluently. His hit records include “Carry Am Go”, “Odeshi” and “Delicious.” Born on March 3rd 1979 in Lagos State but his hometown is the Abia State capital, Umuahia.

His first studio album, Pirated, was released in 2004. The second one was released in 2005 with the title, “Original Copy.” He went ahead winning the Headies 2006 Award for Best Collaboration and then released his third album, Commercial Avenue in 2007. His fourth, fifth and sixth albums were Music Business, I am William and Loud Silence which were released in 2008, 2010 and 2016 respectively.

2shotz is now based in the United States of America as a photographer. and filmmaker.

Mode 9

Mode 9

Many hip-hop fans consider him as one of the most cerebral artists of his time. Named Babatunde Olusegun Adewale, he was born in London on June 14, 1975 as the third child of his parents who hailed from Osun state.

Influenced by the legendary Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Mode 9’s attention to details in lyrical construction is palpable in all his songs.  Modenine began his music career while rapping with friends in school. He was strongly influenced by artists likeKRS-One, Roy Ayers, Kurtis Blow, andBig Daddy Kane.

He made the decision to create a rap album in 1991, just for fun and that era saw the rise of other hip-hop artists such as Terry Da Rapman and Six-Foot Plus.

In 2004, Mode9 released his debut project, Malcolm IX. This was followed by Pentium IX was released in 2006. In 2007, he released another album called É Pluribus Unum. Modenine has eight studio albums. He released in 2018, a new album titled Hence4th produced by Black Intelligence. In 2019, he released an album titled The Monument.

Although Mode 9 seemed to think his style of music is unpopular in Nigeria, he had a bull’s eye moment in Nigeria’s hip-hop history with the emotion-laden song, “Cry” which featured the soulful singer, Nnenna. The goosebumps-inspiring song is a kaleidoscope of social realities, brilliantly articulating two cultural narratives- of a tragic story of pregnant widow and a young undergraduate slain by the gun.

His penchant for hardcore hip-hop songs may have contributed to his music not making radio or club playlists in later years. He is still committed to hip-hop but has stopped releasing his music to Nigerian audience on the conviction that his music is unpopular in Nigeria while UK feels more like home.

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