Rap VS Singing in Nigeria: A comparison

Onyeka Ibeanusi  | Wednesday, 8 January 2014 | 1424 Total Views


The Nigerian Music industry has grown tremendously in recent years birthing a new genre of music that Nigerians and the world at large still finds difficult to classify. Some call it Afro beats, some Afro hip-hop and others Afro pop.

Today Nigeria boasts of a number of musical artistes that far outweighs what it used to be 10 years ago. Nigeria has over 150 estimated known musicians today compared to an estimated 40 ten years ago with 30 of them being rappers and the other estimated 120, singers. The industry has witnessed the rise of many greats like 2face Idibia and D'banj in the last decade and more are still emerging daily. 



Despite the success of the industry, there is still the big question of what genre of music sells the most in Nigeria and has unanimous acceptance from the public. In order to narrow down our choices, this article will focus on two major genres which are rap and singing.
Which among these genres sells better? Which is more acceptable by the Nigerian populace?  Knowing that people’s opinions and choices differ, we will use common facts to reach a logical conclusion.

Rap which is a word coined from rhythm and poetry could be traced back to Jamaica in the early ‘70s and made popular by African Americans who used it as a means to express themselves and express their dissatisfaction with societal ills. This genre of music gives the artiste the opportunity to say a lot poetically and pass a message to the listeners. Rap which could be classified as hard core (rap without a chorus and a somewhat monotonous beat) and non – hard core rap (rap with a chorus and melodious beat) has gained global acceptance.

Singing on the other hand seems to be the engine room of the Nigerian music industry. By singing I don’t mean R&B with that superb voice, I mean making a rythmic song that will make the people move their body.

Some of the major reasons why singing is more acceptable in Nigeria includes the fact that rap music seem like a borrowed culture and is mostly appealing to the youths. The elderly ones, who are more in tune with the traditional music culture, seem unable to comprehend what a rap artiste is saying and can easily relate with singing.


For example, it's rare to find a rapper performing at a wedding ceremony. Only recently the likes of genre- crossing rappers like M.I. and Naeto C emerged and have been able to enter this lucrative market. The reason may not be far from the fact that weddings are considered a joyous occasion and only singing can satisfy the different tastes of people present.

Another reason why rap music seems to be somewhat less popular in these regions is because a lot of the songs are less danceable. The success of ‘party music’ as it is fondly called dwarfs that of rap music in Nigeria by all standards and a major reason why most Nigerian rappers are now singers as a means of surviving the competitive industry.

A lot of Nigerian artistes doing well today as singers are rumored to have started out as rappers.  Musicians like Wizkid and some other top dogs in the industry are rumored to have started out as rappers.
Party music as they put it seems to be more acceptable because of the melodious tunes, the fusion of traditional rhythm with modern hip/hop and the presentation in our everyday language that even a village farmer will be able to understand and identify with. Rap music on the other hand seems to be more complex in a bid for the rapper to prove how lyrically deep he/she is.

As mentioned earlier, its less common to find rappers performing at social gatherings of the elite(s)  because it is considered 'noise' for the young minds so a singer that can make the 'elders' dance and feel important is the preference. This could be linked with praise singing in our culture that has been infused in our music.


Another major barrier is the fact that party music is easy to promote and does very well in our clubs. It makes the job easy for DJ’s and can be called the rhythm of the street because it is heard everywhere unlike rap.

In recent times rap music has evolved with the likes of M.I. Abaga becoming household names, Ice Prince Zamani churning out hits after hits with his dance hall rap pattern and many others like the new generation Nigerian rappers Olamide, Phyno etc who incorporate both their native language, tunes and rhythm into rap, there seems to be a slight change in the acceptance level and a ray of hope for the genre in Nigeria.

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The future looks bright for rap though, especially rappers who can be flexible enough to rap on party and dancehall beats. But presently, singing and making ‘Party music’ is the more popular genre in Nigeria.