In Africa, rap music is very popular, even forming the foundation of many other sub genres, eating deep into other experimentations, and providing enough creative room for young hopefuls (whom it appeals most to) to jump onto it. Ruggedman, one of Nigeria’s most celebrated musicians of the last two decades, couldn’t have chosen a better genre to state his case for recognition.
He is, without doubt, one of the West African country’s most successful musicians, with an amazingly dedicated following. That he is a serious contender for the title of Nigeria’s biggest rap act of yesteryear is not in doubt.
A quick popularity test on him would reveal an act that is respected, loved and in certain quarters worshipped, as a leading pioneer in this whole ‘business’. Back in the early 90s, when Nigerian music needed some fresh, young and exciting injection, it was the likes of Ruggedman, who made it happen.
Even when it looked like help wasn’t going to come, he and a group of young acts (or cats as they are called in the hip hop world), blazed the trail of what is today being shared by other latter day rap saints; M.I, Ice Prince, Jesse Jagz, Eva Alordia, and Skales among others.
Ruggedman’s design of making sure rap music became very popular in an age not too far from the days of Fela Kuti, was always going to be a hard thing to do, but as though his life depended on it, he managed to cut through.
His first few singles, released onto the market to test audience appreciation and acceptance, were received very well; it called for a continuation of what was at the time, the new order. Soon, he became Nigeria’s most known name in rap music; but that was to last for a short period of time, as others joined in, increasing the numbers of a generation full of rappers.
He became more prominent in the late 90s, going ahead to record EPs that would not only shape the way rap music should be received in what was a rather conservative Nigerian music industry but also how it should be done. Serial duplications of his style by young acts ensured continuous domination of rap music. Some other big names joined, and within no time, the genre had taken off. It’s since been in full flight.
The talented act is a serial award nominee and winner, and has over the years recorded some hit singles and albums including They Album Come (2004), Ruggdy Baba (2007), Untouchable (2010) and Money Making Music(2012)
He’s played some of the biggest concerts in and out of Africa, and shared platforms with some well-known names in rap music including Kanye West, Nas and Ja Rule. Occasionally he guest stars on reality shows as host
And as a way of keeping rap music very much part of the Nigerian music industry, he runs Rugged Records, one of the oldest labels in the country under which he produces his own music and that of other label acts. Ruggedman looks almost certain to holding on to his position as a pioneer in Nigerian rap music. That glory, however old it is, will live on; pioneers are seldom forgotten.