Blaqbonez & the Resurgence of Rap in the Nigerian Music Industry
Emeka Akumefule, popularly known as Blaqbonez, is an ambitious, hilarious, creative, and talented artist set to breathe life back into the Nigerian Rap scene. Known widely for his claim as the “BRIA” – Best Rapper In Africa, The 100 Crowns signed artist pushed his agenda with his first album under the label, titled Bad Boy Blaq, following up with Bad Boy Blaq Re-Up a few months later. Both projects were highly commended by fans and rap enthusiasts, which ultimately fueled a discussion of the comeback game of the rap genre in the Nigerian music scene, with Blaqbonez leading the rally.
Earlier in his career, Blaqbonez flaunted his skills in rap battles and competitions, earning him a tag as a fierce battle rapper. It comes as no surprise that he isn’t scared to blow his own horns and label himself as the BRIA. However, Emeka’s artistic ingenuity stretches beyond his rap antics as his eponymous latest project, Mr. Bombastic, has him unleashing his alter ego to infuse a new sound with an interesting wave. In this feature with ONETRIBEMAG, Blaqbonez recounts the inspiration and creative process behind his latest project and points out what sets him apart from other MC’s. The rapper also reveals his future plans and the motive for doing what he does, that is, for the “continuity of the (rap & hip-hop) culture”. Read below!
Jide for OTM: Thanks to you and quite a few others, Rap in Nigeria is getting quite a comeback, what do you think affected its lack of popularity in the past few years?
Music acceptance is something that can be influenced and not decided on for people who consume music. It will be unfair to say that rappers gave up and were not making rap music, but it is also unfair to say rap fans were not paying attention. For me, I will say, people began listening to other genres of music that got more popularity and like I said in the start, music acceptance can be influenced and not decided for.
What are your thoughts on the reactions in the rap scene with the release of BRIA and the responses from fellow rappers?
When the music is right, the people feel alright (laughs). I’m happy that forever going forward, you cannot mention rap in Nigeria without giving me my role as an influencer in the culture in the years 2018-19. The people just needed a solid reminder as to why they fell in love with rap and hip hop in the first place. I’m awakening a culture, its’ followers and contenders in a region where the love is lost. The reception has been welcoming, they all love me and even when they don’t know it, they still do, because I’m the Best Rapper in Africa.
As the self-acclaimed BRIA, what qualities/skills do you possess that separates from you from other rappers?
(laughs) Firstly, let’s scratch the self-acclaimed, it is what it is and I am who I am, the best. There’s an art to almost everything “creative” in life that’s unique. You should catch me perform and then you’ll see first-hand why I stand out. But if I had to give an answer, I will say it is because I love what I do and how I do it, and the people I do it for.
What do you feel about the diversified opinions amongst fellow rappers and Hip-hop fans about the beef situation in the rap scene, in which some think it is unnecessary and regressive while others believe it aids the resurge of the Rap game?
Music has always and will always be an expression of feelings, and if people decide that they want to put out a diss record because of how they feel about someone, or an opinion/idea, then let them do it the best possible way they can through music, it’s allowed and is a core part of the culture of hip hop. Disagreements are allowed, just don’t lose life over it.
What is the story behind the perceived beef between you and Vader?
It’s perceived, right? personally, I don’t have a hate bone in my body, not one but I will say that Vader is in the same business as I, and I respect that, but I don’t see him on that beef level. I choose to put my energy into pushing the boundaries to promote the culture of the art.
Is there anybody else you would rather not get into a rap beef with?
Me! Sincerely, I will avoid me if I was someone else. Call it a hint or a warning, but yes, definitely me.
What is the inspiration(s) and creative process for your latest project, Mr. Boombastic?
Boombastic is a great guy just living his best life but is super confident and comfortable in his skin. He lives, loves, laughs and lifts. Lifts the world with his music.
What next if you achieve your goal of successfully conquering the African rap scene as the undisputed best?
When that happens, I’m setting up a system to encourage the younger guys so we have continuity of the culture. It is highly important that as we make a path in life, we do our best to inform the guys following us behind to have a much more solid foundation than we did.
Do you have a desire to grow in the American market as well?
It’s 2019, what do you think? (laughs) yes. It will be amazing to know that when you export music in whichever genre of music, it is treated as such and not necessarily categorized by region or by adding Afro in front of it. I would like to play a role in making that happen.
Who are on the list of your top 5 greatest rappers ever?
Blaqbonez, M.I, Kendrick Lamar, Royce da 5’9, Drake
Which artists would you like to work with?
Nasty C, Wizkid, Summer Walker, Tory Lanez
This interview has been shortened for clarity.
Listen to Blaqbonez’s Latest project, Mr. Boombastic, below!