While 2017 was not exactly a great year for Hip-hop in terms of mainstream appeal and recognition, 2018 has turned out to be one of the better years in recent times.
Not just with the number of projects that were released both from established and upcoming rappers but also the quality of these projects and their impact on a larger scale.
There was also a lot of experimenting with different flows, styles and collaborations across genres that even when Hip-hop was not getting much commercial success, it was again getting its fair share of buzz.
Essentially, the rappers who have made this list have contributed in terms of presence, skills, stellar rap records released and shaped the hip-hop conversations at different points this year.
Here are the 10 hottest Nigerian rappers of 2018
The Mavin signed rapper released his much-anticipated debut project, ”Talk About Poe” late in the year and Poe came through with a decent body of work that proves why his name constantly gets mentioned when the next flag bearers of the genre are discussed.
He then headlined his debut concert, ‘’LadiPoe Live’’, which witnessed an impressive turnout of his fans who gathered to watch his perform firsthand and his confident set on the night was further proof of a rapper with the talent to lead the next generation of rappers who cracked the mainstream doors.
Just when we thought we had lost the ‘best from the east’ to the pop world, Phyno served a reminder of why he is one of the finest emcees in the game with the single ‘Fuwa Sewa’ and his guest verses on CDQ‘s ‘Aye’ and Phenom‘s ‘Ego’.
Let’s also not forget other singles like ‘N.W.A’ with Wale, ‘Iwa’ featuring Tekno, ‘Onyeoma’ with Olamide and ‘One Chance’ alongside Kranium, which all adds up to him earning his place on this list.
8. Blaq Bonez
The ‘young veteran’ who has been bubbling underground for years finally cracked a hole into the mainstream wall with his moves and affiliations this year. Signing with 100 Crowns gave him access to an OG like M.I Abaga, whose constant online co-sign clearly widened his fan base.
Blaqbonez gets on this list not solely because of his official studio album, ”Bad Boy Blaq”, which birthed notable singles like ‘Play’ and ‘Mamiwota’, but more for how he was able to maintain the conversation around his name months after the project dropped with his viral videos, remixes and performances at shows.
Just like Paybac, Boogey has been working and seven projects in six years are evidence of his consistency in the game.
He started 2018 off the back of a telling nomination at the Headies 2018 ‘Lyricist on the roll’ category, then he released the intriguing ”Nouveau Niveau” project and then the collaborative effort with Charlie X ”Never Enough” which was refreshing in sound and delivery.
Boogey is that name every rap fan thinks of when putting up a list of their favourite underground rappers and there is no denying that when he is in the zone or not considering retirement, very few rappers can touch him bar for bar.
Paybac has been dropping some serious heats over the years and he again delivered in 2018.
Two solid bodies of works in ”The Biggest Tree” and ‘Autopilot’ adds credence to an already impressive discography.
Falz is at that point in his career where he seemingly can do no wrong.
From feeding off singles from his third studio album, ”27” released late last year to the essential ‘This is Nigeria’ with the visuals generating mass reaction to the ‘Sweet Boys Association’ movement, Falz has approached his craft with a snipers precision and 2018 saw him steady add extra layers to an already illustrious career.
4. Tec (Show Dem Camp)
The other half of the rap duo seemingly doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves.
Tec holds his own down alongside Ghost as a member of the rap duo, Show Dem Camp and his ability to find a balance between hardcore lyricism and razor sharp delivery are factors that add major credence to his person.
On ‘’Palmwine Music 2’’, Tec was once again the one who brought the charisma and relatability without giving up any of his own uniqueness or originality.
For three years running, A-Q remains in the conversation of leading rappers in the game, and this year it is off the back of his third album in three years in the defining joint effort with Loose Kaynon, ”Crown.”
Not only is he one of the most consistent rappers out there, but he is also constantly breaking new grounds.
Outside his prowess on ‘Crown’, A-Q also released the conscious single, ‘PVC Story’ that captured the state of happenings in the country and alongside Loose Kaynon under the 100 Crowns imprint, they kickstarted the ”Coronation”, a quarterly platform that is dedicated strictly to supporting Hip-Hop in the country.
2. M.I Abaga
The veteran MC waxes ever stronger 10 years after the release of his debut album, ”Talk About It”.
M.I released the ‘’Rendezvous’’ playlist early in the year where he featured a number of young talents giving them a bigger platform to shine.
After proclaiming on the controversial 2017 single, ‘You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives’ that Nigerian rap had fallen behind on the continent, M.I put up a grand plan to save the game and it led to the release of three executive produced albums under the #LAMBAugust series.
M.I Abaga put out his eight full-length material and most personal yet in ”Yung Denzel” – A study of self-worth’, where he flashed his genius yet again, reminding all of the legendary pen game that has gotten him this far.
1. Ghost (Show Dem Camp)
If there was a crown to be given for those who have held Hip-hop down the most in the outgoing year, then it arguably fits Show Dem Camp. Tec and Ghost have set a different standard skill-wise since they emerged.
It becomes extremely difficult when you have to choose one over the other as they duly complement themselves style-wise, but separate we must and Ghost has edged it over the years as the predictable star of the rap duo.
From serving off solid verses on the impressive ‘’Palmwine Music 2’’, Ghost cements his place as the stand out rapper this year with some of the favourite knock-out verses you will hear in songs like ‘Crown’ with Loose Kaynon and A-Q and ‘Double Homicide’ with Poe.
Notable mentions: Alpha, Loose Kaynon, Psycho YP