8 Most Conscious Nigerian Musicians You Should Start Listening To

Listening to music is like carrying out a chemical reaction in a science laboratory. The plugging of a song into the eardrums result in the creation of a human being with properties of the song, just like a chemical reaction between elements produce products with properties of constituent elements. Music has shown to have the powers to change the man. To raise or lower the spiritual awareness of the listener to effect a change. Its powers are greater than mere physical foods that feed the body but have less effect on the man’s mental central nervous system where actions are given wings. Music works at the sole of the human soul to make him whole or feed him coal. This is a list of the Most Conscious Nigerian Musicians. Men and women who touched and touch lives overtly and positively imparted our world. These are human beings on the mic.

 

8. M.I Abaga

The moment M.I Abaga stepped into the Nigerian music industry, it was never the same again. Before then, it was the Veteran rapper Six-Foot-Plus who did something close to conscious rap. There were also rappers like Azadus, Ruggedman, El Dee Da Don, Terry Da Rapman, and Mode 9, who did something positive but none had the message to be registered as conscious rap. In 2009, a new sound was heard on our airwaves. A voice that spoke with authority and the wisdom of a sage. He was asking Africans to rise up and ditch the Crowd Mentality. That was just the start. M.I is not the type of rapper who has got many scandals, the type of artiste who encourages evil in the community or the type afraid of taking a stand. He awakened the Nigerian rap fans to a healthier discourse and he is unarguably the Nigerian rapper who made rap fashionable again.

He was different from every other rapper that came before him. He gave life to words and touched the fibres of our souls. He is the Marcus Garvey of Nigeria’s Music Industry and his sermon woke up so many sleeping Artistes who picked up their thinking cap and went to the studio. His projects are Talk About It (2008), M.I 2 (2010), The Chairman (2014), The Indestructible Choc Boi Nation (with Chocolate City) (2015) and Mixtapes Illegal Music, (2009), Illegal Music 2, (2012), Illegal Music 3: The Finale (2016).

“If you don’t have a mind for yourself
Don’t be disappointed,
this is good for your health
It’s the road to riches and to diamonds and wealth
Redesigned it myself,
to all Black people put your mind on your shelf
It’s Ok to be poor,
be needy Better yet still care for more, be greedy
Everybody get mis-educated
Be lazy, fat, stupid with your mind sedated
No matter how many songs I sing About truth,
honesty, it’ll never change a thing
I just wanna be rich and famous
The world is screaming out: Please entertain us!
Yo, the whole world is glass or plastic
It’s split like refraction, need action drastic
So forgive me I’m a tad sarcastic
These venomous lyrics on my lips like chopsticks

“So the moral of this song is
There are people walking around just like zombies
And it’s so strange, how people are afraid of change
Afraid of what would happen if we re-arrange
So most Black people are just doing what the crowd do
Doing what the system say, that we’re allowed to
So break free from the crowd mentality
And then we can start to build a new reality”

M.I Crowd Mentality

 

7. Asa

The Nigerian POP and Jazz artiste was among the new arrivals who changed and uplifted the Nigerian music industry. Nigerian music was populated by older artistes and their creativity level was in peril when Asa arrived. She lighted a bright spark that burned the darkness hovering around. Her music is drawn from her personal experiences in Nigeria, the world and life. Asa communicates injustice satirically. She goes deep into the very core of the folly of injustice and shows in simple terms what the violent do themselves when they hurt the environment. While her material is versatile, when she focuses on the conscious aspect of human behaviour, she doesn’t just break us emotionally but also makes sure it is backed by a sound logical argument. She is the destination when you need a dose of good music.

Singing in English and Yoruba language, her songs are not tied down by the culture and environment she so much extols. While she appreciates home and love the culture and environment, she doesn’t shy away from pointing at the unkept areas. Her form of correction and battering is not the aggressive type we are often serenaded with. It is not the barefaced destructive criticism of pessimistic critics. It is not from a hypocritical sense of perfection that sees other sins without admitting theirs. It is what you often get from sweet mothers who speak in low tones to misbehaving children to make them better. And the sound of her voice is like water passing through the desert. Her Albums are: Aṣa (Asha),2007, Live in Paris, 2009, Beautiful Imperfection, 2010, 2014 Bed of Stone, 2014.

“I’m in chains you’re in chains too
I wear uniforms and you wear uniforms too
I’m a prisoner,
You’re a prisoner too Mr Jailer
I have fears you have fears too
I will die, you sef go die too
Life is beautiful
Don’t you think so too Mr Jailer”

Jailer By Asa

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6. Boogey

Nigerian Rapper, Boogey, is the definition of what it truly means to be underrated. Once tipped as the future of HipHop in Nigeria but it now seems the industry has blackballed him. His real name David Odey aka ‘Brain’ and hails from Cross River State of Nigeria. Boogey’s music is conscious and intellectual. He is unarguably Nigeria’s most intelligent rapper. His thoughts are as sharp as you can get. He is very versatile, touching and examining subjects in art, science, religion and philosophy.

“It is also disheartening that people make comments like “there are no rappers in Nigeria” when they don’t even search for new music if they haven’t seen the artiste shine on TV. People are lazy with research but eager to share opinions”.

Boogey on an Interview with DearArtiste

Despite the latest ‘singing rap’ trend in the industry and the pressure, he still tries to keep it as real as possible. The simple and brain draining lines you find in the lyrics of rich artistes do not exist in his discography. While money could be of good use and change status, he doesn’t allow the drive for material things drive his music. He has given so much for the mental growth of his listeners. And even though he hardly gets much in return he keeps cooking same quality of meals and will never shortchange. His projects are Incognitio, 2016, Lost and Found: Face Off(with PayBac), 2016, Irregularly Scheduled Programme, 2015, T.I.N.A.A, 2015, Artificial Intelligence, 2012,

“I’m flipping through Bible Pages
I’m Looking for something Inside to save me
Anything about endurance And having faith in a deity »
Anything about descriptions Of Jesus’ face in them Paintings
There’s a Cloth with the blood pattern of his face when he stained it?
Absent-minded in Sunday school
And now whenever Producers ask me when
I’mma have the time to voice, I say Sunday’s cool
Don’t get me wrong, God is first
But I’m beginning to think
That he lives inside of us
And not in church
Tunde’s papa died, and that tortured him
Mine alive; are you saying I go to mass more than him
Y’all make it look like the size Of your cash offering
Bought a one way ticket to heaven, flying past all the Sinners
No heresy, no blasphemy, just an awesome thinker
With a computer mind, and the rhymes go through that Colour printer
And so the picture vivid, Every pixel in it
This is truth but I ain’t tryna replace the scriptures with it
Just Listen. Chill my nigga just listen
I find peace in my inner Sanctum
I look for God and then I Thank him; for this”

Sanctum By Boogey

 

5. Brymo

Brymo has one of the most ruthless metaphors ever heard on our airwaves. His type of conscious music requires a good understanding of literary terms and could be confused by a first listener as the promotion of immorality. What Brymo is doing is special and taking us to a new level. He is the true definition of a poet. The first time the song ‘Prick No Get Shoulder’ was released, a lot of people were pissed. They were very angry at his choice of words and couldn’t see the scene he just created. Some couldn’t get past the chorus and lost the message. While they assumed he was promoting sexual immorality he was actually asking why there is sexual relations but no love around us. Why it is easier to connect sexually but can’t connect in love? Brymo, as a conscious poet, hits the listener with sarcasm at first and draws him closer to his message. By the second and third time listening to him, when his thoughts begin to wander, the message hits him. His Albums are Klitoris, 2016, Trance, 2015, Tabula Rasa, 2014, Merchants, Dealers and Slaves, 2013, TheSonofaKapenta, 2012, Brymstone, 2007.

My baby is gone
She split like a splitter
Now my life is back when it binter
How can I say goodbye to love so young
I was sponged, hung and love cross
My cup full of dross
Like a blast of wind, she came
The sea went away
But what more can I say!
But my baby is gone
My soul wonder in the darkness of love exit
I hope her tears and laughters struggles
For my sorrow,
My love has furthered away
Winds of flurry
Now , I’m alone cause she’s gone
Alone, no one to call my own
My heart is a pool of un-shedding tears
My pain fizzle, like rain
It sizzle, I’m fizzle,
Out on the roof top of my life..
Pouring on the liquid cupid of my part
Alas like rain,my pain,days, not to be dispute
As it join put my hair
My hands on my feet
This Slit still it pour
Cause why I ask you to please me
You only tease me miss
With your kiss
Which i still miss
My life is a song! And my mind find the lyrics hung”
My drum of my heart sound like a temple gun
My life is a poem, the lyrics another side of love song
How come, I walk alone on busy street,
I see a pretty girl walks by on beautiful feet.
Just When I’m about to speak
I realise we were once seeing different things
I pray God, I wanna be a man
It clears, she wants a man
But, I’m not clear if that’s the man i’m
So I act like I do not care
And walking by, thinking God
She’s fly, neither us nay of Hopes and dreams, so it seems
I wipe my heart clean, cause even to myself I gatta be mean, so I need to be truly at home.
I gatta be alone, cause even when I’m with you.
I still feel lone, so alone
But by Jove, life alone is not enough
Truly alone, wanting some,
Getting none.
How to have some fun, by my lonesome suffering.
A sufferage of boredom
So I’m singing song where lyrics only hum
And the only word deservable is Alone, Alone, Alone
Truly Alone
Poetry ! My only companion
Is why I keep keeping on, non-stopping
Keeping on, from dusk to dawn
On and on
But from now on, it’s on
I’m gone.

Alone By Brymo

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4. Femi Kuti

Son of the late Jazz Legend, Fela Kuti, is both an intellectual and a lyricist. He is not as vocal and ‘troublesome’ as his father and that could be because the current Nigerian Democratic conditions didn’t afford him the opportunity to walk in that terrain. While his father had to contend with Military Generals who ruled by decrees, command and control, Femi’s era was not as tough as his father’s because the conditions have changed and human rights have evolved a bit. He makes sure sanity is never traded for insanity. In 2001, he collaborated with conscious artistes, Common, Mos Def and Jaguar Wright on Fight to Win, an effort to cross over to a mainstream audience, and started touring the United States with Jane’s Addiction. He is one of those musicians who want Africa to be reawakened and free of bad leaders. He believes strongly that African leaders are responsible for the mess Africa is in Today.

“we could say we’re moving in the democratic process. And it’s probably better than going to war, but corruption is still very rampant. The people are hungry and sick. And the government controls the media, so it can’t be critical”.

“It’s a very hypocritical situation. People settle for putting a meal on the table, but they don’t know that the rest of the world doesn’t suffer every day from power outages and water shortage. Nigerians don’t even know about the history of African slavery, because it’s not included in the text-book”-Femi Kuti

On 15 May 2017 Femi Anikulapo Kuti broke the Guinness world record of a single note held on a sax in a method called Circular breathing. He set the records at 51 min 35 seconds.

For the Kutis, activism is heriditary and Femi has not failed to lash out at the flatulent Nigerian governments since democracy was handed to the country. Like his father, he still drops songs for the government. Some of his Projects are: Femi Kuti, 1995, Shoki Shoki, 1998, Fight to Win, 2001, Day by Day, 2008,
Africa for Africa, 2011, No Place for My Dream, 2013. He has also done many live albums.

I see the problem since Slavery ended
Blackman never regain consciousness Eh-heh
We get the wrong people for government
Who force us to think with colonial sense
Na wrong information scatta your head
You reject you culture for western sense
Bringing shame to yourself and your continent
Blackman today he don lost himself

“The first university was in Africa
Black Africans were the teachers then
And people came from all over the world
To hear the teachings of our ancestors uh
Later these foreigners pickin make war with us
Dem fight us and enslave us by force
Claiming everything of our ancestors ye-ye
But I said Black Africa will rise back on top”

BlackMan Know Yourself By Femi Kuti

 

3. Nneka

Singer, Song Writer and Actress, Nneka was born in Warri, Delta State, Nigeria. She has delved into soul, hip hop , R&B, Afrobeat, Raggae. She experiments with sound and her lyrics are always direct and punching. She is a poet with deep messages communicated in simple tenses. Her lyrics are introspective and philosophical and her Album, ‘Victim of Truth’, has been compared to the Miseducation of Lauren Hill. On the political front, she stands boldly calling out bad leaders and the ills they blessed society with. On human relationships, she calls out men and women of the society to show love to one another. She sings in Pidgin, English and Igbo Language.

“There are many Nigerians who are concerned and who are part of the change that they want to see. We can’t just blame our political leaders. We ourselves have to be involved to make that change happen and the only way we can do that is by being less self-centred; dropping the egos and doing what we need to do. Create non-government organisations, educate your fellow-neighbour, help an orphaned child – there are many ways we can do things on a grassroots level.”

Nneka

Nneka is a beauty with brains She is troubled by the living condition of her people. She is worried that leaders who ought to know where we are coming from treat Africans like piss. She is not happy that people who are down also suppress each other and calls for reflection and a change of ways. Her metaphors are sharp and precise and are not inflated or disguised to elicit praise. Some of her projects are: Victim of Truth, 2005, The Uncomfortable Truth, 2005, No Longer at Ease, 2008, Concrete Jungle, 2010, Heartbeat EP(Featuring Nas) Soul Is Heavy, 2012, My Fairy Tales, 2015.

You keep pushing the blame on our colonial fathers
You say they came and they took all we had possessed
They have to take the abuse that they have caused our present state with their intruding history
Use our goodness and nourishment in the Name of missionary
Lied to us, blinded slaved us, misplaced us, strengthen us, hardened us then they replaced us now we got to learn from pain
Now it is up to us to gain some recognition
If we stop blaming we could get a better condition
(wake up world!)

Africa by Nneka

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2. Kahli Abdu

Kahli Abdu is the modern leader of the Rebels against epileptic government. Self styled Rebel Leader, he is the most conscious Nigerian rapper ever. His metaphors bleed and each line in his verse carry with them an indictment of erosion of all types of sense in leadership and the people. His words are like thorns planted on the ribs of the downtrodden–heartbreaking. When he raps, he  flows with the expression he is trying to convey. A philosophical lyricist, Kahli represents the real reason for the birth of Rap music. His Projects are: The Bandits, Ministry of Corruption, The Grind Theory, The Band Of Rebels.

4 Horses, this is what war
Is
Kid Konnect I go in, fuck a
Chorus
So deep I forgot where my
Core is
Lines be broken the spirit I
See doloris
Oh Lord, a nigga wrote so
Much till his ink lacks
Purpose
Oh lord, now I don’t even
Write anymore all my
Thoughts is in cursive
You ever seen a man like
This before
He Doesnt even swear but
What he speaks is raw
He’s so underground yet
His speech is forbes
I could come unprepared
And still be fit for war
Nigga, be good but the
Hardest me
You rap, you soft now you
The one that’s hardest to
See
Me I step on land mines like
The target is me
And amma spit that whole
Shit until carter believes
Fuck a horse I unravel the
Beast
M and Loose came am
Arriving with three
So its me and Jagz you be
Striving the beat
At the end its only four
vibrant emcees
Nigga, we on our way now
Nigga
We going up you are on the
Way down nigga
Huh, this is J-town nigga
The booth is just a
Playground nigga, Rebel

4 Horsemen( ft M.I Loose Kaynon, Iceprince, Kahli Abdu) Kahli Abdu Verse

 

1. Fela Kuti

No list of Conscious Nigerian Musicians is complete without this legend. The greatest Nigerian musician of all time is unarguably the most conscious artiste in Nigeria’s history. He was a fighter, a musician, a saxophonist, an activist and the fearless defender of the masses. He was a mental giant. He had so many battles with the military government of Nigeria at his time and suffered for it but each time they took him in for punishment he comes out stronger and with more venom for the ailing government that took him in. He was against the brutality meted to civilians by soldiers. He was against the diversion of state funds to water the already watered tongue of the watery men in charge of affairs at the time. Loved by the masses and hated by the government.

After the military government of Muhammadu Buhari, in 1984, found him guilty of Money Laundering(an allegation according to Amnesty International, witnesses were prevented from testifying on his behalf) he was jailed. There were reports that the judge who sentenced him to five years in prison later apologized. It was reported that he said:

‘Man, you were not guilty , I was under pressure, I was instructed to put you behind bars”, “And as a judge, if I don’t tell you the truth, I will never forgive myself. I came for your forgiveness, forgive me. You did not commit any offense. You were jailed because I had the order to put you behind bars from above”.

When he came out of prison, the first song he wrote was Beast Of No Nation where he clapped back at the government that put him there. To him, the fear of death doesn’t exist and he was the lone ranger when other artistes focused on materials that had little to do with the government to save their heads. He lived and acted his music. He had the opinion that the military leaders at the time were suffering from mental retardation as a result of the colonial torture they received. No facet of our social life was left untouched. He questioned the logic behind Pastors leaving in good houses while their followers had no where to sleep. He was against a government that has chosen intimidation and destruction against peace and commonsense. He was the Senior Advocate of the Masses.

Hey!
Everybody run run run…
La la la la
My people self dey fear too much
We fear for the thing we no see
We fear for the air around us
We fear to fight for freedom
We fear to fight for liberty
We fear to fight for justice
We fear to fight for happiness
We always get reason to fear
We no want die
We no want wound
We no want quench
We no want go
I get one child
Mama dey for house
Papa dey for house
I want build house
I don build house
I no want quench
I want enjoy
I no want go
Ah!
So policeman go slap your face
You no go talk
Army man go whip your yansh
You go dey look like donkey
Rhodesia dey do them own
Our leaders dey yab for nothing
South Africa dey do them own
Them leave Sorrow, Tears, and Blood…

Sorrow, Tears and Blood by Fela

About Poet 119 Articles
I am Rey Alaetuo, a conscious Poet and health care professional living in Lagos, Nigeria. I've written three collection of Poems, I am an exponent of humanism and a vigilant Poet. I am deeply interested in the propagation of positive human values and behaviour.

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