Posted by trae_z on 25th December 2004
Julius Agwu (the Nigerian comedian’s comedian) got me fired up to finally start talking about this topic when I heard him telling a joke at the NTA’s AM Express second anniversary dinner night some weeks ago, about how easy it is to shoot gospel music videos in the East (Igbo land) and how the videos and the music nearly always turn out to be highly substandard. True word! And this substandardness is not helped at all by the fact that many of our songwriters/artist especially those of the non Hip hop and R&B stock just don’t know how to rhyme.
And by the way what do I mean by rhyming in songs? I mean arranging one’s song’s lyrics such that the last word in a line (in Hip hop called “a bar”) has the same sound as the last word in another line, especially the next one. And doing this if you don’t know is the beauty of any poem (most poems sha, cos some don’t rhyme), flow (rap) or song. Especially for songs and rap cos any Tom Dick and Harry can put together a verse talking about his/her feelings but it takes only one with balls (that knows what it takes to be a real musician) to put his verse together with rhymes. Let me put it in another way it’s just the rules from ages past. It’s what shows you have talent. And by cracking one’s brain to discover rhymes and put them so beautifully and smoothly together it builds one’s artistic intellect. So a first step for any aspiring musician is to learn to rhyme once line by line first. With advanced study you’ll probably start rhyming twice line by line. Like Eminem, he’s real good at that.
Check out this single rhyme by Ludacris in the song “Pick up the phone featuring R. Kelly and Tyrese.
Now see I’m just a black man living out a black man’s dream
I went from Popeye’s to eating Flintstone wings
Pouring out alcohol, rolling up green
Playing X-Box on a 100 inch screen
See the single rhymes: dream-wings, green-screen. Now check out these double rhymes. The first from Eminem in his song: “Stan” featuring Dido. And the other from me myself and I: TRAE, in a rap I wrote way back in April 2004 titled: “a pro-50 cry from Sheol”.
I’m sorry I didn’t see you at the show, I musta missed you
Don’t think I did that shit intentionally just to diss you
But what’s this shit you said about you like to cut your wrists too?
I say that shit’s just clowning dogg, c’mon – how fucked up is you?
Fuck the Grammys, 50’s loss is so uncanny
Fuck the Grammys; I should have listened to my nanny
I should have blazed some Yanni, cos these fools they hate rap hommies
I was like Hip hops Gandhi, but they left me cold and lonely
Now I’m sure you what’s up when I’m screaming that songwriters should learn to rhyme. That’s why I get pissed off by many songs I hear on our TV stations. Benita Okojie’s recent South South advert song is a good example. Admittedly the video was good and she’s got a nice voice and can sing, but that song had no single rhyme in it and man because of that I hated the song out rightly as a work of art. It’s simple I don’t appreciate songs whose lyrics don’t rhymes. On the other hand I’m all thumbs up for Jeremiah Gyang and Six Foot Plus in their song: Nabaka. It’s in Hausa but the lyrics rhymed even Six’s verse where he rapped. And any Nigerian musician will know that rhyming (let alone ordinarily singing without rhymes) in Vernacular with its limited vocabulary is not easy.
Another category of musicians that deserve knocks are the Igbo gospel and Highlife musicians. Cos they have a total disregard for rhyming, even when singing in English. They just sit their ass down and remix popular Christian songs and praise chants. I’m telling you, there ain’t no contemporary gospel song without an Igbo remix. And the worse part of it all is that their voice is terrible (all through the song they’re just shouting) and the production is of very poor standard. Although there have been a few of their rhymeless songs which were pretty pleasant to the ears. And just in case you’re wondering how I know all this it’s from my University days in the East.
So that’s it, we should learn to rhyme in our songs. Even as far back as in the 1930’s American musical films they rhymed. And we’re here in this modern times doing the opposite. Rhyming is a must if you doubt me do a search for any song’s lyrics you like and you’ll see the rhymes. Infact the only non rhyming American song I now is R. Kelly’s: “Heart of a woman”. Even in “Mosh” a political song by Eminem with so much to talk about he still managed to rhyme.
Oh well, I guess that’s it. Hip hop is dying slowly…but watch me revive it, you know eradicate the wackness. Let me show y’all how to kick a rhyme with my Xmas bars. Props to Modenine. I ain’t spit in like months but feel this:
My Xmas bars
Written 24th December 2004
Christmas in the ghetto just ain’t worth shit
Tell Santa Claus he can suck my dick
Waiting on Santa is like waiting on a bitch
Those words are TRU’s now feel my shit
I’ve been there-done that with like all bitch
I’m shitty but still had some down ass chicks
It’s a pity I’m still looking for my core chick
Like Stella, I’m Jaiye is what I for wish
But through all the stress twas good I had friends
Those like my best and well, some who pretend
Those with my set I could call up by ten
And those who got my back from Mon to weekend
Even on the cyber I did pretty well
Gaining comp info like Billy and Dell
My peoples they’re saying my blog is real swell
So fuck economics on IT I dwell
But still it’s important I cop that degree
Cos being redundant is like a disease
My project I’ll sort out and end laxity
Best later than never how bad can it be
So flexing and repping I’ve stepped up my game
Might not be hot stepping but they’re calling my name
And if OBJ ain’t award me he’s lame
At least the DJ will, TRAEman I remain
Two of Nigeria’s best songwriters/rappers: Six Foot Plus and Modenine, with Wyclef Jean (in the middle) during Wyclef’s show in Nigeria.