How Enugu-born man pushed Ogene music into mainstream Nigerian hiphop circles

Imanuel Jannah
By Imanuel Jannah April 26, 2017 07:42

How Enugu-born man pushed Ogene music into mainstream Nigerian hiphop circles

The ogene sound is finding its way into urban Nigerian music courtesy of Enugu-born Chimaobi popular known as Zoro Swagbag with the release of his ‘Ogene’.

The rapper asks in the song: “Have you heard the sound of ogene?” He adds boastingly: “We are fusing rap into ogene. You know what I mean?”

Perhaps, it seems to Zoro that only through a fusion of rap and ogene sound that Igbo traditional beat could be pushed into mainstream hiphop.

In many ways the song is a sort of announcement: not only demanding that we hear the sound, Zoro says he is the first to dish it out big time. This is probably why he says: “Bring your sickest rapper, sum it up, bitch a bu m the total.”

If he has brought this South-East sound to the country, then he is better than the sum of any collection of all Igbo-born rappers.

Zoro hails from Awgu in Enugu State, a local government area bounded in the north by the Udi and Nkanu West local government areas. So it is not difficult to see why he is the perfect act to sing ‘Achikolo’, a song in which he gives his Igbo colleagues Phyno and Flavour shout-outs.

It is also where he acknowledges Pammy Udubunch, a group that came onto to local scene in the 2000s, even as their sound is more igba than ogene. No surprise then that the trio of Zoro, Phyno and Flavour would come together to make ‘Gbo Gan Gbom’, a mainstream song closest to the sound of unrefined ogene music.

To be sure, the song title has no meaning beyond the ‘actual’ sound of ogene. The song gets its effect, at least to the Igbo speaker, from putting into words all that ogene represents.

Expressed in and enriched by a dialect that best carries its message, ‘Gbon Gan Gbom’ vividly projects the sexual and violent undertone of the ogene sound: from Flavour promising to kill a goat for a fair lady if she puts her heart into a dance to Phyno threatening to split open what can only be another guy’s skull if he dares touch him, right before asking how much yam the fellow has eaten.

All three artists grew up in Enugu. And it is instructive that like town-criers, in announcing their decision to set out on a journey, they convey the message through the medium of ogene.

These lads do not just hand their listeners a map, they point out the target, the place they seek to position the sound: mainstream Nigerian music. The trio seems to be sending out a message of encouragement to lads like those who make up the in-house Villa Toscana band, saying: If you work hard at your craft you can do more with this sound.

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Imanuel Jannah
By Imanuel Jannah April 26, 2017 07:42