Charles III is too woke to be living in dreams on “What is Life?”

Conscious rap, as it should be.

Isn’t it refreshing when you stumble on an honest to goodness rap song? You know the kind of rap song where all you hear are clearly enunciated 16 bars after 16 bars dropped? The kind of rap song that doesn’t have any corny punchlines or sung-rap segues? The kind of rap song that isn’t trying to be anything else; not a cross-over hit, not a genre chameleon, just itself? Well then you should listen to conscious rapper’s Charles III’s new single “What is Life?” 

The stripped down aesthetic of classic rappers is what Charles III decides to adopt for the new single. A simple midi drum loop, a vocal sample, echoed and repeated through the song like a sombre adlib, and synth guitar notes, sustained to create a wall of sound effects, on which the rapper can muse. And Charles III muses, forgoing the atypical themes from Nigerian rap for a more personal introspective outpouring that wrestles with the place of a rapper in a world where materialism, and unreal pressure forces young creatives to transmute into ugly caricatures of themselves. He is unashamed to speak of his religion, to share his doubts and aspirations, referencing the high street brands that he still rocks, even when everyone else is hopping on the Gucci train, as a metaphor for his life.

You come away from ‘What is Life’, sombre, inspired to look at your own priorities, and in an industry that seems obsessed with escapism, it couldn’t come sooner.

Listen to “What is Life?” here.


Get all four songs from the ‘War’ EP by Nonso Amadi and Odunsi