Idowest’s Lagos state of mind makes it to Tim Westwood

Idowest's choice to freestyle in Yoruba on Tim Westwood is a cultural response that resonates beyond the music

“I was born broke, though imma die rich/ Black Black hoe, pelu white bitch”, these raw lines from Idowest’s feature on Tim Westwood’s BBC “Crib Session”, would have been bleeped out on a record back home, but the same thing would have happened anywhere else in the world. Without using“it’s hip-hop”, to mask the culture’s misogyny and wanton disrespect for womenfolk, Idowest’s daunting entry, flanked by “Eruku Awon Mafia”, is perhaps more a reflection of a genre-at-large that has unapologetically refused to rid itself of its excesses. That’s really just how updated, far and wide the music is these days.

But if you still needed proof on the global nature of music, think back to the P Square and 2 Face era of Nigerian music, when we pulled elements from R&B, hip-hop, and house, and blend them with Nigerian rhythms and melodies. They used the ‘cool’ of their foreign influences as a sort of currency and for the most part, it worked. Nigerian music quickly spread across the continent and got international recognition with our artist’s regular feature in Tim Westwood’s studio in London.

Idowest’s hip-hop flow may have some 2Pac or Biggie influences, but between his Yoruba quips and the Lagos mind state he sees the world through, his street peppered bars will go right over the heads of the hip-hop legends. Though the instrumentals provided for his Westwood Crib Session had more than a few foreign elements, he knew better than to fall for the same mistake Wizkid did on the show in 2012, after Rick Ross’ “Ima Boss” instrumental was played and the Afropop singer launched into a well-rehearsed rap performance that fueled Wizkid’s ghost-writer rumour but had the girls in the studio sizing him up like an ice-cream cone in the summer.

These days, Tim Westwood’s booth is merely another platform for Nigerian artists to express their distinctly Nigerian stories that speak to issues affecting them. Absurdly enough, a street inclined artist’s dreams of featuring on the UK radio show would have been funny for all the wrong reasons back when the likes of D’Banj and the superstar team of Chocolate City were there. D’Banj’s gibberish freestyle during Mo’Hits go at the studio left a bad taste to the celebration of our biggest stars on an international platform. Though in truth, it was inspiring for kids watching an artist act a fool on Tim Westwood in the most relatable way. Idowest’s Tim Westwood Crib Season is made exponentially more Nigerian by the inclusion of Dami Bliss and Selimax who gibberish their way through their cuts of the video and remind the unrivalled impact D’Banj has oncoming generations of Nigerian.

But not everyone can be as comically charming as D’Banj. For Idowest, it’s his Yoruba quirks and hip-hop’s storytelling of an authentic Lagos street lifestyle that has won him plenty of fans at home. So much home support that Tim Westwood knew to feature the rapper to imbibe some culture on his global audience. It could be seen as a marker for how promising his career is given that seeming niche rappers like ShowDemCamp’s Ghost featured on Tim Westwood back in 2011 and is still very relevant till date. Idowest’s Tim Westwood’s feature asides highlighting that Nigerian music is doing so well that even niche genres are getting recognized is a testament to the fact that we no longer have to overly embed our sound with western influences to be internationally accepted.

Watch the Idowest freestyle session on Tim Westwood Crib below.

Featured Image Credits: YouTube/TimWestwoodTV

You are meeting Debola at a strange time in his life. He wandered into a dream and lost his way back. Tweet at him @debola_abimbolu

ICYMI: Watch the video for Street-hop smash, “Shepeteri”, by Idowest and Slimcase