Going by the parallel nature of their early years, hip-hop’s direct influence on contemporary afropop cannot be overstated. Similar to the more popular hip-hop acts of the early to mid ‘80s like Run DMC, Beastie Boys and N.W.A, the foundational acts of contemporary afropop in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s were mainly groups, with trios like the Remedies, Maintain, Plantashun Boiz and Trybesmen leading the charge.
Also mirroring hip-hop’s heavy sampling of disco and funk records in its infancy, Nigerian acts at the time shamelessly ripped hip-hop beats and mannerisms, repackaging them as a symbol of cool for Nigerian audiences. Released in 1997, the Remedies’ classic hit single “Shakomo” falls into every trope available.
Transforming the sultry energy of the instrumental arrangement on American rapper MC Lyte’s “Keep On Keepin’ On” into a club rousing jam, the beat for “Shakomo” takes the tempo up a notch, tightening the rhythmic connection between the xylophone riff and humming bass guitar, with the addition of a more vibrant percussion pattern and bubbling talking drums.
Comprising resident rapper Eedris Abdulkareem and singers Tony Tetuila and Eddie Remedy, the Remedies followed the ideals of a New Jack Swing, where hip-hop lightly melts into R&B, while they added an essentially Nigerian feel to it for some level of authenticity. Acting as the call to party, Eddie’s hook is mostly sung in Yoruba, but the melody leans into the smoothness of R&B. On his part, Eedris’ tightly packed, brag-fuelled verses mainly emphasised the aesthetics of his rhymes, spotting influences from the melodic but rapid fire flow of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, to the vocal scats of Los Angeles’ Freestyle Fellowship.
Although it wears its outside influences on its sleeves, “Shakomo” has gone on to become an evergreen song, thanks to the prominence of Nigerian slang and the re-purposing of a borrowed sound. It is this same innovative ability to re-imagine influences that has widened the sonic range of contemporary afropop to include everything from Caribbean pop to Bollywood-inspired melodies, while also deepening its connection with older forms of African music, like highlife, juju, afrobeat and more.
However, the irreverent, youth-centric attitude acquired from hip-hop still sits at the heart of Afropop. It’s an influence so strong, it makes sense that hip-hop audiences and artists are the most accepting demographic of Afropop’s current push for mainstream stability in the U.S. In that light, “Shakomo” is a marker of hip-hop’s eternal part in the DNA of contemporary Nigerian and African music .
Listen to “Shakomo” via Apple Music here.
Featured Image Credits: Chris Daramola
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