The genre became so popular that when the average Nigerian kid decides to get into the music business, the first impulse is not to grab a guitar or a talking drum, but to pick up a microphone. For years, the earliest attempts at homegrown rap were ridiculed, resisted or downright reviled by the mainstream. And in some cases, they were often regarded awkward, overly imitative, and fatuous. But they also laid the foundation for rap heavyweights like Ruggedman, Modenine, Edris Abdulkareem, Terry tha Rapman and the rest of today’s Naija hip-hop superstars.
From Modenine’s lyrical ingeniuity to Overdose’s unmatched depth, Terry tha Rapman’s wordplay and Edris Abdulkareem’s clever use of pun, Nigerian rap had times that many described as the glory days.
Shortly after Edris Abdulkareem-Obasanjo epic face-off, there was a hiatus; everything went quiet for a while, until Jude M.I Abaga came with Talk About It, his debut album, which he released on December 11, 2008. Till date, no Nigerian rapper or rap album has been able to generate the sort of wave the album obtained then.
However, from latest development, K20 Entertainment recording artiste and rap star, Emeka Ejechi, popularly known as Hotyce, is changing the Nigerian rap music culture with his debut album, RedHOTYCECold Vol 1, which he released in December 2018.Born in Lagos and the last of seven children, the native of Kwale in Delta State spent his formative years in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja before moving back to Lagos in 2016 after bagging a degree in Economics from the University of Abuja.
Described as one of Nigeria’s young, most articulate and energetic emcee (rapper) of his generation, the lycrist was exposed to rap music as early as age six by his older brothers.He started his journey into rap music whilst in secondary school by rapping songs of his idols such as hip-hop greats like Dr Dre, Tupac, Snoop Dogg, and Nas for his friends and family, which in turn led him to begin to write his own songs.
According to him, listening to the playlists of Afrobeat legend, Fela Anilulapo Kuti, as well as Shola Amah’s R&B/Soul and Shade Adu’s smooth jazz also inspired him. This help shape his view and him develop as a rapper.Hotyce caught the attention of rap fans when he released the hit single, 10 O’Clock in VGC, a track he said was inspired during one of his trips to Lagos, while shuttling between Lagos and Abuja. Acxcording to him, he decided to create a story about his experience.
“Before I finally relocated to Lagos, I was shuttling between Abuja and Lagos, and on one of our trip to Lagos — I and my friend, who is now my manager — I told myself I was going to make a song immediately after we touch down with the exact time of our arrival at VGC (Victoria Garden City) in Lekki as title.
“We called my producer, Emmeno and informed him of the plan. Already, he had a beat on lock, so I just listened and wrote about the situation of my life as at that time. We were being prophetic at that time and as God would have it, it turned out fine,” Hotyce stated.On his stage moniker, the rapper says: “Hotyce represents a paradox and I definitely believe I possess those qualities. When I decided to take music a little bit more serious, I knew I needed a name that can explain me because I could be so ‘intense yet so cool.”
“Also, about the same time, I was reading a book titled ‘Cold Fire’ and the story in a way related to me, so I coined HOTICE from there before going further to personalize the name into HOTYCE. As you know when it’s too cold, it burns. Initially my close friends called me ‘Drae’ because I liked Dr. Dre,” he added.
According to the fearless rapper, who was in The Guardian recently, he started writing his own rap songs and making records in 2015. He emerged winner of the ‘16bars’, an underground rap battle league in Abuja.On what makes him different from other rap artistes, Hotyce says: “When you listen to me talk on the microphone, you can tell ‘I’m fearless’. I am at that self-actualisation stage in my career plus I am past the trial and error stage with my craft and I always say something remarkable.”
With the growth and development of rap music in Nigeria, Hotyce in a bid to strengthened and further promote the genre, put himself through an exercise of weekly freestyles on social media, which he dubbed, Friday Night Massacre. “Every Friday from 2017 to 2018, I was dropping new freestyle videos on Instagram,” he said.
This did not only help him sharpen his skill, it also built a buzz and demand that eventually birthed his much anticipated debut album, RedHOTYCECold Vol 1. He promised to release the Volume 2 sometime last year, saying: “be sure this bars fest isn’t coming to a halt anytime soon. In the meantime, enjoy RedHOTYCECold.”As the title suggests, the album, a 10-track project with contributions from music heavyweights like M.I Abaga, Jesse Jagz and Waje, is as hot as it is cold.
Hotyce in the album, displayed degree of depth and lyrical prowess that makes it almost impossible for a listener to believe it’s his first project.Asked why he he decide to title the album RedHOTYCECold, the fearless emceem said: “I just wanted to make it more personal, like two extremes, because if it’s hot, this guy will be red hot and if its cold, I will be ice cold. So I decided to make it ‘RedHOTYCECold’ to tell my story.”
On how long it took him to put the album together, the rapper says: “In the course of working on this project — an album and two mixtapes — it took me a year plus. The album was ready a couple of times, but I always had the mindset that it’s not time to drop yet, we have to keep working.” Hotyce explained that a lot more could have been added to the project but “I can say that this is a very dope one at this point in my career. I had a lot of sleepless night. This is straight up fire and I am 100 per cent proud of it.”
You titled one of the tracks in the project, as matter of fact the first track, Say Something Remarkable. What is the idea behind it? “We are in a the time where artistes don’t really say much on their records and there is no much thought put behind their lyrics. I just believe its a funny time and if I have to pay attention to you then you have to say something remarkable because ‘if you owe me, you might pay me, but if you waste my time, I can’t get it back’, that is just the idea behind the song.”
On what it was with him on the track Purpose, Hotyce told The Guardian, “Purpose came at a very funny time in my life. We (I and my producer) were in the studio at 12.20am, vibing and creating a certain type of beat from scratch and the chorus came through. At the time I was dealing with some form of betrayal and I just included everything and it turned out to be the track, Purpose.”
In June 2019, the rapper who described himself as a nonsense taker, went controversial, as he took to the social media platform to throw shades at some hip-hops acts, stating that many of them should not be regarded as rappers as they cannot even do a ‘decent 16’ in their rap deliveries.
“In a weird mood today… I can’t understand why people who can’t drop a decent sixteen are being called rappers… all most of these people do basically is shout about a dance they clearly didn’t create and hum all through the 2 min song they call a record.“I am not hating but classifying these clowns as rappers is a disrespect to the culture and the guys who possess real talents,” he wrote on Twitter.
According to Hotyce, Nigerian music industry is growing, as artistes are breaking new grounds both local and international. He, however, said that there is still more that needs to be done to improve the music industry. Asked what his experience was working with rapper and music producer, Jesse Jagz, and if he did feel intimidated at any point, the native Kwale in Delta State said: “It was really magical, we knocked off nearly three joints in the first session. Jesse Jagz is a genius. I never felt intimidated at any point but ut was really inspiring being in the studio with Jargo.“I got introduced to him through a mutual friend, who is now my producer, Emmino, he produced many of the songs on the RedHOTYCECold project. Immediately we met, we established a musical chemistry.”