Diss tracks have always been a critical part of hiphop culture; or at least they used to be.
The lines are blurred nowadays though.
With newer 21st century protocols in place, the dynamics of hiphop is slowly changing. Rappers are becoming more sensitive to factors like alternative lifestyle choices and being politically correct, because their acceptance and eventual acquisition by multi-million dollar brands usually depends on it.
To the uninitiated, (or anyone born after the year 2000) a diss track is a well-planned act of retribution, packaged in a song. It is habitually provoked by a wrongdoing or ‘beef’ and its primary intent is to disparage or insult a person or group.
Although made popular by the hiphop genre, diss tracks are not exactly a hiphop construct.
The earliest record of a diss track was by a dude called Joe Tex in 1962. His wife left him for renowned hit maker James Brown, who later broke up with her and wrote a letter to Joe Tex saying he could have her back.
Joe’s response came in a song that he titled ‘You Keep Her’, ridiculing the offer.
In the Nigerian music scene, we have had very few representations in this controversial aspect of Hiphop.
But there are some notable ones.
Let me help the Millennials with a brief beef history.
Tony Tetuila released one of Nigeria’s first diss tracks in the 90s, targeting his former group mates with a guest appearance by Afro-pop crooner,Tuface. Next, there was a diss shot at the rap king of the time, Idris Abdul kareem; a shot that instantly propelled its creator, Ruggedman into the limelight.
Then Mode 9, the undisputed Nigerian lyricist of all time, (Argue with Google!) went after Ruggedman in a career-shaking diss track and so the vicious circle continued.
Then a shift started.
Nigerian music began to thrive. The world was taking note of our craft and showing interest in our hiphop export and by a series of unexplained successes, music artistes began to get invites outside the shores of Nigeria.
Then without warning, the up-till-then thriving diss culture stopped.
Apart from some fledgling attempts by a few street rappers, no one of note showed any interest in the trend. Making commercially-acceptable music that sold albums and got you international invites was a more worthy venture.
So the diss culture flopped and died; at least here in Nigeria.
Elsewhere in the world, Eminem’s diss track, scratch that, his diss album titled ‘kamikaze’ attempted to revive the diss culture, with a full-blown open confrontation targeted at everybody from retired rapper turned rap-purist, Joe Budden to America’s 45st president, Donald Trump.
A few days ago, something strange happened.
A hardly-known Nigerian rapper named ‘Tentik’ dropped a troubling diss track, complete with an unflattering graphics that went on to trend nationally.
His target? ‘Blaqbonez’, one of Chocolate City Group’s finest acts.
Chocolate City Group, one of the foremost record company out of Africa, with veteran rapper MI at the helm of affairs, has over the years been the home of some amazing music talents in the Nigerian music scene.
So signing Blaqbonez is a testament to how amazingly talented he is as witnessed by his joint-album release with talents like loose Kaynon, AQ and MI himself.
Why Blaqbonez though? Because a few weeks ago, BlaqBonez claimed in a tweet that went viral to be the best rapper in Africa.
A very bold declaration.
So to honour the long line of legendary diss-creators the world over, emerging rapper Tentik went for the jugular; scoring points for dope lines that had the Nigerian social community tweeting all day long.
The icing on the cake was when veteran rapper MI Abaga, known for his passionate affiliation to the diss culture and technically Blaqbonez’ boss, tweeted a response to Tentik’s viral diss track.
His simply used the fire emoji.