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Memories

Remembering the Golden era of Hip hop in 80s and 90s Lagos with 'Wale Irokosu


From breakdancing to Menace II Society, 'Wale Irokosu recollects hip hop influences from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s and the impact it had on life growing up in Lagos during the period.


Remembering the Golden era of Hip hop in 80s and 90s Lagos with 'Wale Irokosu


My earliest recollection of hip hop definitely has to be in the mid-80s; It has to be breakdancing -- that athletic style of street dancing from the States. Typically set to music featuring drum breaks, breakdancing was the perfect complement for early hip hop songs that featured "boom bap" beats, which primarily had a bass (kick) drum and a snare drum. I recall all the kids in the neighbourhood converging in my neighbour's house, the Orebajo’s, trying to rap, spitting verses like "basketball is my favourite sport," hitting tables trying to make boom bap beats. 

Fast forward to 1991, Naughty by Nature the trio from East Orange, New Jersey, dropped "hip hop hooray" a hot single in December of 1992 that was part of every party. Who can forget the anthem,

Hip Hop hooray, hey ho, 
Hip Hop hooray, hey, ho,
Hip Hop hooray, hey, ho...

Around the same time Naughty by Nature was making waves in the East coast, Dr. Dre, was changing the game in the West. Coming off his departure from Gangsta Rap pioneer group, NWA, the self-proclaimed "Master of Mixology" put out his debut solo album, "The Chronic". That was a turning point in hip-hop. Vocalised by Snoop Dogg in his syncopation laidback flow, Dre opened the album with a heavy diss track to former NWA record label owners Eazy E and Jerry Heller of Ruthless records. Snoop and Dre will collaborate on more hits in the height of the 90s. Most notably "Nuthin' but a G Thang," with the famous lines,

One, two, three and to the fo'
Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the do'
Ready to make an entrance, so back on up
('Cause you know about to rip shit up)
 

The collaboration with Dr. Dre paved the way for Snoop Dogg. Recorded in 1993, hip hop's most laid back gangsta rapper, Snoop, released "Gin and Juice" in 1994, and gave us lyrics that still have us bumping today,

Rollin' down the street smokin' indo
Sippin' on gin and juice
Laid back (with my mind on my money and my money on my mind).

It was massive, that was something, I can recall the lyrics, "So much drama in the LBC," "It’s kinda hard being Snoop D-O Double G." So simple, but so enthralling.

I can also recall the cultural revolution: the films! Most notably, Menace II Society. "Following his breakout role in Juice, Tupac was tapped for Menace II Society. Directed by twin brothers Allen and Albert Hughes, the film centers on a young, small-time drug dealer named Caine who is uncertain of his future but eventually decides he wants a better life. It features Tyrin Turner, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Larenz Tate — all of whom were praised for their performances." Pac was ultimately fired from the film and replaced by Vonte Sweet because of differences with the directors. Menace II Society, gave us a deeper look into gangsta life and inspired the rebel in us. We formed our "codes" in this period, and felt empowered to chart our own paths forward.

I can remember people getting into trouble with haircuts, getting their haircut on the assembly in secondary school. We loved hip hop culture, we brought it with us to school to the chagrin of authorities. Then, we took it wherever we went for uni Ibadan, Ife, the UK, the States; and we brought it back stronger whenever we returned to Lagos. That was a golden era.



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