‘The Best Rapper in Africa’ brings a Caribbean Twist: An Interview with Blaqbonez

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It’s safe to say that 2021 may well have a similar vibe to 2020. And music fans are always looking for the best tracks to sooth the existential dread.

And if you like your tunes with a Caribbean flavour, Blaqbonez’s latest single BBC might be what you’re looking for.

The Nigerian rapper’s follow up to Haba has over 90,000 views across its YouTube audio, music video and visualizer releases combined, and is proving a hit with fans.

It’s fair to say Blaqbonez is a divisive figure in the African Rap scene. His “diss” track Best Rapper in Africa, a response to Khaligraph Jones’ track Best Rapper in Nigeria, caused a lot of contention in the rap community on its release.

But whichever way you fall on this particular debate, there’s no denying Blaq’s talent as an artist. His come-up on the competition circuit, coming 1st Runner Up in Vector’s King Kong Competition and winning Terry Tha Rapman’s Zombie Competition, is a testament to his skill.

Moreover, many rap fans appreciate his versatility. And Blaq’s confidence, bravado and willingness to break the mold all appeal to many who want a challenge to the status quo.

With the release of his latest single, we spoke to Blaqbonez about his musical influences, what makes him ‘the best rapper in Africa’ and his plans for the new year.

Firstly, congratulations on your latest single. What was the inspiration behind ‘BBC’?

My inspiration behind ‘BBC’ is just I felt like I needed to bring back the men to the forefront of  the mainstream – our body parts. ‘Cause it seemed like all the songs were talking about the women – you know, big asses, WAP, all this stuff that’s related to the female body. But nobody’s talking about the men. So I felt like I had to do something about that.

Who would you say your main musical influences are?

My main music inspiration is definitely Drake. You know, I love Drake so much and the fact that he can navigate between mainstream music and hip hop and pop and everything is just amazing. And then, you know, Travis Scott, Roddy Ricch.

Back in Nigeria I’m inspired by WizKid, you know. Even, like, the new guys. A lot of the new guys inspire me, or my lady Rema. Right now everyone in Nigeria is making such amazing music and every time I listen I get inspired, you know?

You got your come-up on the competition circuit – how did that experience help you grow as an artist?

The competition circuit has helped me build like a loyal fanbase, you know? I was the guy that used to, you know, win and I used to rap so hard on the radio and everything. And, you know, it made my fans just ride for me super hard ‘cause they knew that they were riding for a winner, y’get, not a loser. So I think that helped me. And  that helped me kind of meet the right people. The people that are working with me now and, you know, I think it was a major part of the process for me.

You claim that you’re the “Best Rapper in Africa” – what do you think makes you stand out from other artists today?

I believe I’m the best rapper in Africa because asides being able to rap at a high level I’m versatile enough to dabble into different sounds and to make it come out sounding amazing. So, like, it’s more than just being able to just spit bars on a track. You make music and I feel like I’m amazing at that.

There’s been a lot of turmoil this year, both globally and closer to home. How have these events affected your music or your process?

You know, like, the Covid and everything that’s happened this year – it’s been so crazy because for a while I was just home. And, you know, a lot of times you’re inspired by being outside, you know? Like, relating with people, experiencing life. So that kind of halted everything I was doing, and at that time all I did was just stay home and try to promote my single that was already out. 

For a while it felt like my whole year stopped. But things are gradually going back to normal, so… Thank God I’ve been recording again and, you know, I thank God generally.

Word on the grapevine is that you’re working on your next EP. Can you give us any hints as to what fans can expect?

Yeah, I’m working on my album. It’s titled ‘Sex Over Love’. It’s definitely an insight into my mind. So, like, there’s a lot that I don’t agree with as regards to the way that society makes us believe love and everything is supposed to be. So it’s like an insight into my mind.

What are your plans for 2021?

Plans for 2021? Drop my album and take over the world! Same thing we do every night, Pinky.

BBC is out now.