Back in 2008, I was on a promo run for my album Persona Non Grata and I gave an interview to the Kamerhihop site. When the journalist asked me what I thought about the state of Cameroonian Hip-Hop, I replied that I didn’t quite follow the movement. Undeterred, he pressed on and asked me what I thought were the weaknesses in the local Hip-Hop scene. I had to stress that I wasn’t tuned into what was going on in Kamer Hip-Hop.
A full decade after that interview, if that journalist were to ask me the same question, my answers would be much more voluble. Indeed, Hip-Hop in Cameroon has evolved significantly over the past ten years and many Cameroonian artists are now filling up my playlists. Admittedly, I didn’t see such a turnaround coming.
In case you’re unaware, I’d like to inform you that the new generation of Cameroonian artists is absolutely loaded. Unfortunately, many of them are unknowns on the international stage. Today, I’m putting the spotlight on the ten best talents in Cameroonian urban music. I hope that by doing this, these young artists will be able to acquire new fans — that means you. Without further ado, here is the ranking. (Please note that artists from the diaspora have been excluded.)
Last June, Daphné was involved in a road accident and nearly lost her life. Thank God, she survived and right now her career is on a steep ascent. Today, her single “Calée” can be heard beyond the borders of Cameroon and has amassed over 16 million views on YouTube. When God favours you…
Last year, Mink’s made a lot of noise with his single “Le gars là est laid“, from his album Tranches de vie. For a long time, I had a hard time distinguishing Mink’s from Franko because their styles were very similar. Then little by little, Mink’s has asserted himself. The “Mbita Kola” freestyle he released in early September settled my doubts.
I discovered Magasco in 2012 when he released his hit “Line Loba“. Since then, I’ve been eagerly keeping up with his career. In 2015, he released his Raw Gold EP. While it was quite disappointing, the single “Wule Bang Bang” was a welcome silver lining. Now, Magasco released his debut album at the tail end of 2017.
When I discovered Franko in 2011, he was only making conscious rap. I was very enthused “Le Tchoko” (bribe), a song where he denounced the extent of corruption in Cameroon. As the commercial success he targeted wasn’t forthcoming, Franko switched to making festive music instead of conscious rap. In 2015, he released the song “Coller la petite” and became an international star. The video has garnered more than 49 million views on YouTube, a record for a Cameroonian artist living in Cameroon.
He is criticized for being crude, but Maalhox is just being real about what happens in Cameroon, where basically people’s chief concerns are food, drink and sex. As such, Maalhox’s music is only a reflection of Cameroonian society. Maalhox is not responsible for the depravation of manners that plagues Cameroon, he is just a messenger. His song “Ça ne rit pas“, where he describes the living conditions of Cameroonians in the diaspora, is a masterpiece.
- Mr. Leo
I discovered him on Locko’s single “Supporter“. His performance was so impressive that I was compelled to explore his discography. I discovered a super talented artist, able to compete with the Mr Eazi, Wizkid, etc.
There is no doubt, Ko-C has talent and then some. The rapper from the Cameroon South West has a style similar to that of Sarkodie and is the self-proclaimed “Cameroon’s Fastest Rapper.” No lie there. Not only is he good at rapping, he’s good at rapping really fast. Just go listen to the song “I Love You” that he made with Locko. It’s a gem!
In a very short time, Ténor has risen to the top of the Cameroonian Rap. The young gun is unquestionably talented. But is he able to make an album for the history books? Time will tell. In the meantime, I encourage you to listen to the feiry banger “On n’est pas pareil“!
For a long time, the Cameroonian rappers would kick verses by whitisizing (speaking like Europeans). Jovi burst onto the scene in 2011 with “Don 4 kwat“, fearlessly rapping in pidgin. Love him or hate him, we have to admit that Jovi has had a lot of influence on Cameroonian urban music. His success has opened doors for many artists from the English-speaking provinces of Cameroon. Jovi is certainly not the first Cameroon rapper to rap in pidgin, but he helped popularize its use in Cameroonian urban music.
The only fault I can find with Locko has to do with his lyrics, which can at times be superficial. That aside, Locko is the perfect artist. His voice, his melodies and his productions are excellent. How many Cameroonian African artists, are capable of a song like “Sawa romance“? You’d be hard pressed to find a handful. Locko is simply the best Cameroonian urban artist right now. And it’s not up to debate.
What about you? What do you think of these artists? What do you think of my ranking? Let me know. And enjoy the playlist below.
The original opinion piece can be found on ‘Un lion parmi les hommes‘
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