“WHY I RAP IN IGBO” – PHYNO
In a recent chat with a National daily, Hiphop artiste Azubuike Chibuzo widely known as Phyno, who also dominates a great number of rappers that rap in Igbo, talks about his adaptation of Igbo in rap, and its importance in the music industry.
“As of the time I entered the industry, indigenous rap music was just gaining ground. People still looked at indigenous artistes as local and uneducated people. I do indigenous rap because I think that is what I can do best, not because I cannot rap in English. Whenever I rap in Igbo, I end up being the real me. And judging from the criticisms I got from people, it took guts for me to get there. We cannot continue to emulate international rappers for long. We at some point will have to be ourselves. I don’t think it is proper to do what every other person does. However, it depends on the next level you are talking about. No one should determine my next level. I determine my next level.” he stated
As an Ambassador of rap music in Igbo language, he shared his thoughts on the indigenous language “I grew up speaking Igbo. I grew up in Enugu State, and I do not agree with people who feel that the Igbo language is facing some sort of extinction. I think the presence of music has done a lot of good to the Igbo language. Outside this country, Igbo songs are being played and listened to. Even white people are singing Parcel. And it is likely that they would go around asking their Nigerian friends what the meaning of the song is. As far as I am concerned, Igbo language is not dying. And if it is, I will blame parents and teachers for not doing their work, because if you look at the number of gospel songs in Nigeria, you will find out that majority of them are done in Igbo. And for those who sell these gospel songs in the market, it will be absurd to tell them that Igbo language is dying. And I think it depends the aspect we are looking at it.”
On gaining acceptance from those who do not understand Igbo, he said, “I know there is nowhere in Nigeria that my music is not played. I do not only rap in Igbo; I also combine a bit of pidgin and English. Sometimes the lyrics are English. Let’s not also forget about the beat. So, when these elements are rolled into one, those who do not understand all of the rap will definitely flow with the beat. And I should say one beautiful thing about music is that beside language (which is never a barrier), we can still appreciate a piece of music whenever we hear it. I can listen to a Spanish song even when I do not understand what they are saying and I will be like ‘Wow! This guy is on point.’ I listen to French songs. I do not understand French. I listen to anything as long the music elements are well used. For instance, you know how Awilo sold in Nigeria even when we did not (understand) a word he was saying. Look at those guys from Ghana, the VIP group. We bought their song just like that, the language barrier notwithstanding. I don’t understand Yoruba, but the first time I heard Olamide’s song, I completely loved it. So, I think in music, we have to look beyond language” he quills.