A highlight of Afropop Worldwide’s recent field work in Nigeria was sitting down with 20 or so of the top Hausa hip-hop artists in Kano for a session of storytelling, venting and freestyling. That was where we met Kano’s youngest rapper, a sensationally talented 14-year-old called Lil Ameer, who sang and rapped for us. (Check out “Hip Deep in Northern Nigeria” to hear him.)
Sadly, we have just learned that Ameer passed away in a road accident on Sept. 14.
Ameer Hassan was born on May 22, 2003 and began his musical career at age 9. He had support from his parents, rare in this conservative Muslim society. He avidly pursued music during his brief career. Beginning with his breakthrough hit “Zaman Lafiya,” Lil Ameer received radio play on Kano’s major stations, and became a darling of the growing Hausa hip-hop community.
Explaining his musical life to a Nigerian blog, Ameer said, “I was listening to one song on one of the local radio stations all of a sudden, I just stood up and went to my mother and I told her that I wanted to sing, and that was how it all began. Being a little boy, I picked the stage name ‘Lil A,’ a short form of little Ameer. . . . It is no secret that I wanted to be a pilot and music has become a hobby that I can’t let go easily; I am glad that my parents have understood me and are always there for me when I need them. One good thing here is that my mother writes all my songs for me. Though not a singer, she is a good songwriter and she has written virtually all my songs for me.”
Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, the man who introduced us to this remarkable young artist and who was the lead scholar on our Kano Hip Deep program, sent us this remembrance.
“Lil Ameer was one of the most promising rap singers in northern Nigeria. In addition to leading the vanguard of young Hausa rappers, Lil Ameer’s stage performances had the sleek presentation of an accomplished artist far older than him. His songs, a mixture of swagger and gratitude to his fans, and sung in both Hausa and English, reflect not only his youthful years, but his potential future. His mother was his songwriter and supporter. This is absolutely great and revolutionary in a society where women, children and music do not mix. I like his spunk, sheer stage confidence and his multilingual approach to Hausa rap–singing in both Hausa and English, ensuring that he will expand his audience. Sadly this was not to be. His star dimmed on 14th September 2017 when he was run over by a truck after falling out of a motorized rickshaw (daidaita sahu) in Kano. I will certainly miss him as I was doing a profile on children and music and he was brought to my attention. I spoke to him over the phone a couple of times and had wanted to meet him and discuss possibilities of funding his first full album.
“Lil Ameer was a talented young boy. His death does not leave a vacuum, instead it opens the doors for other young child Hausa rapsters to emerge; already waiting in the wings is Lil Ameer’s friend, 10-year-old Hani Bello (son of Hausa technopop pioneer, Billy-O).”
The Afropop community extends our deepest condolences to Ameer’s family and to the brave and innovative creators of new music in northern Nigeria. May his memory inspire us all!