As hip-hop infused Nigerian pop continues its explosive growth (and the Nigerian economy maintains its ability to keep an upper class VERY comfortable), we’ve seen an ever increasing number of collaborations between American and African rappers. Given Afrobeat’s brilliantly slick style and increasing international heft, a US breakthrough doesn’t seem out of the question. Unfortunately, for the most part, none of the potential crossovers have been all that great- rarely terrible, but lacking the punch that would certainly be necessary to break into significant radio play (and certainly worse than the best domestically oriented Naija pop.)
Given this, we are always delighted when we hear a gem like T-Pain’s new single, “If I Got It”, featuring Akon and 2Face.
There’s more to this track than the names attached to it. The tradition of socially-conscientious music is long and honorable, but it’s also sired a lot of preachy, cheesy tracks (we’re looking at you, “We Are The World“). “If I Got It” has a lot of heart and steers clear of tasting too saccharine. Set atop a slinky, half-time beat and the tinkling of a piano’s upper registers, the track is all about working hard and providing for the people in your life. Not your standard fare for contemporary hip-hop, and although it may come off a touch too sincere for some tastes, T-Pain and company are hardly pandering for a feel-good anthem here. It helps that 2Face’s verse is top-notch. Hunger is a prevalent theme in this track, and 2Face widens the scope of the song addressing humans’ hunger for knowledge and truth, not just the physical. It’s a great track- let’s hope it turns some ears!