Profile: Nigerian artist / illusrator Aniekan Udofia

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Having grown up on highlife, a musical genre that originated in Ghana in the 1900s before eventually spreading to Sierra Leone, Nigeria and other West African countries by 1920, Aniekan was familiar with legends such as Ibo highlife innovator Sonny Okosun and Victor Olaiya, a Yoruba singer and trumpeter. But hip hop captured the then-17-year-old in ways highlife couldn’t. “It was the expression of it…Even with Slick Rick, how he tells the story,” Aniekan recalls. “He’s rapping, but it’s like he’s singing…the art of twisting words.” (He likened listening to Kool G Rap, a precise wordsmith, to “playing Tetris at high-speed.”) Aniekan’s first encounter with the art form was through a friend, who passed him a Kid ‘N Play cassette tape in 1992. Other encounters came through friends who got VHS tapes of Yo! MTV Raps from their relatives in the U.S. “We didn’t have a VCR,” Aniekan says. “It was like one person in the hood had one, so we would all go 15 deep to that person’s crib, hang out, watch those videos and get all hype, trying to talk like the guys in the videos.” Continue Reading

Via Tayari Jones

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