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The hook is a musical conundrum. It is an illusory comfort found in the discography of the industry's heavyweights but when stripped down to the bones, the hook is a skill very few perfect, a skill which like a Cristiano Ronaldo piece, however enjoyable and easily pulled off it seems from the viewers' seats, is years and years of training, sweat and blood. 

More so, a hook placed in the midst of BARS. As a genre in Nigeria, Hip Hop has always relied on the hook of an expert and while some rappers are naturals, – Phyno, Ice Prince, Falz, Olamide, Jesse Jagz, etc – most call on the services of whom we now call hook masters. While premeditated crossovers to pop dominance will always have a spot on Hip Hop talk shows due to the delicacy of invention, (Hip Hop started as a means of social protest from the critically silenced and profiled, the black male in America) there's something often enjoyable about a properly constructed hook, its stripped down but intrinsic quality alongside the hard work of the lyricist. 

Today, we celebrate the hook masters. Five of them who've proven at different times, to be able to grab a beat by the neck and own it, who've made the non Hip Hop head give your favorite rapper a listen, and I'd dare say, who've made that song get an extended radio life. 

Djinee assisted the Choc boys with massive hooks


DJINEE: He might not have many hooks on Hip Hop joints but part of what makes this list nonsense without Djinee is the fact that he was the springboard upon which the rap game flourished.

Back forward ten years ago, there was no chairman, no Chocolate City exec making big moves, there was just MI, and he was a short black boy who wanted to talk, about stuff, about the industry politics and Nigeria's politics, about his skill as an MC, about everything really. Yet, the problem with having so wide an idea is total chaos, total dismantling on the delivery and while chaos in a sense of Hip Hop is outright superiority, chaos meant Safe wouldn't have been MI's bread and butter, if Djinee's input wasn't expert in its minimalism.

He proves his mettle as a hook master again on Overkillin', featuring the J Town trio of MI, Jesse Jagz and Ice Prince to flex lyrical muscles over a beat that is the rapper's everyday dream but Overkillin' genius lies not in the bars but the hook which prevents them from being just boastful words from rappers. 

Years later, when MI will return the favor by calling up Djinee for a concert co - organized with 2face, it wasn't impossible for one to look at that stage with teary eyes, reflecting on the truism of Djinee's words; no think sey this love e mumu o, I dey count am o. 

BOJ: If any musician in Nigeria have been able to capture the Summer Vibe, it is BOJ.
Lagos is a merchandise which sells its frenetic pace to the attracted, and music and the night life is a major Lagos attraction.

Listening to Omo Pastor in 2012 was that often experienced feeling in music; not knowing that you need something until it forces you to listen. BOJ forced us to listen with his soft vocals laced in Yoruba, voice like tissue dipped in blue waters alongside the baritone of Ajebutter22, as they explored the duality of a runs girl's life, good child at home, queen of Lagos nights outside brimming with men and booze. 

Social commentary was in vogue then for rappers, with Show Dem Camp in the midst of their Clone Wars volumes. However, what was the track that established them? That track that cemented a presence that up till then was like the light of a faulty bulb, flickering with every turn, never a mainstay. Feel Alright was that song. 

If Omo Pastor was satirical in its approach, the duo of Ghost and Tec were the sugar daddies who savored the company of the corrupted daughter of a pastor. BOJ on the hook crooning "Because if you’re willing and ready, I’m willing and ready too". 

As if both of his earlier collaborators outside his group DRB Lasgidi recognized BOJ’s immense talent, he has been heavily involved in Show Dem Camp’s Palm Wine Music, a genre bending phenomenon and Make E No Cause Fight, a joint effort from he and Ajebutter22.

Burna has scored a couple hooks

BURNA BOY: Nowadays, Burna Boy is dabbling with forms outside of Hip Hop but there was a time when an adlib at the beginning of your song from Damini Ogulu meant two words: instant hit. Not just the Jamaican patois or the trap bounce that almost certainly followed but because Burna Boy was simply unstoppable on hooks in 2014. 

Featuring in numerous South African summer hits, prominent among them All Eyes On Me and Baddest, both songs by South Africa's finest AKA. With his hooks armed to the teeth, Baddest and All Eyes On Me climbed charts and got off them when something better came along, and it was a long while that. 

Sarkodie, Ghana's own Hip Hop export tapped into the Burna magic on Special Someone, a song which never flattered in its promise, which floats off the Burna Boy hook. 

ORITSE FEMI: His songs has always been doused in political/social commentary, praises to God, women (or rather, parts of them) and the hustle of the streets, all themes that relate to his humble beginnings as a up and coming act in Ajegunle. Oritse Femi is tough in his own way; tats, dark shades and all, but as MI once said, when those lips open to let out his voice, very few can stand to not be enchanted. 

On Mercies of the Lord, he proved his mettle, providing the backdrop for one of the more spiritually enthusiastic songs of the last decade.  

However, it is his hook on Black Magic's Pass You By that bore testament to the sheer power of his voice. He didn't say anything groundbreaking – or unheard – but it was in the way he said it, that voice! 

BRYMO: "People had started referring to me as a hook master. I don’t think I want to be identified as a hook master." Thus says the man in an interview six years ago but then, it was folly to feign negligence of his prowess. 

After Oleku gained instant classic status, Brymo starred in Action Film, proving an impeccable songwriter and suitable sparring partner for MI in the song whose pace moves with the urgency of a bestselling book of the thriller genre.

Even post hook master Brymo still shows off his skill in later projects, TV no doubt taking notice as Waka Waka was used as the soundtrack for the series Shuga

To be Continued......


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