These are the wordings from the “Intro 1972” rap song on Vector tha Viper’s sophomore album, The Second Coming. This sentiment, expressed in different turn of phrases in different songs, has been the enduring plight of the talented rapper. Vector (real name, Olarenwaju Ogunmefun) appeared on the music scene in the late 2000s and has battled to remain relevant in an industry that would rather not recognize him.
Though clearly known to most Nigerian rap lovers, Vector’s career in music has never been nearly as successful as MI Abaga’s or Olamide, even though he levels up to them in both lyrical and delivery skills. The rapper is fully aware of one thing – he is underrated. One of his most popular tracks is the song “Kilode”, a 2010 rap song with an RnB-like hook, delivered by Emmsong. In the song, he confronts his critics, asking what they want from him. He comes for all the reviewers who accuse him of trying to be or sound like the American rapper, Jay-Z. In the same song, he takes a sweeping swipe at Nigeria’s prominent artists at the time. From PSqaure to MI to Wizkid to Terry G. No one seemed off limits for him.
Since then, with 3 albums released, a number of collaborations, and a dearth of award nominations, nothing much has changed for Vector in the game. His music, of course, has since improved – adapted even. But he has yet to receive the recognition he deserves.
For all it’s worth, Vector is not an average rapper. He ranks as one of the best Nigeria has ever seen. His lyrical dexterity and fluid ability to play on words and use metaphors is admirable. However, it appears to be that Vector has always been at war with the industry and how it operates. He insists on changing the “game” and not letting it change him; this will mean not bending to label demands of making mainstream hits. He is wary of industry mentors and gatekeepers as some lines in the aforementioned Intro track rap:
“Receive the virtues of their advice
He doesn’t believe these “Lords” have uncommon wisdom to offer. And he’s been vocal about it and doesn’t seem to be bothered about being a lone soldier. He’s doing fine by himself.
Olarenwaju has remained relatively low-key throughout his career except for one of his most widely-received songs, “King Kong”, off his 2015 Lafiaji album. While his lyrical delivery was intact, his hook, however, sounded different: in the sense that the sound is mainstream. The song did well-enough to require a remix featuring Phyno, Reminisce, Classiq and UZi. Fans and party goers did love the song.
In the end, awards or not, Vector tha Viper has made his mark, and Nigerian music is better for it.