I have, although in Passing, blithely asked Terry Tha Rapman in one of Mode Nine’s Album launch party that a friend brought me to, I believe in a club in Abuja years back, about the meaning of Swat Roots or at least the logic behind it. I think he gave me a vague answer, or was giving me an answer before we were interrupted and got mixed up in the crowd. If I had known that I would be taking up a project like this in years to come; I would have pressed on.
I told you on previous pages that most of the acts in the late 90s staggered between rapping and singing all through their careers, right? But Swat Roots were not among. Swat Roots were full-fledged hip hop custodians of highly educated and well informed young men who swore to do Hip Hop the right way. They believed rap was a delicate art that requires an intellectual cum clinical approach.
You may know them on individual basis, but few knew them as a group. The group was made of special breeds like: Mode nine, Overdose (OD), Terry tha Rap man, Sixfoot Plus, Rule clean and the not- too-much popular, at the time, LD Xtra Large, Guru and Baron. These guys were serious rappers who were determined to change the game. I give them kudos because they successfully attempted to make music with plane English without necessarily sounding ‘fake’ or wannabes. Their flows were clear, clean and comprehensible. The subjects of their songs were similar with that of others at the time, but they did theirs with better finesse and dexterity.
It was a complete rap group; the first of its kind, far up in Kaduna, northern Nigeria and later in Abuja. The group suffered a great many setbacks. There are varying reasons for this. First is that most of their songs weren’t properly marketed and distributed which could be attributed to lack of proper management and funding or the ineptitude of their label CEO and producer Solo Dee—or maybe something else we aren’t aware of—lest we judge. KD town didn’t have the market. Or a credible record label, at least one that had an interest in Hip Hop. Lagos was the only state then that paid little attention to home grown hip hop tunes. It wasn’t much long before the group set apart and the emcees toe different paths. Some like mode nine and Overdose remained on their purified known path of intellectual ‘hip Hopism’ while terry and sixfoot plus brought the bar a little lower. Rule clean went off the bar completely with his smash hit: “Wetin I want” which I must add remain the only successful song released under their label then; Payback Tyme. Meanwhile, Sixfoot had always been a humorous rapper.