Yoruba rappers Naira Marley and Zlatan Ibile in desperate battle of Supremacy


The Nigerian indigenous rap scene has grown from what it used to be and this is due to the fact that artistes are not scared to infuse elements from their surrounding into their music. A big influence on this is influenced by the streets. From the time of danfo drivers to Olamide and now the era of Zlatan and Naira Marley the streets have always had a huge role in influencing the genre. Just like Olamide had his arch-nemesis and rival which was Reminisce during his heydays Zlatan Ibile has his own nemesis and it’s Naira Marley. Both of them in recent times who are actually good friends are one of the most compared artistes currently in the Nigerian music space. This rivalry is even made weirder because of their relationship although in recent times they have grown apart and although it can be held to their busy schedule, I feel it’s more than just that.

At the start of their limelight, Zlatan was still considered a way bigger musician than Naira Marley and as such he was just happy to tag along but now maybe not to their own making, the two of them are now considered rivalries as Naira Marley’s career blossomed. Although it might not be personal as I have earlier said any critic worth his salt will know that the two of them seem to be in a competition.

Their song rate, there is rarely a Zlatan Ibile’s song that is not replied by a Naira Marley weeks or just a month after or vice versa. They have been dropping songs back to back and it makes all the much sweeter that the both of them use the same Producer, Rexxie and the same sound engineer Spyritmix and the vibe just goes on and one. None of them wants to be like the other one is being outworked and this is a result of the demands of who else? Their fans! Scratch that, we the fans because I am a fan of both of them. Instead of us to continue enjoying the hits they keep giving us we try to start comparison because we have a favourite. I think it is just in human nature to compare people and not just a Nigerian thing. In Nigeria’s case, we have taken it to heights such as the constant comparison between Wizkid and Davido. Two of our biggest pop stars, we still go ahead to compare them.

Zlatan is the propagator of the Zanku sound and dance and one can only wonder if that is what’s pushing Naira Marley to start his own dance. He first forayed into this with Soapy, a very morally disturbing dance step and now he is trying his hands on Tesumole. Although these steps have not picked like the Zanku, they have gone far. Currently, both of them have started Record labels and whether it’s a coincidence these were set up a few days apart showing that both of them are most likely already a part of the competition.

Whether we like it or not, the comparison will still exist between the two of them but we can play our own role in not encouraging enmity but friendly competition between both of them and keep the music going.