Hennessy VS Class: On a mission to bring fresh voices to the Nigerian hip-hop scenes.

Since entering the Nigerian market in 1921, popular alcohol brand Hennessy has upheld a tradition of supporting the Nigerian music industry. With shows like the Hennessy Vs class, Hennessy Cypher series, and the Hennessy artistry grand finale concert, the brand has continued to influence hip-hop and pave way for upcoming artists by giving them a platform to display their creativity and grow.

Their dedication to the expansion of hip-hop in Nigeria has led to talent discovery, unleashing great potential, and with the release of the Hennessy mixtape, they have given different generations of rappers to come together and create something extraordinary. Over the years, the Hennessy VS Class competition has brought many artists like Blaqbonez, Vader the wildcard, Phlow, Laud Reyes, Barrylane, Holy field, Eclipse, and most recently PDSTRN to the limelight. With the trajectory of the music industry, a lot of uninformed listeners believe the horrendous notion that hip-hop is dead in Nigeria, but after I watched this year’s edition of the Hennessy VS Class I can boldly say that hip-hop is very much alive, and these upcoming rappers are about to blow our minds.

Although there was one winner, some of the rappers that stood out for me were Barelyanyhook, Fozter, Teddy, Mannie, and Thello. With references to Jada Pinkett’s hairline to dissing each other with Bible verses and making panties drop on stage (shout-out to Alaye Prof for that); this year’s edition was entertaining to watch. Most of the contestants in this edition embodied the phrase “Never stop, never settle,” as a lot of them were from previous editions held, but they came back to the stage with big energies, and witty lines to prove that are never stopping. For example, PDSTRN had been competing since 2019 but looks like 2022 was his year.

“It’s sad that brands don’t do enough to support rap. Rap is hip-hop, rap is intelligent. It’s really hard work and it’s a shame if these raw talents are forced to send to bend the rules and water down the quality of rap in the name of making commercial music. Simply because brands and fans don’t come through for them; good thing Hennessy is not giving up on rap,” this quote Mr. Dayo Showemimo made in 2016 at the third edition of the Hennessy VS Class edition, is the sad reality of hip-hop in Nigeria. Brands don’t support songs that do not flow through the mainstream sound. Day by day, talented rappers water down their bars to fit into a listener’s misguided understanding of what rap is thereby overthrowing the beauty of the craft. Hip-hop in Nigeria is not dead, we just have uneducated listeners, and brands that want to push punchlines and beef tracks. Like what Reminisce said, “Punchline o ja wo mo.”

From the first edition of the Hennessy VS Class edition to the most recent edition, the brand has positioned itself as the brand that has promoted hip-hop in Nigeria and given upcoming rappers a stage to showcase their talents. Kudos to PDSTRN for winning the competition, we can’t wait to see him at the top of his game. Watch the season finale and other episodes of the competition here and enjoy.

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