This week in 2007, Terry Tha Rapman released his official debut album, ‘Tha Rapman Beginz’, kicking off a journey that has seen him remain one of the few active members of not just his clique, SWAT ROOT, but also the now defunct label, under which the album was put out.
Released under veteran’s filmmaker, Charles Novia‘s imprint, November Records, which had Majek Fashek on its stable at some point, ‘Tha Rapman Beginz’ is not exactly Terry’s first body of work, as he had previously released, ‘Tha Rapmanifestation’ in 2001 during his time with Payback Tyme Records, but he says the project was not properly released or distributed, so it wasn’t considered as an official body of work.
‘Tha Rapman Beginz’ album offers up-to 17 tracks of rap awesomeness as Terry who had just signed his first major record deal at the time, was eager to make an impression on the mainstream and at the same time, cater to his core hip-hop followers.
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Featuring a number of artists like Aysia, A.T, Modenine, J.Vox, Sam P, Babyrella who is now known as Munachii Abii and Overdose, the album served up a mix of talent, lyrics, flow and something pleasantly inspiring to the genre at the time of its release.
In an exclusive interview with Pulse, Terry Madaki revisits the project, producers and artistes he worked with, the major singles and where it ranks among his body of works 11 years after.
On the major singles off ”Tha Rapman Beginz”
”The first single off the album, ”Na Beanz” was produced by Mista Seth, I was basically tired of the media painting hip-hop as music for school dropouts and street people.
So I was explaining how hip-hop is intelligent music, you gotta be intelligent to be a dope rapper, since the slogan, ”No be beans/na beans?” was trending in the streets back then, I decided to use it for a catchy hook.”
Another song that caught some buzz following the release of its video was ”Shake Ya Shangbash” and Terry says;
”Shake ya Shangbash”, is dedicated to some girls I knew in UniAbuja that year, ”Shangbash” was a popular slang for booty so I decided to make a club song about it.
The original track was produced by Mista Baron, but the remix was produced by Jamix.”
On ”Small Boy”, a jovial track where he featured close friend, Modenine, Terry states, ”That was the most unserious track of them all, Modenine had a skit called Small boy earlier, so we just made it a full track for the album, we actually recorded and teased a sequel that we never released”.
”Only 4 Naija” was just me addressing the ills of our society with witty humorous lines, I worked on it with hip-hop legendary producer, G Lynx and it featured Maytronomy and Ayuba Tete.”
If there is one song on the album that many Nigerian hip-hop heads still point to as perhaps the greatest rap collaboration, it is Spazmodic, a song where Terry Tha Rapman alongside his darker alter ego, Joe Spazm came together with Modenine in a pure lyrical fest.
Terry looks back on the song with joyful nostalgia, ”Mehn, there is so many memories attached to that album, ”Spazmodic was just that record that was meant to happen.
Modenine and I went over to Jonah da Monarch’s studio, which was in a police barracks then in Ikeja, Lagos. Mode selected one of his beats and we recorded same day, Pherowshuz was also present in the studio.”
”There was a song which later became a favourite, ”PH Girl”, produced by Fairface, my first gig in Port Harcourt, I was introduced by a friend to Munachi Abii (who was known then as Babyrella), I was so impressed by her delivery that I decided to put her on my album.”
On the inspiration behind the album title
”The album title came at me after watching a movie about my favourite superhero character, Batman titled, Batman Begins,” he says.
Placing the album on a scale with his other projects, he responds, ”It is a favourite amongst my core fans since it was more or less my introduction to the mainstream, I hope to capture the same vibe on my forthcoming album.”
Speaking in an earlier interview years ago, Terry identified the project’s track 12, ‘The Revelation’ as his best song on the album, ”It is the first song I recorded for the album, I had just left PayBackTyme Records and I was broke, mad and all, it was a personal song.”
11 years later, his messages remain alive as songs like ”Only 4 Naija” fits in perfectly into present day societal occurrences, while ”Spazmodic” literally packs more punch than most rap albums available on the shelf.
That said, The Rapman Beginz faced criticisms with some songs pointed out as being average and lazy, while some of his day one fans struggled to accept his commercial songs, the album however works its way as a pioneering body of work that delivered epic moments cementing Tha Rapman’s place as one of the most revered emcees on the scene.