However, anyone who has been paying attention to Nigerian social media trends in the past year might not find Lil Durk’s feat a surprise.
By all indications, the Atlanta Trap rapper is popular in Nigeria, but the question remains, why?
The influence of American pop culture and the demographics of streaming
In general, American pop culture exerts a significant influence in Nigeria. His music, movies, fashion and lifestyle have influenced young Nigerians for decades.
With the growth of streaming, Nigerians are increasingly exposed to American music. The population that make up the streaming demographic on Apple Music and Spotify are largely middle-class and upper-class consumers who are more inclined towards American urban music.
Lil Durk is one of the beneficiaries of this large group of cool consumers whose musical taste and primarily preferences for hip hop are largely shaped by cool American content.
As the lead rapper of cool kids, Lil Durk’s music has endeared itself to a group of consumers who take advantage of music to connect with the American urban scene.
The role of social networks: “My God, what happened to Virgin?”
Earlier this year, Lil Durk had a viral moment on Nigerian social media when a video surfaced of a Nigerian fan comically singing along to his hit record. ‘What happened to Virgilio’ appeared online.
The video spread, and in that period, Lil Durk saw an increase in his broadcasting activities in Nigeria. As reported by TurnTable Charts, the song saw a 200,000% increase in activity in the week after the viral video.
Viral social media moments have translated into the digital success of several hit songs and this was the same for Lil Durk, whose popularity grew after he became a trend.
A unique group of consumers: “Lil Duck, Omo Werey”
Sometimes in 2022, Lil Durk enjoyed his first viral moment on Nigerian social media. He was inspired by a video in which a young man declared in Yoruba that the Atlanta rapper’s music was his main musical choice for consumption.
This group of listeners makes up a good chunk of your streaming demographic, and while they won’t qualify as cool kids, they share a different kind of connection.
Lil Durk, like most Trap rappers, raps about drugs, money and other illegalities that are conveyed through a go-getter mentality that resonates with this group of Nigerian consumers. And while they may not understand music at its core, especially since they’re out of step with American pop culture, they connect based on shared ambition.
If Lil Durk, why not Psycho YP?
Now if Lil Durk can rise to the top of Apple Music and Spotify Nigeria, why are Nigerian rappers making similar music struggling to enjoy commercial success?
If these Nigerian consumers can enjoy Lil Durk so much, why can’t they extend the same grace to someone like yp psycho?
The reality is that Nigerian consumers are more susceptible to accepting foreign content, even those who don’t fully understand it, who are more likely to accept the same content from a local source.
While Lil Durk’s music includes language, style, and cadence that are completely foreign to the average listener who probably won’t understand the composition, this consumer is open to accepting the music for what it is. The idea that he is a foreigner helps them not to expect any family component beyond related issues.
The opposite is the case for a Psycho YP whose music similarly contains Western elements, but is not accepted by the average Nigerian listener due to their unrelatedness. Since it is from Nigeria, consumers are predisposed to expect it to offer items that convey identification.
In simple terms, while the average listener will go to the trouble of racking their brains over Lil Durk and even go as far as pretending to enjoy the music, they won’t go out of their way to accommodate a similarly styled Nigerian rapper. .
This is why successful mainstream rappers like ladipoe, blaqbonezand Odumodu Boulevard they are able to connect with local listeners through the incorporation of local and related content. And any artist who wishes to tap into the mainstream must be willing to do the same.
On May 23, 2023, Lil Durk’s ‘All my life’ debuted at no. 11 in Turntable Top 100 which is the only aggregate chart of Nigeria. Essentially it captures its popularity and acceptance in Nigeria. A privilege that other local rappers have not been able to enjoy.