This writer was a budding music nerd in 2020. Regardless of the genre or the release date, my love and passion for music inspired me to seek out and listen to it.

Podcasts about pop culture and music also captivated me, and they still do.

The “Music in Time podcast,” which is hosted by Nigerian media and music icon Osagie Alonge, is one of the most powerful and important podcasts I listen to religiously.

The podcast dissects, examines, and celebrates the significance of legendary Nigerian albums.

Ruggedman’s 2007 cult classic, “Ruggedybaba,” was reviewed on the podcast’s November 30, 2020 episode.

I grew up knowing who Ruggedman was because I watched him on TV a lot.

However, I was too young to fully appreciate the influence of his personality and music.

So this podcast episode was a much-needed introduction to Ruggedman and the album.

By the end of the episode, my only thought was to thoroughly listen to the album.

The album seemed to be the only thing I was playing for the following month, and by the end of the year, it had become one of my all-time favorite Nigerian hip-hop albums.


In 2007, Ruggedman was at the peak of his powers and had built a reputation as Nigeria’s fiercest rapper.

At the time, Nigerian hip-hop was heavy on foreign influences, and a lot of rappers were hip-hop purists who believed that only rap that contained hardcore lyrical content was to be respected and considered hip-hop.

The foundation of hip-hop purism is unrealistic standards. It is an unwavering commitment to the original components of the culture and to the classic rap musical genres.

The subculture ethos of praising the underground and detesting the mainstream is perpetuated by hip-hop purism.

However, Ruggedman held a different viewpoint. He thought that in order for Nigerian hip-hop to genuinely speak to and resonate with the general public, It needed to be as relatable to Nigerians as possible.

That meant the blending of native Nigerian languages, Pidgin English, and English.

Making sure that Nigerian hip-hop was viewed in this light and that native Nigerian rap was given a chance to flourish became Ruggedman’s life’s work.

Ruggedybaba, his sophomore album, served as one of his tools for spreading his message.

Let’s get into the music

The album opens with the ultimate introductory manual to Nigerian hip-hop.

On ‘Naija Hip-Hop 101 Intro’, Rugged comes across as a professor introducing university freshmen to the intricacies of the field of study they are about to embark on.

He perfectly details the steps to follow to become a successful Nigerian rapper and ensures his listeners know he has been there and he has done that.

He taps into his well of experience, breaking down every instruction and making it as understandable as possible. For every promising and talented rapper, this is a must-listen.

Over a decade since its release, this record has not wane in its relevance and importance.

The hard-hitting kicks immersed in mellow piano riffs keep your ears glued to your speakers as Ruggedman terrifyingly attacks and destroys the instrumentals to ‘Move Something’.

The alluring hook delivered by Morell gives Rugged the platform to deliver a party-starting, speaker-rattling hip-hop record.

On ‘Watch Me’, his flows are at their menacing best, as Ruggedman displays incredible lyrical dexterity and impeccable rhyming.

Aided by pristine production, Ruggedman likens himself to an infuriated snake, confidently bigging himself up.

The record revolves around Rugged’s braggadocio as it relates to his own abilities.

He accelerates the pace of the album with the uptempo banger ‘Club Rugged’, where he borrows influences from Indian music as he canonizes his love interest, worshipping her boneless waist and asking her to make him beg her for it.

He taps a then-burgeoning 9ice, who delivers an iconic hook as Ruggedman ferociously drives home his message.
The melancholic piano chords of ‘My Life’ come to the fore as Ruggedman ruthlessly fires shots as Mode 9 calls him out and gives props to rappers who pioneered the hip-hop culture in Nigeria.

As he did on ‘Watch Me’ and across the album, he raps like a man with something to prove.

On the vicious ‘Waka’ he fires shots at his concern’ and then goes after Mode 9 on ‘To whom it may concern’.

Cmion takes the shine off Rugged with his sublime delivery on ‘Won’t Battle’. Ruggedman writes a beautiful love letter to hip-hop, likening it to an angel, and wishes he could do it all on ‘if I could do it all’ aided by another great hook by the beautiful Niyola.

The croon strings in the opening sequence of the record, along with Niyola’s elegant delivery, make for a dulcet listen.

Ruggedman’s pure technique and distinct songwriting are at their remarkable best. He serenades his love interest and asks her to ‘let him touch her’.

On ‘Flesh to Flesh’, he educates his listeners about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, using his unique story-telling abilities as an instrument to drive his message.

He shows signs of vulnerability in ‘Broken Promises’.

The run from ‘Rock da spot’ to ‘Boing Boing’ isn’t the most interesting run on this album; the outro ‘Naija Hip-Hop 101 PT2’ is a massive drop in quality when compared to the intro.

Final thoughts

The production on this album is sublime—simply sublime. The beats match Ruggedman’s spirited delivery and thrilling penmanship.

That’s a testament to his great ear for beats as well as hooks.

Ruggedman understands the potency of a great hook, and this album contains a lot of them.

The album in its entirety is a flawless listen and lands a vibrant punch on the listener.

The enduring impact of this album is clear for even the blind to see.

Since its release in 2007, indigenous rappers have gone on to become the top dogs of Nigerian hip-hop.

Olamide is the greatest rapper in Nigerian music history, and he raps predominantly Yoruba.

Other rappers like the late Da’grin, Lord of Ajasa, Phyno, and Illbliss have all built their legacy off rapping in their indigenous languages.

Even rappers like Shallipopi, Odumodublvck, and a lot of others are testaments to the impact of Ruggedybaba.

It opened the eyes of creatives to the unlimited possibilities of hip-hop and played a massive role in making Nigerian rap the mass-market product that it is today.

Ruggedman’s startling inability to deliver another album with equal levels of brilliance and his bit-part role in the industry since the release of this album have meant that he is not as celebrated as his peers.

His name is often left out of conversations regarding Nigerian hip-hop greatness, and only a few are knowledgeable enough to include him in their listicles.

However, nothing in this world can strip this album of its greatness and impact.

It deserves its place in the Nigerian music hall of fame.

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