If An African City, the Ghanaian web series inspired by the famed HBO drama Sex and The City, was a way for creator Nicole Amarteifio to show the world contemporary African women in a fresh, sexually liberated and relatable light, then Princess Vitarah, a Los Angeles-based Nigerian rapper with only two singles but a message that nods to both her heritage and current state of womanhood, is taking it even further.
Her outspoken, cheeky approach to rapping is shattering the trite perceptions people have of African women by mixing elements of hip-hop and Nigerian culture while also providing anthems for millennial African women.
Born in U.S. but raised in Nigeria, the rapper shocked the world with her first song “Nigerian Pussy,” which debuted on YouTube in March and gained 75,000 views in less than 48 hours (it now has over 280,000). The video opens with Princess Vitarah decked out in gold accessories, red lipstick and box braids on a palm-tree lined street in Los Angeles with a posse of men dancing shoki, a Nigerian dance craze that went viral in 2014.
The song was praised by Nigerian rapper Olamide and started a comical trending Twitter debate among West Africans, who are usually more likely to argue about who makes better jollof, a West African rice dish. (She raps: Nigerian pussy is the tightest, Ghanian pussy is not….Naija pussy is the best, Kenyan pussy it’s okay.) It even warranted a response track from Ghanaian TV presenter and musician Sister Deborah called “Ghana Jollof.”
Founded in the '60s by Fela Kuti, Nigerian afrobeat is currently making waves in the UK and America. Pop star Davido was featured on the cover of The Fader's March issue and has a deal with Sony Music Global, while Drake and UK grime rapper Skepta made a remix of "Ojuelegba" by Wizkid, who's also featured on Drake's Billboard-charting song "One Dance." And then there's pop star Tiwa Savage, who has been called Nigeria's answer to Beyoncé. Yet while Wizkid, Davido, and Tiwa Savage are bringing a Nigerian music genre mainstream, Princess Vitarah is attempting to break into rap.
With lyrics like “Princess Vitarah is the baddest, Princess Vitarah so hot, Princess Vitarah is just a tease and a player, make them think they’re going to get it but they not,” the song isn’t a far cry from the sexual braggadocio and liberating lyrics of female emcees before her like Missy Elliot, Lil Kim, Trina, Nicki Minaj, Khai, and most recently JunglePussy and Cardi B.
What makes Princess Vitarah stand out is that she's African. Here is an African female rapper speaking her mind about sex in a place known for conservatism. In an interview with Okay Africa, Princess Vitarah said her parents haven’t even heard her music yet:
[Laughs] My sister called me. My mom and dad, I don’t think they’ve seen it. I hope they don’t. And then my brother, I hope he doesn’t see it either.
My sister, she’s like the coolest one. She’s the most understanding. But my other family’s way more conservative, so I hope they don’t see it. So far I don’t think they have.
In Princess Vitarah's new song "Tell Your Husband," she complains about a married man who keeps contacting her (DMs, Snapchat, texts, phone calls, in person). She doesn't want him and begs him to stop. She inserts Yoruba phrases into her rhymes: Tell your husband fi mi le jo (Tell your husband leave me alone) and Tell Baba Nla he better fall back (Tell big man he better fall back). The music video features her with a gang of other beautiful women in traditional Yoruba headdresses, milly rocking with stacks of cash in their mouths. What a sight! It's now a contender for anthem of the summer, because seriously, who doesn't want an overzealous man to stop calling them? We all do.
Princess Vitarah wants to "put Nigeria on the map, so that way, maybe we can open the door for other Nigerian artists to come over too." We are here for it.
Tahirah Hairston is a style writer from Detroit who likes Susan Miller, Rihanna's friend's Instagram accounts, ramen and ugly-but cute shoes.