Musicolinguistics: Deciphering the Nigerian Hip-Hop Music: Cryptolect


Waliya, Yohanna Joseph

Department of Modern Languages & Translation Studies, University of Calabar, Calabar-Nigeria, &


Young rappers use a secret language or cryptolect to shield themselves from public criticism but share persuading hidden messages that influence their communities. Some of these young musicians are Nigerian University students and their special use of language gives birth to this type of hidden language.  In this article, I highlighted the cryptolect or Cant used by Rapcultureafrica, a team of both young students and ex-students of the University of Calabar and their cohorts. The cryptolect is making its way into everyday speech especially English and Pidgin as the rappers use it in their rhythmic music. Many people hear these Cants in rap and feel that it allows them to reconnect with their cultural identity in the postcolonial period. It is for this reason, I write this research paper to decrypt to the world the exact messages these rappers are presenting in their music. In this report, I will apply a critical lens using the theoretical framework called Rappers Cryptolect Theory. I will rely on the help of the informants and solicit their help in deciphering these messages for this aspect of the crytptolectics[1] in order to make an entry into Linguistics and unconventional English lexicons with the aim to contribute towards establishing crytptolectics in Musicolinguistics as a part of the field of study.

[1]  I coined the word to refer to a sub-branch of linguistics that deals with cryptolect.

Keywords: Musicolinguistics, Nigeria Hip-Hop Music (NHHM), cryptolect, cryptolectics, Rapcultureafrica.


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