My initial research on hiphop in Nigeria began with the internet, where Nigerians all over the world share music with each other through social sites like Naijapals.com and Nairaland.com as well as sites dedicated to hiphop music like nigerianhiphop.net, werunthings.com, and notjustok.com. I used these sites to become acquainted with the commercial side of Nigerian hiphop - listening to tracks, watching music videos, and reading interviews by such popular artists as Eldee, Eedris Abdulkareem, Modenine, MI, and Terry tha Rapman. I was impressed at the ways these artists and others referred to their country and their fellow Nigerians as one entity, united in spite of the ethnic, linguistic, religious, and economic divisions that have fractured Nigerian society. Along with their danceable beats, these artists' songs were often infused with a conscious, critical, and nationalistic spirit. I wanted to find out if these messages had meaning to young people in Nigeria, especially in the northern part of the country, where conservative Islam has a strong hold and past outbreaks of ethnic violence have occurred. Could the nationalism expressed in hiphop music play any role in young people's tolerance and appreciation of diversity?
I traveled to Kaduna, Nigeria, in June 2009 in search of answers to these questions. I was fortunate to stay with a host family, and my host brother, a student at ABU - about 40 miles north of Kaduna - took me to visit the campus one Friday. When I told my host brothers' friends and roommates that I was interested in hiphop, they immediately suggested we go to the Sculpture Garden. By the time we arrived, it was completely dark, and the Basement was well underway. Although I was only able to catch thirty minutes of that evening's performances, I knew that I had found the right place.