Unless you’re living under a rock, chances are you’ve heard all the buzz following MI the ‘young denzel’ who created loaded conversations on the internet via his twitter account as per the 3rd installment of his mixtape, illegal music 3- the finale.
Aside from obvious growth(no, not in height) in wisdom of the ‘rap god’ here are 5 things I learnt, and I feel MI was trying to communicate;
Use monologues if you want to sound deep;
The use of monologues as bridge has been made popular by the new hip-hop ‘wavvy’ movement. MI rummaged youtube enough to get a hold of not so popular interviews of greats, from Mike Tyson to Jayz’s interview with Angie Martinez. Many rappers, including his own brother Jesse Jagz(in Louis, using rants from the movie ‘Network’); Wale(with Jerry Seinfield, in album about nothing) and recently Anderson .Paak have included these kind of monologues in their works to give it a much more deep, more personal feeling to drive home their thesis. ‘All fall down‘ the track featuring POE is both introspective and motivating- for anybody afraid to fail while reaching for greatness. In there, you can hear Mike Tyson talk about how he has experienced high level of success and great disappointment. And MI closes with an enigmatic statement “gravity is not a superstition”.
Sampling is still the heart of Illegal Music;
If you’re familiar with the previous mixtapes from this collection, you’ll recall how so many instrumentals were sampled ingenuously. This one is not different in that regard. He sampled beats from Jayz a lot, Beyonce’s ‘formation’ for his track ‘black bill gates‘ and YEezy’s ‘never let me down’. He also re visited the popular list published by Notjust ok in ‘Notjust ok/savage’ (in a corny sponsored ad fashion) which he did in a cover version of burna’s ‘Soke’.
Well he hasn’t taken a pop star wife like JayZ (Yemi Alade is single though); he hasn’t till date up to 11 platinum albums(although this mixtape was downloaded 200k times on the first day of release) neither does he own a music streaming platform(read: TIDAL). He however made it clear in the song ‘head of the family‘ where he sampled instrumental and back-up vocals from Jay’s ‘La Familiar’, that like Jay is to ROC nation , he is the head of the choc city family; he has made a star out of Ice Prince, Victoria Kimani and a host of others, plus he knows his business.
MI doesn’t want to be boxed in ‘indigenous rappers’;
On a leveled playing field, MI is better lyrically compared to many acclaimed international rap stars. The limiting factor is the seeming glass ceiling that prevents him from getting Grammy nod. He wants to level the playing field, before now, its be known that he has shunned the industry standard. As he rhymed in ‘Numbers’ to not ‘compare him to these artists, they giving you cheap garbage’, plus no one even comes close if you judge him by ‘these’ garbage.
In the end good music still sells, regardless of the genre;
Contrary to many Nigerians beliefs- notable among them is the famous 2014 tweet from don jazzy that purports, if you’re a Hip-Hop act in Nigeria, your parents can’t be proud. MI has refuted that claim and has yet created a viable business for himself and his team using literally, a mic and a beat box, ‘hip-hop is as viable as pop I made them say’ he rhymes in ‘remember me‘. The key he explains in the track ‘the finale’ is very good content. In the popular Martin Luther’s speech-which he inserted in the song- set out to be the best of at what you do. And for this, people would remember him.
He announced the completion of the 3rd installment of the mix-tape series, Illegal Music(IM) via his twitter account and has whet the appetite of fans with the first single Everything off the anticipated mix-tape, where he revealed the emotional state he’s been after everything he’s learnt so far. It’s very philosophical.
On Wednesday MI Abaga shared a screen shot of what would be the final track-list IM III- and its 10 tracks long.
The mix-tape has garnered this much follower-ship because of the level of creativity he injects into these projects, its sort of the place where he lets loose and say everything he couldn’t in a regular commercial album.
We can only wait the actual release of this project.
The No. 1 boss of Fuji music Pasuma Alabi Wonder aka Oga nla 1, has been listed to headline the night of glamour that celebrates the Nigerian Afro-Pop culture tagged the Industry Night.
This would be the first time a Fuji act is headlining this event, slated for 01.04.15 at Spice route, Victoria Island.
While as a fully established Fuji artist, Pasuma had made tremendous input in the afro-pop culture. His influence in marrying the Fuji and hip-hop genres can not be overstated. A brief rundown of previous collaborations with hip hop acts goes as far back as the Remedies ‘Jealousy‘ in 1999, to the more recent collaborations with Dammy Krane, Tiwa Savage, who are also reported to be hanging out with him at the said event.
I couldn’t agree more with the article- paradigm shift by No BS as per rap scene in the industry of ours (jesse jags thinks we delude ourselves to ever call what we have an industry) disagree? feel free-that’s a discuss for another day. As for the shift, it’s clear to see that the consumers have woken up to the content they really wanted, the unprecedented followership of Nigerian music alone is enough indicator of who’s king in the game (not king as in King James or King Kong) I mean king as per who’s winning-as reminisce rightly said in his recent single, local rappers; awon fans ti jara won, won ti bo pampers, a track that featured Olamide another Yoruba spitting ‘rapper’ and then there’s the ingenuity of phyno, yes its hard already to speak Igbo as a language, but doing 16bars in just plain Ibo(well some English words are always embedded, not avoidable if you understand that some words don’t have Igbo translation like Lice, I mean rice) I must add here that though Olamide sometimes have his stellar moments it’s not the case this time around. But he doesn’t have to cry on this account cos even the author of the track himself wasn’t at his best, very weak flows when you compare to a similar track in his Alaga Ibile album- Government which also featured Olamide.
BREAKING NEWS- the Video for Eau De Vile-Dance Go has just dropped while I wrote this piece. Madam Adetiba did yet another wonderful montage. I was expecting a normal dance club video with a lot of nudity, but was pleasantly surprised by the story based and dramatic rendering of wizzy and 2face with a sleeping beauty that got woken by a single drop the masterfully blended cognac. Oh! the power of Hennie
Back to the discussion at hand, yes! The paradigm shift. There would be no shift if there never was a status quo. The rappers mentioned in the article including Eedris Abdlkareem, Mode 9 etc provided a launch pad for all these new generation rappers and the new gen rappers in turn are obliged to forever pay homage to these ‘intelligentsia’. What however makes me loose it, is the fact that these veterans be telling the new gen they aren’t doing hip hop right (please reserve this advice for Ice prince zamani), speaking of which, I read somewhere MI had something to say as per NoBs’ take on his bro’s mixtape the trash can. Well Mr Abaga, let’s call a spade a spade, or more suitable in this case, let’s call a dustbin a garbage bin or ‘ile le’ as Yorubas say, because calling that mixtape a ‘trash can’ is derogatory to ‘trash cans’ hope I haven’t lost you? Alright then enough of the ‘trashy’ banta. A twip twitted that Don Jazzy has proved my article wrong- ‘Don Jazzy and his huge mavin gamble’ saying that he has started reaping the benefits of his newly signed artists. Collectively, well I won’t argue that the don is winning, and I never said he couldn’t pull it off, I just pointed out to him that it would be arduous. Ok yes, they have hits dorobucci and ada obi, but individually, you can hardly call di’ja or korede bello or banks successful solo artists, yet. This my friend, was the point I tried to drive home with that article.^ See you later guys, till I write again. Meanwhile you could follow me on twitter @shiznnitz if you care to read my ramblings on the inexistent industry as Jesse Jags pointed out.
As all other art forms, music is a medium for communication; messages in form of thoughts, opinions, stories and experiences, shared by artist to his listeners. Some artists pursue societal challenges which their communities face on a daily basis, invoking the consciousness of their listeners to these issues.We barely have enough awards recognizing artists and songs for standing out in this category; most socially conscious songs/artists, which is egregious, because in fact this is a noble pursuit, as music is a powerful universal language employed to form, shift or calibrate the mind of its listener. The artists have in their arsenal, a weapon that can be wielded to influence an entire generation.
Whilst none can compare to him, we’ve seen some young afro-pop/beat acts step in since the much revered Fela Anikulapo in this respect. This article will chronicle the top 5 artists that have been most socially conscious in the past decade.
At number 5 is a man best described as an epitome of grass-root socio-political agitation (music wise). Growing up in the slums of Ajegunle, Lagos state, African China (real name Chinagoro) had a first-hand experience of struggle of the lower class. The reggae performer rose to prominence shortly after he released a debut album titled Crisis in 2002. The song crisis which the album adopted its title from was a narrative about a struggling young man from the lower class of the society, trying to make a way through hostile economic environment. Though his songs send out clear messages about the society, he refutes the claim that he’s some kind of political agitator; he says “I don’t see myself attacking the government with my music. I am only but a social crusader. In that sense, my songs center on the happenings around me”-interviewculled from stayaround.com.
In 2004 he dropped his second studio album, Mr President featuring the track Mr President, whose lyrics contained robust political message agitating for good governance and infrastructures for the commoners. The song, though was released when digital distribution still felt futuristic and far-fetched (in Nigeria). The album notwithstanding did tremendously well, cutting across all tribes and aesthetics, as if to prove itself as the scriptures to a newly discovered faith, the young and old alike sang along to the melodious reggae record.
MI Abaga comes in at number four. His collaboration with 2face on Nobody where 2face carries the hook singing ‘if nobody talks about you, then you’re nobody, whether na true or na lie…stop existing and start living’. MI went on, on how the industry and people in it would try as much as they can to put your back to the ground, and how magazines control the people’s thoughts- if city people write, city people read– but ultimately, believing in yourself is all that matters. However, this song is not the most evocative from him, that honor would be conferred on his first single crowd mentality in 2006. He spoke of how we allow ourselves be controlled by the crowd, like a lazy fat sedated mind or a ‘zombie’. The song is fraught with sarcasm that it would give listeners an involuntary cerebral work out.
His tribute song Wild Wild West to his adopted home state Jos (contrary to popular believe, he’s actually from Taraba, North-East Nigeria), is also worth mentioning here. Themed on a despairing, poignant, grotesque scenery-broken glasses and blood stained street floors, dark clouds- MI is heart broken by the plethoric destruction of his beautiful city J-town, caused by religious and tribal disputes.
At number three is 2face Idibia, starting off his solo career in 2005, he has shown us that we can count on him to speak out on societal issues that bothers us all. His debut solo effort, face 2 face is still his most successful work till date, going platinum around the entire continent and brought him follower-ship from all over and beyond Africa. Although the album owed its success to other tracks, holy pass is the song that fits the purpose of this piece. The track carried convoluted thoughts and enigmatic lines, such that patience and deep reasoning is required to catch the message being passed by Mr Innocent Idibia.
He’s since kept up with the responsibility bestowed upon him by himself to look out for and talk about the society. Take for instance the For Instance song on his grass to grace album (2006) where he imagined himself as a political ruler and how he’ll undo the evils the politicians had created.
If you mix a bit of Sade Adu, some Erika Badu with a little Lauryn Hill, what do you get? You get this persona on the list as a close second; Nneka. Merely mentioning her name is evocative of a strong female activist. The Nigerian/German RnB/Rap/Soul/reggae musician and songwriter/guitarist, is so immense in social issues, her songs stresses issues on capitalism, poverty and war and are often loaded with moral and biblical messages and references. Her debut album Victim of the truth released in 2005 was according to UK’s Sunday times “the most criminally overlooked album”, comparing it favorably to Lauryn Hill’s themiseducation. The lead single, uncomfortable truth basically preaches love and condemns war. The beautiful young African woman is unsurprisingly also a humanitarian, giving back to the society whenever and as much as she can, she says “I hope that what I am today is of positive benefit to other people”.
The title of her second studio album no longer at ease was taken from the Nigerian writer Professor Chinua Achebe’s book. This reflects the intent and content of the whole album. Though she grew up in the south-southern part of Nigeria till about the age of 19 when she left for her University education in Germany, the singer came to find her true identity and gained black consciousness when she was there among the Europeans, she says “living in Germany, Africanized me”.
In 2012 she released soul is heavy, a song with some “heavy” political statement referencing Nigerian political activists and freedom fighters, Isaac Boro, political activist/environmentalist Ken Sarowiwa. She also sampled the legendary Fela Kuti ‘army arrangement’ and ‘teacher no teach me nonsense’.
The one and only naija ninja, sound sultan easily tops this list. The media shy afro-pop star had a first taste of showbiz while rhyming on Baba D’s show (on TV) in the late 90’s. His first single announcing him to the population was loaded with strong socio-political message. Jagbajantis off his debut album kpsheeeeew was a classic tune, on which he re-invented the mathematical formula B-O-D-M-A-S to re address the social conformations we were used to. The song was a sing along for kids too, and what better age to evoke the awareness of individuals. The 6ft plus pro basketball player took a full career shift with the unprecedented success of his debut album, and went on to release a staggering 5 more till date; textbook, naija 007, SS4, back from the future, and the most recent me my mouth and eye. And every single one of this records contain evocative elements, such that it would be time and space consuming to analyze every one of them; Koleyewon featuring Baba D (his big brother) and Faze of the defunct plantashun boiz. Sultan paints a picture of university graduates being promised a better life after school but are faced with the unsavory reality of no gainful employment. Sultan then concluded that if he tried for a year with no luck, he’ll leave his degree behind and move into the street to look at other avenues to get his revenue. In reality this was what he did, fast-forward 10 yrs after he obtained a university degree-at the Lagos State University-in geography and regional planning, sultan has successfully sold out in the showbiz.
Naija 007 is still my favorite work from him till date and the first track in the album titled Animal farm is worthy of mentioning, by the title you get a clue of what the song is all about if you read the novel(that goes by the same title) written by the English author George Orwell. He delivered his lines in a sonorous but somber mood. Of course we remember his song Motherland; king of my country featuring wyclef jean; 2010 with MI Abaga and not to forget bushmeat featuring w4 and Mr 2face Idibia. Like I said, it’ll be time and space consuming to talk about these songs one after the other, but be assured that all of them are as conscious as a teenager after 2 cans of redbull.
As we patiently await the next album from the ‘star boy’ wizkid-that’s a lot of waiting done considering his last effort was in 2011- here is a throwback on his career and events leading to his rise to prominence in the music industry across Africa and beyond.
The vocally talented young man was discovered by the distinguished producer OJB Jezrel. Walking into his studio in surulere at the tender age of 15. OJB though saw the talent and will in wizkid, he had to suppress him for a year, restricting him from recording any song of his own. Although, he did some features for MI, Naeto C and co-wrote a track with Banky W off the W experience album in 2006, here is where young Ayo Balogun(that we’ll all come to know as wizkid) formed a professional relationship with Mr Wellington.
Banky W was confident and was willing to invest in wizkid -at that time he was getting a university degree at the prestigious Lagos State Uni- and signed him on to his newly floated record label Empire Mates Entertainment, EME.
In 2010, wizkid began recording songs that would later feature in his super star album. He released Holla at your boy the lead single off the album, in June 2, 2010. The track was an instant success, bagging the 2011 Headies award in the next rated category; it was also nominated for the best afro-pop song in the same year. The video was nominated at the channel o music video awards in best afro-pop category. Singles like don’t dull, tease me (bad guys) soon followed to whet his fans’ appetite. The album finally dropped on June 12, 2011 under the Empire mates Entertainment.
Wizkid have since worked with almost every skilled producer from all over Africa and even in the UK and the US. It’s like everything the star boy puts his voice on becomes a hit. Since then he’s been breaking every barrier life can throw at a young man from the most populous black nation in the world.
There was a brief raucous, some disagreement between wizkid and his label early in 2013. Nobody from the company or wizkid’s camp released an official statement addressing the issue. But from bits I could gather and filling up the blanks I couldn’t quiet get a hold of, here’s what I have made out of the matter (in my opinion); prior to his first tour of the UK in mid 2012, wizkid had no legal contract with EME, the UK wanted a contract in their hands showing that Wizkid was infact a performing act before allowing him a visa, admist the excitement a contract was quickly arranged by EME, tieing wizkid to a total of 7 albums, prepostrous right?(the only way wizkid was gonna sign this deal, was a promise to review it in time by EME). And there was ofcourse the issue of splitting money he made for the company. He therefore called for a new contract whilst the former hasn’t elapsed. He was poised to abandon EME, got together with his management in the UK(disturbing London, which was partly owned by the British born hip-hop act Tinnie Temper) and formed a new record label Star Boy where he signed the young and proficient producer/sound engineer Malik Berry. They both undertook various projects and released new materials including the freestyle the matter where the listeners could hear the phrase “star boy” repeatedly, replacing the already used to, ‘EME boy’. He later introduced L.A.X an artist signed under the star boy label in the song caro. Star boy was now ready to release its first album and wizkids second professional effort. EME probably got a hang of the situation, and what he would cost the label if he’d left. Nobody’s sure of what the new deal/contract borders on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr Wellington and the honorable captain gave him a piece of the company(at least that’s what I’ll do) albeit giving him blessings to continue his pursuit as a entrepreneur with his newly floated record label(it was a win-win).
With that brouhaha past him, Wizkid has continued to bridge gaps and consequently set trends for afro-pop. He is seen taking photos during his studio sessions with the recently released convicted felon Chris brown. His new album which we all been waiting for (like I said, has been a lot of waiting) is to be recorded in various studios in the US and who knows where else, with prominent international producers on board working the album. The album which he already told us would be titled Chosen is set to be dropped later this year, and he’s confident that he’d win back the affection of whatever fan he might have lost during these years without an album for them to jam. To be honest, if we added up all the singles and freestyles we’ve been hearing from Mr Wizzy for the past year, we could make a whole album for him, I wonder why he decided not to drop until now, this gives me a feeling that he’s really planning something big, not big as in weight I mean big as in colossal, a game changing kind of stuff. With all sincerity, after waiting this long, it’ll be disappointing to get anything slightly less or even equal to his star boy album, and I hope he doesn’t disappoint us.
Let me begin by saying; this is not a paid hype or advert campaign for anybody, although some of you at the end of this post might think otherwise. I can’t deprive you of your opinion(s) (after-all isn’t all these write-ups’ someone’s observation?). That out of the way, I feel the need to address the issue of Nigerian female rappers fading out of the music scene like its destined they’ll always play a cameo role in the industry. We see them drop 1 or 2 bangers (most aren’t even that dope, but we still show them love) and then they burn out. I know by now a few names have been popping into your heads. There are quite a number of them but I’ll mention a few and leave the rest to your imagination.
We start from the most visible female in the game, Sasha P right? almost a decade ago since she left da trybe before establishing herself as a solo artist with the hit single Ewa bami jo back in 2007, and then there was a long pause (radio static silence) in her career, before dropping Adara (the lead single to her First Lady album under storm records), where she voiced all her frustrations about not reaching the expectations of her fans. At least she had a better and smoother career as opposed to Blaise.
Although I loved blaise’s team-up with Jesse Jags and Ice prince on MI’s album in a song that interestingly was titled blaze. I think blaise-a trained architect, never saw music as a full time job, she probably had other source of income as she never got around the vocal booth often, and if she did sorry for the misconception but we were never given enough materials to think otherwise.
Kel…Kel…Kel…Kelechi Ohia, lets just leave it at that cos frankly there isn’t much to say about her. WA WA ALRIGHT.
More recent though there’s been some step-ups, the fair Munachi Abi (I mean fair as always used in medieval English, not light skin) oh yes I said beautiful and that isn’t an opinion, she was a beauty queen in 2007.You’ll think she probably got the idea of doing music professionally when she was going out with peter of p-square, but she’s been doing rap way before then.
‘BTW, was that a failed attempt for a publicity stunt when the dancing twins said they were calling the group quit?’
Muna appears on our TV screen more often for various other reasons other than rapping. She does rap in potois sometimes which I think is really cute, but not enough to get the fans star struck.
Another pretty and petit lady that does patois is Eva Alodiah, her song High was impressive and she got my attention with it (I say that like my attention matters to her, lol). Anyways, the track deaf was for me the highest point of her career thus far, Ol’ up Ol’ up don’t tell me shit *in eva’s voice*. As much as I believe she has a very good rapping skill-word play is top notch, poised to be a successful rap sensation. However, here’s the deal she can’t sing. I think here is the one point where all of the afore mentioned acts have gotten it wrong.
Singing is an integral part of a female rappers career, the ability to switch between hip-hop and RnB is the door way to career longevity(even male rappers do sing these days, you catch what am saying?). As a female artist we want to see emotions flow, and how best to achieve this other than singing a song. Ability to sing is an automatic invitation to carry hooks on many other artists’ joints, which is more playtime for them.
When you listen to Nicki minaj’s albums till date-there’s no telling she’s having the most lucrative career (as she has surpassed many other female acts that had been in the game) you can really get a hold of the whole point am making.
Although she does rap, dance hall, the Edo born Cynthia Morgan got the singing thing going for her I think. Her first single after being signed under Jude Okoye (p square) northside inc, a song titled Don’t break my heart has successfully brought her back into the game. After falling into oblivion just after her brief introduction in Jhybo’s track ejo le fero.
In the end we love all our female emcees, the kind of culture they operate in alone is enough to discourage or kill off their career, but for perseverance and tenacity we thank all of them for making a statement.