After three albums and three classic mixtapes I decided to deconstruct Jude M.I Abaga and explain what separates him from the bunch, after all, he asked us to remember him after all the dust is settled.
M.I made a very good first impression; in fact, M.I had the very best musical first impression in the Nigerian rap industry. Just like Kanye West did with his first and famous song Jesus walk, M.I walked into the music industry with a similar banger calling for a listening chance. Crowd mentality was a game changer, like Jesus walks, and true to its lyrics you can say it is the kind of music you can use as the reference.
“If you don’t have a mind of you own
Don’t be disappointed,
Be a clone.” – M.I, Crowd Mentality (2008)
M.I has been part of the Nigerian rap hip-hop scene since the third decade and bleeding into the fourth decade, in the fourth decade he is known as the greatest rapper Nigeria has ever seen and heard.
Rap in the third decade was pioneered by rappers like Modenine, Ruggedman and Edris Abdul-Kareem in an era of lyrical awakening because of bars and rhymes skills synonymous with Black Diaspora Hip-hop, depicting intellectual and artistic skillfulness, but despite their intellectual capabilities M.I’s predecessors none of them was able to form a connection with the most common Nigerian incapable of understanding extensive tenses and complex lexes. What M.I did was deconcentrate his rap skills into layman bars, still rhyming sensibly but enough to be overstood by the common man. In other words, M.I makes music for the average Nigerian.
When we sit at a round table to talk about who is the most influential what in Africa, I say M.I is the most influential rap artist in Nigeria. He isn’t just the big influence; he is a big encouragement and hope for the youth in the rap industry. A responsibility that fell on Ice Prince but it was obvious M.I is the best at what he does. Songs like The Box where he sampled Tay’s TheBox, Nobody with Tuface, Yours and even Bad Belle.
Let me further explain why Mr Incredible is incredible, no pun intended. It is very important to notice M.I’s support for the underground, and since he cannot have them on his albums he steps back into the streets and give them a chance to shine with his Illegal music mixtape, and that is the epitome of a legend, never forgetting the streets. He is the textbook, the rest look towards him.
“I never eat alone all my family is covered
Along with every loyal motherfucker I discovered” – Everything I have seen (Illegal Music 3)
Five of the best:
Never forget that the sole purpose of art is to make everyone around uncomfortable and in that same breath send a message, unite and to reach out to. Wild, wild, west is a song that borders on the bloody riots that went on in M.I’s very own Jos (J-town). The song has a melancholic vibe to it with chords that string off as if playing a dirge, painting a grotesque image of the killings and violence that went on in Jos, it surely gives me the Goosebumps.
2. My Belle My Head:
If the masses fell in love with Fela Anikulapo Kuti it was because of his flexibility in his lyrics, the ability to switch between languages that better pushed the message he intended to pass across, and he did it mostly with Pidgin English. And so did M.I in My Belle My Head, despite the already deconcentrated lyrics M.I goes bare and uses Pidgin English to manifest the hard life of the average Nigerian in this song, it is funny, real and everything Nigerian.
3. Number one:
Highlife is the Nigerian Life, the horns and the danceable rhythm is what keeps our soul thumping in our achy shoes on the rat race to nowhere, and M.I in his genius cracked the code of how to fuse highlife into rap with his song “Number one” featuring Flavour. Thus making him the only rapper to go commercial in Nigeria and still be balanced.
Safe was the critically acclaimed banger that put M.I on wax, it was his career rocket launcher; it was the song that gained him airplay by major radio stations, television stations and also on the lips of every Nigerian man, woman and child. In Safe, M.I ran bars lampooned from other Nigerian rappers and musicians.
Emphasis: “If there has ever been a rap this fly, it had to be done by another M.I”
When an artist realises the worth of his art in an industry there comes a waking of confidence in him, like an IQ break point. It must feel very good to know that even for years to come you know you are the best and no other point to reach for but the highest, and that is why Epic is one of the best songs
I feel strongly that M.I recorded epic simply because it was a form of self-love. Having made songs for everyone to dance and sing along to it doesn’t hurt anyone living if M.I decides to make a song for himself and himself alone. Pyeri boy shares the same self-love concept, and that’s epic, it’s iconic.
The Chairman, the finale, is the best Nigerian rap album ever put out for reasons aforementioned but I will further expatiate below.
1: The album begins with a skit mocking Nigerian politicians’ and bringing to life the limitations of the Nigerian dream, the picture painted in the background is an assembly of school students, the very foundation of every nation.
- “Rich”: Wealth is the other of the order of the day and a strong part of the Nigerian dream, to have wealth and comfort; this is a song most Nigerians can easily relate to, even more, so that it is in form of a prayer.
“Mine”: Rap being a masculine activity doesn’t actually stop M.I from being sensitive, masculinity doesn’t deter him from feeling love and showing love and M.I showed us the contents of his hearts with songs like One naira featuring Waje, and Sedi.
“The middle”: There have been recorded rap beef in the Nigerian music industry particularly in the struggle for who has a larger fan base and who makes better rap music. Reminisce, Olamide, Kelly Handsome and Jesse Jags. The middle is the peace anthem.
“Bullion Van”: Nightlife, Hip-life, Club-life is the heartbeat of Nigeria, we love to party, and we love to party large and cause a lot of fray in the process, bullion van paints the life best. Again M.I in his genius cracked the code of how to fuse highlife into rap.
“Human being/Enemies”: M.I being the star that he has always been a target of hate and harsh criticisms. He is famous with the blogs and news updates and has always been compared side by side with his brother Jesse Jags even though they don’t make the same kind of music. M.I has always addressed issues concerning him in the music industry, for any issue he responds by putting his mouth in a song like he did with Tuface on “Nobody”, and there is no another way to respond artistically than what he does.