m.i abaga

Best Rapper In Africa Or Nah: What’s Next For Nigerian Hip-hop?

Ever since Blaqbonez crowned himself the best rapper in Africa, Nigerian hip-hop has gone bonkers. The 100 Crowns rapper first made the audacious claim in the maiden edition of the AKtivated Sessions and the reaction was volcanic.  The hip-hop community immediately spiralled into long polarising debates over the validity of Blaq’s claims. While some admired his confidence and assertiveness, others dismissed him as a nuisance and an attention seeker who had nothing to back such daring claim. 

If attention was the goal, Blaqbonez definitely got it.

The debates further diffused into claims and counterclaims, diss tracks flying around with not-so-subliminal shots, directed at the rapper and his associates. After a couple of weeks, the pink-haired rapper reaffirmed his claim in his latest release ‘Best Rapper In Africa’ where he took aim at rappers like TenTik, Holyfield and also called out some of his colleagues for being craven. This, in turn, generated swift responses from Payper Corleone, VaderDavid Meli and many others. Even the OGs aren’t left out of the frenzy as a video surfaced of AQ, Loose Kaynon and SDC’s Ghost in a heated debate on who was a better rapper. 

And all this just mean one thing to the fans, excitement. 

The last time Nigerian hip-hop got its fans this elated was in February when the scorching LAMB-Martell Cypher dropped. The culture has always thrived on competition and with projector missiles flying all around,  fans are ravishing in euphoria right now. It’s a common saying that when two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers. But in hip hop, when rappers square against each other, the only true winners are the fans.  But sadly, the euphoria is going to wear off soon. People are bound to move on. And when they do, what is left?

Nigerian hip-hop has been in a sorry state for years now and despite the several efforts being made for its rejuvenation, the future isn’t looking too bright yet. And this is not for a lack of talent – after all, we can boast of some of the best rappers on the continent – or creativity. Regardless,  it seems Nigerians have just moved on to drown their pain and realities in afrobeats. Enough has been said on what hip-hop needs to get itself on its feet again. Multiple articles have been written, plans drafted, discussions had and more. 

If not optimized, this excitement and attention Nigerian rap and rappers are getting at the moment will fizzle out back to where we started. But some things can be done to sustain some of the eyes and ears that have been captured in this whole episode for the good of the culture. 

To start with, Nigerian rappers simply need to put out good music. That’s where it all starts from, the music. The problem is that many are still stuck in the ‘golden days’ and as such have refused to evolve with the times. Each age has its demands. Some are stuck on 90s-type boom-bap beats all in the name of keeping it real, and then turn around to guilt-trip the fans and media for lack of support when the record simply doesn’t pop. This was what Blaq had in mind when he rapped “If the music ain’t good it ain’t moving/ Your aesthetics will not replace the music.

Snap out of your obsession with the past. Listen, research and understand the sonic demands of the times and let that influence how you make music. The music world today is big on bending and fusing/melding genres. The lines between genres are so blurry today that they might as well be nonexistent. Experiment with other sounds that appeals to new audiences. Approach other genres from a rap perspective. 

Show Dem Camp did this with Palm Wine Music to positive results. The move has been commercially rewarding as they have registered new fans who might have not even heard of their Clone Wars series. They’ve also held two Palmwine music festivals -which recorded impressive numbers – and are even about to take the festival to the UK.  Other rappers like Blaqbonez, Ladipoe, as well as the Lost And Found on their last tape have been fusing rap with other genres and it has been rewarding. Falz’s seminal album, “Moral Instruction” was heavily inspired sonically and thematically by Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

This is also one of the major reasons why the so-called indigenous or local rappers are more commercially successful. These guys can make music in a way that resonates with a wide scope of audience. They rap in their local dialects laced with street lingo thereby making their lyrics more relatable and easy to understand, as well as meddling rap with dance music and even introducing dance steps to go along with it. Zlatan is the poster boy for the wide-ranging Zanku dance and its accompanying sound and he is undeniably Naija’s hottest rapper at the moment. 

Rappers also have to learn to step out of their shell and work with others. While friendly competition is healthy, there is so much more that can be gained from working together. 

Nigerian rappers should be always ready to join forces with one another and synergize over records, projects and even concerts. Collaborations shouldn’t also be limited within the hip-hop circle. Rappers can reach out to acts from other genres like the alte community, soul singers and afrobeat and even Afropop. Step into their space and see their world. This would help to create much more dynamic sounds and also help to share the fanbase with their collaborators. 

Over the years, there has been a downturn of collaborations between Nigerian rappers and their pop counterparts. In fact, these pop stars tend to feature foreign rappers on their tapes much more often these days. There should also be much more joint efforts between the English rappers and the indigenous ones. 

Visuals also have to be taken seriously too. Yes, hip-hop is a word-oriented genre but videos are very much especially in the visually-driven world we live in today. And maybe as a result of a shortage in funding or whatever reason, hip-hop acts don’t seem to place much emphasis on their releasing music videos. You don’t believe me?  Take some of the best hip-hop projects in the past year as examples. “Crown”, “Yung Denzl”, “Bad Boy Blaq”, “These Buhari Times” and the Lost and Found’s “Alternate Ending” have only about two videos released at the moment. Projects with over 50 songs and only three videos out.

Even if proper music videos can’t be done due to financial constraints, rappers and their teams can take advantage of lyric videos and visualizers which can be promoted on social media. 

Now the spotlight is on Nigerian hip-hop and no one knows how long the excitement is going to last. Mere buzz or an abundance of talent isn’t enough to sustain the genre.  The best that can be done is to ensure that this rare opportunity should be optimized as much as it can. The community has to come together to create and promote premium quality content that can restore hip-hop and rap to the mainstream.

For all the dust rappers have raised in the past few weeks, it would be beautiful to see it all transcend to something bigger and not just fade out to another false start.

M.I Abaga Finally Shares Music Video For ‘Playlist’ With Nonso Amadi

Admits the deafning noise as surrounding the trending Best Rapper In Africa conversation, Chocolate City boss, M.I Abaga has finally unveiled the visuals for ‘Playlist‘, one of the standouts off his “Rendevous” project. Coming over a year after its initial release, this video comes to the delight of fans that have been demanding the visuals for their favourite songs off the tape. This makes the Nonso Amadi-assisted ‘Playlist‘ the second video off the highly collaborative project following the visuals of ‘Lekki‘ with Falz and Ajebutter 22 released in October last year.

The UA-directed visuals finds a romantic M.I and his woman cruising around the city of Lagos. The video opens her visibly lonely and bored, trying to listen to the sultry record on TV and radio. She immediately brightens up as the rapper texts her to rendezvous, losing herself to the music as she readies herself for their outing. They eventually link up and have a good time.

Enjoy the video above.

Listen to Chillz’s Debut Album “Good Vibes, Vol. 1”

Ever since coming to the attention of many following his contributions to M.I‘s 2018 “Rendevouz” project, multi-talented singer and producer, Chillz hasn’t wasted any opportunity to leave an impression. Either on his own records, like the Mayourkun-assisted ‘Grateful’, or his appearance on Falz‘s seminal album, “Moral Instruction“, Chillz takes every chance to prove himself as one of the most talented singers rising through the ranks. And now, he has put out a project that will put away any persisting doubt.

Late last month (June), Chillz released his debut album, “Good Vibes, Vol.1“, a 9-track project including the pre-released ‘Grateful’ and ‘Chop Life‘. And on the project, he brings along Falz, Mayourkun and Sir Dauda who helped to add new flavours on the tracks in which they appear.

Production-wise, the “Good Vibes, Vol.1” is an entirely solo effort, save for the title track, ‘Good Vibes‘ which was produced by TMXO. Generally, the album is filled mostly with mid-tempo, soft, and melodic songs which are so easy to sink to, filling you up with positive energy.

Tracklist For Good Vibes, Vol.1

Tracklist For “Good Vibes, Vol.1” (Twitter/ChillzHimself)

Most of the songs are crafted from personal experiences, particularly ‘Grateful’, which was borne from a thankful heart after Chillz survived a ghastly motor accident in 2018. With brilliant songwriting deployed on every track that gives a soulful realness to his lyrics, punctuated with nuanced but ever soothing vocals, the tape has a vibey and personal touch that makes every track relatable and sure to give you a feel-good listening experience.

This tape comes highly recommended from us at the PGM Club. Enjoy!

Ice Prince Taps M.I Abaga, Sarkodie, Khaligraph Jones & Kwesta For ‘Feel Good’ Remix

Ice Prince has had quite a busy year. The rapper has been steady with quality releases this year such that the string of releases has helped put his name back in conversations and spaces where he existed a few years ago.  Recently, he worked with Mr Eazi to release ‘In A Fix’, a record which has been gaining much traction on the airwaves.

And now, just a few months after teaming up with two of Nigeria’s biggest wordsmiths, Falz and Phyno in club banger, ‘Feel Good‘, the fashionable rapper is back with what he calls a refix of the record. For this new version, Ice Prince joins forces with an African all-star rap team with M.I Abaga, the Nigerian living legend; Sarkodie the Ghanaian veteran; Kwesta all the way from South Africa, and Khaligraph Jones waving the Kenyan flag.

This isn’t the first time Ice Prince is making a pan-African remix to his bop. It would be remembered that in 2013, the rapper got Sarkodie, Kuli Chana, Wizkid and M.I Abaga on the remix of his monster hit, ‘Aboki’.

In ‘Feel Good‘ remix, M.I Abaga opens up with a fire verse with a bullish delivery that leaves him with the most impressive performance on the record while Ice Prince wraps up the record with a verse of his own that reminds us of his heydays. The other rappers also kept up the tempo with verses laced with snarky punchlines.

Enjoy this record above.

Another Year In ‘These Buhari Times’

We enjoyed Palmwine Music Vol 2 and The Collectiv3’s Live. Create. Repeat. but it’s time to reflect and figure out 2019.

Show Dem Camp is out with their first project of the year These Buhari Times. By now, SDC fans are familiar with their table-shaking Clone Wars projects and as the fourth instalment, These Buhari Times is no different.

The LP explores issues from internet fraud, lazy Nigerian youth-ing, fair weather friendships to toxic masculinity. The Spax-produced project, mixed and mastered by AudioGrease Monkey features Ladipoe, Vector, Tems, Cina Soul, Sir Dauda, M.I, Phlow, Dap The Contract and Rotex.

Start the year right, listen to These Buhari Times here.

M.I host PGM Radio Show (Yxng Dxnzl Playlistening)

This is the first time we got an artist to host the PGM Radio Show and according to our verdict, M.I did pretty well.  In this video, M.I went through motions and explained the pressures of recording the Yxng Dxnzl album and the lessons learned from it.

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