m.i abaga

From Davido To Adekunle Gold: Lessons On Adaptability

We’d never forget Davido. Not just because of his decade-long dominance in the Afropop space, but because he’s that superstar whose hands are always stretched. “We rise by lifting others,” he’s often quoted; and for the longest, he has tried to live by this maxim. Davido is the guy who doles out money to fans on social media, hands out millions of Naira to fans on stage, helps strangers fund their schooling, projects young acts into the limelight, and pulls stranded artists out of bad deals. He’s always been one to reach out.

“I think it’s something I learned from my father. That’s just how he was growing up. From everybody in the family to his friends. I don’t know man, it’s just a natural thing for me. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t help everybody.  But I won’t lie to you, God has blessed me that I’m able to take care of my friends, my family, and also spoil myself, spoil my woman, etcetera. We are not complaining, but I do what I can for the community, I do the most I can,” he reveals in an interview with Joey Akan. 

Davido often seems like the best ally new-gen acts have in the Nigerian Afropop space. Interestingly, it is this self-imposed Santa-duty that has led him into new musical worlds. Despite being an Afrobeats giant, Davido doesn’t seem scared to leave his comfort zone when hopping on some of these tracks with new acts. Just last year, he pushed Lady Donli to new eyes and ears when he hopped on the remix to ‘Cash’ and invited her to join him on stage at his December concert.  The year before, he joined the alté frontman Odunsi (The Engine) on ‘Divine’, one of the highlights off the latter’s debut album, “rare.” 

These are not Davido’s natural sonic choices. At his core he is an Afrobeats act, playing as one of the genre’s biggest flag-bearers across the world. But he also isn’t scared to test new waters, and it shows in his willingness to work with these young acts on their turf. Davido has also served several international collaborations that have seen him stretching out of his comfort zone. ‘Dun Rich’ with Popcaan found Davido riding the Caribbean wave like a pro while blessing Quavo’s ‘Swing’ with a scene-stealing feature. 

In many of these fish-out-of-water situations, Davido doesn’t sound out of place. He meets these artists halfway, retaining his style while stepping into their world.  At the end of the day, you have a solid verse, a brilliant song. 

Most recently, the DMW boss featured on Khalid’s ‘Know Your Worth’ alongside one of Nigeria’s most promising singers, Tems. Meshed in a song with two intimidating vocalists, Davido’s vocal talents appear very limited.  Many insecure acts would shy away from such ‘set-ups’. But not Davido. He isn’t scared to try. When he wraps his pidgin-laced verse with the daring question “shey him dey treat you right, are you happy?” You search your soul, barely remembering it was delivered in a near-faint husky voice. 

Therein lies the makings of a great artist. You know you can always be better, so you step out of your comfort zone and push boundaries in your craft. And asides helping you explore new musical complexities, working with acts who create a different sound from yours also exposes you to a new fanbase.

Times are changing fast. Genre lines are getting blurred. Sounds are evolving and you can’t be caught slipping; not if you want to last long in the music space. The trick is to move with the times, while holding on to your core elements and unique style. 

The music game is so brutal and unforgiving. When people know what to expect from your new project, they lose a bit of the excitement. And once they ‘see you finish’ musically, they run off to where they can get their next thrill. Natural selection starts to take place. And before you know it, the world has left you behind. Forgotten.

Another Nigerian artist who has been open to the new generation of artists and music is M.I. While many of his peers are stuck in the boom-bap era, M.I’s recent releases have been sonically ambitious. While many are crying at how the world has moved on from “true” hip-hop, M.I appears to have found the fountain of youth.  

For his 2018 projects “Rendezvous” and “Yung Denzel”, the hip-hop elder sought the assists of the likes of Odunsi, Lady Donli, Tay Iwar, Nonso Amadi to help keep his sound up to date.  He tapped into their talents, sound, and raw energy while in turn helping to shed the spotlight on them.  True, the former Chocolate City boss might not be rocking the clubs with bangers anymore but he’s ageing even better. M.I is still mutating. We are still excited to hear his music. He’s sounding as refreshing as ever. 

Look around. How many of his peers are still playing at his level?

Over the past year, Adekunle Gold has been shedding off his signature traditional sound for something more synth-led and poppy. All the sonic and aesthetic shifts we’ve been spotting from ‘Before You Wake Up’ down to ‘Something Different’ is building up to the next album aptly titled “Afropop”. Yet, he still retains his highly relatable pen, soothing vocals, and genuine personality that made many fall in love with him in the first place. 

It won’t be so shocking to realize that for Adekunle Gold, “Afropop” isn’t even the destination. In a recent interview with Afrobeats Intelligence, he revealed plans to even redefine his sound further right after this album.  Right now, I’m making Afropop’ because that’s where my mind is. That’s where I’m in my head and that’s where I am, sonically. In 2021, it’s going to be different again. With Adekunle Gold, you don’t know what to expect really. I guess that’s how it is with me.”

The international serial-hitmaker Drake is on a never-ending quest to find new sounds to tap into. No two Kendrick Lamar albums sound alike sonically. There are even rumours that his next album leans heavily towards Rock, and we won’t be surprised if that turned out to be true. J.Cole has recently been crossing generational lines with his sound and that earned him his first Grammy. Take a look at Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Prince, Snoop Dogg; the list is endless.

Truth be told; there are no guarantees. Nothing is promised. You might step into new frontiers and it might not just work for you. You might even lose fans in the process. But you can’t play it safe all the time. Self-development and the drive to evolve is at the core of every great artist. And even when it’s rooted in survival, the willingness to explore new sonic worlds and take on new challenges rings better than sulking at how the world has moved on from your one ‘true’ sound. Want to be a good artist? Play in your little safe box. But if you want to be more, study the greats and learn to evolve your sound with the times. 

Push your boundaries. Take that risk and succeed!

M.I Abaga Finally Releases “Judah The E.P”

Nigeria’s most celebrated and decorated rapper M.I Abaga has released his long-overdue EP, “Judah.” Initially scheduled for release in October 9, 2019, M.I has finally made good on his promise by giving fans the project he has been teasing since last year.

This project was first announced in the heat of his highly publicized beef with Vector the Viper last year. In fact, its lead single was initially supposed to be ‘The Viper’, the dashing Vector-aimed diss track that threw his fans into an orgy of celebration.

This new project contains 8 tracks with appearances from some of the sharpest wordsmiths we have in these parts – Alpha Ojini, Kauna, and Buckyraw. It particularly guests a scene-stealing feature from AQ on the third track, ‘The Trinity’ which is already a fan-favourite.

Earlier today M.I also announced his departure from Chocolate City, a label he has called home for over 13 years. This project would also be his last under the label which is one of the biggest in the country. He also used the opportunity to unveil his own imprint, Incredible Music.

“There is a lot of truth in my new EP the “Judah EP.” I had a dream that CBN would be the greatest group the world had ever seen.. it was on me.. and today I announce my decision to finally let go and move on to something new! Thank you for your support and love for 13 years.. and if your still with me!! Let’s go.. please follow @imthetribe,” he posted on Instagram.

“Judah the EP” is M.I first project since “Yxng Dxnzl” which was released to critical acclaim in 2018.

Listen to the new EP above.

Efe Oraka Joins Forces With M.I Abaga on ‘Zion’

Last week, Efe Oraka released her first single of 2020 featuring one of Nigeria’s most decorated rappers, M.I Abaga. This record titled ‘Zion’ is also one of the lead singles off her soon-to-be-released debut EP, “Magic.”

The first thing that gets you about the record is it’s beautiful cartoonish cover art. Then Efe’s stunning vocals come right after to blow you away completely over the soft-hitting DOZ-Tay Iwar production.  With beautiful writing, Efe turns her pain into poetry as she croons about the recent ordeals with her erring lover.

Intoxicated by sparkling affection, this lover made initial promises that he’s finding so hard to keep now and Efe Oraka is struggling to keep up with his inconsistencies. “I’m tired of trying….I’m so sick of trying” an obviously spent Efe sings. 

In a gruff and sexy voice, M.I comes to wrap up the song with an impressive verse that leads you straight to the repeat button.

Enjoy the record above. 

 

Chike’s “Boo of the Booless” got everyone talking all weekend

For Nigerian music reality tv lovers, the name Chike wouldn’t sound so strange. But for many others, seeing the name Chike pop up all over your Twitter TL could feel nothing short of choking. Everyone kept going about how the young singer’s new album was so good, with some even crowning it album of the year already.

But one thing is sure, Chike created magic. The singer who first introduced us to his talents on shows like Project Fame and The Voice pulled a rabbit out of a beach hat with his debut and introductory project, “Boo of the Booless.”

A well timed release, the project dropped on Friday, February 14, to soundtrack the global celebration of love and in that regard, the album didn’t  disappoint at all. Across the 14-track LP, Chike’s gift as a brilliant song writer was on full display. His poetic tribute to the several gods of love of love was also delivered with electric vocal performances that testifies to the singer’s artistic depth. In popular street lingo, Chike finish work untop this project.

Standing on the shoulders of giants, he also brings along Ric Hassani, Zoro and M.I Abaga on this alluring journey of love. And if there’s anything we are ever sure of; M.I can never go wrong on a love record.

Enjoy this album here before you’re probably bullied into digesting it on Twitter.

Falz & M.I Joins Dark Poet To Stand Against Police Harassment and Brutality On ‘Ripple Effect

For the past two years, one of the recurrent protest hashtags on social media has been the #EndSars as more and more stories are told of the recurrent brutality and harassment of the Nigerian police, particularly the Special Anti Robbery Squad across the country. And Hip-hop, known in its early days as a medium to air out the discontentment of the masses against authority, is here again to remind us of this menace in our society: one that rears its ugly head at every single turn. Dark Poet has returned from his self-imposed hiatus to provide an insightful social commentary with his new single, ‘Ripple Effect‘, bringing along two of Nigeria’s most successful rappers, Falz and M.I Abaga.

Across the sombre record, the three wordsmiths lend their voices to the growing call against police harassment brutality and impunity in our society. Dark Poet opens the record with impressive storytelling that humanizes this menace. Falz takes it a step further with his verse, one reminiscent of his earlier foray in this theme with ‘Johnny’ off his critically acclaimed and award-winning album, “Moral Instruction.” As they say, it’s isn’t over till the fat lady sings, as M.I comes through with the standout verse on this record, painting a vivid grim picture in the first person.

Listen to the record here.

Alpha Counts Down To Christmas With ’12 Days’

One of the most gifted rap acts on the rise, Alpha Ojini has released his first post-“Chvmeleon” record, a Christmas themed number titled ‘12 Days‘. Just over a month ago, Alpha released his stellar 14-track sophomore album “Chvmeleon” to good reviews, and it featured appearances from M.I Abaga, Ghost (SDC), Paybac, Blaqbonez, Psycho YP, Ycee, Bella Alubo, Oxlade, Goodgirl LA and Kemi Smallz.

Across this self-produced cut described as a “Christmas tale,” Alpha underscores the spirit of the celebration which is centred around giving and showing love to family, friends and others around us. Aptly released twelve days before Christmas,  the multi-gifted rapper urges share love, give out and enjoy the holiday season as well as we can even we don’t have much.

This is no doubt a Christmas song that most of us can relate to, one told from the perspective of a Nigerian hustler in a tongue common to all. Merry Christmas in advance and remember to spread love always. Enjoy the record here.

The 5 Best Nigerian Diss Tracks of 2019

Over the past few months, Nigerian hip-hop has been at war with itself. What started as a playful but audacious ‘Best Rapper In Africa’ brag spiralled the entire scene into a Royal Rumble-type frenzy that found rappers aiming for each other’s heads. From Blaqbonez to Payper Corleone to Davolee, everyone was churning out tracks laced with not-so-subliminal shots and outright name-drops. Even the OGs were not spared; a video surfaced online of A-Q and Ghost (of SDC) engaging in a presumably heated debate about who the superior wordsmith was.

This eventually snowballed into an M.I Abaga vs Vector The Viper showdown. This beef which had been brewing for quite some time finally found the perfect climate for a face-off. In what will go down in history as one of the spiciest Nigerian hip-hop beefs, their back-and-forth resulted in a total of four diss tracks in just three weeks. Climaxing with M.I’s ‘The Viper‘ and Vector’s ‘Judas The Rat‘ as well as its bordering antics, hip-hop which had been playing second fiddle to Afrobeats in recent years was — howbeit briefly — restored to mainstream consciousness.

But now that the dust seems to have settled, Let’s look back at some of the hottest diss tracks off this 2019 Nigerian rap civil-war.

5. Davolee – Give Away

This might not be as polished or popular as some of the other songs on this list, but it’s one of the hottest on the streets. Disgusted by Blaqbonez’s audacity to crown himself the best rapper in Africa without the credentials to back such claim, indigenous rapper Davolee attempted to devour the 100 Crowns rapper. The abrasive rapper aims with a submachine gun flow, with enough rounds for whoever is lurking as he also had choice words for M.I Abaga, Loose Kaynon, A-Q, Dremo, Falz, and Ycee. In fact, ‘Give Away‘ also led to a quick back-and-forth with the DMW rapper, Dremo.

4. Blaqbonez – Best Rapper In Africa

After declaring himself the Best Rapper In Africa in a scorching freestyle, many came out to counter his claim as to many he just wasn’t worthy to crown himself with such title. Several rappers released diss tracks to that effect, including Tentik and Payper Corleone. In his combined reply, ‘Best Rapper in Africa‘, Blaq reaffirms his claim as he tears apart his adversaries. He also came through with his ‘Control‘-moment, teasing and calling out his peers for a face-off.

3. Vector – Judas The Rat

When M.I Abaga dropped ‘The Viper‘, everyone thought it was over. The question on everyone’s lips was “how is Vector going to come back from this?” But Vector did the impossible and pulled a comeback reminiscent of 2005’s magic of Istanbul. With ‘Judas The Rat‘, Vector digs up more personal dirt on M.I, particularly pointing at his strained relationship with his brother, Jesse Jagz. He also highlighted some of M.I’s antics, painting him as a rat who favours only himself. The ripple effect from this diss was so strong that it provoked M.I’s fall from grace, reopening sores inspiring many to share some of their bummers with the former Chocolate City boss.

2.  M.I Abaga – The Viper

After quick successive jabs from Vector with ‘The Purge‘ and ‘Tetracycline‘, M.I just had to respond. And when he finally did, the self-acclaimed rap messiah did not disappoint as he delivered perhaps the best song off the entire pack. Over a gloomy and ominous self-produced beat, an assertive and gruff-voiced M.I comes through with witty rebuttals for Vector’s previous jabs. He further paints the Lafiaji rapper as a snake who has been envious of his success from the jump.

M.I turned things up a notch just a few days later at the 2019 Big Brother Naija finale.  Sporting a black shirt with a bold “No Snakes” imprint, M.I performed his brief set metaphorically stomping over a viper image projected on the stage.

1. A-Q – Distractions 2

A-Q has been having quite a good year. After years of churning out critically acclaimed personal projects including “Rose” and ”Blessed Forever”, A-Q came to many’s radars this year off the strength of his stellar verses on the Martell Cyphers. Also this year, he finally picked up the coveted Lyricist on the roll award at the 13th Headies which eluded him for years despite picking up nominations. 

Of all the diss tracks released this year, A-Q’s heinous Vector-aimed ‘Distractions 2‘ takes the cake. The belligerent rapper who had built a name for himself as a war-ready gladiator fit himself right into the Vector-M.I beef and came through with the most brutish diss track in the pack. On ‘Distractions 2’ the 100 Crowns boss brought a grenade to a knife fight, coming for Vector for with a swift jab-cross-left uppercut-cross combo that gave him the knockout in less than five minutes.  It’s a joy to know that his recent status as a label president hasn’t robbed him of his viciousness on the mic.

Uzikwendu And M.I Abaga Try To Out Rap Each Other In ‘Lyrical Cardio’

Just a few months after his message-driven ‘Rappers‘, Uzikwendu who prides himself as Nigeria’s fastest rapper is back with an Irockclassic-produced record titled ‘Lyrical Cardio‘. Making good of his promise of more music this year after a brief self-imposed hiatus, Uzi kicked things off this year with his 10-episode Friday Rap Day Series, followed by two impressive rap singles. And this new release featuring M.I Abaga is a worthy follow-up to the record in which a war-ready Uzikwendu rains hailstorm on rappers.

As the title implies, ‘Lyrical Cardio‘ finds both rappers flexing their lyrical prowess, speed and technical ability. Uzi opens the record, kicking things off immediately with a raw and relentless verse. M.I then steps into Uzi’s world in the next verse and gives him a run for his money, outpouring self-appraisal bars enwrapped in a bullish delivery. The song peaks in the third and last verse with Uzi dishing out his rapid-fire flows at a breakneck speed over anthemic chants.

This is, of course, one of the most exciting rap songs in 2019. Listen to the record here and let us know if you enjoyed it.

Erigga’s “The Erigma II” Is An Equivocal Celebration Of His Beloved City

Erigga is a true son of the soil. And much like its predecessors, his latest offering, “The Erigma II” is a fitting testament to that fact. Released right in the eye of the buzzing Nigerian hip-hop civil war, this long-overdue sequel to his 2012 stunner “The Erigma” is a celebration of Warri, a city he has come to own.  

You don’t need a Google search to know where Erigga comes from. All it takes is to just hit play on any of his tracks and you’d most likely find out in the first four bars. The rapper has over the years proven himself a fitting mascot of Warri; the South-South oil-rich city, famed and celebrated for its pidgin, candour and fabled machismo. If you know Erigga or his music well, you’d know this is what he represents. 

Nigerian hip-hop has greatly suffered from the absence of a supportive local culture for a while now. In the futile quest for ‘purity’, Nigerian rappers, particularly English-centric ones isolated themselves from the local audience. The people simply don’t find them relatable or accessible, so the music doesn’t connect.  But that is one thing Erigga and some of the indigenous rappers have found a way around, earning them an expansive and loyal fanbase. 

Technically, Erigga might not be the most skilled or most gifted. But he stands as what hip-hop should represent. He has an unfiltered connection to his community and through him, their voices are amplified. The street at every point wants its story told, and over time, Erigga has proven himself a willing and worthy griot. That’s probably why his bars hit home and resonate the most.

See, you don’t need a 140-point IQ or Genius annotations to decode Erigga’s punchlines. You simply need to be a Nigerian. And if by chance you are quite proficient in pidgin or come from the South-South, that’s a bonus.  When you hear lines like “Who wahala naked follow no dey use English pray” or “Fuck the world even if na me prick go pain” you’d probably pause the track and ask yourself, “na who born this guy??”

Erigga

Erigga

But this regional dominance has a downside. Warri just isn’t Lagos. As Nigeria’s financial capital, Lagos sits as the heartbeat of the local music industry. You can’t exactly be seen as fully “blown” if you haven’t conquered Gidi. And despite flashes of crossover successes — most recently with ‘Motivation’ which introduced many to the talents of Victor AD — Erigga has been long stuck on the brink of mainstream success. He has remained, for the most part, a local hero catering to a niche audience whose loyalty has never been questioned.

That’s why on this new album he delivers a heartfelt tribute to this cult-following on ‘Next Track’. Here, he acknowledges that although the bulk of his fan base might not be as active on social media, they are ever-present right when he needs them. “Assuming say my fans get Instagram page, Followers go dey cry/ You don see me for stage?” he mutters before going on to list some of the events he recently shut down – reminiscent of Olamide’s legendary brag on ‘Eyan Mayweather’.

A Warri boy to the core, his verses, delivery, vocal tonality is usually in its rawest form. His stories are sculpted in unrefined rap verses and a delivery that might need some polishing — some might even say he has a monotonous flow. Erigga’s biggest strength is in painting a vivid picture delivered in its crudest form. Listening to Erigga is like gulping shots of vodka- it’s harsh at first gulp but intoxicating right after.  On the same ‘Next Track’, the unapologetic rapper dishing out some words for detractors who condemn him for the vulgarity of his lyrics. “Wetin I wan talk wey snoop never talk before?” he asks.

The “Erigma II” is at its best when Erigga is in his element; playing the elder statesman, recounting area tales and doling out priceless survival tips.

With clear-eyed reflection, he paints a rough portrait of the gritty world he grew up in on the album opener, ‘Welcome To Warri’. A world where you are exposed to gruesome violence even before you learn how to lace your shoes. A world some of us only see in Spike Lee-type hood movies. A world where your survival depends on how vicious you are or how fast your legs can carry you at the drop of a hat. He continues this story in ‘Victims’ where he describes a life where many of us were shielded from. A life where you do your best to stay out of the way of hood fiends and the police. A world where you look around and find that most of your friends are either dead, in jail, or halfway way there.

Erigga

Erigga

Assisted by Graham D and Vector, ‘Oyo‘ soundtracks some of the hardships we face in the poverty capital in the world whilst also doling out street knowledge. His verses on this track are perhaps the most heartfelt throughout this tape.  “Hunger dey slap man face for where him wife dey/ him las hope na Merrybet na where him life dey”. When he raps “My mama wey retire, government never pay her shishi/ You for see the responsibility them pack give me” “My text message na family account full am….” many of us can relate down to the last letter. In what is often called the ‘black man’s tax’, many of us have had to step up and take responsibility for the family as soon as you can you find yourself on your feet. 

When he raps “Who them shoot na him luck/ Wetin police hate pass: tattoo and dreadlock” it rings bells of several youths being harassed daily by the police simply because of their fashion choices. Although Erigga largely doesn’t concern himself with the vanity project of proving superlatives across this tape, on ‘Street Motivation‘ he is self-assured and aware of the threat he poses to his colleagues. 

Erigga and Victor AD, two of the city’s most successful acts at the moment have their I-made-it moment on ‘Area To The World’. This is a bare victory lap where Erigga recounts some aches he experienced as an artist on the rise, appreciating how far he has come since his ‘Mo Street Gan’ days. 

On the final track,’Goodbye From Warri‘, we catch a glimpse of the old Erigga, as he reads off the rap sheet of his fabled “senior bros”: a threat to the entire hood but who upon realizing his imminent death advises a young Erigga to choose a different path. Sadly, this closer not only marks the end of this album, but also the end to Erigga’s efforts at recreating the past for our entertainment. In the final seconds of the record, he reveals frankly that, “this na the last time I go rap about my past mhen, make we face front.” 

All good things come to an end; sometimes to give way to something even better. Artists evolve. And as fans and listeners, we must learn to morph with them. Up until “The Erigma II,” Erigga has relieved his past for our entertainment but one cannot dwell in that forever. It was fun while it lasted but it’s now time to move on. 

Over the years, Erigga has quietly established himself as one of the key voices of his generation, raking up enough credentials to earn his place in the Naija hip-hop pantheon. And right now, we are even more excited to find out what the South-South rapper is shaping himself up to be.

Alpha Ojini’s ‘Pop’ Is A Sizzling Trap Cut Without The Mumble

Amidst the earsplitting noise surrounding the M.IVector beef reignited by Vector’s latest jab, ‘Judas The Rat‘, Alpha Ojini gave us the first taste of the material he has been working on since last December. Earlier today, the multitalented rapper dished out a new number titled ‘Pop‘, his first offering since his celebratory ‘Madagascar‘ freestyle. This release officially kicks off the rollout of his sophomore album, “Chvmeleon,” which is set to be released in just a matter of weeks.

Just two days ago, he announced the released date and also revealed the mouthwatering tracklist featuring appearances from M.I Abaga, Ghost of SDC, Oxlade, Blaqbonez, and more. Apparently, ‘Pop‘ is only one of five tracks off the 14-track album on which Alpha appears solo.

On this self-produced record, Alpha is simply just having fun. Confidence and enthusiasm radiate throughout the dazzling production with a dominant trap bounce, as he employs cheeky and goofy bars enwrapped in prodigal wordplay. True to its name, ‘Pop‘ is a bop to kick off your weekend, and definitely one to keep us on our toes for the arrival of the imminent tape. Remember, “Chvmeleon” drops on Friday, November 11.

Listen to the single above and let us know what you think.

 

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