Tuesday, July 19, 2011

MI Rules African Hip Hop

Anybody that has discovered and fallen in love with my blog will learn to be patient and tolerant with me. This is because I may not always review every song, album or artist. It is partly because we are not funded in any way. We just find resources elsewhere and use them to buy the records when they are released and then listen and review them. If an album is released at a time when we have other pressing issues, then the review of the album becomes something of tertiary significance. It is due to this reason that I could not review MI’s current album, The Movie, immediately it came out. It is however better to be late than never.” At all at all na im bad pass.”

Having bought the album early in July, I played it too times to discover that the so called Hip Hop DJs have underplayed the album and should bury their heads in shame for underplaying what is about the best Hip Hop Album in the history of Nigerian Hip Hop . Rather, the album has enjoyed greater airplay from all-purpose DJs. It is the reason why the most known songs are one naira and Number One that features Waje and Flavour respectively. Considering the dominance of the featured artists in those songs, which tend to be less of Hip Hop and more of R&B and Highlife, the genres of the featured artists, those songs cannot be said to be the mainstream Hip Hop songs of the album. If Hip Hop DJs don’t play the mainstream Hip Hop songs of the album, then who would?

Listening to the album, it is clear that album has consolidated the extraordinary rhyming kills of MI such that he could now add “The Rhyme Beast” among his pseudonyms. With that lyrical strength of his, MI could challenge any rapper from any part of the world.

In an era when parents are having it difficult to get their children to read their books, MI by his rhyming skills, has thought a lesson to children with music ambitions but who have failed to see it that you must be properly educated to be a good artist. The depth of poetry in MI’s songs shows he was a good boy in class, a boy who respected his teachers and did his homework all the time. It shouldn’t be just English and poetry. It should be all subjects, as a good artist must have broad knowledge. As LD Extra-Large use to say it on his shows on Peace FM Jos, go to school and learn how to rap. MI must have been at one corner, silently listening.

The album has worked to accentuate the strong influence of Lagos on the Nigerian music industry. Usually Jos rappers are strictly Western in their style in the sense that their songs don’t usually have a place for Nigerian vernacular. It is easy to see this from the series of big Hip Hop names to have risen from J-Town or who had J-Town influence such as the Mode-9, Terry the Rapman. Others include Baron, Black Chief, and X-Ray who were among some early rappers from Jos to become popular across the country when their songs were featured in the movie, Out of Bounds that starred Richard Mofe Damijo. One could also see it in LD Extra-Large who has influenced every rapper from Jos either directly or indirectly. When they come to Lagos however, they are compelled to add a Nigerian feel which is the reason why one often hears Juju flair in the music. I think it is fabulous as what is Nigerian cannot really be Nigerian without a Nigerian character. Whoever wants to listen to Nigerian Hip Hop must learn to tolerate who we are. With this, the Lagos influence is helping to bring a balance to global Hip Hop. MI’s album has given its own contribution along this line.

MI by this album has also succeeded in creating an acceptable Hip Hop version of Nigerian pidgin or cultural English as you may want to call it. Nigerian Pidgin English has always sounded dumb when used in Hip Hop music. It is merely due to the fact that we have not found somebody who is conscious of the need to panel beat the language or has the consciousness but lacks the capacity to actualize it. Listen to the track my head my belle to see what I mean.

Every artist has his reigning days after which he ceases to make any meaningful impression.. Just like Tuface, MI in this album has also proven that he is a motivator with a spirit of reawakening. He just compels you to rejuvenate yourself or you are made to look like a dwarf. This is evident in the song anybody where Timaya reinvents the endowment that saw him ascended to that height where we all saw and knew him.

The album also made obvious the liberal mind of the MI. Somebody who is liberal is one who believes that we cannot continue to dwell in the past. He believes that there must be new ways of doing things. He believes that though millions of songs have been made there are millions yet to be discovered. Discovering them is the only way we can get the people to live life to the fullest. The instrumentation for instance isn’t ambiguous at all. It represents something completely new in Hip Hop I never thought that some rappers in Nigeria can be that creative.

In the end I will like to say that though I noticed that there was a minus in the mastering of the album leading to a little noise in the background and that MI often loves to keep people in suspense when the beat starts and continue for an usually long period before the lyrics begin to flow, I score the album above 90%.