At a time when Nigerian hip hop was losing its grip on the mainstream market, thanks to the exponentially growing popularity of P-Square, Timaya, 9ice, D’Banj, Durella, Terry G, DJ Zeez, and the likes, one short black boy came through and gave hip hop a voice in a space where it had become almost non-existent.
This individual goes by the name of Jude Abaga, popularly known as M.I (Mr. Incredible).
MI’s debut album, “Talk About It”, was released on the 11th of December 2008, and I would be very correct to say that it changed the way the non-hip hop Nigerian perceived Nigerian rap.
This was actually the first time I saw Nigerian girls go crazy over a Nigerian rapper. Of course the male American rappers always get the girls, but not so much in Nigeria. We can all agree that at that time, most rappers in Nigeria had probably 80% male fans.
But why did MI’s debut have such an effect on the ladies? In my humble opinion, I’d credit his smooth flow, as well as his radio-friendly songs for that.
Make no mistake though, it wasn’t just the girls that were feeling him, his male fan-base was huge too. So with both the males and females on his side, it only meant that MI would have a successful debut.
Radio-friendly songs aside, MI also showed that he could rap his ass off on a track, as he clearly displayed on “Safe”, which was one of the album’s most popular songs.
Now for a rap song that didn’t even have a repetitive chorus, blowing up the way it did in the Nigerian market is beyond commendable.
“Safe” was a well thought-out joint, it had no recitable hook, but MI made good use of the names of every Nigerian artiste that was popping at the time in each bar.
His ability to remain lyrical and commercial at the same time was something that a lot of his peers lacked, thereby making him the most popular figure in Nigerian hip hop (at least for a good number of years).
Besides its commercial success, “Talk About It” was sort of a launching pad for one of the biggest artistes in Africa at the moment. Yes, the song “Fast Money, Fast Cars” featured a relatively unknown Wizkid, who I’m sure will be eternally grateful for the opportunity.
Other joints like Blaze, Crowd Mentality, Anoti, Teaser, and Jehovah, ensured that “Talk About It” would have a press-play-and-relax effect on anyone who bought the album.
Of course with much success comes beef, and for those who thought MI was just a “commercial” push-over rapper, they found out the hard way in subsequent releases that he wasn’t scared of a good ol’ rap battle.
And while songs like “Somebody Wants To Die” and “Nobody Test Me” weren’t on this album, they showed that MI will not hesitate to jump on the mic to get back at anyone who was spiteful enough to call him out.
Now that’s hip hop!
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