Jesse Jagz: The Greatest Rapper or a Struggling Dancehall Artiste?
In 2010, Nigerian Hip-hop lovers were blessed with the Jag of All Tradez’ Album by Jesse Jagz – the other Abaga brother- who was a cardinal point of the Chocolate City 1.0 clique, comprising M.I, Ice Prince and Brymo.
Although MI was Choc City’s prize jewel, Jesse was undeniably a valuable member of the squad. The prior relation among the artistes as members of the MI led Loopy Records also helped: the chemistry shone through the music, kinda like Mohits before Dbanj met Kanye West.
In 2011, Chocolate city became the first Nigerian hip-hop group to get a feature on the BBC 1xtra premiere show with Tim Westwood. Jesse Jagz put his witty freestyle prowess to display thereby stamping his position as the lyrical life of the party in the hearts of African hip-hop lovers. Every time there was a new Choc boy release, fans always excitedly looked forward to Jargo’s intelligent sixteen.
Jesse Jagz wasn’t the famous of them all but definitely the greatest of them all. Even the famous one – M.I Abaga who was at the time the ruling king of African Hip-hop referred to Jagz as the greatest.
‘Even Jagz doesn’t mess with me… And Jagz is the greatest.’ – M.I Abaga; Illegal Music I.
By every standard, the Jag Of All Trade album can sit gracefully on the list of the best Nigerian hip-hop albums of all time. In fact as one writes, the lyrics that places in my head right now are from the sixth track on that album.
‘You can love this or hate this but it don’t really matter coz i’m the greatest. Check this out baby girl you can hate this or you can put them hands up for the greatest.’ – Greatest by Jesse Jagz.
Man was definitely aware of his Greatness! Jesse Jagz perhaps is the one Nigerian rapper who has received the least criticism for any of his projects.
It then begs the question ‘Are his tapes really that good?’
Well, we can (safely) say every Jesse Jagz album has maintained a respectable standard (lyrically and production wise). That is until his most recent Odysseus album.
Listening to the Odysseus album felt like being trapped in a desert uncertain of what to look out for – are the songs going to get any better? Sadly they never did.
Jagz has always exuded elements of the Jamaican influence and fragments of this imprint can be tracked on all his projects. But with Odysseus, Jargo went into a near full swing and fell off while at it.
In a time where the existence of Nigerian hip-hop is being questioned, one would expect Jesse Jagz to come through with the redemption but he pretty much left us on the sidelines. Mans not hot.
The ten track album saw Jesse Jagz struggle through different dancehall and Jamaican influenced records while continuously meting out shallow rhymes that led us to an absolute bore.
Thank goodness Hot Ice, Cynthia Morgan and Burna Boy came through with the fire. One can’t say much about the Styl Plus contribution but R2Bees definitely didn’t come through.
Could we have given the crown to someone who seemingly has no need for it? It would take subsequent releases for one to be sure. As long term fana, we will stay hopeful and anticipate a properly defined Jesse Jagz – one that doesn’t drown us in the sea of uncertainty. A Jesse Jags that lives up to the hype!
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