Three months ago, Nigerian hip-hop heavyweight M.I Abaga offered himself up for public anatomization with the release of his controversial single ‘You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives’ – a track that challenged the state of Nigerian hip-hop and checked emcees for taking the singing route.
“Rappers are singing now just to get popular, yuck! You rappers should fix up your lives”, he proclaimed on the infamous record.
The release of that song was followed by an uproar. Tweets after tweets, articles after articles, clips after clips and bars after bars, players in the Nigerian hip-hop community (from rappers to journalists and listeners) dared to question M.I’s credibility and challenged his guts.
“This is a man whose label stopped supporting rappers after he took up the role of the CEO. How can he begrudge anyone for switching lanes? How many rappers has he helped?”, people questioned in rage and curiosity.
“I’m still the one that you look to, you need me to figure things out” were some of the bold words M.I declared some three months ago. While the dust around that moment has since settled, it is safe to say that there has been a lookout for what M.I has to offer. Something that validates his gutsy claims.
The rapper had promised to release his fourth studio album “Yung Denzl” in 2017 but failed to deliver on his promise on the premise that every (of his) project is a piece of his life and as such, he will never rush to put out music out of respect for his fans. A few hours after revealing that the much-anticipated (Yung Denzl) album will now be released in May, the rapper took everyone aback with the release of an unannounced project titled “Rendezvous”.
The 15 track tape which M.I describes as a ‘playlist’ accommodates a bunch of collaborations that cut across various genres. This move was inspired obviously by Canadian rapper Drake who released a 22 track project in 2017 titled ‘More Life’. While many would have thought of it as an album, Drake referred to the tape as a playlist. Half the songs on Drake’s ‘More Life’ features vocal contributions from various artistes and of course, it accommodates influences from various parts of the world.
With Rendezvous, M.I Abaga made a promise of offering a soundtrack for an evening out in Lagos and this was delivered in the most thorough way ever. Lagos; the busiest and most populous city in West Africa houses millions of people with cultural, social and ethical differences thus making it a playground of diversity. These diversities (in art, food, and fashion) are what M.I curates on Rendezvous.
With vocal contributions from South African rappers; Cassper Nyovest and AKA, Nigerian music heavyweights; Wande Coal and Falz the Bahdguy, Chocolate city signees; Yung L, Dice Ailes and Ckay, and an array of alternative and new school giants; Nonso Amadi, Santi, Odunsi the Engine, Chillz, Tomi Thomas, JoulesDaKid, Ajebutter 22, Terry Apala, Strafitti, Trigga Madtonic, Blaqbonez and UA.x, Abaga found a middle ground for familiar and fresh musical vibrations, documenting his thoughts and emotions in the most experimental way ever.
The project opens with “Sunset” – a pretty dozy tune that captures his mood from a long day at work. The Chillz featured track sees M.I shooting subliminal shots in the direction of OAP and Rapper N6 who recently had a brush off with Loose Kaynon who is a member of the M.I led Chocolate city crew stemming from his provocative reply to Abaga during the You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives moment. “Nigga, you was talking loose, why don’t you say it to loose? Dawg who gon pay for your tooth, when we show up with the troops?” he rapped with a mild resent.
What followed was a burst of lyrical energies on “Soup” featuring Cassper Nyovest. The two traded bars in both English and their respective mother tongues, making bold recounts of their victorious come-up stories against the odds and hate that the world threw at them. Neo-R&B singer Nonso Amadi took the baton and went on a soothing melodic sprint on “Playlist” before relaying to M.I who gave a seductive delivery to his love interest.
There were also litters of braggadocios assertions throughout the project as displayed on the Wande Coal assisted “Kosioshi”, “Your Father” featuring Dice Ailes and “On Code” which saw Abaga put his seemingly uber braggadocios persona on display with an additional verse from South African emcee; AKA.
“Listen this is how you know that i’m the man, I’m a stand up guy even when i’m sitting down. Nigga ten years i’ve been in demand, what you’re worth in pounds boy i’ll double that”, he boasted on the track.
Through every track, Abaga played in the musical terrains of his collaborators, providing skits in-between from viral stars; Vic-O, Charles Okocha Aka Igwe 2pac, Dat Warri Girl, and OAPs; Douglas Jekan, Kemi Smallz and Dotun that served as transitions into the various vibrations that were provided on the tape.
Rendezvous is a different type of genius. A project that reflects a laudable degree of evolution and flexibility that not so many rappers can boast of. M.I made zero stretches as a lyricist but conducts an extensive sonic experiment that put his overall musical proficiency to test.
This project also doubles as a propelling factor for the emerging urban sounds (aka “New Wave”) within the country. Everything worked out just fine – Rendezvous is a decent crossroad of musical diversity.
Perhaps the rapper will make up for his lyrical under-delivery with his soon to come ‘Yung Denzl’ album.
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