It’s been a little over a year since MI Abaga released the controversial single “you rappers should fix up your lives” off his 8th Studio project Yung Denzl. The song sparked up a lot of conversations in the Nigerian Hip Hop Scene, leading to a lot of rappers responding to M.I with their various recorded tracks, mostly calling him out on his ‘allegations’ and ‘insinuations’.
The move by MI brought a sense of Nostalgia to hip hop fans as it was reminiscent of the controversial Kendrick Lamar verse on the track ‘control’ by Big Sean which resulted in many rap replies as well .
On the Record ‘You rappers should fix up your lives’, MI basically inferred that Nigerian rappers were no longer rapping, with many of them switching to singing after blowing up. He also expressed his disappointment on the track, pointing out the fact that, after all he had done for Hip Hop, rappers still needed him to come save the game. Furthermore, he compared Nigerian rappers to their South African counterparts stating that Nigerian rappers were “getting killed by the south”. With all these allegations made, a lot of rappers and hip hop fans felt like MI Abaga wasn’t being very objective on the track and some even believed that he was being plainly hypocritical. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but we couldn’t seem to disagree with the fans who felt this way about the track and about MI, when we took a journey down memory lane and addressed the events over the years leading to the release of ‘You rappers should fix up your lives’.
After MI Abaga released his Second Mixtape “Illegal Music II “ in 2012, he took close to two years off, without consistently releasing music until 2014 when he released the single King James, and the ‘Chairman’ album later in the same year. During this period of absence, a new wave of rappers took the spotlight and became the kings of the rap scene, setting the style and sound of ‘hip hop’ at the time. Sadly, they cared so much for the money and little for the art form itself. They basically blew up and decided to do way more singing than rapping, promoting mostly pop songs and making it difficult to differentiate between them and our pop artistes.
Just like MI, other promising rappers who seemed likely to become or maintain their statuses as rap power houses in the Nigerian Hip Hop scene at the time, also went M.I.A, (pun intended) , either due to label issues or personal issues. The likes of X.O Senavoe, Phenom, Vector, Sinzu , Naeto C, Yung6ix etc. With this vacuum created, coupled with the fact that most (not all) of the rap projects were coming from ‘underground rappers’ with no financial backing to push their songs to a level where they could have made any impact on the situation of things, the years 2012 to 2014 were very tragic for Hip Hop in Nigeria.
By late 2014 to early 2015, when M.I Abaga and company started resurfacing, the pendulum had swung towards the ‘local rappers’ who controlled the wave. In retrospect, one can see that they were largely responsible for the decline of the hip hop culture in Nigeria today. From constantly making and promoting pop tracks to even promoting an idea that ‘rapping was a waste of time and not lucrative” as they portrayed on their song titled Local rappers released in January 2015. The chairman album by MI abaga might have done numbers but did not have the kind of impact MI2 or Talk about It had on the Hip Hop community as well as the Music industry at large, and that’s understandable.
The narrative by the ‘local rappers’ seemingly stayed valid, as there seemed to be little promise for new rappers in Nigeria looking to blow up while rapping, till Ycee released his single Jagaban under Tinny Entertainment. Jagaban was a track that had Ycee dropping dope bars on a fast paced and energetic instrumental. The song became a hit track across the country, bringing Ycee into the limelight. It was exciting for hip hop fans who were happy to see a young rapper blowing up again.
However, that was rather short lived as Ycee soon joined the singing wave, becoming inseparable from other pop artistes. MI abaga then released his third and final mixtape from the illegal music series, Illegal Music III, in 2016 but not much changed concerning the state of hip hop in Nigeria leading to the release of the ‘You rappers should fix up your lives’ record in 2017’.
We believe that people who criticized MI for the record did so for the following reasons:
1. Rappers have always been rapping – Contrary to MI Abaga’s claim that rappers were no longer rapping, a lot of rappers have been rapping over the years and consistently putting out dope rap projects. The likes of Boogey, Paybac AQ, Blaqbonez, Ill bliss to name a few. So most people thought that generalization was out rightly wrong and disrespectful.
2. So M.I who were you talking to? – People felt like M.I couldn’t ‘say it with his chest’ when speaking about the track and who it was addressed to. With lyrics like :
“None of you rappers is real enough, once you blow up now you switching up”
“Rappers are singing now just to get popular. Yuck!”
“Are you rappers? omo we don’t know again, men are pausing your tracks, cos no more flow again”
He couldn’t have been referring to the rappers actually rapping. However, when he was asked about the record, on an interview with VJ Adams, he chose to switch up the narrative stating that rappers weren’t hustling hard enough or rapping hard enough that’s why they hadn’t made an impact on a higher level and thus they needed to fix up. He also added that people like Olamide, Ice prince and others, had already fixed up their lives, so the track wasn’t for them. His twitter account also had series of tweets which made the same points.
3. “The self righteous scream judgements against others to hide the noise of skeletons dancing in their own closets”-John Mark Green – A number of fans also came after M.I on grounds that he was being very hypocritical, as rappers such as Ice prince and Dice Ailes ‘switched up’ under his nose and he had no words for them.
Moving forward from the whole Drama in 2017, this year has been a very good year for Hip Hop in Nigeria. MI Abaga released two solid albums, and a host of other emcees also dropped dope rap projects throughout the year. There has also been a massive move by 100 crowns to organize a Hip Hop event titled ‘The Coronation’ which takes place once every three months and this has been quite successful. There is a certain air around the Hip Hop scene at the moment and it’s definitely one with great promise.
In conclusion; maybe our rappers never really needed to fix up their lives, what we needed was to fix up the game, because real rappers never stopped rapping. Though, M.I might never admit who the track was targeted at, he’s sure showing great support towards making hip hop great again out here. We look forward to an amazing 2019.