Jude “M.I” Abaga is the foremost rapper in the history of Nigerian rap, all fans, writers and critics must offer libation at his altar of resplendent glory, right?
The Finale is his curtain call to his wildly successful mixtape series, Illegal Music. His mixtape series is where he can really let his hair down, do music as he intends without a care for radio; the series is essentially for rap heads and they lap it up.
M.I produced much of the mixtape; finding samples to support his claims of being under-appreciated, despite his numerous accomplishments, as listed in Head of The Family. His flow on this joint is easy, he’s clearly in his zone; the beat samples Jay Z’s La Familia and is well suited to his ‘said it and did it‘ recollections of his achievements.
NotJustOk/Savage is the highest point of the tape, the sample and the chorus a break from the gloom and affronted edge that hovers over much of the tape. His kvetching on the song is head scratching but impressive enough to engage, ‘a nigga gotta Flip Mode like Busta Buss, I’m on my 2010 sh*t, enough is enough’. That’s Abaga at his best, Hip-Hop and politics in a casual bar. When he’s at his best or close to it, he stands apart. This track is reminiscent of a time when the audience marvelled at his easy wit.
The running theme on this record is his repeated request for respect, despite admitting that he’s ‘won everything there is to win’ (Remember Me featuring Ruby). He’s at a confused juncture, the game doesn’t need him as it once did; he once elevated Nigerian rap, made it digestible to fans who don’t necessarily count rap as part of their preferred genres.
He ‘ain’t scared of ruffling feathers if it may save the game one more time’ but this isn’t about ‘the game’. It’s about him and the perceived slights by music critics and award shows; his own ego. The game has since moved on and he’s having a hard time with not being the HNIC. These so called rappers with ‘garbage music’ continue to garner all the attention but he’s had his time. What did a cat like Modenine, whose word-smithery M.I himself bows to (You wanna talk comparisons just let it be Mode – NotJustOk/Savage) think of the attention M.I received for his music back when he first broke out?
Which role should he play? The big brotherly rap elder statesman encouraging the up and coming acts, or their ego-bruised petulant contemporary? To fully grasp the hypocritical state of Mr. Abaga’s thought process on Nigerian rap, compare the two excerpts below.
“Allegations of discrimination, local versus punchlines versus imitation. You have to realise that there’s no limitation, just turn your inspiration to innovation” – The Finale.
“You niggas should be honest and don’t compare me with these artistes, they giving you deep hardly, they giving you cheap garbage, their music it needs polish, their lyrics be re-tarded” –Numbers.
Prior to the #IM3 release, M.I took to Twitter to declare his supremacy over 95% (NINETY FIVE PERCENT) of American rappers, a brave claim that rightly provoked scoffs. This mixtape is a decent listen; that M.I is one the best to do it lyrically is without doubt but if rappers were worried, given his outlandish claims on social media, they can sleep easy.
NotJustOk/Savage, All Fall Down (featuring Poe), Black Bill Gates (featuring Khaligraph Jones), and Numbers are the takeaway joints from this tape. The sampling and production are top notch, with NotJustOk and Black Bill Gates worthy of particular mention.
This mixtape is rated 5.5/10