When Nigerian hip-hop recording artist Jude Abaga’s Talk About It album hit the airwaves in 2008, the shockwave was enormous. There was nothing quite like it such that it inspired interest in the upcoming hip-hop genre at the time and inevitably, went on to become one of the biggest rap albums ever made. Since then, the rapper has followed with the then heavily anticipated MI2(2010), The Chairman(2014) and others including mixtapes, his recent being the Rendezvous album released in February—an attempt to appeal to a new crowd—which had numerous collaborations, the likes of Juls, Santi, Nonso Amadi, Odunsi the engine present.
Better known by his stage name, M.I., the CEO of Chocolate City, in July, announced three projects scheduled for release this month. The projects, themed LAMBAugust, follows the forthcoming releases of the hip-hop albums by Loose Kaynon & AQ, Blaqbonez and MI Abaga who once again, attempts to revamp the hip-hop game.
On a windy Tuesday night, TheNerve Africa visits an exclusive album listening party organised by Chocolate City on the Sky Bar rooftop. The ambiance is cool and relaxed and guest and artists lounge in a section of a bar in Lekki, the sung-about affluent neighbourhood in Lagos. M.I Abaga presides over the session which includes songs off his upcoming album Yung Denzel and the two others executively produced by him: the joint album by Loose Kaynon and A-Q, Crown and Bad Boy Blaq by Blaqbonez.
Watching M.I. as he conversed with the enthused DJ before and after tracks, it was visible to everyone present that this project–or series of projects, meant a lot to the “short black boy”. The rapper not only presented the trio’s projects, but watched the crowd keenly, gauging the response to the tracks being played, and revealing tidbits of information about songs which meant more to him as heads bobbed, partially engulfed by puffs of smoke. This wasn’t just about him, and one could only imagine the sacrifice which had gone into production of the three albums due for release in three weeks.
It was impossible not to move to Blaqbonez’s rhythm and punchlines in Bad Boy Blaq. The rapper, who had also featured in M.I’s Rendezvous, took the audience on a trip with American trap bass beats-infused, yet, relatable Nigerian content delivered in strings which tugged on the heart.
About Young Denzel, MI’s eight studio project with 10 tracks and seven guest appearances including Tay Iwar and Lady Donli, the artist says it revolves around the themes of Self, Love, and Society. More introspective than others, the album unravels leads into the rapper’s own life, and the track off his “study of self” series, I believe in me you should too believe in you came of as an advice and a motivation to those who listened. Also, the rapper’s mother had her voice recorded via a voice note on one of the songs doling out the very familiar advice of being a responsible young adult, but which, unbeknownst to her, is promptly followed by a note on social vices and mental health. Wait till she hears it.
Off MCs Loose Kaynon and AQ’s ‘Crown’ album, comedian and singer Chigurl shows off her amazing vocal range on the track titled, Hustler’s Prayers. According to M.I., her verse was a voice note that was forwarded to him, just before she went in for a surgery the following morning. The duo also featured Show Dem Camp on a track that leaves you lost for accurate words to describe what exactly you’re feeling.
With producers like Reinhard, M.I., Beats by Jayy, CKay and Alpha who worked with BlaqBonez on the project, LAMBAugust, a medley of highs and lows, is destined to snatch wigs, and as AQ said, “prepare to be blown away”
”I know what I have to do to sell albums,” M.I. says towards the end of the event, while asking for support. “I know people I have to work with and how to go about it, but I need to do this, this album may not really sell or make mad numbers, but we need to make this sacrifice at this time for hip-hop.” He had said at the beginning that “True love requires sacrifice” and LAMB, a unique blend of their names which symbolizes the trio working to ensure the survival of the culture for the love of hip-hop is appropriate.
The Crown album will be released on Friday, 17 August, while Yung Denzl and Bad Boy Blaq will be released subsequently on the 24th and 31st. You can pre-order Crown here.