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Monday, November 29, 2010

M.I 2 The wait is finally over

LEAD SINGLE – Undisputed
PRODUCTION – Rytchus Era Productions
GUEST ARTISTES – 2Face Idibia, Bola, Brymo, Flavor, Iceprince, Jesse Jagz, Julius Ceaser, Loose Kaynon, M.I, Praise, Ruby, Timaya, Waje
RECORD LABEL/DISTRIBUTION – Chocolate City Records/AHBU Ventures

It has been a rollercoaster ride from MI’s ’08 classic debut Talk About It to his oft-delayed second coming MI2. At certain times, it felt as though the gimmicky emcee had deserted the amusement park all together, leaving the public all by themselves to speculate when the journey will end, if ever.
False starts, leaked music and lukewarm singles were only one half of the story, newly-acquired adversaries (Iceberg Slim and Kelly Hansome) and a public falling-out with erstwhile manager Godwin Tom formed the other, giving the run-up to MI2 a soap opera-like feel. So, I guess it’s only fitting then that M.I’s highly-anticipated sophomore set evolved to become a collection of sixteen conceptual songs that follow a movie theme, albeit loosely.

MI2 starts off with a warning of sorts– ‘the following movie is rated TB – Toh Bad!’ Barely ten seconds in and it’s apparent that hilarity will be one of this album’s primary themes. Sometimes the mirthfulness is overt – like when M.I laces the chaotic Craze with a fittingly schizophrenic chorus, while on songs like the tropical island-influenced My Head My Belle, he employs a more subtle approach at humourHowever, it’s a testament to Mr. Abaga remaining true to his conscious rap roots that even when MI2 is at its most humorous, he doesn’t fail to pass a message between the quips. But don’t be misled though; sugar-coating the truth has never been M.I’s M.O. On Wild Wild West, he paints a harrowing picture of the streets of the new Jos – a town still close to his heart, ‘orphans, coffins, bastards, caskets, mass burials… How are we going to get past this?’ M.I. is livid about the anarchy in Plateau, going as far as threatening to send a bullet through the skull of any instigator he finds but holds back at the last minute, more violence isn’t the answer.

M.I includes a 10 minute-long song on this opus, Imperfect Me, where his close friends take turns to share what they perceive to be M.I’s faults and one recurring complaint was his haughtiness. The other was M.I’s vengefulness and while listening to MI2, it’s not exactly hard to ‘hear’ why. MI’s ego looms large over the entire project, he taps up Flavor to sing his praises to the hi-life heavens on Number One, an exercise he repeats onUndisputed, only this time MI did all the chest-thumping by himself.  Then there’s the vindictive MI who simply refuses to get over Iceberg Slim and Kelly Hansome’s taunting, proceeding to give both men a proper dressing-down on Beef.

Ironically, two of M.I’s biggest perceived weaknesses only make this album all the more enjoyable, there’s something oddly-fascinating about a short man who reached for the heights and eventually ascended to the summit of Nigerian hip-hop, yet still takes the time to send rocks aimed at him back from whence they came. However, that’s not to say the project is without flaw. M.I prides himself as a rapper who doesn’t need to water-down his rhymes in order to connect with the masses, but on MI2 he backpedals a bit, at times simplifying his bars to the point where even a blonde baby suffering from Down’s Syndrome and on cough syrup would feel her intelligence was being insulted – ‘anybody way vex, I no send them cos dem no be text.’ Really, M.I? Wow… Just wow. And yes, there are more lazy metaphors where that came from.

It was a Herculean task asking M.I to repeat the genius of his classic album TAI, that album had one thing this one could never have – freshness. With M’s feature verses in the last two years enough to make 2 albums by themselves, MI2 was dead on arrival in that regard. However, on MI2 M.I showed a willingness to expand his sound, collaborating with artistes outside his comfort zone like Timaya and Flavor, toying with singing in patois and crucially, experimenting with an ingenious way to present music to the public. Not quite a perfect album but MI2’s creativity has the potential to transform the landscape of contemporary Nigerian music in the years to come.


Coiled out of NET (Nigerian Entertainment Today)[] 


MissBalance said...

I like this review. On point.