There is so much excitement following the release of MI's eight studio project in the early hours of Friday, August 24. MI is debated as the greatest Nigerian rapper ever, but some argue that he no longer plays at the level he did when he released his first set of projects.
This album which he tags 'A Study on Self Worth' is supposed to be a defining one, one where he sheds his scales and allows his vulnerabilty as a human take center stage.
MI talks a big game and executive producing three projects in three weeks under the LAMB August tag is a move he believes will kickstart another glorious run in the history of Nigerian hip-hop
Yung Denzel boasts of 10 tracks and feature guest acts like Tay Iwar, Cina Soul, Niyola, Odunsi the Engine, Patricxxlee and Lady Donli.
Here is our track-by-track first listen take of the project.
'Do you know who you are'? ft Tay Iwar
The song opens with Tay Iwar's soothing vocals, this is enchanting, the drums are building slowly underneath as he asks where is your worth?
MI is rapping, he is philosophical, the second verse is asking intriguing questions, pointing a finger at the Black man.
A voice is speaking, touching on two major issues; an identity crisis and psychological hopelessness.
''Until we hate racism more than we hate each other, nothing is going to change'', the voice says. This is a therapy session, MI is talking, there is a female voice talking back.
He uses this 4minutes 54 seconds long first track to perfectly lay the template for the direction the project has been geared.
'Last Night I Had A Dream About A Hummingbird'
Next is the shortest song on the project.
Again there is a voice talking, this time touching on comparing yourself, 'I don't have anything to prove to anyone, he says' and that is where MI is at with his career.
MI is in the zone with his rhyming, the instrumentation takes a back seat, as he champions ignoring those who haven't done anything with their lives, then the beat kicks in, but just as you sit back to enjoy more, the song draws to a close. This one really needed the second verse.
The female voice is back.
'You Rappers Should Fix Up Yor Lives'
The previously released single comes next and even though it generated a number of controversies and bucket load of replies when it first came out, it is fair to say that his words have aged quite well.
Since the song dropped, there have been rap albums, but none have come close to creating as much buzz as MI is presently doing with the LAMB projects, justifying the lyrics, ''I can't retire yet, who gonna fix the environment?''
'Another Thing, Do Not Be A Groupie'
Ok, this sounds interesting, MI is shooting off the blocks, this time he is addressing the industry.
''For Niggas to get ahead, they giving cunningling us''. Already my favourite track, he is not just rapping, this is grown man rap, the beat is also doing something insane behind his voice, damn. I love this.
We get another verse, he is touching on those jumping from labels this time, oh he is boasting about the achievements of Chocolate City in the last ten years, even though I don't agree with some of the years he mentioned, how can you argue with a fire song man?
This is fine form MI, aka 'talk-the-talk MI', aka 'my-team-is-bigger-than-you MI', aka 'I-may-be-4-feet but imma-dunk-on you' MI, aka 'I am running out of akas to give to this fire joint', damn.
The song also finds a way of putting the track before it into better perspective, which lends credence to a sound arrangement on the project.
'Stop! Never Second Guess Yourself' featuring Cina Soul
This is the trappy MI that surfaced on Rendezvous, this time he is speaking on self-confidence, there is so much here to remind you of Kendrick Lamar, what in the world is Cina Soul doing?
Her vocals are working wonders to my ears. Therapy session continues, I kinda like this session, 'somewhere in your life, you have experienced abandonment'. Apt.
You Are Like Melody, My Heart Skips A Beat ft Lorraine Chia
This is his softer side, the lover boy side to his persona, but Lorraine Chia is the real star of this track.
'+-' featuring Odunsi x Lady Donli
MI teams up with two of the leading crop of new talents in Odunsi and Lady Donli, he had previously worked with the former on his Rendezvous playlist and the outcome definitely deserves an encore.
'Positive, Negative' is a journey from when he started rapping, the delivery is sharp, a few corny lines, but Odunsi is doing his thing especially when he switches to pidgin. The second verse is all about positive vibes as he dares you to skip to the next song if you don't like his flows. Odunsi is back, the hook sure bangs, Donli brings it home.
'I Believe In You, You Should Too, Believe In You'
The bubbly trap flow is back as he encourages you to believe in yourself, he is bragging again, talking about how he has been here for 10 years, the flow is switched up, he is name dropping himself among the greats.
There is aggression to his voice, finality to his words like he is trying to knock the full impact of what he is saying into your thoughts. Another heavy record.
'The Self Evaluation of Yxng Denzel' featuring Niyola
MI teams up with another OG, one who actually has been in the game longer than him in Niyola, as the former Da Trybe affiliate makes a return after a long absence.
The song starts with vocals from MI's mother, issuing words of advice to her son. Then MI follows with his 'dark, twisted, real fantasies' as all he wants to do is, 'drink, f***, smoke, chill, party all day'.
He admits his fanbase cannot afford to know about it, he is talking about depression, and emptiness despite the money and fame.
MI admits to so many things on this song and Niyola provides the right shoulders for him to lean on with her soothing voice.
'Love Never Fails...' featuring Tay Iwar x Patrickxxlee
Patrickxxlee first caught my attention with his impressive project, Disco Utopia released in 2016. He also featured on Ice Prince's C.O.L.D earlier in the year and has been earning his stripes on the scene.
MI allows the youngins flourish on this they talk about someone wanting to kill herself, is that MI singing? Yes MI is bringing the vocals on this one, Tay is killing this, as they bring the whole project to a full circle.
MI bragged about it and he successfully delivered an upfront rap album worth its hype.
Yxng Denzel is unguarded music, there is clarity in what he aims to achieve and the mood is compared to something graceful and mind-blowing.
This is a filler-free album as every song earns its place on the project. The project's minor failings come in the form of the stretched dialogues on most of the songs, but if you can look at the project less as your regular album and more as a man allowing you into his world, then it makes it more understandable.
Looking at how MI has grown since his come up, seeing the hunger he exhibited on his first album, ''Talk About It'', his evolving in subsequent projects, and the position he now holds, not just as a matured rapper but an executive, it is fair to say this heartfelt project is arguably his best offering in a long while.
Yxng Denzel is a water tight project, a matured statement of his experiences, and one that is well conceived, thoroughly executed and perfectly served to cater for both his young and old fans.
1-Dull2-Boring2.5-Average3-Worth Checking Out3.5-Hot4-Smoking Hot4.5-Amazing5-Perfection