M.I shared the names of the four albums he plans to drop in the coming months; and the only two Nigerian record labels that he believes will be standing in the next 10 years.
After a badly-digested article and the twitter rant that it produced, Nigerian rap icon M.I Abaga joined journalists Osagie Alonge and Ayomide Tayo on Loose Talk, a podcast produced by Pulse where the hosts discuss pop culture and other topics. He was joined by Chocolate City Vice-President, Loose Kaynon.
The conversation centred around the strength and staying power of M.I's third studio album, "Chairman", his management of Chocolate City, the state of Nigerian music and the relationship between musicians and the people who tell their stories.
Here are 10 interesting things we learned from the 166-minute long conversation.
1. Kelechi Amadi Obi took pictures for M.I’s debut album for free because the rapper couldn’t afford to pay. While M.I Abaga talked about his decision to return to Nigeria, he shared a little anecdote about the photo that would eventually cover his debut album, “Talk About It”.
“In Nigeria in 1981, a son was born, Jude Abaga, who would come out”, the rapper said, “Kelechi Amadi, a fucking legend, took pictures for free”.
“He took pictures for free because I couldn’t afford to pay him”, he continued, “He took pictures of me for free in a suit. He designed that set”.
2. M.I’s “Chairman” and Wizkid’s “Ayo" have been in the iTunes Top 5 Nigerian albums for over two years. They are the only albums that enjoy this record.
In the heat of the discussion, Pulse Entertainment Editor, Ayomide Tayo stated this fact out as part of the research he conducted on the staying power of M.I’s third studio album, a major element of the conversation.
3. M.I believes that Nigerians have made their artistes reduce the quality of the music that they create. A major subplot of the conversation was the quality of Nigerian music and hip-hop in particular.
Critics believe that rap in Nigeria is severely watered down. M.I expressed his opinion on this issue; he believes that Nigerian rappers have had to dumb down their lyrics to suit their audience.
“Nigerian rappers don’t write weak bars because they are wack. They write weak bars because of their listeners”, the rapper said.
4. In response to fans who have been anticipating his album for a minute, M.I gave an update about the state of the project and the factors that have delayed it.
He says he played his album to a group of close associates who told him that it was not good enough. So he restarted the process and made a better project.
5. Since his third mixtape, Illegal Music 3, M.I has been perceived as reluctant to drop new music. He has teased a project or two, such as the LOVE EP, but held back on releasing.
Well, all that may be in the past. The rapper says he plans to drop 4 albums and an EP in the coming months to silence doubters and stake his claim as “the man”.
“And guess what? Rendezvous is gonna drop. M.I gonna be the fucking man. Young Denzel gonna drop. “The One” album gonna drop. Incredible gonna drop. M.I’s gonna be the fucking man. Love EP is still there. Five!", M.I stressed, emphatically.
According to M.I, four of those albums are already done and ready for release.
6. M.I’s third studio album “Chairman” has raked in over 120,000 dollars. Views on the album are divisive and not many agree on where it stands in any ranking of the rapper’s projects.
Still, when the conversation hovered around the impact of the album and its numbers, the rapper intimated that it has made a considerable amount of money: $120,000 from online sales.
7. When asked to rank his albums on lyrics and quality of production, M.I sacrificed his debut “Talk About It” as his weakest album.
8. Chocolate City is the oldest standing record label in the history of Nigerian music, according to M.I, and the rapper thinks it will be one of only two labels that will stand the test of time.
“There are only two labels you can count on to be here in 10 years today. Mavin, as long as Don Jazzy is there.", he nudged towards Osagie.
"Understand that the Don Jazzy of Chocolate City is not even in Nigeria today”, M.I, who is now Chocolate City CEO, said. “That’s Audu, and Chocolate City is still here. So you can only count on Mavin and Chocolate City”.
9. M.I gave a resounding, if sarcastic shout-out to the internet fraudsters who, he says, are quietly sustaining the Nigerian music industry, in the absence of corporate sponsors and brands.
“There’s no bank in the history of Nigeria that has given one Naira to any label. There’s one corporate entity that has given any label. It’s young guys.”, M.I emphasised. “In fact, you’re more likely to get money from a Yahoo boy. Shout-out to Yahoo boys. May God prosper your business.”
That comment is likely to get some attention and he did his part to clear the air. “Let me explain why I’m saying that.”, he added. “If Nigerian music is left up to the corporate world, we’re dead. We’re finished. Shout-out to all the money that comes from funny places. Shout-out to all the funny politicians.”
10. The emergence of a new wave of musicians and creatives has M.I excited and some of the legacy artists, scared for their livelihoods.
Although it still bubbles in the underground, a subculture of young musicians are reshaping what Nigerian music sounds like, and that transition is not passing without effect or attention.
“Before the music business was in quadruplets, then all of a sudden, it became in triplets. That change erased like 98% of the industry.”, the rapper pointed out.
“These flows that these young boys are coming with, bro, I struggle. The great M.I became a human being, I had to learn. I had to sit down with Milli and listen to him. It’s not my generation.”