At 12:00pm on September 10, 2019, Nigerian rappers, MI Abaga, AQ, Loose Kaynon and Blaqbonez released the Martell Cypher which created a storm on social media and started a few conversations.
It also led Nigerian rap fans to take aim at the Hennessy Cypher, the perceived primary ‘rival’ of the Martell Cypher.
On September 10, 2019, Nigerian rapper, MI Abaga announced that the second installment of the Martell Cypher will be released today. It has been released and like anything rap that comes out of that camp, it’s really good.
Here are five talking points from the cypher:
Money is good recording, but vision is 'importanter'
The concept and videography are really something to behold; four random men at a bar, drinking and flexing before taking turns to deliver killer bars.
A lot of Nigerian rappers will say it’s about funding and that they can do the same, but that’s not entirely accurate. It’s not just about funds, the vision has to be on point and potentially make you overlook the ills.
If it was that easy, a certain Nigerian rap cypher wouldn’t have three bad years on the bounce. If the first one was a flash in the pan, this second one definitely takes the conversation away from cynics.
Props for costume too.
However, Martell Cypher I is better than Martell Cypher II
I know, that might be too harsh, but facts are facts. The overall quality of the raps on 'Martell Cypher II' is slightly better than the overall quality of the raps on 'Martell Cypher I.'
On the level of his cypher mates, Loose Kaynon wasn’t as bright a shining light on 'Martell Cypher I.' But this time, the lines are not really clear. His flows and cadences are still momentarily questionable, but on a tough beat, he came through and delivered.
People unfairly judged Blaqbonez on the first cypher, but there can be no questions this time. He delivered.
That said, one reason why 'Martell Cypher I' was more enjoyable is that the set was brighter. Another is that the chosen beat was also slightly better better than that of ‘Martell Cypher II.’
The beat for 'Martell Cypher II' is not remotely bad. But on the topic of relatability and enjoyability, the beat for ‘Martell Cypher II’ is slightly too abstract and risque. At times, even the four rappers struggled to find pockets in it. The melody was also a little darker and minimalist than the first one BeatsByJay made.
Opinions will be split, but when it comes down to it as an overall package, ‘Martell Cypher II’ is less slightly enjoyable than the first one. Tweak the percussion and make it simpler, then add more melodious strings, and it’s significantly better.
A lot of scores to settle
The rappers were firing shots left and right. At one point, you might see bullets flying your way from the screen. A lot of those shots stem from the supposed 'rap beef' that involved Blaqbonez and other rappers after he proclaimed himself the best rapper in Africa.
It’s all fair game.
AQ should be respected
A few months ago, AQ had a social media ‘confrontation’ with rapper and DRB Lasgidi member, Fresh L. It stems from when AQ dissed alte fashion on his loosie, ‘Hmmm.’
A lot of Nigerians asked questions out of ignorance and basic bias, but AQ is one of the best rappers in Africa, period. On this one, he came through again. Yes, he initially struggled with the beat from a cadence standpoint, but the quality of his bars never dropped.
Around, "Roman Catholic, the rosary is always close to me. The Vatican can't hold the verses I hold in me, the glory bestowed in me, my class huh..." AQ went mad with the cadences and found that elusive pocket. That moment was hard!
But then, sorry AQ, MI took the round
MI Abaga has refused to rest. Last year, he celebrated his 10th year in mainstream consciousness. But like clockworks, he’s back again.
On ‘Martell Cypher I,’ AQ took the ‘Crown’ and there’s no question about that. But then, one could say that AQ had the blessing of shock value - at least, to mainstream consciousness - and that didn’t help M.I who also came through. He was clearly a victim of his own success.
But this time, he took no prisoners and he knocked AQ to second place. He struggled the least on the beat. Then, he talked that talk and mentioned the rappers that could get at him on their “best day.”
This writer wagers that some of those rappers are; Sarkodie, M.anifest, Cassper, AKA, Tumi, Khaligraph Jones, Olamide and Mode9ine. The other two Nigerians, he’ll have to leave that to conversation.
However, this writer also thinks that there might be two more from South Africa.
Extra point: Ranking the rappers