'Island' might only be Medikal's fourth body of work and the rapper might only be 27, but he already has grown man problems. But unlike the average man, he embraces the problems and treats them as part of life. Either it's hustling to get paid amidst hate and detraction or reluctantly admitting that his baby mama is a winner, he embraces it all.
Delivered in Twi, Pidgin and English, Island feels like a purge of long-held thoughts. The EP might only be an appetizer for his upcoming album, The Truth Album, but it's already one of the most cohesive and topically resonant rap projects that Africa has seen in 2020.
Trap and ballad-rap play canvas on which the man affectionately known as MDK paints his real-life pictures. With an 'Intro' that deliberately does away with drums and instead focuses on presumptive piano chords and choir samples that form a ballad, Medikal begins his rap - he raps in Twi and it conveys the pain in his voice.
On the song he likes life to a b*tch that takes pictures as he describes the pressures of being Medikal. He talks about how people call him 'Chairman' because he throws money around in the hood. He struggled to make it and bought a range only for people to cal him a fraudster. He calls his daughter a blessing and reluctantly calls his baby mama, a "winner."
This track is heavy and it might have been better off being titled, 'Being Medikal.' 'Nyame' is the god of the Akan people of Ghana. His name means "he who knows and sees everything." Medikal uses the song to address the detraction he gets from people he fights despite only trying to live and make the best of life.
Featuring Kevin Fianko and Armani, 'Gyai Me' is a bar-fest presented in English and Twi aboard a trap beat that shares close similarities to Logic’s ‘Slave II’ off Bobby Tarrantino 1. ‘Nipa’ is built on a beat that demands introspection from a rapper. Oh, this beat is so good.
Medikal and Kwesi Slay use it to discuss loss, suspense and convalescence. ‘No Cap’s is ideally built on a banging Hip-Hop beat that sees Medikal use braggadocio to highlight his own journey to success and the critics who say he raps to impress. He puts his success down to his indifferent demeanour and self-belief. Yo, wait till this beat becomes drill at 1:37 and rave.
‘Shout’ is a commercial record with which Medikal wholly builts a tale of vanity. ‘Money, Power and Respect’ is this writer’s favourite song on this EP. Medikal is boisterous as he states that he doesn’t believe in history and instead likes building what becomes history.
Medikal finds three pockets to build his flows and gives shout-outs to Paedae and Ice Prince. But despite his incredible ego, Medikal prays to God for ‘Money, Power and Respect.’ "You heavy pass boat, nor mean say [E]go] sink o..." is a quality line that makes this writer smile.
‘Vex Me’ is built on a super-nasty beat that merges dark melodies with avant-garde percussion. Medikal shows his range as he flips, slows and flips again - it almost feels like he’s flexing his rap muscles. He switches between English, Pidgin and Twi as he beasts for four minutes. He seems angry as he blurts, "Why you dey vex me?"
Look, what he’s saying makes sense, but it doesn’t matter - this is one of those songs that you simply have to appreciate for skill level and flow. The final track, ‘Outro’ tows the same line on a similar beat. Abeg, make una nor dey vex Medikal again. Y'all caused 'Vex Me' and 'Outro,' but this writer enjoys every bit of those songs though.
When Medikal is in this mood, nobody is safe - not even love and women. On 'Vex Me' and 'Outro,' it feels lie catharsis of long-held anger. Yo!
As much as this EP is a precursor to an album, it’s so good in its equal parts creative, equal parts freewheeling experimental creative freedom. It seems Medikal creates this EP out of the least pressure possible. He starts off with cases of chilling introspect before bursting into swashbuckling instances of impressive MCing.
At the root of it all are identity and authenticity - Medikal never seems fake. He quotes his home, he quotes his life, he speaks his experiences, he is Medikal.
You can play the EP HERE.
• 0-1.9: Flop
• 2.0-3.9: Near fall
• 4.0-5.9: Average
• 6.0-7.9: Victory
• 8.0-10: Champion
Pulse Rating: /10
8.0 - Champion