MI Abaga and Vector: The road to Hennessy Artistry’s ‘The Conversation’
How Hennessy made MI Abaga and Vector work together on Hennessy Artistry's 'The Conversation.'
Upon hearing ‘NotJustOk/Savage' in 2016, Vector recorded ‘Tetracycling’ as a response, but the song never dropped. Vector’s then-manager Nosa Omoregie, whom he met during the ‘Don’t Drop The Mic’ tour - an offset of ‘Koko Nights’ by DJ Mexxy and Loose Kaynon in 2012 - objected.
Omoregie says, “At the time I said to him, “I don’t think it’s necessary, focus on your sh*t. If you do it, people might misread it and that narrative might be hard to come back from” and he killed it.”
Instead, we had the 2017 back-and-forth which resulted in MI Abaga’s open letter to Vector and Vector’s revelation that he offered MI a spot on ‘King Kong [Remix],’ but MI didn’t take it.
After the drama that followed throughout 2018 and the 2019 build-up, Vector released ‘The Purge.’ His Hennessy comrades, Vader The Wildcard and Payper Corleone joined him on it. The song trended the night it dropped.
ALSO READ: A Timeline of MI Abaga and Vector’s beef
After then, Omoregie - who had started doing great work on the Hennessy Artistry - met MI’s manager, Abuchi Peter Ugwu at the Murtala Muhammed airport and they discussed the beef at hand. Omoregie was on his way to Ghana while Ugwu was on his way to meet MI in London, England.
MI Abaga was in London when 'The Purge' dropped. He went to perform for a staunch member of his Tribe of Judah who was getting married. That fan's sister had called Abaga's manager, Abuchi Peter Ugwu to enquire, but they couldn’t afford to pay MI Abaga’s demands.
The enquirer was trying to surprise her sister; the bride and MI’s super fan. Instead of shunning the opportunity to surprise that fan, Abaga asked her sister to simply cover flight costs for him and his manager - without performance fees.
Before ‘Tetracycling’ dropped, Omoregie who knew the power that Abaga and Vector could wield together under the Hennessy brand came to an agreement with Ugwu. The plan was to nip the drama in the bud before it got out of hand. Omoregie was to speak with Vector while Ugwu would speak with Abaga.
But after Omoregie landed in Ghana, he got a call that Vector would drop ‘Tetracycling’ in two hours. Again, he tried to dissuade Vector. His point was that ‘The Purge’ made sense from a Hennessy perspective while ‘Tetracyling’ would just be a diss track. At this time, Abaga had no plans to release any track. Then, ‘Tetracycling’ dropped.
The failed reconciliation in October 2019
When Abaga came back from London, it was a few days before his birthday on October 4, 2019. Fans and Hip-Hop lovers were apprehensive and expectant just as stan bases took on each other like gladiators in the arena.
Omoregie was still trying to salvage the situation and had a meeting with Abaga at CCx, Kofo Abayomi, Victoria Island, Lagos. He told Abaga that some of his preconceived notions about Hennessy were totally wrong. It was at that moment that Omoregie proposed that the warring rappers have a conversation and MI agreed.
The talent manager then had a two hour, thirty minute conversation with Vector. The rapper also agreed and Omoregie visited his barber. Two hours later, Omoregie then got a WhatsApp message from Vector and it read, “Don’t ever talk to me about this guy again…”
Attached was a screenshot of the Instagram DM that Vector posted on October 11, 2019. Abaga was trolling Vector in the DMs. Omoregie was like, “Oh f*cking hell…” and called off the conversation.
MI Abaga went ahead and replied Vector on 'The Viper,' despite warnings from his OGs. He went into a hotel room and found a pocket. The first thing he got was the sample that became, 'The Viper.' MI Abaga says he didn't want to fire shots, nor did he want to make it too personal and dirty.
However, he ended up making it personal despite warnings from his OGs. Two people called him offering information on Vector - one of them was really close to home, but MI rejected both. In that hotel room, 'The Viper' was recorded and fast-tracked to be released on MI's birthday the next day.
Alpha Ojini, the rapper and sound engineer met MI Abaga in that room and mixed the song.
Speaking on that, Ojini says, "When I heard ‘The Viper,’ I felt it was about to go down, but I was also laughing. While mixing it, I knew MI was trying to sound calm and authoritative, so it was my job to convey that emotion with the right knobs, pitch and mixing. What we do while mixing is control the listener’s perception by conveying the right emotion.”
The plan was simple; record the one track and leave it alone. Abaga didn't plan to record another track. The only reason he made 'The Viper' was because people kept insinuating cowardice around him and his name.
Elsewhere, Vector was wrongly counted out of the beef because people felt there was no comeback from ‘The Viper.’ They were wrong, very wrong.
In a conversation with Pulse Nigeria just days after 'The Viper' dropped, Vector appeared confident - almost cocky - as he shrugged off questions about whether he would respond, "We'll have to wait and see..."
Judas The Rat
In the stomach of the beef, Vector also received calls from various sources, offering information on MI Abaga. One of those calls came from Jos, Plateau State - Abaga's home turf. In the same spirit of sportsmanship that underscores the personality traits and values shared by both men, he also rejected those opportunities.
As alluded by Killer Kane - Vector's brother and manager, who is also a rapper, 'Judas The Rat' had been recorded. In fact, it was longer than the version we currently know. Legendary producer, Masterkraft, who produced the track found a way to persuade Vector to reduce the track and cut off the more scandalous final three minutes that were “personal.”
Vector cut those three minutes but kept it safe - in case MI Abaga was going to respond. It was a battle which Vector wanted to win because of his Hip-Hop background and reps as a battle rapper. As Killer Kane says, “Ammunition dey…” He continues, “We just wanted to make sure everything was right.”
Vector says, “E plenty for ground like sand sand for beach.”
Post ‘Judas The Rat’
While recording his part of, ‘The Conversation,’ MI Abaga didn’t accept that he lost the beef. However, he says that he respects the “strategy” that Vector and his team employed. After ‘Judas The Rat’ dropped, MI Abaga hated being called, “Rat.”
As he revealed on, ‘The Blood’ off Judah EP, he felt alone in some of those moments - even though his brothers are still his brothers.
It also coincided with the prolonged announcement of his exit from Chocolate City. While he never planned to release any reply, he did record one. When he handed that reply to one of his OGs, he was told, “Never release this, don’t complicate matters, M. I take God beg you.”
Meanwhile, Vector was ready for MI’s reply. Later he had refused to respond to AQ’s ‘Distractions 2’ and was trying to contact Jesse Jagz. The only person he cared about in that entire fall-out was Jargo, due to the things he said on, ‘Judas The Rat.’
The problem was that Jagz had fully embraced his role as a child of nature. In search of spiritual clarity, he had moved from Lagos to Akure, Ondo State and, then to Jos, Plateau State. He was also not quite interested in technology.
During ‘The Conversation,’ Vector was keen to clarify that he never meant for Jagz to get caught in the cross-hairs. Soon after, he released the impressive V.I.B.E.S Before T.E.S.L.I.M EP. Vector also reworked ‘Judas The Rat’ into ‘Alaye Jor Jor Jor’ for his EP.
On the initial version of Judah EP, there was going to be a song for the event, but MI Abaga cut it.
But before then, Vector and MI had featured on Zorro’s ‘One On One [Remix],’ which came one year after the original version of the song dropped. The problem was that MI didn’t know Vector was going to be on the song. Zorro played smart and won.
Shortly after that, MI and Vector met each other at Salma’s, a Lagos restaurant. Vector was going in for a meal while MI was coming out in the company of Paul Okeugo, Audu Maikori and one other person. Interestingly, they greeted each other and even dapped before they went their separate ways.
Everything was quiet until AQ released God’s Engineering and rapped Vector sent people to caution him not to release anymore diss tracks on ‘Men Slept, Jesus Wept.’
‘The Trinity,’ off ‘Judah EP’ seemed like a continuation of ‘The Viper.’ And MI seemingly used it to address MILLI, his former protege and one of the pain points that Vector explored on ‘Judas, The Rat.’ Meanwhile, Abaga was gearing up with the intention to still do something with Hennessy.
Shortly after, MI Abaga hosted an IG Live session that saw Larry Gaaga play the peacemaker who tried to facilitate a conversation between Abaga and Vector. The latter would have joined up but for bad network quality.
How Vector and MI agreed to ‘The Conversation’
Before that IG Live, something had happened. Four months after ‘The Viper,’ Omoregie called Abaga and once again started the reconciliation talks. Omoregie wanted Abaga and Vector to work together at Hennessy - Abaga was never quiet about that intention. Around the time Omoregie called, he also made his moves to actualize that intention.
Omoregie then spoke with Vector who agreed. Both rappers were to meet in his house when lockdown measures started slowing down a bit. Around 11 am on D-Day, Vector came with his friend, the famous Gazamba and MI came with Chopstix.
Omoregbe says, “To convince them of the power their collaboration could have, I put together a digital sheet that analyzed conversations around both of them between September and November 2019 with graphs and charts. They were shocked.”
Omoregbe then told them that the problem between them is because neither of them has had a reason to converse with the other. After a tense period that involved some argument, they started conversing with each other and spoke for about two hours - not about anything on ‘The Conversation.’
They came to an understanding and Hennessy Artistry’s ‘The Conversation’ became feasible. You can watch the three episodes of the show below;
Speaking on the importance of the occasion, a pivotal figure in the amazing occasion refused to be named but notes that, “The brand has always owned the Hip-Hop space and Nigeria and had always watched the key occurrences with keen interest. The tag for Hennessy Artistry is ‘The Art of Blending.’
“It doesn’t do the brand any benefit to propagate the conflict. Even though one of them had worked for another brand, we always had relationships with both rappers. More so, that person is still Hip-Hop and Hennessy still has a burning passion for Hip-Hop. Instead of driving a whole divide and rule thing, we wanted to ‘midwife’ the conversation.”
For Hennessy, it was important to make ‘The Conversation’ much bigger, in a way that it would affect the larger culture. That was why ‘The Conversation’ added layers of background and context by telling a short history of Nigerian Hip-Hop. This was to make people understand the evolving state of Nigerian Hip-Hop and how it affects the larger ecosystem.
Download 'Do You Know Who You Are, Take Some Time and Meditate On You' by MI below;
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