The month of August has ended, but
''Sigh, this album is career suicide... hopefully y'all are still with me,'' MI Abaga tweeted the night before the release of his Yung Denzel album, a statement he later clarified as 'a moment of weakness' that comes just before he embarks on something big.
The tweet was in many ways understandable. MI is one who is held in high standards by the hip-hop community, but the last few years have seen the toughest public criticism of not just his music but his reign as Chocolate City boss, which unsurprisingly also coincides with the 'downturn' of the hip-hop genre in the country.
After his outburst on 'You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives', 2018 is the year he attempts to make things right with the release of not just his eight studio effort, one that is his most personal yet, but two other hip-hop projects.
The Yung Denzel album is part of a trilogy of shock therapy projects created with the aim of triggering life back into the hip-hop scene.
The rollouts for the albums were commendable, even though not overly impressive, the buzzwords caught on fast on social media and generated real excitement among the fans.
A month down the line since the very first offering, we are left with 30 songs with a varying appeal, from hardcore rap to in-demand trap and downright revelationary.
Here is an attempt at ranking ten of the very best songs from across the three projects.
Loose Kaynon and A-Q - 'Crown' Ft SDC
Now if you are looking for that one joint that on its own delivers a snippet into how good Nigerian rappers are when not distracted by the urge to give in to what is trending, then Crown provides it.
When Ghost said ''they ain't ready'', he wasn't joking as he comes off the block delivering a high-octane, blood pumping, lyrically wilding verse that sounds like a threat to every other person who ever stepped into the booth, but A-Q is up to the challenge with his witty bars and the insane way he switches his flow, taking it back to the beginning when rap reigned supreme.
Next up is Loose, who leaves room for little clutter as he spits ''You an afterthought like verse 2'', Tec makes a bold claim for the best verse on this cut as he exudes a supreme skill level to bring the joint to a befitting end.
This is a really superb hip-hop cut driven home by the genius that is Reinhard on the keys.
MI Abaga - 'Self Evaluation of Yxng Dxnzl'
This record is one of the most striking songs across the projects. It opens with a prayer from his Mum as he admits to his inner demons, depressions and vulnerability, ''I've been alone with all of my money and all my possessions, but it don't make me feel no better, no, I know that I'm plenty blessed, but I carry an emptiness.''
Stripped down to the mood, backup vocals, simple based production and message, this is MI Abaga at his artistic best.
Blaqbonez - 'Play'
Playful, experimental, very catchy, a legit radio single, unique sonic texture and an actual vibe sums up in defining the evolution of Blaqbonez with this record, 'Play.'
From the moment it was released as a single, 'Play' has continued to grow more influential with every listen and even without a video [yet], this is one anthem that calls everyone report to the dancefloor.
Blaqbonez - 'Consent'
In an era, where topics like rape, feminism and respecting one's stand are being discussed in stronger terms than ever, Blaqbonez lends a voice to the conversation with one of the most important messages you will hear on any album this year.
A song which was written off experiences shared, Blaqbonez insists that no matter the environment or situation, confirmation is crucial for any action to take place and he passes across the message in a brilliant way.
Loose Kaynon and A-Q - 'Hustlers Prayer' ft Chigurl
Everyone who wakes up to hit the streets of Lagos will relate to this song. The intro begins with some mad keys and an enchanting laughter as Chigurl's voice serenades its way into your innermost senses.
This is spiritual as a voice continues to hum behind her singing.
AQ then begins to rap, ''On the road to success, transportation is passion driven'', his verse is a story that reflects the mood of the song and Loose is baring his emotions on wax, the songwriting here is alive as they deliver the most potent inspirational talk you can get in three minutes.
MI Abaga - 'I Believe In You'
MI is talking his talk on this joint, reminding people of his legacy, contributions to the game and the force that he has become.
Loose Kaynon and A-Q - 'Gang Gang' ft Torna
Loose and A-Q somehow pull off an appealing record over a trap beat with Torna killing this with his indigenous hook.
Not really one of their most lyrical moments, but this is the song that makes you appreciate their diversity and ability to step left off the lane and still hold it down.
Blaqbonez - 'Denied'
Blaqbonez - Denied
Blaqbonez is riding on a wave that is delivering nothing but winning moments and 'Denied' keeps the same energy as 'Play'. Well built on vibes, melody and confident delivery as he asserts, ''I'm so ahead of my time, 2018 held me back.''
MI Abaga - '+-' Ft Odunsi and Lady Donli
MI teams up with promising young talents Odunsi and Lady Donli on this soulful record.
The vocals, together with the song's striking piano and strummed keys, forms a pleasant backdrop that makes this a force of a record.
MI Abaga - 'You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives'
M.I Abaga - 'You rappers should fix up your lives'
Arguably the record upon which the entire conversation leading to the release of the albums is built.
MI started a 'war' when he dropped this single late last year, spiking a lot of rappers into replies as they tried to prove him wrong.
One year, down the line, the controversial record has aged well, more people now seemingly agree with him than they did when it initially dropped and even though reservations concerning the joint still stays strong in some quarters, it is hard to argue that the game oddly continues to depend on the chairman to bolster the scene.