Thursday, May 14, 2009

ALBUM REVIEW


M.I who is known to have recorded over fifty songs has TALK ABOUT IT as his debut album. The album was released in October, 2008 and was reported to have moved thirty thousand units in thirty minutes! With its simple but beautifully designed cover, the album boasts of thirteen songs and five skits-a total of eighteen tracks.
1. Outrageous Intro 7. Safe 13. Money
2. Anoti 8. Skit 14. Forever
3. L. Boogie Intro 9. Blaze 15. Jehovah
4. Short Black Boy 10. Area 16. Hustle
5. Teaser 11. Fast Money Fast Cars 17. Thank You (Skit)
6. Talk About It 12. Skit 18. Crowd Mentality

Vocal Assistances: Gabriel, Pype, Leony, Djinee, Jesse Jags, Ice Prince, Blaise, Y.Q, Wizkid, Eben, Lindsey, Uche.
The album kick starts with Anoti, a high tempo song with a Yoruba hook. Here, M.I introduces himself and gives out the various meanings of M.I. Dude has got a lot of aliases! “…Mr. Incredible…Mic Innovator…MC Interrogator…
M.I comes strong in Short Black Boy, my favorite! With a low tempo beat, M.I defines his persona and describes the reception of his style by the ladies. With punchlines like “… he wrote the crowd mentality, reality, equality and no formality could silence his originality…”, Short Black Boy is a must listen to.
Listening to Teaser puts one in a Jamaican dance hall. With General Pype, the song definitely beats expectation.
M.I turns an activist on the track Talk About It. He hits hard on corruption and abuse of public funds.
And here comes the ‘7th wonder’ of the album-Safe. Eighty percent of the success of this album owes it to this explosive, lyrical, conceptual and intelligent piece of music. On a funny hook delivered by Djinee, M.I rhymes with the titles of so many contemporary Nigerian hits and delivers like never before.
Blaze-an ode to marijuana relates the ‘highness’ of puffing cancer sticks to rap. With vocal assistance from hiphop heads like Jesse Jags (M.I’s younger brother), Ice Prince and Blaise, the lyrical strength of this song is better weighed than described.
M.I endorses himself in the industry on Area. With lines like “…I’m not saying I’m the best but I’m asking who’s better?...”
“…they used to say I would never conquer V.I but now I’m the king of the south like T.I…”, everyone needs to recognize M.I is here to stay.
Fast Money Fast Cars and Money examines the direct variation between wealth and human relationships.
The album concludes with Hustle and Crowd Mentality. Two inspirational and thought provoking tracks preaching hardwork, selfworth and originality.
A sixty-four minute smooth journey through an intelligent, low-tempoed and tightly packaged piece of plastic, filled with smooth lyricism, strong messages and moral upliftment.
The only downside of this album happens to be the generally clumsy beats though I think dude made it that way to suit his smooth style of rap.
Even though the album is basically Hip hop, the message no doubt passes across all ages, fans of all genres and practitioners of all endeavours.
TALK ABOUT IT is highly recommended, good value for money.
Editor’s Rating: 4/5
Drop your questions and your comments about the Album Review section on the Comments Section below.
Next Month Review: LIFE & TIMES OF KILLS 2 by IKECHUKWU.
Watch Out!
Peace!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

BEEFS!


Feuds and rivalries have existed since the dawn of Hip hop. Back in the days, MCs would speak over beats, introducing themselves, shouting out to friends in the audience, boasting about their own skills and criticizing their rivals..
While this was often done in good humor, the deaths of Tupac and Notorious B.I.G have shown that in today’s hiphop scene, it is feared that ‘beefs’ will develop into offstage feuds that become violent.
Observers have also claimed that the media on such rivalries to make catchy headlines and blow situations out of proportion.
One good twist to beef, Hip hop heads agree, is that beefs serve as watchdogs. It makes the rivals involved to step up their game and cover up any loopholes in their representation of the art thereby providing quality music to the public.
Cats also agree beefs help sell records as so much as was seen in the Jay-Z vs Nas feud, Tupac vs B.I.G, 50 cent vs Ja Rule, East Coast vs West Coast etc.
In Nigeria, lots of beefs and feuds have been experienced though none has really turned out violent. To mention a few are such beefs as Tony Tetuila vs Eedris, Ruggedman Ehen Cleanup, Freestyle vs Eldee the Don and the ongoing Ruggedman vs Modenine beef.

THE PLACE OF HIPHOP IN NIGERIA


The explosion of hiphop in Nigeria could be traced to the beginning of the millenium with the rise of the likes of Ruggedman, 2 Shotz, Freestyle, Eldee the Don, Modenine e.t.c.
Between then and now-a relatively short space of time, one would’ve expected a gradual rise in the game or at best a slow and steady kinda climb. Contrarily, Hiphop music and culture has rapidly grown, spread and permeated almost every corner of the nation.
Hiphop music is fastly gaining heavy air play on radio and television stations, there are more Hiphop On Air Presenters and Hiphop shows on radio than has ever been experienced. This has invariably caused a heavy influx of cats into the game and made more converts for the culture.
Hiphop in Nigeria has cut across all ages, gender, disposition and genres.
In the past couple of years, no fewer than multiples of tens of albums and mixtapes are released each year. More than a quarter of these make it to the mainstream thus boldening the outline of Hiphop on the music map.
Nigerian Hiphop videos recently, have been characterised by high quality, rich content screen play which has earned them heavy rotations on international Music Channels like the MTV, Channel O, Soundcity, Nigezie and the rest. Such videos have apart from making CDs move units, also won awards many of which are sponsored by internationally reknown awarding bodies. Examples include Kini Big Deal by Naeto-C which won an MTV Award in 2008; Cry by Modenine which won three Channel O Awards.
Nowadays, we hear a lot of songs which are products of the fusion of hiphop and other music genres. Even a few acts from other genres are sometimes erroneously referred to as rappers. This quite shows the level of appreciation Hiphop is receiving in Nigeria.
Furthermore, a lot of corporate organisations are getting involved, helping to elevate different parts of the culture to great heights. Several of them are stepping up to sponsor competitions. Examples include the Emcee Africa Competition; Malta Guinness Street Dance Competition, Gulder DJ Competition to mention but a few.
Some other bodies organize Hiphop shows and concerts sometimes with international Hiphop veterans and superstars performing live on stage on Nigerian soil. Such shows have drawn the likes of Nas, Talib Kweli, 50 Cent, Ja Rule, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Nelly, Ludacris, Kanye West, Akon, Wyclef to mention but a few.
The Hiphop culture in Nigeria has given rise to a lot of movements in different parts of the country. These movements provide a platform for hiphoppers to converge and articulate on issues concerning the genre and the culture as a whole. These meetings take place periodically and as regularly as possible. Examples include the African Hiphop Movement pioneered by Nigeria’s Modenine, Reflection Easternal which is a hiphop movement for hiphop heads in or connected to the Eastern region of Nigeria, Code 042 pioneered by the Hiphop Community Enugu State
Nigerian Hiphop heads are also heavily involved on online fora. On these fora, hiphop heads frankly express themselves on the goings-on in the genre. Here, they share news, music, videos, views; get involved in lyrical ‘battles’ , dropping freestyles and critical reviews. Worthy of mention are a few online fora like Africanhiphop.com, Nairaland.com, Nigerianhiphop.net.
From my long standing observation of the Nigerian hiphop scene, I’ve observed the seriousness and enthusiasm of hiphop heads around here. Pulling as much resources as possible into making joints and pushing them as far as possible to the mainstream. The calibre of some songs produced in Nigeria sometimes throw jaws apart, yelling “…man! that’s a classic!” .
Nigerian hiphop heads also organize shows where they come together alongside a few resident big names and kick the art of their heart right on stage.
One more thing I know about heads in Nigeria is their zero level of tolerance to wackness. Though praises are showered when due, cats would not hesitate to point out the weaknesses of an MC whether mainstream or underground. Any upcoming MC would be critically reviewed. Mainstream acts are not spared in this drill especially if he/she is ‘slipping’. Heads have argued about the necessity of such criticisms but another school of thought holds that “…if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”.
Inspite of the successes recorded in elevating the Hiphop culture in Nigeria, a lot of challenges still abound. While some of these setbacks could be caused by the Hiphoppers themselves, others are blameable on the environment.
A lot of rappers these days are so eager to rush to the studios and record a track. Such do not sit down, listen and improve on their lyrical content and articulation before jumping into the recording booth. At the end of the day, what comes as a finished product sounds like a rehearsal.
Quite a number of hiphop heads cannot draw the line between hate and criticism. Especially on the online forums, a lot of cats would want to talk dirty about another’s music. This solely and conciously stems out from the fact that they have an issue with the dude. Such ones instead of pointing out the loopholes of the artist and suggest how he can improve, bluntly declare “...that dude is wack.”
On the flip side, a lot of emcees have a little hitch with promoting their songs on the air waves (radio & T.V). There have been quite a number of cases where rap artists have to pay radio and T.V dee-jays before their songs receive any rotation. Many of these rappers fund themselves to book studio sessions, record their songs and then they are made to pay (most times) heavily just to be heard? That’s not fair and could discourage a lot of lovers of the game.
Futhermore, there have been heated debates in so many corners on what a true hiphop song should sound like. Should it sound like some Grandmaster Flash or DJ Premiere or Kanye West sample? Or, should it be a club banger which inevitably will sound like the local genres like apala, fuji, afro beat? The protagonists of the dance track thang argue that more people feel their style. They argue that consequently, their records move more units and so their style is real. The hardcore school of thought holds that their style is what hiphop should sound like. The problem with songs with the club/dance feel is that most of them contain poor lyrical content, junk rap and less creativity thereby serving ‘diluted’ hiphop. This has not helped matters as sometimes ‘non-hiphoppers’ are erroneously honored with hiphop awards while the true players of the game are left unrecognized.
Relatedly, there has arisen in many quarters the right language to be used on a true hiphop record: English? Or pidgin and local languages? Today, we have french rappers who rap in French, Puerto Ricans who rap in Puerto Rican, Spaniards who rap in Spanish even Chinese who rap in Chinese…why shouldn’t we rap with our own native languages or at least in pidgin English? There is no much fuss to this, I believe rappers should spit in whatever language that reaches their audience but they must represent Hiphop to the fullest.
Lastly, we have the big monster called lack of funds. A lot needs to be done to elevate hiphop, those initiatives cannot be executed without adequate funds. It is quite expensive to make an album less talk organizing a show or running an award contest. Most rappers in Nigeria are students and so not in the working class. They have to source funds from their meager accounts or a couple of ‘jobs’. This really is a setback.
Conclusively, more needs to be done to elevate the Hiphop culture in Nigeria if not for any other reason but for so at least it could be worth a living.
Firstly, the negative image of Hiphop being a violent or immoral culture should be erased. This campaign has to be spear headed by hiphoppers themselves.
More hiphop heads should get into enterpreneurship to help ease the problem of funding.Jay-Z wouldn’t have a problem carrying out any hiphop project he would want to.
Furthermore, the ‘fat envelope’ attitude of some On Air Hosts should be stopped. This is to encourage hiphop heads to come up with their records for airplay.
More Hiphop movements should spring up in many parts of the country to address the issues concerning the game in such areas. This will also help to sweep more people into the game and project the Nigerian Hiphop scene as one of the best on the African continent and the world in general.
Lastly, more corporate bodies should step up and sponsor Hiphop projects or even initiate some themselves. This will go a long way to put on the limelight skilled emcees who would’ve been otherwise underground.
I’ve tried my best to run an analogy of the situation of Hiphop in Nigeria. I hope this gives an insight to you, the reader.
Thanks for reading and please feel free to drop your comments.
One.

HIPHOP 101: THE BASICS


A lot of dudes new to the game of Hiphop might not really understand the loads of terminologies used in this genre. These jargons are strictly informal and sometimes might sound more or less like Sanskrit to the ears of many but if you wanna fluently express yourself in the midst of Hiphoppers, you might wanna get these terms embossed on your skull like words on a tombstone.
Hiphoppers-Hiphop is a culture and so its practitioners or lovers are generally referred to as Hiphoppers. This term serves to include Rappers, Hiphop Singers, Dee-Jays (DJs), Breakdancers, Hiphop media hosts, Hiphop Entepreneurs, Graffiti Artists and Hiphop Analysts like me. Yea, me!
Hiphop Heads-A hiphop head is anyone who is knowledgeable in the game of Hiphop. This includes skilled rappers, hiphop analysts, hiphop music beat makers, hiphop On Air Presenters and Dee-Jays. It also quite excludes distant lovers of the game, entepreneurs or people whose roots are not deeply rooted in the game. One who does not have a long standing history of participation in the game is not a Hiphop head.
Emcee- An emcee simply refers to a skilled rapper. One whose lyrical abilities is sharp and brilliant. The short form of Emcee is MC which means Master of Ceremony. In this sense, MC refers to an event host or orator whose job is to entertain the audience by talking. Relating this to Hiphop, an MC or Emcee refers to one who is gifted in the art of rapping, oration and speech delivery. Many Hiphop radio hosts fall into this category.
Dee Jay-Basically, a dee-jay is one who plays songs at an event or radio show.This meaning has been highly modified ever since Grandmaster Flash invented scratch. These days, a typical dee-jay plays songs with a Turntable which allows him to mix songs, marsh songs and even extract samples from songs. A dee jay is also a beat maker! The art is called Deejaying or Turntablism. The short form of dee jay known as DJ means Disc Jockey and basically means the same thing. A DJ might be referred to as a Mixmaster or Grandmaster depending on how skillful he/she is.
Cats- Cats (singular. Cat) is a slang which basically means people or a group of guys. The term is used when referring to or speaking about a group of Hiphoppers in their absence.
Others include:
Wackness- Wack or wackness is a term used to describe something or someone who is rubbish or nonsense. Wackness in Hiphop generally refers to a rapper or a song or an album or even a show who/which is below standard. Wackness is also used to describe poor lyrics, weak rhymes or a clumsy beat.
Dope-This is the direct opposite of ‘wack’. The slang is derived from the feeling one gets from smoking dope. Dope, as used in Hiphop, refers to a rapper or a song or an album or a show who/which is above average. Dopeness is also used to describe tight lyrics, strong rhymes and good beats.
ILL or Sick-These two terms are the emphatic forms of ‘dope’. Ill/sick is an ironic expression used to describe a rapper with exceptional lyrical abilities, a smash hit, a brilliant punchline or a classic rated album.
Playahater-A playahater is one who is hating on (the game of) another.The word is derived from ‘player’-the hiphopper going about his hustle and ‘hater’-the dude trying to discredit the hiphopper.
A playahater would want to see the downfall of another on who he is hating. One’s playahaters don’t respect his guts, don’t feel his swag and most times label him wack just of course because they don’t like him for reasons best known to them.
Sucker-The word ‘sucker’ basically means freak. That means someone who is a freak for something. In hiphop music, it is used as a offensive word to refer to someone as a freak, faggot or fanatic.
Now you know some of the terms used in Hiphop, learn how to use them correctly in the midst of fellow hiphoppers.
Remember to use them in the right environment. You don’t go saying in a job interview, “…I’m the illest cat for this job…. All those suckers out there are bunch of wacks when it comes to this..!”. You would be kicked out anyway.
Hiphop lives!
Peace.
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