When M.Ichose the moniker,Mr. Incredible, he knew what he was on about. Six years since Safe jarred our music lobes, M.I returns, after four years with an album that is nothing short of incredible.
People say Nigerian rap is dead, asphyxiated by something that looks like rap but wouldn’t know rap if rap mugged him on a dark night.
In an era where rap music is defined by cross-over artistes like Phyno , Olamide and Reminiscethe art form has lost something, the dramatic word plays and smart punch lines and references that have always defined rap music.
I love to dance to ShokiandAlobambut what the hell are they saying?
Well, worry not. M.I aka Jude Abagaaka Mr. Incredible returns with The Chairman, a 17 tracker after a 4-year lay-off.
The album is his third full-length studio album and will be released October 30, 2014.
It features a slew of artistes from 2faceto Sound Sultan, PatorankingtoOlamide, Phyno to Runtown, Ice Princeto Sarkodie, as well as new comer,Milliwhile producers include music prodigyL-3andReinhardand usual suspects Sarzand Pheelz in what promises to be M.I’s most complete and well-realised album to date.
That roll call gave me cause for concern. Maybe M.I is not so confident and sure-footed as he used to be that he has decided to lean on others to cover up his inadequacies?
M.I has an answer for that‘9ice said to me one day on a flight. The sky is so big for all of us to fly and I realised that with the industry growing so big the only way to keep it growing is to collaborate not compete against each other.’
That spirit of collaboration works wonders on this album. Six years ago when Safe and Talk About It dropped, Patoranking or Olamide or Phyno were names that did not ring a bell.
Now, say Olamide and you hear gbagam as if Timayais in the building.
Things have changed and The Chairman is smart enough to realise that and use it to his competitive advantage.
The Chairman is an incredible delight with M.I at his best, music wise. This is a mature, confident and sure-footed album. It is a smorgasbord of styles, with something for everyone from hard-core hip hop aficionados to dilettantes as well as hip-life and afrobeats fans.
There are hard-thumping, dance-floor jamming beats, mellifluous flutes and wailing guitar riffs, swirling orchestral arrangements and auto-tune inspired aural cocktails, dancehall beats and highlife accented songs as well as wild out baby making music.
M.I delivers hard on this one and the excitement in the studio was so thick you could slice through with a knife. This is not an album; this is THE album. Game over, the stark truth is; M.I is here to reclaim his throne.
According to M.I, after Chocolate Cityfractured with the departure of about 3 major acts,‘it meant building a new team and working with new people; musicians and producers and stuff.’
Speaking to SSR at an exclusive album listening session attended by young producer, L-3 and Loopy music artiste, Ruby, an excited MI talked about rap and the music world, fame and fortune as well as puns and punishing work schedules.
‘This was a very collaborative album,’he said acknowledging the contributions of many young producers and musicians who worked on the album. ‘It’s been a 2 year long process.’
The Chairman is a conceptual audio-fest that recalls in many ways Kendrick Lamar’s break out second studio albumGood Kid: MA.A.d City, with its engaging plot line, masterful rap style as well as gripping and dramatic lyrics.
The chairman has 17 tracks. Every track (except Track – Middle) has an opposite track, so Track 1 is The Beginning while Track 17 is The End/Chairman; Track 2 is Monkey while Track 16 is Human Being and so on.
The beauty of this album is that songs can be played as companion pieces in order to get the intended story or separately as stand-alone tracks without losing the essence of the album.
This album is thus accessible yet coded, layered yet simple, soulful yet hard core, philosophical and yet street.
’With this album I am an ashewo for new fans. As I walked past a guy recently he said, ‘MI when will your new album drop?’ You won’t believe it but I stopped, pulled out my MAC and played him the songs.’
Let us return again to the Kendrick comparison. The Chairman is M.I’s autobiography but he is not chairman, neither is heKing James. With his last two highly celebrated singles, M.I sold us dummies to distract us from the amazing work he was doing.