Drawing Lines between MI Abaga and King James
I spent a night at Terra Kulture last month in the company of the posh folks, industry honchos, rap heads, socialites, and a nice cross section of Lagos, at the King James Exhibition put on by M.I. A culmination of his thoughts, observations and perhaps a formal entrée back onto the music scene.
The art on show, was a visual representation of M.I’s self affirmation as King James. Some of the work was a little ham-fisted, but you can’t fault his effort. He understands his appeal, and is not your average rapper cat. Jude is an artist in the 360 sense, who is keen to show you that he is not divorced from his work. He eschews political affiliation whilst being necessarily political. If you’re as aware of where your country is, as he appears to be, that stance is inevitable.
Nigeria’s foremost rapper dude. He understands the youth; our need to get involved. He told an apt tale of trying to change PMAN, only to realise how powerless he was, as he was not a registered member. He learnt from that.
He’s not running a publicity game; we understand his story.
And how well we know Jude’s story; the diminutive cat from Jos who stepped out on faith and took a trip to Lagos. He’s earned his spot, his position is not one propped up on party tracks, he’s a rapper’s rapper, yet my dad can relate with his music.
He’s kept his finger on the mood of his primary constituency; never reticent, and at the fore when we need him to be. Peep dude’s ode to the Aluu 4 for instance; your heart’s gotta be made of stone if that joint didn’t move you. Still, he’s been gone for a long time. But I’m ready to forgive the ‘Chairman’, so much so, I’ve erased it from my memory. I hold dude to dizzying standards because I know he can exceed them. He’s been about not doing it like other rappers do; he cannot regress now.
Fortunately for him, and us, he’s a listening man and inasmuch as art is an artist own personal release, he cannot afford to vacate his station by delivering a sub par third album.
Want his old ish? Cop his old albums.
The fans have been fiending for something new from the Chairman, because no rapper can quite do it like he does. We know how capable he is. Perhaps that’s why the disappointment with King James (the lead song for the exhibition), was so palpable. The joint sounded like a regression; like a work from a rapper who feels the need to remind us he can do this, harkened back to empty tales told by up and coming cats. Alas, he does have something to prove; that he can hang in the Phyno and Olamide’s neo rap scene. But King James was light work, unbefitting of a King reluctant to relinquish his throne.
It takes a royal strength to keep from succumbing to Naija music in its current form. We need Jude to resist it? No! I trust he’d rise above that mire. I remember his verse on Phyno’s Icholiya – the perfection that was his delivery and cadence; that’s the Jude I’m waiting on.
I’d still gladly wager this; his majesty might just be on his way back from his exile.