Echoes of the currently established order in Nigerian music coming to an end are already becoming more evident. Between the takeover of younger generation artists and the ripple effect of an information age sprawling with more music than anyone even needs, the fight is no longer for veterans like Modenine to remain relevant, it is for them to prove their mettle as worthy of their soon-to-be legend status. And with No Matter What, Modenine sure has our attention.
With borrowed vocals from neo soul singer Maka, Modenine’s latest single is produced by newcomer beat maker Black Intelligence. Set on a mid-tempo baseline with pianos, soft landing snared kicks and background adlibs that almost makes the overall song feel a little claustrophobic and over produced, No Matter What plays exactly like the sub-shiny, Friday night drive keep-your-hustle-up anthem it is intended to be.
Like many rappers of his class, who are beginning to look away from the larger mainstream industry onto other ventures, even Modenine who was never really embraced by the mainstream is looking at other things outside of scoring chart toppers based off catchy one liners.
His opening line “Legendary Mode, that’s what I’m blessed to be/But they trying to force me out like a refugee” holds a hint of the same frustration we heard on M.I’s Illegal Music 3: Finale mixtape. As one of the guardians of the hip hop genre in Nigeria, Modenine has a lot to tell about the unrewarding music industry but mostly like M.I, he won’t be fighting for the crown anymore; he helped invent the throne anyway.
The message is clear, even though the shows are next to free, Modenine will be keeping his head above water no matter what and that is what is most important.