Despite his disturbing tweets, misogynist lyrics, and inherently selfish social media rants, Kanye West has once again proven that any PR is good PR. The rapper has remained peak of the social media trends pyramid for many weeks even after the release of his sonic jewel album, The Life of Pablo.
On the other side of the pond, M.I has repeatedly denied taking the same chaotic path to gain free promotion for his Illegal Music 3 mixtape rollout. There seems to be a lot of truth to the speculation as Twitter has seen a lot of similar ridiculousness from M.I in the past week. But instead of delving into personal thoughts that glimpse the possibility of an unstable mind as with Kanye, M.I seems to be just fine. Only the rapper seems to be confining himself with opinionated arguments about Nigerian hip-hop on international frontiers.
The tweet that started it all.
In a stunt almost similar to Sean Tizzle’s infamous declaration that Omawunmi’s Hello cover is better than the original, after tweeting multiple screenshots of written verses for tracks off his Illegal Music 3 tape, M.I sent out this tweet.
Bro.. Not trying to start no drama on Twitter.. But I respectfully decline that Push will go there with me bar wise https://t.co/5uElsc6o4g
— Young Denzel (@MI_Abaga) February 27, 2016
The tweet hit cold nerves, but he didn’t stop there. He furthered his stance by challenging fans to highlight any collective LP by an American that was as good as his 2012 Illegal Music 2 mixtape. Though he shied away from putting up any valid argument for Nigerian hip hop, he maintains a solid ground that Nigerian rap is just as good as any other in the world by mainly using sarcastic retorts and ambiguous retweets to indicate his rather ambivalent opinions. He consequently declared himself to be just as talented as 95% of mainstream American rappers while defending the commercialization of his music as something he does for the fans and not for himself.
Understanding the inner workings of a frustrated artiste.
Without a doubt, M.I as a rapper has fallen very far from the grace of Nigerian hip-hop enthusiasts. He is a rapper who went from being the first of his kind to metamorphosing into an artiste who constantly has to prove his skill to critics over an industry genre he helped kickstart. His uncertain place in the industry puts his opinions in a place to be scrutinized and mirrored against his current form and purpose.
Inadvertently M.I’s intent may be to motivate Nigerian hip hop audiences into looking inwards and garner more public trust for Nigerian rappers. But instead of a defiant messiah, he comes off as an artiste who is living in perpetual fear of speaking the truth about Nigerian music, because his shaky place in the industry cannot handle any controversy at the moment. So he does the only logical thing, he takes the battle far away from home by false-motivating many Nigerian rappers that would need an extra hand to even speak outside Nigeria.
The biggest flaw in M.I’s argument is a bland generalization of the rap genre as a uniform context and content sound, forgetting there are levels to rap in terms of market value and content weight. While M.I, Mode 9, Vector and a few unicorns of their exposure and kind may be able to navigate waters in the same arena with American rappers who have hip hop as a primary culture and genre, other Nigerian rappers like Olamide, Lil Kesh, Ice Prince amongst others who rely on rhythmic flow patterns instead of contextual rhyme schemes and mechanically accurate wordplays may have bigger problems (and it won’t even be about the language).
Eventually, M.I will have to admit, intellectual rap is not for everybody. That’s why poppy anthems starters like Rae Sremmurd who make hits off catchy one-liners (as many Nigerian rappers do) will never be placed on the same level playing ground with malleable wordsmiths like Eminem who layer their rap over multiple layers of subtext and subliminal undertones.
Besides, M.I self-righteously blaming the audience and not himself for commercializing his music is like a fisherman blaming the water for learning how to swim. If the solid ground was so precious to him, he could have found another profession on land.
Similarly, M.I could’ve stuck to his hip hop roots at the risk of making little profits if he wanted to stay true to the music. The fans did not share his ticket, album and endorsement cheque spoils, they definitely should not have to pay for them.
We call bullshit M.I and its stinking up the whole place.