So we woke up on Friday, March 6, 2020 to the news that Nigerian rap legend, MI Abaga was leaving Chocolate City Music after 13 years with the label and many people like me thought: HOW? M.I is Choc City now! If he leaves, Choc City don finish now!
But before we find out what the future holds for Chocolate City, M.I and his new label, Incredible Music, let’s take a look at what Jude Abaga has achieved in the past 13 years.
We all started paying attention to M.I in around 2007/2008 when he dropped the song, Crowd Mentality. In the song, Mr. Incredible laid out his plans to not be a voice of reasoning, to join the crowd on musicians making wack music.
Parts of the lyrics to the song read:
I would rather be the same as
All these fake ass entertainers
Make bad music just to rock in arenas,
Use words like (no bad language on radio)
Cos I tried hard to make the difference
Make the kind of music you can use as reference
Everybody else say: let’s dance
Who am I to tell them otherwise? That’s a job for Reverends
So I’m ready now to join the movement
Together press for negative improvement
Did he keep to his promise? Hell No!
He instead became the poster boy for good hip hop in Nigeria and across Africa.
The Chairman as he is fondly referred to went on to win The Best Rap Single at the 2008 Hip Hop World Awards (now Headies Award) with the Crowd Mentality song.
And that was where the star called M.I Abaga began shining.
The next big thing to come from M.I was the song, “Safe” which featured Djinee. The song was on massive rotation owing largely to the fact that M.I infused the lyrics of a number of popular songs into one melodious rap song that made everyone pay attention to the greatness that is M.I.
After Safe, it was safe to say that a legend was in our midst.
Not slowing down, M.I hit us with his debut album, Talk About It
That album still remains one of the (if not the) best hip hop album ever to come out of Nigeria!
The album contained ever green hits like Anoti, Short Black Boy, Teaser, Safe, Blaze, Area and Fast Money, Fast Cars (the song would be the first time this writer heard the vocals of Wizkid)
After the album dropped, there was no doubt that M.I was light-years ahead of his peers. From delivery to lyrics to commercial appeal, M.I made Hip-Hop look attractive to a country whose music hinges on dance beats and party vibes.
Following the success of Talk About It. M.I went on to drop the acclaimed mixtape, Illegal Music 1.
Then came his second album, MI 2: The Movie, another critically-acclaimed work of art that set M.I apart. The album solidified M.I’s place as the hottest rapper of that era.
The album included songs like Action Film ft. Brymo, Number 1 ft. Flavour, Nobody ft. 2Face, Beef, Wild Wild West, My Belle My Head, One Naira ft. Waje and Undisputed.
Next was the mixtape, Illegal Music II (which to me is his best non-album project to date)
In the middle of being the biggest rapper in Nigeria, M.I was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Chocolate City Music Group and helping other artiste break out and become mega stars in their own rights.
With M.I’s influence, we saw the birth of the careers of his brother Jesse Jagz, Ice Prince Zamani, Brymo and a host of others.
As the years went by, many other artistes joined (and left) the Chocolate City rooster including Kenya’s Victoria Kimani, Ice Prince, DJ Caise, DJ Lambo, Jeremiah Gyang, Pryse, Brymo, Koker and Jesse Jagz, Kahli Abdu, VHS Safari, Femi Kuti, Nosa, Dice Ailes, Blaqbonez, Ruby Gyang, ClassiQ, CKay, Candy Bleakz, Lemon Adisa, Mr. Gbafun and Ijay.
At the peak of its powers Chocolate City was rubbing shoulders with Kennis Music, Storm Records and Mo’Hits Records as the biggest labels in the country, most of this came from M.I being the poster boy for the brand.
M.I dropped another great album, Chairman in 2014 and it was well-received by fans.
In 2015, M.I was made the CEO of Choc City Music and this was where I feel a lot of things began to dwindle. From the impact of his music, to the success of the artiste under the label, it seemed like M.I was no longer Mr. Incredible.
His songs no longer ruled the airways, artistes left the label in droves and things never remained the same.
Although he released projects like IM3, Rendezvouz, Yxng Dxnzel and put on trending artistes like BlaqBonez, the truth remains that the M.I we fell in love with, the one that made us fall in love with Hip Hop was not the same person, so he did the most natural thing to do: CHANGE.
So as M.I begins this new chapter with his label, Incredible Music, we wish him the best and we hope he returns to where he truly belongs – at the top of the hip hop game in Africa.