MI Jude Abaga INTERVIEW
With MTV Africa Music Award among many, MI sits on top of his game.
Sometimes in march 2009, Hip on TV reports that MI has taken over the hip-hop throne in Naija with his TALK ABOUT IT album and the release of Illegal Music Mix-tape.
Ayeni Adekunle of the Punch submits that “the young man’s album appeals to a section of people who hitherto didn’t give a care about rap or hip hop’’
A meeting with the rapper just a few days before the release of the successful TALK ABOUT IT album generates this exclusive interview for keeps.
Keeps: I guess you are the biggest thing that could happen to Hip-hop in Nigeria today. Ever since you won that Hip-hop world award it’s been upward movement for you. You’ve played on Fela 70; I’ve seen you on different shows…
MI: You’ve been following me
Keeps: Yeah, so what can you really say about your latest achievement?
MI: It’s just fans, fans and God. 9ice said na turn by turn and that’s really what it is, I thank God for the success I have had and I keep working hard to get better, to do everybody proud to do youths proud to do myself proud, so we have to keep working hard remain humble keep our eyes focused on the prize and which is taking Nigerian music to the highest heights that it can be
Keeps: And how did Lagos receive you because I know Lagos is a little hard, you just meet all kinds of people there but I discover right now MI stands because all the magazines I’ve been reading lately talk good about you so how have you been able to get your game together over there?
MI: It’s just God, It’s God, I can’t tell you. God gives favour and that’s one thing God has given me and I appreciate it so much, it’s not by might there is nothing that I have done I don’t look like I should be a rap star I’m short I’m not a fine boy, you know
Keeps: You are fine o, forget
MI: (laughs) I don’t know if my songs are the best songs that are out there right now. You know it’s God when God gives you favour no man… who God has blessed no man can curse you know it’s just hard work I keep working hard I keep trying to satisfy my fans if I do a show I’m not happy with I try and come back harder you know trying to remain humble.
Keeps: What category did you actually win at that hip-hop world awards?
MI: Best Rap single
Keeps: Let’s talk about that award, in that room that day you understand me, I could see many people didn’t know who you were but as you walked up the stage got the award you kicked a little bit of rhyme and everybody was like wow, how was the energy like?
MI: The energy was fantastic I tell you the truth , I could not believe I won the award I could not believe it, I thought stylee was gonna win, Jimmy Jatt but when I won I was just confused and I thank God for that, I really thank God. It really came through for me that day.
Keeps: And right now everybody is waiting to see your album.
MI: December first December first it’s coming out.
Keeps: I learnt Talk About It is the name.
MI: Talk About It it’s gonna be mad
Keeps: So what should people look out for in the album?
MI: It’s just going to be mad it’s gonna be the best rap album you’ve heard in a while I say so very humbly but I put a lot of work into it I put my heart into it so watch out for Talk about it.
Keeps: So can you talk about the producers that actually worked on it?
MI: Just me and my brother I just spoke to DJ Zeez right now and it looks like we are gonna do something tomorrow night to make the album and apart from that, kraft who produced for Mode Nine gave me one sick beat so the album is going to be off the hook.
Keeps: And what other rap acts did you actually feature?
MI: The rap acts, I just featured me and my brother, me and my brother and Ice Prince I think these are the hottest rappers in Nigeria, obviously Naeto c and MI is the works, Ill Bliss and MI is in the works, there are a lot of rappers that are gonna come together Kel, MI oh Blaise, Blaise is on the project too, Blaise rocked so it’s gonna be a good project
Keeps: And right now do you have shows lined up?
MI: December is crazy men December is crazy I’m not the highest paid artiste I’m not yet reached 1 million yet but we are getting there (laughs)
Keeps: Yeah, Yeah
MI: Small, small
Keeps: That’s very good and one thing I notice about you is that you seem to be extra ordinarily cool you are not the type that is maybe cocky or something. You just come out simple; you know you are friendly with everybody. And you know rap game itself, there is this attitude you put into it.
MI: The truth about it is that, that is the job, a lawyer won’t come and be walking right to you and you will be telling him speak legal term you know, so it’s a job, you do your job when you are done you come back, I’m a simple person because I realize that number one it’s only God and people that can make you the reason Abuja heard about me it’s because Jos people said MI is good, the reason Lagos people heard about me it because Abuja people.. and if Lagos people say MI is good I’m gonna take over the world you know, so you have to keep connecting to the fans. It gets more and more hard, the more popular you become you have less time, you are less free because if I can stop and see anybody that appreciates my music I will stop and say hi, if I can, to appreciate them.
Keeps: And there is something about you which I have been able to note, there is a way you present your chorus that is captivating like tonight you did something like that. You know before you might have to maybe go Yoruba or go Hausa but you’ve come with another concept that’s new entirely and that might be next best thing for Hip-hop in Nigeria.
MI: Yeah what I mean, again it’s just hard work I’ve been working on this album for a long time it took me a long time to discover what about me sells to people, so we are getting there. I will continue to make better music you know the album has a lot of nice choruses on it. But it is about expressing yourself, I cannot sell P.Square to you because I am not P.Square, let me not try and copy them, they are doing fantastic job let them do them let me try and discover who MI is, no matter how long it takes, so when you hear me you’ll be like that’s nice because is MI, I’m telling you about myself I’m expressing myself
Keeps: And what other emcees out there do you actually feel?
MI: I can give you my top ten right now, in no particular order ,Naeto C, ILL Bliss the heavy weights of course, Mode 9, eLDee, Ruggedman, there are some sleeping giants like Freestyle, Freestyle has not done anything yet Freestyle is definitely one of the best emcees of course you have to put Gino in there Gino is dropping it well, Source Kid hot rapper, men, rappers names are flying from my head I am going to say the female rappers that are killing me kel;, Blaise, Sasha they are doing a good Job you have your Abuja contingent like Terry, OD, Pherowshuz, you have your KD I mean the rap game is just hot right now Cyrus the Virus I can just keep going men I’m feeling everybody.
Keeps: And tonight, I noticed when you were performing you got hold on the ladies, the way they were looking at you, admiring you, can you share a little bit on how you relate with all those girls?
MI: Well I’m a very simple person, I like women oh, but you have to be focused you know, so there is a saying you never lose women chasing money but you lose money chasing women so I’m trying to get money first (laughs)
Keeps- (laughs) MI?
MI - I’M FOCUSED
Keeps- And yeah you are also into spoken word that is one art form that is actually new right now, are you doing anything towards promoting this movement?
MI- Spoken word definitely, I mean, Sage just called me two days ago and told me he has a project for me, look, as an artist, I try to be complete I do everything I produce, I sing a little bit, I do rap, I’m a real musician so I do spoken word too I’m an instrumentalist too whatever I can do to be part of music I do with all of my heart.
Keeps- Ok, one word for the upcoming rappers.
MI- Keep working hard, pray, conquer your zone first before worrying about the big picture you know, conquer your street, your city, take it small, small things lead to big things.