Hip Hop veteran and five time winner of The Lyricist on The Roll category at the Headies. Modenine is an icon for real rap heads. He’s solely responsible for taking that raw underground flavour to the mainstream. Paving a clear path for every single punchline, metaphorical rapper out there today.
Once upon a time, it was difficult to listen to Nigerian Rappers. Most simply had no skills until the first time I heard Modenine. I kept thinking to myself: ‘Wow! This dude uses every single element of pure lyricism. From multi-rhymes, to word-plays, metaphors, punchlines, and references. The whole arsenal.’ I was hooked.
Let’s say I was going to do a cover over a known released album; would I aim to surpass the original? Or out of the pressure of expectation; would I rather just be laid back and be myself? ‘Occupy the Throne’ was originally done by Jay-Z and Kanye, as Watch the Throne, except for few tracks on this one.
Modenine was slightly different. Adding a little repertoire of styles to his regular delivery with totally fresh analogies. There was simply nothing commercial about this. You can instantly peel off the parental advisory from any Rap album you ever heard out of Naija. This one was explicit! Let’s see how he really does with my track-by-track review:
1. Exodus 23-1
A sample voice: “I see da real Hip Hop heads sprinkled here. I see ‘em… I’m here to talk about real hip hop shit. Sleek delivery, kept it Modenine with intelligent wordplay and imagery. Stand out lines from this 32 bar intro were: “I’m feeling for some illmatic and ol’ fifty shit; but all I hear is some weak beatz and raps, iffy shit.”
2. Who Gon Stop Me
Strong delivery as usual. Sounded more off the top than carefully tailored stuff. Dropped nice imagery: “Now I’m gaining altitude, hot air ballon. Never goin’ down, I guess I’m landing on the moon”. I still felt he could have wrapped his big picture around the title of the track. Though a freestyle, should have left no life killing this one.
3. Niggaz in Paris
An outrageous freestyle. Not really sure who this was directed to but you do get the feeling someone pushed the man to the wall. Some lines in this reflected some personal stuff. I’m well aware I’ve heard astronomically better than this from the maestro.
4. No Church in the Wild feat Terry Tha Rapman and Pherowshuz
Known Rap Emcees Pherowshuz and Terry Tha Rapman laced this dope complex beat gracefully. Though when The Mode stepped in, I felt his superior delivery with the impression that he got a better hang of the beat. He also did not disappoint with some Wordplay and Referencing: “Track record lookin’ like Tony Montana’s table, everything single thing dope”.
5. Murder to Excellence
Slightly relaxed on the delivery. Stayed off the topic with no real theme to the freestyle. Kept it superior with lyrical content though; “I’m too used to hospital food, I’m so ill”… nice wordplay. I could hear this beat crying out loud coz he could have done more justice.
6. Otis Again
Displayed a unique sense of humour; eating rice and chicken on the intro to this one. Sleek delivery and nice rhyme patterns. Dropped some knowledge: “your blood pump malfunctions in both ventricles”. That’s a medical word in there! An underestimated quality of superior emceeing; reading wide. Nice one.
7. Already Home.
“Blockages and bottle necks ain’t nothing new to me. That will only add more paragraphs to my eulogy”. The delivery almost sounded like Jay-Z at some point. Laidback and just dropping his rhymes. This one wasn’t about Wordplay and Metaphors. It was keeping it cool.
8. Mind Yourself (Who Get Ear) Produced by TOD
Some lagbaja sampling… Ingenious and steady. “I’m stingy, hugging the spotlight joh”. A definite message in this one; but that’s for fans and otherwise to find.
9. Greem Convo feat Elbama Produced by Alfred Greem
Short verse, 16 bars of heaven. Sleek, groovy beats. Totally killed this one: “My pen’s a haemophiliac, I make the beat bleed”. This dude reads jo!
10. Spit my Shit Produced by Kraft
Not much to be said on this. Totally unpredictable! Delivery? Wordplay? Referencing? Imagery? He was more pharmaceutically than dope on this. I perceive y’all rap heads repeating this one. Real classic.
11. Welcome to the Jungle
“Jay and Ye ain’t gon be too happy with this one man. I don spoil their song”. Laidback, unserious. More about lacing the rhymes together. The gibberish on the end was rather unnecessary. He’s probably feeling too at home, occupying the throne.
12. New Day
Steady and gradual. “Slap a Rapper in the face for being talkative. Gboko! Get it? Gboko? Talk Tiv”. Nice wordplay and his ability to reference Nigerian elements is simply exceptional. Cool one; more about listening to the rhymes knit into the scenery he built.
This one wasn’t originally off the original ‘Occupy The Throne’. Felt like a fill-in-track. Not characteristically strong on the delivery. Lyrical content existed on the grey areas.
14. Primetime Exhibit A feat Dtruce and Mtrill
Obviously featuring young guns we’d probably hear more from soon enough. Dtruce had a sleek delivery; very articulate; and his rhyme structure had a strong build. Mtrill did justice with his wordplays and metaphors: “I hear dey sayin you the shit; but really mean you crap”. A smart switch of beats introducing Modenine. He sounded more at home than they did.
15. Street Runner Produced by Sugar King
Production with a Jazzy, soulful feel. He dropped his verses in lazy fashion. Felt like another fill-in-track.
16. Dead Prez Introducing Boogey
Over the original Jay-Z’s ‘Dead Presidents’ off the ‘Reasonable Doubt’ album; Boogey dropped an explosive 24 bar delivery. “So I follow the Rappers who mould it and paved the way. Wrote his name in the place is what the epitaph on my grave ‘ll say”. A real rap head. Nice pro stuff.
17. Thank You
“underground king before I got exhumed”. Comfy rhymes; a few wordplay lines. A cool, relaxed exit.
This wasn’t about redoing or remixing any known classic. It was more probably about taking a popular beat and dropping dope lines over them. When you do that; you want to make sure every line is gold.
Under criticisms and above accolades; this was pure vintage hip hop. All rap heads would love this one.