Sheer hypocrisy!!! That was the problem most people had with MI‘s declarative You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives. Mr Incredible hadn’t done anything for the culture other than show up when he had an album and the following mixtape to drop with his last coming four years after his sophomore release. These rappers were a lot more active and could reasonably raise ‘adjusting to times’ in their rapid drift into popular music. Nobody was disputing the fact that MI Abaga was Nigeria’s number one rapper. The question was how much different was he from anyone who had accepted the status quo? He has answered that a year later.
MI is making the most conscious effort ever to revive hip hop in these shores with the LAMB releases all scheduled for August and that no one is giving him the ‘he think he Kanye’ treatment all attests to the wide acknowledgement and support of his generous moves.
Crown; the first of the three albums is a collaborative one by AQ, a rapper finally rewarded for staying true to the game and Loose Kaynon, one most people feel they were yet to see the best of. This was either going to chart a course for MI’s hip-hop movement or give the ever vocal pessimists the upper hand.
We’ll look at the album from three perspectives.
No, you got it twisted if you expected a glorified battle rap treat. These artistes actually gave us an evenly balanced work that embodies the art in virtually all shades. They drop bars over nine cuts with the soberly introspective, the strong message and the lyrical bravado elements perfectly in place. Songs like Out Of This World, Regrets and Hustlers Prayer not only contain so much power,they are fabulous replications of the golden era of hip-hop and the fact that a work in these parts not only dares to venture into hip hop’s best times; when it had grown to have its purity whipped to just about any form but to also do it oozing so much class is priceless.
The humming on Hustlers Prayer, Debbie Romeo‘s gripping vocal performances on Regrets and Out Of This World all ensure these tight Mcs give us not just great lines but whole songs to remember.
We are guaranteed a new era feel in Blaqbonez‘s upcoming album; the last of the trilogy but if the aim of MI’s hip-hop movement was to take back the game from the vultures, Crown and indeed his would to an appreciable degree, have to key into rap in its present state to not just skool the rapping artistes but to set an example for the incoming breed of cats.
The ‘trappy’ God Wants Us To Be Too Lit does that best. It’s such a beauty. The Blaqbonez effect on Off Black gave it a fascinatingly ‘now’ edge too.
The album title track; Crown along with SDC is the lyrical showpiece but don’t sleep on Gang Gang. The only track with an indigenous touch has both AQ and Loose Kaynon flexing some mean lyrical weight.
Crown is rich in content. Probably the richest ever in pure hip-hop content.
AQ, the very flexible and adventurous wordsmith and the rigid and monochromatic Loose Kaynon. That was the impression a lot of people had of these artistes before this album. A whole lot will change once they settle to it. Crown was a joint album by two great rappers at the peak of their craft. AQ tones down some of that renowned story-telling prowess for a more robust style complete with the swagger of a rapper finally been paid dues owed him by the rap game.
But the true star of this show is Loose Kaynon if you would have to choose. Think again if you thought you knew that brother well. The Loose on Crown is as lyrically dope as anyone rapping. Lyricism is always the main criteria when someone comes waving that true hip hop banner. People say rap originated from poetry and whatever is been done today came from hip-hop.
AQ and Loose Kaynon in very simple terms had us all loving rap again and that is loving skilful metaphors, brilliant wordplay and mind-blowing punchlines. Still stuck between Loose Kaynon’s verse on Off Black and Gang Gang‘s AQ massacre on the favourite album verse question and that there are a hundred and one other answers out there testifies to just how lyrically dope Crown is..“F**k a twitter account/Can’t cash it/They verify my bars tho/I’m doin more numbers than a barcode/They tryin to take shots but they got froze/They tryin to throw shades but I’m Astro”. That’s AQ on beast mode.
The album title track had SDC on it and with his verse on MI’s Popping arguably the most flame ever since, he was everyone’s favourite to nail it. The track lives up to its billing as a jaw-dropping lyrical slugfest and Loose Kaynon is the unlikely chief slayer.”Think you the shit?/You must be something I ate”. And that’s just a slice.
Crown is resurrecting hip-hop and placing it on a pedestal too high for the culture vultures.
Admittedly, Crown‘s break from the norm isn’t a harsh one and you have to love the Choc City team for that. It makes a huge effort at navigating through the very basic and general aspects that tie together how it ought to be done and how it is being done and pitching its tent at a good spot for the former to appreciate the latter while setting a clear path for it.
For the real hip hop movement to achieve its aim, it must get the current crop to completely trust the process of flipping its purity to any state possible. MI himself jumped on the commercial bandwagon on the Chairman album to illustrate how big a task he and his crew hope to accomplish.
The pollution of hip-hop started with the obsession for a catchy sound over lyrics and in as much as God Wants Us To Be Too Lit is a fantastic attempt at merging how it ought to be done with how it is being done, Crown needed more of the ‘Nigerianess’ of Gang Gang. The average Nigerian artiste isn’t looking to blow up his neighbourhood or chat group, he is looking to have the number one hit. Or at least, get as close to Wizkid and Davido as possible. Some of that local spice is what is needed to convince the subscribers of the present status quo as to the workability of the ‘pure’ model.
Nevertheless, if hip-hop is predominantly lyrics then Crown is substance. You can’t change that.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is based in Kano. He tweets via @Alaye_100.
The post Album Review: Crown Is True, Pure And As Real As It Gets appeared first on Nigerian Entertainment Today.