The discussions stirred by the lead single ‘You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives’ off M.I Abaga‘s forthcoming Yung Denzl project has made the album the most anticipated Nigerian hip-hop project of 2017 and most importantly, it has revealed a truth; that traditional hip-hop music at this time is still far from becoming a major sound in this part of the continent – and a controversial record can do only little.
One supposes that this truth has dawned on so many including the self-proclaimed big homie of Nigerian hip-hop (M.I Abaga) as the stats for the video of You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives suggests a very lean performance.
Now in the second week of its release, the video for the most controversial Nigerian song of 2017 by a top-tier rapper still has less than 100k YouTube views. The weak performance of the video comes as a surprise to many and probably more surprising to Abaga who has now resorted to social media advertising in a bid to get the views up. Now imagine for a moment how far from blowing up a noncontroversial traditional hip-hop record from an average hip-hop artiste is: Ma Lo, Tiwa Savage‘s collabo with Wizkid released a week later has crossed the 700,000 mark.
Some fans have argued that the performance of the song shouldn’t be rated based on numbers but impact while others including M.I insist that putting out the song was a move intended to get rappers on their toes.
There is a difference between being popular and being influential.. https://t.co/lZXFLiqqJS
— Yung denzL (@MI_Abaga) November 3, 2017
Ironically, the only person who slept off is M.I Abaga who had been on a self-imposed hiatus from the music scene and putting out a controversial record as such, is more than anything else- a move to garner both public and media attention for the release of the Yung Denzl album. That explains why a music video was immediately released for the said controversial track. I mean if the song was intended ‘for the culture’ and then impact of the record had been made as M.I and many others claim, why then was a music video released? For the culture? Why then is the video being boosted? Still for the culture?
The phrase ‘for the culture’ has been exploited extensively in recent times and musicians (rappers especially) would make selfish career moves and iterate that they do it ‘for the culture’.
Truthfully, the only rappers who made replies to the Your Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives song just like M.I, are rappers who are in dire need of media attention and as it was seen, many of them claimed ‘we do it for the culture’. It is was really okay for (upcoming) rappers to jump on the Fix Up Your Lives trend as it is earned them a couple more SoundCloud listens, YouTube subscribers and ultimately allowed the discourse to continue.
But what happens from here? Now that the controversial fix up your lives moment has faded, how do young rappers garner mainstream media attention? Especially for M.I whose most talked about record is having a numerical crawl – does he have to put out another controversial record in a bid to garner public attention? Will he be forced to delve slightly into the commercial route he preached against in other to make album sales?
The answers to all of these questions and more remain to be seen. But one is only hopeful that the Yung Denzl album will shatter the ceiling and put (traditional) Nigerian hip-hop back on the radar.
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