The Guy, M.I Abaga’s seventh studio album, serves as a reminder of his contributions to the Nigerian hip-hop culture. The rapper has been known as one of the most influential rappers in Africa for over 15 years. He is also known for discovering and developing young talent who aspires to succeed in the rap industry. In addition to being a rapper, M.I runs Chocolate City, one of Nigeria’s oldest record labels.
The G.O.A.T. of all rappers centers his most recent work on the themes of legacy, romance, masculinity, and even mental health. As is typical of his genre, he incorporates elements of Afropop, Amapiano, and highlife into his 12-track album to address these issues. M.I works with artists such as Wande Coal, Duncan Mighty, and Chillz, among others, to produce the ideal songs for The Guy.
M.I declares his pivotal function in the rap game with The Guy. He issues a rallying point for musicians to never give up as well as a triumphant proclamation of his musical brilliance. The hip-hop musician refers to himself as the Mbappe of hip-hop using mid-tempo drill and head honcho-like phrases. The Guy conveys his ascent to legendary status through flawless lyrics.
The Hate is an unfiltered spitting of bars from M.I discussing the hate in the game, further cementing his throne as the god of this thing called rap. He says, “You should bow down when you talk to me.” As he asserts his authority and reminds them that he was the one who opened the road for them, he proposes that newcomers to the game show respect for him. The rapper proves his talent of lyrical as he smoothly raps through the entire song without the use of a hook or chorus. Honestly, M.I brags differently and is who he believes himself to be.
You thought? M.I had stopped honking his horn. Then you should check out Bigger, which also includes Nas and Nigerian rapper/singer Olamide. The song recognizes the artists that contributed to it as top performers in their own fields; together, they stand shoulder to shoulder and produce the masterpiece known as Bigger. When M.I says, “This is for the kid inside, listening/people with talent have discipline/my vision becomes bigger with time/so if I ever rest, sh*t I gave you mountains to climb,” he is expressing his state of mind. The rapper continues to speak on a divine level.
In their joint effort to create the hip-hop song Soft Like Tony, M.I and rapper Lord Vino use amapiano log drums. Lord Vino and M.I rap about leading a “soft life” by working hard and earning money to be “Soft like Tony,” alluding to Nigerian billionaire Tony Elumelu.
In Front Door, M.I. teams up with Southern fusion singer Duncan Mighty to breathe new life into the album. Duncan’s arrangement of the song, which incorporates Port Harcourt and Highlife, makes it lovely and classic. The rapper uses Phyno & The Cavemen and Wande Coal on the songs The Inside and The Love Song, respectively, to further explore the concept of love and passion. Wedding jingles were obviously considered when creating all three tunes. In the Tempoe-produced song The Love Song, M.I declares his love for his partner and acknowledges that she is his path. The Inside features a highlife-influenced wedding scenario that is uniquely accomplished by Sunny Nweke (Masterkraft).
Crazy is a toxic love song, to put it simply. M.I includes Ossi Grace, who sings about toxicity, and the rapper discusses the defensive validation that comes with it. The welcoming atmosphere and tending flow have M.I rap through the admiration that comes with being kind in a world where people are experiencing it.
As M.I. collaborates with Chillz on the gen-z rap song Daddy which heralded the album, they rip through its flows and beats while spitting out melodic bars. Chillz’ energy equals, if not exceeds, that of M.I. The song celebrates women and appraises their beauty.
Collaborating with Tomi Owo, M.I on Soldiers recognizes those who have managed to keep things together despite the circumstances. The song, Soldiers, explores the hardships of a guy who must conceal his weakness in order to protect his loved ones in a world where no one notices when he cries and must appear tough. It depicts the lessons that humans need to both relearn and adapt.
Oil follows the spiritual path of being blessed despite one’s defects and shortcomings. The song, which combines the lyrical prowess of BNXN and the smooth flow of M.I, is more of a “who God wan bless, he go bless“; it acknowledges the sense of blessing and the energy of walking with a purpose, as well as the sense of knowing the universe is working things out for you.
Ice Prince and Jesse Jagz are featured on the song More Life, which has a literal vibe through it and Ice Prince sticking to creating adlibs rather than rapping. Since neither M.I nor Ice Prince raps, Jesse Jagz fills the void with an incredible verse. The song reflects on their music and how far they have progressed with it; nostalgia is evoked by their joint efforts to transform the musical world. Even though their musical paths diverged, their collaboration on More Life was able to sound harmonious.
With The Guy, M.I. Abaga was more than intentional; he made an effort to support each song with slick rhymes and catchy sounds, and proved that he is a versatile artist to be reckoned with. While walking us through his love life and kingpin status, the album makes the argument that we should attempt to find the positive in every battle we go through. I’d rate it an 8 out of 10!