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I had nothing to do with Safe Video – M.I

By Lolade Sowoolu
He’s the Incredible Short Black Boy whose deft lyrical delivery has got us all eating out of his palms. This young man who’s redefined rap music in Nigeria while making a fan of every young and old, stepped into the music scene last year September with the release of his 13-track debut titled ‘Talk About It’ boasting hits like ‘Safe’, ‘Money’ and ‘Anoti’.

This humble pastor’s son has forced back to rap school older rap stars with his incredible combo of swag, flow, rhymes, punch lines and creativity, practically teaching how rap music should be done and successfully too, without dissing or beefing. Born Jude Abaga, his only video, ‘Safe’ is the reason for this interview. Enjoy it.

How does one make a difference with one’s  video?

See, people need to stop thinking like ‘ Okay, I’ve recorded my single, now I need to shoot my video’. Think instead like ‘How do I make people feel what I feel about this thing (music)’? Don’t just do a video because you need to do a video.

Make history. Make something amazing that people will remember for a long time. Just like Jay-Z, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley and even D’banj. Besides hard work, you have to be humble.

What does humility have to do with getting to the top?

Mr Incredible- Naija’s rap messiah
Mr Incredible- Naija’s rap messiah

Humility … I don’t know how to define it. It doesn’t mean to be weak or false. Just realize that the people around you that you meet everyday are the same people that make you who you are. Their impression builds your career.

Let’s talk about Safe.

Safe was a very spontaneous song. I had finished recording and was actually mixing another song when it came. I thought the song I was working on at that time was going to be the hit on my album.

But in the process of trying to make a song that talks about how I’m going to make this year,  I made the song that made me make it. And that’s it- spontaneously.

So it wasn’t deliberate. I was just working and it came in the process of doing something else. It was just a freestyle. It didn’t even start with ‘Do Me’ (P-Square). It was either Wiskolowiska (Durella’s) or Yebariba Samboribobo (SauceKid’s) that started it and I thought it would be nice to put them all in a song. So, jokingly I started using other peoples’ songs.

Before I knew it, everybody in the studio was like ‘that would be ill (good)’. So I said, ‘turn on the microphone’ and I just free styled. Now, when I say free style, note that what you hear on the CD is not the real version. We edited it.

And the Djinee collaboration…

I actually did not want to feature Djinee on the song. I had no intention of doing so. But then, he just kept free styling and then I heard this side of Djinee that I don’t think anyone’s heard before. If you hear the rest of the song (the unedited version), you’d be shocked. He (Djinee) was very angry, very militant. I just had to edit that part off. I wasn’t even thinking whether it would be a single off the album; it just blew up. I thank God.

So, was it lyrics first…

I already had the beat for another song. I was done making that particular song and Safe lyrics just came using the same beat.

What exactly were you thinking when you set out to shoot its video?

I had nothing to do with the video. The video was shot by Mex Factor. I just told him I wanted to shoot a video. He showed me some ideas and I thought they were nice and he said ‘show up this day’ and I came with a make-up artist. I stood in front of a green screen and I performed and that was it.

Two months later, he brought out the video and showed it to me. The video has done so well in Nigeria and South Africa. That is to show the kind of talent we have in Nigeria, talking about Mex. If you see some of the effects in that video, it’s annoyingly stupendous.

Do we expect a new video soon?

We’ve shot ‘Teaser’. It was done by Godfather in South Africa. I think videos have ceased to be what they used to be. So many videos are being released and the songs are crap and together, they make no splash at all.

Would you  really advise Mo Hits right now to have brought out the ‘Bumper to Bumper’ video? The song is already big and has a life of its own. In fact, everybody already has a video of it in their heads. Sometimes, it’s not the video. It’s the lyrics and passion in a song that makes it.

And there are some real good musicians who sing from their soul. So what do you need a video for? People can already see it (the video) with their eyes closed. ‘Gongo Aso’ video did nothing for 9ice that he hadn’t already done for himself.

Besides, videos are expensive, so don’t waste your money on them. Sing from your soul instead. Let your soul resonate on your track and people will love you, whether you have a video or not.

How are you able to get your rap to appeal to everyone?

I can’t explain it. The problem with Hip Hop is probably that they’re having conversations that people don’t care about.

I don’t care about bling bling and you may not care about someone telling you he has a Bentley and he’s driving to the club and he’s so fly. But when somebody else can have a conversation with you that no matter no how things are… he draws you in.

So it’s about identifying with people. ‘Teaser’ is probably the biggest club song on ‘Talk About It’ but it’s probably my least loved song because there’s little of M.I on that track. When I perform and I sing ‘Money’(Money slow to enter…), everybody shouts.

You may say I grew up a pastor’s son but you have to be smart about your conversations. Make what people want to listen to you.

Who’s your biggest rap influence?

Jay-Z; I think he’s the biggest rapper that’s ever breathed oxygen into his lungs. Kanye West and recently Lil Wayne. I sort of built my philosophy on Lauren Hill. But in terms of delivery, I’ve found out that I have to tell my own story.

Song of the week

Song Title: Safe
Song Producer: M.I
Artistes: Jude Abaga aka M.I ft. Djinee
Album Title: Talk About It

Djinee _ Spoken Intro
All these kpomo men now… Them be kpomo men…Woah!

Verse 1: M.I.
Yo! It’s the way that they do me [echo] (Are we safe right here?)
The way that they do me, Crowds used to boo me but now ladies woo me
Truly I’m sorry, sue me, Me, I’m a Loopy, I’m money long like Moony
I’m Looney like Tuney, your girl wish she knew me
My arms strong like Loony, and C. City blew me up
Yup, you can only watch like a movie, Ruby I’m a_ melt the game like a booby
People asking “Who he?”, They call me M.I._er, just because I’m getting higher
I’m spitting fire, this written fire, There’s no bull shitting I’m sitting on top, Naija’s rap messiah
I kill them Mama, them Papa, bring drama, end proper in coma, This rapper show_stopper, he’s hotter
Top_shot, no other rap while I’m rendering, hear the words he’s uttering, ‘Cos other rappers stuttering
I rhyme am well, I’m not them, I’m hot, chill! I’ve got skill, The most incredible out of Naija, I’m on fire
I’ve got street credibility and he definitely flow infinitely and so intermittently
Ha! Plus, I’m a party rider ‘cos I flow tighter so put up your lighter
MI be in the house and MC’s they shall bounce and go home to their spouse
‘Cos to stay might be detrimental (mental), better flow better instrumental (mental)
You gotta learn the fundamental (mental) and my flow is so essential, essential, essential
Listen! Silence (Shh!!) is the best answer, not violence, That’s why I bring war on the violins
This is Armageddon dog, hear the sirens, And no, I am not retiring
No, I’m never tiring, these lyrics that I’m firing, But don’t be dismayed, ‘cos Zenith Bank is hiring
For instance, there’s no resistance, The flow persistent and so consistent
Other rappers distant, they should have listened
Because I’m the engine room and the gear and the piston
There’s no rest see, at best you’re assisting, I’m what they’re missing, I’m why they listen
I’m the heart police dawg, I’m cardiac_arresting, The best thing and you’re just microphone_testing

Hook /2cee _ Djinee
Are we safe right here?
You better run fi cover, na we dey right here
Hey! Where you dey when we dey chop kuli_kuli
Dey sell kpoli_kpoli, you dey form holy_holy

Verse 2: M. I.
Don’t try me oh, C. City wan’ eye me oh, And I’m rated highly oh, Heh! They call me M.I.
Listen y’all, yo! Mo gbono feli feli, I’m spitting like Machiavelli
I’m always inside your telly, your lyrics are smelly_smelly
I’m chilling in Pelly Pelly, I’m chilli inside your belly
Rappers are really silly, you rappers Milli Vanilli, But nuffin’ do me because I dey rhyme yo
Nothing’s gonna rule me because I dey shine yo, shine yo
I know I’m so fine yo, I’ll blind y’all with each rhyme yo
I move like a rhino, until we sitting on top, sitting spitting on top
Rappers spitting, they should stop, It’s real when I drop, your shit is gonna flop
You kickin’ so sloppy, getting spanked by your Papi,
And you should know my P, they call me M.I., M.I., see
I’m rocking M.I. _ M.I.C. and my flow is so deadly, Whiskolo whiska, the incredible Mister
The top on the list_a, he’s voted like Next_a, Loved by your sister, he maybe even kissed her
The brand new experience like Vista, Ebariba sanbori bobo
The ladies going loco when they hear his vocal, Rap’s in a choke_hold
Other rappers local, they rap with a vocorder, I’m the koko
Other rappers so_called, I’m medicine for the game like I’m Procold
You can’t deny, I give them what them wanting, And if you’re still sitting down, you’re on a long thing
And if there’s ever been a rap this fly, Yo, it hasn’t been done by another M.I.

Hey! Hey! Why you dey run where you dey run, you think say you get liver
You come dey form like say you be that Arnold Schwarzenegger
Hey! You go talk the one you dey today
Today, today we go run you down you no know where you dey
Heh! We dey kill them, M.I. you dey treat them
Show them say this hip_hop music dey your system
Teach them, school them, if them f**k up, cane them
Oh! Them no know say, them no know say
You be Pyeri boy, I be B_side boy, We do run things eh! We dey run things oh!
Hey oh! Hey! Hey! Ihe ne me! Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Pack your load go, pack your load go, M.I. don come here hey!

M. I: Yo! Djinee in the house ladies and gentlemen
Djinee: We go run you down in your area, Think am oh!
Hey yo! We go run you down, Your Mama, your Papa
Na we dey right here oh
M. I.: Yo! And it’s a wrap y’all…


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