Critical Album Breakdown:- M.I Abaga – Illegal Music 2

Critical Album Breakdown:- M.I Abaga – Illegal Music 2 [ Mixtape Review ]





GUEST APPEARANCES:- Boogey, Makiller, X.O Senavoe, Ice Prince,  Tonii, Phenom, Loose Kanyon, Khali Abdu, Pryse, EFA, 5 Mics, Hip-Hop Pantsula, Yung 6ix, Funbi, Maytronomy, Hench, Pope, Shaydee, Show Dem Camp and Ruby

PRODUCTION: – Jude Abaga, Kid Konnect and Studio Magic


By Obinna “Fazillion” Ifechi-Fred

Jude Abaga is arguably Nigerias hottest MC at the moment, and it’s obvious from the moves he has been making(First Nigerian MC to trend worldwide on twitter when MI2 dropped,a reported 30 million Naira payout by the marketer one month after the album dropped and the BET Cypher Anchoring) . After releasing his highly successful radio friendly sophomore LP MI2, he was met with different reactions from different quarters, especially the “Nigerian Hip-Hop Elite” who criticized the album as being too pop and radio friendly. M.I took the criticisms (and the monetary returns) in stride; hence Illegal Music 2 was conceptualized. From the outside looking in, it was evident that MI was on a redemption Mission (though not to his hordes of mainstream fans), but to his Core Hip-Hop fan base who supported him from the onset ( aint nothing pop about Crowd Mentality ) and from the Mixtape ,you can tell that he did quite a commendable job at that.

                   Right from when the track list was released, M.I’s other objectives were made clear, which are to 1) show love to Tight up and coming MC’s and artistes (which he did to 20 of them) and 2) display his very well improved and under looked production skills, and suffice to say he executed both objectives  commendably. It was on this Note that he released an 18 track offering that featured 20 artistes and he produced 16 out of the 18 tracks on the mixtape

The Mixtape starts off on a high note on the intro track Coming home which was well set with a mellow instrumental, laced with smooth strings and 1 Minute of spoken word poetry; before M.I jumps in with a question to his fans “Did you miss me”, and he goes on to ask other affirmative questions such as  “Did Illegal Music 2 take long”? {Duh} and also elaborate on his brief hiatus and his new change of status, while newcomer singer Tonii  (previous tracklist says Yemi Alade) serenades the track with a lovely hook. Next up is the Phenom Featured Six foot, over a revamped version of the Lil Wayne instrumental, and it was just a lyrical showdown, that had M.I displaying his lyrical prowess, and the Knighthouse Young Gun tried his best to live up to his current hype, but he couldn’t touch MI, with sub par bars like “Jump out the window no Vista” and “Rappers get Lost like TV Shows”. Loose Kanyon comes on the next track,The Coldplay sampled Lost with an impressive verse, and it was the first single off this mixtape which was released last year,and all of us have listened to well enough to know that Loose Kanyon held his own on the track, and let Hip-Hop fans know what to expect from him subsequently. The Mixtape continues its “Pair Pattern” with the Relationships influenced Love, Sex B.S which features his “Little Brother” Kahli Abdu, who happened to throw family values to the wind and went toe to toe with his big brother. The song had M.I channelling his inner D’Angelo on the hook, and he did an above average job with that. M.I decided to roll solo on the next cut “Do I Move You”?, which Sampled the Great songstress Nina Simone , and it is my favourite song on the Tape as regards production, and it  had Mister incredible warning his detractors, with a subtle bounce flow, which he executed it with ease. N’otis the next cut had M.I taking the back seat over the Kanye west produced beat, and letting The newly signed Chocolate City first lady Pryse have a field day, as she was solely representing all Nigerian Femcees on the Mixtape, and she went titanium hard with scorching lines like These other girls aint rapping I call it Karaoke / First of my kind I need a new category / Cuz I’m the Queen, He’s the King and it’s the ceremony”. M.I Took it down to the dirty south on the next track with a Chopped and Screwed sampled hook from Drake, and he featured 5 Mics and EFA on this one, but unfortunately both of them couldn’t keep up( though 5 Mics tried)  with Mister incredible who ran riot on the song and Owned it.Superhuman starts off and ends with a Motivational quote from Malcom X, and South African Hip-Hop superstar HHP starts his verse off with a Gem like “I’m like Mandela with a Cape on”, But M.I didn’t let him get off easily spitting “I’m Saro Wiwa as a Young Guy”, the production was Grade A with a Sped up Frank Ocean sample from Novacane, and it’s another favourite of Mine. The next track is actually an X.O Senavoe cut The X.O Bit, Produced by Studio Magic, and both MC’S went off over the thumping kicks and blaring horns reminiscent of a Low Budget RZA beat, and Mister Senavoe had the upper hand, employing everything in his lyrical arsenal from Tongue flexing to multi syllabic and abstract rhyming, which worked well for me, as I haven’t appreciated an XO Verse in a while.the next track Fuck you is the song everybody has been talking about, because not only did Kid Konnect lace the track with the best beat of the mixtape, but Ice Prince went off like a Rabid Pitbull (by his standards) and also called the verse “The deepest shit he ever wrote” which is fitting as “he’s always on our heads like a basin”. The song was aimed towards their detractors and naysayers, and had M.I unveiling his newly found Arabian Alter-ego to produce the most talked about song on the mixtape.

      The album continues on a musical Rollercoaster on the next track Eyes, which featured Newbie Makiller and sampled the Kicks of Successful by Drake and Trey Songz. The track was geared towards the ladies, and M.I opened his heart up to the love of his life, which had me thinking wedding bells are somewhere around the corner, and Makiller represented well, but couldn’t touch M.I, as Girl talk happens to be his (M.I’s) forte. The self-professed King of the South-South Yung 6ix is featured on the next track the Rick Ross Sampled Export, and both MC’s took the Braggadocio path.Together they created a Joint that would go down in History for Yung 6ix fans, as he was given ample space to showcase himself on the track with one of the greats. Highly rated upcoming crooner Funbi (who sounded like Craig Davids on this one) was paired on the next track Beg for it with Maytronomy, and the production was commendable and left space for the MC’s to talk to the ladies and create a song that’s sure to get radio spins and appreciation from a lot of females. Ridiculous is the next track, which features Boogey and Hench, and M.I did well to Place Boogey at the tail end of the track (because it would have been disastrous for him to start),because his Verse was exactly what the title of the song says, He went off, delivering what I would call my favourite verse on the mixtape. The next Joint Pain features Pope and Shaydee, and it’s a heartfelt song, that had all three MC’s on there decrying the struggle and the pains they have been through, and Pope the Hitman did a solid job on this one and clearly stole the day with Soul Piercing bars. Last Three songs are Loving meHeart of the City with S.D.C and Ruby as well as Flower with Ruby are all Good tracks, but the standout cut is Heart of the city, and this is as hard as it gets on this project with Ghost of SDC utilizing his baritone vocals and Intelligent wordplay to have a field day on this song.

Overall Illegal Music 2 stands its ground as a noteworthy Effort that would definitely stand the test of time, and in the long run, posterity would judge M.I, and Nigerian Hip-Hop should be grateful to him for spicing up the semi boring terrain with a dope mixtape, and giving everyone something to talk about (and listen to) for a while

Production: – 8/10

Collective Lyrics: – 7.9/10

Composition: – 8/10

Favourite Verse: –Boogey on Ridiculous

Listen to

Best Production: – Do I move you?

Listen to

Favourite Instrumental:- Kid Konnect – Fuck You

Listen to

Shock Value: – Jesse Jagz Production conspicuously Missing (even on MI2) ,Ice Prince’s 16 bars on “Fuck You” and the Replacement of Yemi Alade with Tonii on “Coming Home”

Overall: – 8/10