Disclaimer: I started off writing this piece in a haughty and supercilious manner. I was caught up in how I was going to say what it is I want to say, as opposed to getting on with it as directly and candidly as possible. Fortunately, I brought down my ego a peg or two and just bloody wrote. As a result of this emasculation of my self-importance, I have written this article on a whim, with no regard for how it is done or how I am supposed to say what. Further, this is a piece on Hip-Hop and borderline rap. There is nothing bourgeois about what I have written about, which is why I have written about it. Happy reading.
In recent history, we have seen many Nigerian artists come to the fore, a good number of these great acts rap. I mean really, really rap. Much ado has been made, also in recent history, about which artist is true Hip-Hop or not, or which Nigerian artist should be classified as Hip-Hop, Afro-Pop, Pop-Pop, Loli-Pop, or whatever pops. That is not what this article is about. This article is about one man’s work. Scratch that. This is about a man’s labor of love, his love for music, and its totality as an art form. This man is Jesse Jagz, and his sophomore album, Jagz Nation Vol. 1: Thy Nation Come is the greatest rap album in Nigerian history.
Before you begin to argue and curse at your computer, tablet, or mobile phone screen, take a step back. I am not talking about mixtapes, nor am I talking about EPs, limited releases, or singles. I am talking about a full-length album, which has been released officially, and distributed internationally.
Right. Let’s get to the reasons I feel Jesse’s material is a wholesome piece that is as deliberate as it is magical and why it is the best Nigerian rap album of all time.
I will like to at this point invoke The Fugees. Yes, I am referring to their classic album, “The Score”, released in 1996 (the year I wrote my first rap). If you are familiar with this album, you will understand how raw emotions can be married to lyrical prowess and consummated on a bed of soulful music to deliver a bouncing work of art.
First, the production in this album is INSANE. Some of the stuff Jagz does, both vocally and sonically is darn right amazing. In production/beat-making, sampled sounds have a richer texture than most original beats. I have always been fascinated with Jesse’s ability to create his own samples. He does crazy shit with his own voice and tweaks them to the point that you can bet your flat on it being a sample from some weird vinyl shit.
Second, Jesse raps his ass off. Period.
Much like “The Score”, and most Hip-Hop albums of that era, Thy Nation Come begins with a “sort-of-like-an-intro” that sets the tone for the whole body of work. Unlike other albums, the intro here isn’t pointless. I would play this intro in my set if I deejayed. I particularly love how Jesse is in his element, seemingly relaxed and unperturbed. I mean, the first 20 seconds of the project is very ‘Slimshadyesque’ and embodies creative fearlessness. What I got was the aura of a man on top of his mountain. Jesse Jagz does not give a f***. I love it.
When Jagz played me Burning Bush for the first time, I got a strong nostalgic feeling. I felt pretty much the same way I felt when Jesse & I heard Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” on the “World Chat Show” (remember that shit?!) in my mother’s Mitsubishi Lancer in 2004. There is soul, there are emotions, & the passion is evident in this record.
I am not going to do a track-by-track analysis. This isn’t a review. What I will say though is, as the tracks play you move with them. There is a destination and Jesse is firmly on the wheel. I have always said to my mates, creating art is all about sensing a journey. Where are you going with this? Why are you even doing it? I feel as though Jesse answers these questions perfectly and it tells in his record. I liked his first album but I love his second. While this isn’t a comparison of the two, it is hard not to admit the beauty of the sophomore effort and its cohesion.
I have said that this is one album that succeeds as a whole, not just because any particular track is a “standout”. Using a vehicular analogy, everything makes this car move not just the tires or the carburetor. Jesse’s vehicle is a Ferrari and boy does she purr!
As a student of Rock & Roll, I have learned that you must sit through the body of work and understand the direction the band is taking, almost like watching a movie. I have also learned that seeking out singles is an unforgiveable sin that cheats you of the enjoyment of “getting” an album. With that said, Jesse’s disc is crawling with “singles” that will make any deejay salivate.
So, for the many that “get” Thy Nation Come and share it as passionately as they should, I will like to join you in toasting to the creative genius that is Mr. Jagz. To the few who do not get it, regardless, doxology.
By the time you get to “Pedal to the Floor”, you will be so far gone that no one can catch you. Travel into space my friends. Journey on. Rock on with the greatest rap album any Nigerian has made yet.
— Written By Kahli Abdu