MI Abaga just announced that he’ll be dropping Illegal Music 3 this month, as well as another tape, Young Denzel. We decided that this will be a good time to reflect on the best songs MI Abaga has blessed us with.
But in all honestly, selecting just 17, and finding a way to rank them is like trying to rank Lionel Messi’s best goals. At some point you just can’t tell which one is better anymore. However, we decided to give it an honest shot. We’re hitting up everything, from random singles to mixtape joints, and album cuts.
So without going into too much grammar, let’s get on with it. The 17 best MI Abaga songs…ever… till date.
You can’t really be an all round MC if you haven’t battled your fellow MCs. Either in friendly competition or in legitimate beef. Around 2009-10 a couple of MCs took shots at MI, Kelly Hansome, IceBerg Slim to name a few, and MI bid his time before he dropped this track to crush it all.
Beef saw MI crush his opponents lyrically, and in a way that made sure that the fans would be on his side. You can argue that Kelly Handsome still hasn’t recovered, and neither has IceBerg Slim. This song saw MI not only elevate himself commercially, but in the hip-hop community, he gained a lot of respect. Kiss the ring bitch. 🙂
16Human Being ft. Sound Sultan & 2face (2014)
Off his 3rd studio album, Chairman, comes one of MI’s classic joints in Human Being. When it comes to being baring it all, and being very honest, there aren’t too many rappers in Nigeria that are better than Mr Incredible. The song details how sometimes we forget that celebrities are human beings just like everyone, and are prone to the same human emotions, moments of weakness, and hard times just like every other human being. This line pretty much sums up the mood of the song. “Sometimes you saying hello but my mood is down, you trying to take a picture, I might shoot it down. Cos I’m going through some issues, I can’t do it now. Please understand, me sef I be human being.”
Borrowing the talents of Sound Sultan and 2face Idibia, the song turns out to be one of the gems from the Chairman album.
The wrap up of MI’s 2nd album, MI2, Unstoppable is another of MI’s very honest tune, and if you’ve been a fan of MI since day 1, then this song will really hit home. If you’re a friend, or know his story, then you can really get his journey up until that point. The song sees MI talk about his journey from US visa issues while in school in the US, to trying to make in Lagos, to dropping one of the best Nigerian hip-hop albums ever. It had already been a long journey to that point back in 2011 when this album was released. Imagine now.
Now take away the lyrics, and this piano keys on this songs is classic. Pure, clean, and very innocent in the way it’s presented. Almost like a 12 year old playing in Church.
Sampling Jay Z’s 99 problems, this tune on Illegal Music 1 is probably one of the first tunes that made many think, and say this guy is something special. It wasn’t his first song, or anything like that, neither was it his most popular at the time, but it was still something special. It’s honest, uplifting in a subliminal way, and creative in the way the sample was switched up and giving a different theme. To the hip-hop fans in Nigeria, this is no doubt one of MI’s best works.
13Monkey ft. Chigul (2014)
If you’re going through (or went through) a period in your life where you’re trying to get to your goals but have many doubters and discouraging elements, then this song can be your motivation. The hook tells the theme of the song, and the verse details it. Haters, bad belle people, and naysayers should never stop you from doing what you want to do if you have that convinction. One day, dem go know.
The 3rd verse is probably one of MI’s best ever, and could be printed and put up on the wall as a motivation speech.
“Through the rough road, through the punishment/Through the hardship and discouragement/I got stronger, it was nourishment/From accomplishment to accomplishment/If you send me leg, them i break am/Or I jump am but i must make am
I am insured mehn, i got statefarm/How your leg doing? Nna take balm/From a nightbus to a bigbus to a private jet/Next to Rick Ross/All these haters talk, it’s just lipgloss”
12Loving Me (2012)
“Sometimes falling in love with yourself is the most important thing to do.” That tagline from the video sums up the whole idea of this classic.
This is one of the most slept one songs from Illegal Music 2. Sampling “It’s good to be in love” by Frou Frou, MI uses this song to discuss self love, and discovering your self-worth in a way that makes you have to listen to really get it. If you’re talking about a song that is not just surface level, then this is it.
11Number One ft. Flavour (2010)
Back in 2011, MI and Flavour teamed up to drop this tune that’ll end up being one of the biggest tunes for the next 2+ years after its released. It captured the best of hip-hop, and high-life in a way that I don;t think had been done before… or at least not in the new generation of Nigerian music. “This one nah high-life and hip-hop combination o.” It’s still being performed at big shows all over the country, and fans still go crazy.
Those of us from the East already knew Flavour N’abania and had been jamming his tunes way before this song came out, however you can argue that this song blew him up to big mainstream levels.
10Nobody ft. 2face (2010)
“If nobody talk about you, then you are nobody. Whether na true dem talk or na lie.” MI enlists the help of 2face to put out there the issues he’s had with transitioning into the celebrity lifestyle that fame brought to his doorstep. Now all of a sudden, his name is in gossip blogs, newpapers and associated with stories that have little truth in them. In a weird way, the song showcases both sides of the coin. Even though it’s annoying to end up on wrong end of gossip magazines, and the likes, it’s also a sign that you’re now big enough to be included in those kinds of discussions.
With the line, “Ask 2face, it’s like toothpaste… Ask Omotola, Ask Genevieve,” it was clear that MI had put himself in the league of A-listers back in 2010 already. The song was/is very refreshing in its content.
9Crowd Mentality (2006)
Before MI became the undisputed champion or the chairman, he was this new kid from J-Town trying to change the mentality with his words. Crowd Mentality, lyrically, is a gem, and one that you probably wont get in Nigeria these days. Even though it’s kinda crude looking back, it feels like a antique in hip-hop. As a package it probably wont be hot in 2016, but rewind 10 years, and it was the hottest thing going. Lyrically though, it’s everlasting.
If you want to see the beginning of MI Abaga, this is absolutely the place to start.
8Undisputed Champion (2010)
The MI Abaga we know today was introduced in this 2011 track that was the lead single of the album, MI2. This was no longer the MI from Talk About It that was just entering the room. He knows he’s the best in Nigerian hip-hop, and the confidence bordering on arrogance is flowing all over the track. For good reason too. You can’t be an undisputed champion if you’re quite not sure if you are.
It’s a classic in Nigerian hip-hop and it represents a transitional time in MI’s career. From new boy to King.
7Lost ft. Loose Kaynon (2011)
Back in 2011, fresh off the success of his MI2 album, MI was facing a lot of criticism from “hip-hop purists” who were claiming that MI had sold out, and had gone full on commercial. Then this happened. MI snapped, and gave us one of hardest verses ever. “So when I MI2 was released, and all these bloggers said I ceased to be the rapper that released Talk about it, they at least should’ve waited a couple of weeks, my marketer just said I did a milli in the east.”
That verse summed up the mood, and MI completely killed it. Loose was reintroduced to many, and gave his A+ effort also, hitting us with that classic line “they can’t take what’s yours, but it’s fun to watch them try”
6I’m Hot (2009)
Bars, Bars, and more Bars. MI was at his blistering best in this freestyle over Dbanj’s Gbono Feli Feli which featured on Illegal Music 1. This song is strictly about the bars and punchlines, and MI completely excelled in that department.
Everything about this song is dope. From the choice of using the Don Jazzy beats to the wordplay and flow. After a while you run out ways to describe this tune, but to sum it up, if MI were to re-release this song, it’ll still be one of the best out in today’s world.
5Fast Money Fast Cars ft. WizKid (2008)
In 2008, a then unknown WizKid linked up on MI’s Fast Money Fast Cars and made a big name for himself. But WizKid’s grande feature aside, this tune is one of the classics from MI’s debut album and still makes sense till date.
Fast Money Fast Cars takes you through the mind of a typical Nigerian runs girl, and we’re not talking small time ashies. The big leagues. “I don’t need a dude whose bank is very large, I want the man who owns the bank, the head nigga in charge.” One of the best things about this song, is MI rapping in 1st person as it relates to the “big girls.”
4Chant Down Babylon (2008)
Did you know that MI once did a gospel-like song? This is one of MI’s many songs that were released out but not associated with any particular project. Chant Down Babylon is one of MI deepest songs, and in it hits on having tough times, and knowing who to turn to in those times. In this case, God being the one to always turns to when you have a problem.
It’s raw, but it’s so deep and clear in its message it’s refreshing. This was the kind of song that made his initial fans fall in love with him. To me, it’s MI at his best.
3One Naira ft. Waje (2010)
Nigerian hip-hop love song? This one is at the top of the list no doubt. MI and Waje brought us this wonderfully put together song that is no doubt one of the evergreen songs in Nigeria. Lyrically it’s damn near perfect from MI, and vocally from Waje it’s one of her best performances ever. It’s the kind of love song that appeals directly to the Nigerian love situation. It’s no wonder everyone can sing along to this song. From okada driver to grandma, lekki big boy to Aba babes, everyone sings it loudly “Whether na one naira, whether na one million, baby you got me“. It’s simple, but deep at the same time.
Yea… Many couples still run it at their weddings also, and MI stays getting gigs to perform this live at wedding receptions. Classic.
2Safe ft. Djinee (2008)
Are we safe right here? No we’re not really, especially when MI dropped this classic hip-hop track. The wordplay on this track in unrivaled in hip-hop in Nigeria with MI effortlessly flowing using references from some of the biggest hits in that time, but somehow pointing back to an introduction of himself. It’s quite honestly genius. To fully grasp the full essence of the song you have to transport yourself to that time, and the Nigerian music environment at that time.
Wrapping up the whole package with the line, “…and if there’s ever been a rap this fly, yo it had to be done by another MI.” *mic drop moment*. Djinee added the maggi to the pot of soup make it complete.
1Pulling Me Back (2008)
If Chant Down Babylon made fans fall in love with him, this song Pulling Me Back made them completely obsessed. The wordplay on this song is unlike anything we had seen or have seen ever since in Nigerian hip-hop in the context of the song. You can almost tell that MI is somewhat of a hopeless romantic, or a love fanatic with the way he paints pictures of various emotions of relationships with his pen.
“Now I see that I’m narcissistic, so sadistic, I must’ve missed it, over time it was me that was pulling me back. He said, I falsely accused you, then I used you, then refused your help to help me see, I was pulling me back. She said, I know I went ballistic, cos I don’t want to be a statistic, is this realistic, it’s been pulling me back. Then she said, I wanna do this again, so let’s pretend, close your eyes, count to ten, go back when, it was nothing that was pulling me back. ”