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It seems like it’s been forever since Ghana’s X.O Senavoe and South Africa’s HHP contributed stellar guest verses to “Illegal Music 2”, the critically-acclaimed mixtape by Nigerian rapper, M.I Abaga.
Since the disbanding of the Choc Boyz (as rappers MI, his brother Jesse Jagz and protege, Ice Prince were jointly called), a chasm has gradually appeared between Nigerian rappers and their African peers. “SA rappers are killing y’all,” M.I once said. Collaborations have gotten less frequent and vanished altogether.
In the last year or so, Nigerian hip-hop culture has experienced a resurgence. Still, it says a lot that it is the stalwarts of a bygone era who still have the most pulling power. On the remix to “Feel Good”, his collaboration with Falz and Phyno, Ice Prince enlists some of the continent’s finest. The names are familiar to any African fan of the genre – Kenya’s Khaligraph Jones, Ghana’s Sarkodie, South Africa’s Kwesta and Nigeria’s MI Abaga.
The four are known as elder statesmen in their respective regions and his decision to stack his plate with their verses transforms the song from a feel-good anthem to a sparring match between heavyweights
Typically, when his best colleagues join him on a track, MI’s verses often taken on a comedic twist, and this is no different. With lines like “Bout to go down in history as gold flesh, low threshold, still at the abattoir, I’m so fresh”, he sets a high bar for whoever’s following. Kenya’s Khaligraph shows no signs of being intimidated though. He starts off furiously, then asks, “Swag to death, this dude is feisty, how many niggas you know do this like me?”.
Ghana’s Sarkodie has always chosen technique and storytelling over the sheer weight of his bars. On this remix, he references his early days and shouts out his peers at a speed that would put tongue twisters to shame. It’s very different from Kwesta’s delivery. The latter is a lot more mellow in a way that lets you notice the production, a fast-paced highlife beat that sounds indebted to the Carribean. Kwesta holds his own as well. He raps about finding his way to the top in a mix of Swahili and English; a lesson for a new breed of Nigerian rappers about building beyond traditional audiences.
The remix of Ice Prince’s “Feel Good” is unwitting proof that the oldest names in the game can still pack heat on any given day. And while the new boys may be doing some justice, they have work to do.
Stream Ice Prince’s “Feel Good” Remix here.