HHAP Ep. 84: A Conversation with M.I. Abaga on Integrity and Longevity in Hip Hop
Understanding the World of HipHop and Afrobeats with legendary Nigerian Hip Hop artist M.I. Abaga
Jude Lemfani Abaga, also known as M.I. Abaga He is a Nigerian rapper, songwriter, and music producer. He was born originally in Jos, Northern Nigeria, and released his debut album in 2008. He was the CEO of the label Chocolate City from 2015 to 2019 and then started his label in 2020 with incredible music. Before getting into the music industry, he studied in the U.S. for a while, then came back to Nigeria and got his music career launched in 2003.
He has received several music awards, including the MTV Africa Music Awards and BET Awards. He is also involved in different initiatives to bring about social and political change in Nigeria; he was declared the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime Goodwill Ambassador against the smuggling of migrants in 2012. In his role, he was charged with speaking out on and drawing attention to the smuggling issue in Nigeria’s most recent election; his organization TASCK, a creative agency in the last general elections launched a campaign encouraging people to vote.
Having been in the industry for over two decades, M.I. has nuggets of wisdom to share with people in or who are eyeing the music industry. He believes that all upcoming artists should not limit themselves to one genre of music but should instead try different things to find out what they are most comfortable with.
In this episode, M.I. takes us through his music career journey. From how he got into the industry, the challenges he has encountered, how he is mentoring young talents, his experience working with other artists, to his relationship with Afrobeats. He will also enlighten us on the tension between success and integrity for artists. Where do they draw the line?
M.I. is on a mission to solve a big problem in Africa. He is working towards ensuring that creatives starting their careers don’t have to go through traumatic experiences. Through his agency, he is offering them support and infrastructure to help them build sustainable businesses for them from the onset.
Listen to learn more from MI.
“The goal is not to attempt to be perfect. The goal is to attempt to create with integrity, trust and know, and when you get feedback that doesn’t agree, learn, and grow.”
Key Talking Points of the Episode:
- [05:48] MI’s career trajectory
- [07:58] The power of being a veteran artist
- [12:41] The undeniable shift in the music industry
- [13:23] Introspection through experience and loss
- [18:27] M.I.’s first album
- [25:25] Why is it important for M.I. to help other artists?
- [38:22] M.I.’s relationship with Afrobeats as a genre
- [43:46] The tension between success and integrity as artists
- [50:20] What is M.I. working on currently?