While other rappers had replied Abaga, a little known rapper named Meji threw his hat in the ring. His skill wasn’t as sharp or full-formed, his alluring technique was still growing and his delivery was some way off base. But one thing he had in excess was confidence. In a lot of ways, he was like Burna Boy in the early 2010s without a self-destruct button.
He replied Abaga and Abaga noticed. That seemed like just another moment in the grand scheme, but it wasn’t. That record was the entrance of a talented, young Nigerian rapper who just wanted to make music and be happy with his music. Born in ‘95’ as the first of five kids, Meji’s early days were spent in his paternal grandfather’s house.
Four years later, his family got sent out of the house by his grandfather. While his the man tried to make amends some years later, the damage was already done. In those days, the marks of innate ambition and a resolution to move with distinction were stamped into Meji’s subconscious.
Later in his life, he would find hunger through detraction and constant doubts. On ‘95,’ he even described his life as a “bumpy ride” says he has lost religion as he questions God’s ‘sight.’ He is trying to become a rapper, but he is also juggling a day job as a designer.
On some days, he shouts ‘Woah‘ at the several facets of his life. Even as people laugh at his little international exposure, he has developed sufficient confidence to clap back, “I don’t wanna live in bondage...” and employ braggadocio, “I don’t rate myself by Nigerian standards, I got a bigger audience…”
Sometimes, he also claps back at his haters and takes a swipe at the fake lives on Twitter. On other days, he asks the rhetorical question, ‘Who Am I?‘ with the aid of trap drums and arpeggio. The question has multiple functionalities; it represents Meji’s ideal perception of himself and how he feels others perceive him.
While ‘Who Am I’ has potential, its hook is too bare – the song needed a change of melodies around its hook. And oh, Meji is also named Michael and he likes boobs. Well, surprise surprise… If he asked question on ‘Who Am I,’ he crowns himself as ‘The One‘ on the track three.
‘The One’ also shows how far Meji has come as an MC as he switches paces and finds pockets between flipping, double time and calm waters. Who’s ‘The One’ without money? Nothing. Meji aims to get the ‘Guap’ like everybody else on a Trap beat. At the end of the day, Meji just hopes to ‘Shine.’
While he aims for a lot of things and he aims to live long, he doesn’t want to see age 95. He also hopes to go on a world tour in two years – when he’s 27.
On the production side, this project excels significantly but it could have done with better A&R in some telling cases – as highlighted above. While we can critique this EP for mixing, we have to understand that this is a rapper who is making do with the resources he can afford. If he could afford world class equipment, his mixing would be better.
However, The One suffers more on the content side. While Meji‘s idea is to tell stories about everything that relates to every 20-something Nigerian male, it felt like he was more concerned with sticking to concept than allowing himself to truly express. This project largely revolves around Meji’s braggadocio as it relates to his own ability, how special he is, how he wants to make money and how he’s better than everyone else.
Meji is capable of making a ‘95,’ but he didn’t make enough of tracks like that on The One. The best rappers know how to reach deep into themselves to tell the stories that will stand them out, not tell the regular tales in a better way. On every other track aside from ’95,‘ one struggles to hold on to much.
Some of that has to do with delivery – which could have made ‘Guap‘ a better song. For this, Meji needs to study Drake’s use of adlibs, timing, pockets and style switches to his advantage. Meji already has something special with hooks. Even though he is yet to fully harness it, he could do great things with that ability.
The EP also has a slight problem of tracklisting – ‘95‘ should have led the way at track one. However, Meji must be commended for going at this EP by himself.
Thankfully, this is Meji’s debut body of work. If anybody will come back with something stronger, it’s Meji. While this wouldn’t have saved the listening experience, it would have made it better.
• 0-1.9: Flop
• 2.0-3.9: Near fall
• 4.0-5.9: Average
• 6.0-7.9: Victory
• 8.0-10: Champion
Pulse Rating: /10
6.0 – Victory