A-Q, M.I Abaga and Beats by Jayy deliver an instant classic with The Live Report – Dami Ajayi

Who would have thought that the year 2020, in its first quarter, would deliver three projects from two great Nigerian lyricists?

Surprise, surprise.

M.I Abaga’s Judah EP is still crisp on our audio shelves, ditto for A-Q’s God Engineering which is still jogging our earlobes.

Yet, The Live Report, a 6 track, 23 minute duet rap album, said to have been instigated by a fan’s tweet, has come upon us. What they have achieved is reminiscent of Jay Electronica’s A Written Testimony, an uncredited duet album with Jay-Z, which was produced in 40 days and 40 nights.

The biblical allusion and the cultural impact of such a classic album is what Q and M aspire to and they have delivered something of similar critical impact and myth. M.I Abaga was said to have mixed this project for three days nonstop without pausing to take his bath.

Beats by Jayy is the resident producer, one who has frequently synergized with A-Q. The alliance between both rappers which may have begun with M doing A & R work on Q’s project three albums ago may have catalysed into the making of the quickest classic in Nigeria’s music history.

To call  this project The Live Report is to court the newsroom, the media, the instantaneous and the contemporaneous. This album is as clear as day regarding its duty. It is a brisk reflection and feedback about what lurks outside our window. Call it history produced in a hurry.

There is plague, a pestilence, outside in the whole world that requires that everyone stays indoors and while the ensuing cabin fever is fueling ennui in some, fake news and conspiracy theories in a significant cohort, it has elicited sparks of creativity from M.I, A.Q and Beats by Jayy.

To do a proper live broadcast, you must set the tone.

This is where these OGs begin on the opening track, ‘Tone of the Conversation’. Beats by Jayy, according to A-Q’s verse, is giving NO I.D vibes and M.I comes with his arsenal of languages, pacing and an encyclopedia. What is delivered is a flawless cipher, except that these two rap gods are not sparring. They are weighing in on world issues, as though our global space is their borrowed basketball court.

Beats by Jayy holds the genius streak on this album. Every track is a demon on steroids and both rappers rise to the occasion. The most topical track, is, of course, the eponymous, ‘The Live Report’. This song is the antithesis of fake news. Never in history of Nigerian rap have we had rappers tackle issues so real to the citizenry in an uber timely fashion.

These are unprecedented times and rap has become a way of seeing the world. Both rappers bring poetry, opinion and reflections on the ongoing pandemic, the role of technology (both beneficial and inimical), the role of politics in the way this narrative has been shaped as well as how Africa will fare. There is succor when M.I redirects with a biblical allusion that God will end the world with a cold.

‘Jesus said use your head’ is positioned for the Pentecostals whose recent conduct in Nigeria has been short of God’s promise. The reception of  Coronavirus within Nigeria has been tempered by both culture and religion—and the leadership of most churches have privileged congregational worship over the safety of mankind as a whole. Some pastors, who should know better, even returned with ridiculous charts with conspiracy theories summarized in an unholy trinity of Covid-19, 5G and vaccines.

On ‘Clap for Yourself’, Beats by Jayy, the producer dons a different hat by hoisting the hook under his other moniker, Big Daddy Jayy . This song explores hypocrisy often  conducted at its best via social media and it is the album’s moment of levity on an otherwise serious album.

‘When I’m Gone’ features Nawe and it reflects on mortality. Both rappers indulge in advance directives, which for a Nigerian listenership is nothing short of morbid. However, the world is in a state of uncertainty, humanity is being dragged and science is still tentative, so it makes sense to confront one’s mortality head-on.

The album ends with ‘Braveheart’, in lieu of a positive note, featuring a masterful sample that has not been credited and the record automatically demands a replay.

The Live Report is an unprecedented record, for an unprecedented time. It is not early to call it a classic because it rises to the duty of art:  to connect the world, to reflect and to instruct.

M.I and A-Q seemed primed for this rap-athon and we can all conclude that in spite of the bleakness all around, we have good music to help us negotiate these times.

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