#TheViper: 3 Reasons Vector can’t recover from the MI Abaga diss

If you thought MI Abaga has mellowed with age, think again.

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Almost a decade ago, he recorded ‘Crase’, a track addressing his beef with the singer Kelly Hansome. At the time, I thought an entire song was too much for Mr Hansome. The single line — “Only one Kelly that I know: Kelly Rowland” — from the Choc Boiz’s ‘Nobody Test Me’ was sufficient.

I know better now: MI is a maximalist. When people call him a beast, perhaps they mean he doesn’t eat a prey piecemeal. His new single is almost half a dozen minutes.

For some time, it felt like MI might let the whole Vector thing slide but, let’s face it, Vector is too important to be ignored. And so, we have the song, ‘The Viper’, a 5-minute psychological examination (some might say evisceration) of his competitor. Some might have doubted MI’s ability these many years after ‘Crase’ but that can no longer be the case.

‘The Viper’ has all of those things that made MI’s rap career a shiny example for anyone involved in English rap in Nigeria: it’s witty, the delivery is excellent, the production is stellar, and the man still has a way with wordplay.

Here are the three ways MI Abaga has ensured Vector loses some sleep:

Money

MI Abaga might have started out as a guy who cared heavily about proving his worth on the mic. Well, he proved that and then began to think about posterity, about prosperity. The journey continues, but, with regards to the latter, he has received a boost.

Months ago, his label Chocolate City signed a deal with Warner Music Group, one of the global Big 3. According to industry insiders, that influx of dollars has done significant things to the management of Chocolate City.

So even if only two people in Nigerian rap can really take on MI Abaga — one has a number in his name; the other shares MI’s last name — the major problem with Vector’s diss is timing. For years, both rappers have gone around themselves, delivering messages through interviews. Vector thought he saw a chance to come direct with MI’s verse on the Purification cipher. Erm, maybe not so soon after such a deal.

In a country where money is all that matters and in a genre way too invested in materialism, it is not very wise to pick a fight with a guy with a fistful of dollars. His punch is heavier.

Associates

Another taunt from MI that will be tricky to recover from concerns his associates. MI’s first group had Ice Prince and Jesse Jagz. They were the kings of their day. Vector once had AQ on his side. Now AQ is approaching mainstream success — but he had to join MI for that to happen.

Of course, we’ll never know if Doctor Abaga’s diagnosis of the problem — “bitterness” — is why Vector has been unable to produce a field of success-for-others around his person, but we can see the signs that MI’s taunt has, at the minimum, a level of truth.

The Big Picture/The Rap Game

In the noise that has reigned since the song, it might escape listeners that MI didn’t really attack Vector’s verses or his ability on the microphone. In fact, he admits that he has always thought Vector is a decent rapper. So what does a smart rapper do? He puts the contender in a bigger context.

That is how we get the line about Vector not being Top 5 in Yoruba rap. MI, of course, knows he himself is not limited by ethnic group: he is bidding for greatness on the level of the continent and saying his rival is no rival if he can’t be the best from Yorubaland. To understand just how effective that line is, consider that to respond Vector must argue he is better than Da Grin and Olamide.

It is a safe bet that Vector would lose at least one of those arguments.

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