While the latter years of his career have seen him unfairly viewed through a polarizing lens, few will deny that Modenine is one of the greatest emcees to ever grab the mic.
Very few rappers can boast of the type of discography that Modenine has.
There has hardly been a year since he dropped his debut tape, ”Malcolm IX – The Lost Sessions” in 2004, that he has gone without releasing a project.
With every announcement of a new Modenine project comes a bit of excitement among his core following, who appreciate his lyricism and traditional ‘old-school-no-room-for-commercial-rap template’, one that has hallmarked his rise from day 1.
With a career that spans almost two decades, Modenine is unpretentious with what he stands for; lyrics over catchy hooks, knowledge over swag, bars over everything.
And after dropping two projects last year, ”Long Story Short” and ”Hence4th”, and promising another ”This is Lagos” which failed to surface, Modenine begins the year with the release of his joint project with hip-hop producer Stormatique titled, ”The Monument.”
There are few better ways to kick off your 11th official studio album than reminding everyone that in this competitive game, he remains the champion, comparing himself to the Nigerian boxer ‘Samuel Peters.’
The opening track which sets things off immediately is a regaling entrance into the emcee’s mindset.
He samples the vocals of a boxing judge declaring the Nigerian nightmare as a winner in one of his bouts and Modo goes ham with the braggadocio lyrics, as he for the 10,000th time declares himself as the undefeated lyricist while delivering some lethal rhymes.
‘Lyricist Woes’ details how unappreciated his skill is as he admits ”It’s kinda hard being a lyricist” and also takes shots at fans and critics who constantly request that he goes commercial.
He is the OG advising younger rappers on ‘Ghetto’, a personal favorite where he paints a picture of life, as it brutally unfolds daily in the ghetto.
‘Check For Me’ is the album’s major highlight, a gem of a track and an ode to the culture with a message that I agree with as he pours out his feelings narrating how he feels when ‘fake fans’ ask him to get back into the game when he never left and addressing those who don’t make an effort to follow his music or even buy it when they find it.
If you're a fan of a particular artist (Upcoming/rising/whatever) or genre, once in a while, take time out to do a conscious search for their songs and don't end up asking where they have been when they have actually been putting out record..
— EGGHEAD (@ehiscombs) January 18, 2019
”The only one happier than haters when I left town was me, I got betrayed for having the best sound, no support, they treated me a let-down, a left child…
Freestyle or written, I’m in the zone, they hit me up and they tell me they don’t mess with iTunes, begging for a free link to download my tunes,” he rhymes.
‘Level IX (Remix)’ features the tape’s only guest feature in Mcskill Thapreacha, the first version [a 9-minutes long lyrical exercise] of the song appears in the latter’s project, ‘The 9th project’and is just an exhibition of two rappers wrecking havoc on the beat.
But the album is not all about Modenine talking about himself and his lyrical showboating. On ‘You Bad’, he tells the story of being played by the ex he likes, while the second verse details him going on tour and performances.
And on ‘Mystery Girl,’ Modenine delivers a well penned poetic love note where he describes the type of girl that he wants.
Modenine is arguably the most lyrical rapper that has surfaced from this part of the continent. He is firm with keeping to the tenets of the art-form and has been keeping it real for decades.
He takes rap as his lifestyle, embodies it as his weapon and few who appreciate his brand of hip-hop will understand and soak in this album for what it seeks to achieve.
There are noticeable progressive attempts of him adopting a lesser lyrically complex rhyme structure and the lively boom-bap production provided by Stormatique.
But it’s 2019 and sadly Mode is not really saying anything different. He is applying the same recipe that helped him earn his legendary stripes; rendering the entire hooks himself which peels the color off the some of the songs vibrancy, taking shots at the current state of rap, subbing his own fans and battle rap type braggadocio lyricism, more of the same that he has been spitting in at least his last three projects.
There are hardly new pages to turn in this chapter of Modenine’s book, and we’re living in a time where the younger hip-hop listeners seek for more beyond one’s ability to rap and would not stay long enough to get the message he seeks to pass.
While a number of these songs would excite in the early stages of his career, the magic of unheard brilliance that sparks that wow effect to get a fan screaming when hit by a well-carved punchline or his retinue of witty football references is gone.
At the end of the day, ‘The Monument’ is a good, enjoyable and ‘un-Modenine like’ short offering, but it does not in any form compare to his previous works or bring something staggeringly new to the modern rap table, falling short of delivering that iconic project that fittingly crowns his legacy as the title suggests.