ModeNine…The Misinterpreted Poet

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I sit here listening to one of his records ‘Rhyme tight’ ,a smooth Hip Hop piece with samples from New York rapper Biggie smalls’s ‘Juicy’ record off his Da Vinci Mode Album released in 2010.Reminiscent thoughts run through my mind as i recall the first time I listened to the album whilst nodding in appreciation of its quality.

*sigh* Where do i start from?, is it from the total misinterpretation of this talented UK born Nigerian rap artiste as tabled in the title of this article or from the fact that based on my corporeal evaluation of music,i personally think there is no such thing as “Commercial music”?, lets look into it together.

What is music?…well this is a question that would herald different answers from different persons as it connects to and affects various people differently,but personally my apt definition of music would be “Music is a form of art used by a musician to express his or her innermost or truest emotions” be it love,anger,hate,fear,envy,pride or even lust,Thus its an art for “expression” and personally for me speaking from the music composer’s angle,not an art to be used to try to “Impress”.

Why do I buttress this point you may ask,well since his first major break into limelight with his single ‘Cry’ featuring also very talented female vocal powerhouse and then label mate Nnena in 2006,Modenine’s art has been stigmatized as being too lyrically complex or in the term most commonly used “Too Hardcore” by the many lot who misinterprete this poet and also probably misunderstand how this life-force called music works.

Based on my observations and also acknowledging his diversity,Modenine’s original style of Hip-Hop can be likened to one called Boombap Hip Hop,a style of Hip Hop usually recognized by an acoustic drum loop/break and a chopped up sample style that mainly emanated in the mid 80’s and was popularized by veteran rappers like KRS ONE And Marly Marl amongst others.

Even though the original practice of this style of Hip Hop has dwindled over the years,Due to its efficacy it has evolved into a large percentage of the disparate styles of Hip Hop music we create today, be it Southern drums Hip Hop, East Coast Hip Hop or WestCoast Hip Hop with its elements found in either the use of samples on instrumentals or the delivery of the lyrics by the artiste.

Now back to Modenine, I find myself thinking is it a crime to unpretentiously try to be yourself with your art?…in my opinion,NO! Personally i wont say I’m an “ardent” fan or so to speak a “stugee” of his,but many a time i’m highly fascinated by his music.From the unexcelled lay-back feel it brings to the way it portrays the typical contemporary Nigerian social or corporate gathering as in ‘Mathematical sege’ or the exciting outburst of enticement you get listening to ‘Spartans’, Modenine is to me a poet whose value should be more greatly appreciated and not misinterpreted as he is to me an ingenious Rap artiste.

By Yemi Lawal [@LabzyLawal]



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  1. Dope!.. Modenine made me learn vocabs… flipped the dictionary a few times… I remember mailing him years back to send me tracks from the unreleased Nine files album when he was with paybacktime records…. People just dont understand the Poet… My Opinion stick to Jonnah d Monarch i prefer him to XYZ

  2. Someone making you check a dictionary doesn’t mean he’s good, it just means your English is bad. It’s music not language class

  3. I don’t buy the whole commercial music bullshit. To me, music is an expression of emotion and whatever mode nine raps has no emotional connection to the listener unlike Cry

  4. Modenine is real hip hop,the genius behind a song like contradiction is absolutely out of this world,based on a song like contradiction modenine is hands down the best rapper in Nigeria,his wordplay is top 5 rappers of all time 1) nas 2)krs1 3)biggie 4) jadakiss 5) modenine. Thats how highly i rate modo.

  5. Most people are too in a haste to draw conclusions…To the guy that said Cry is the only song of modenine that showed emotional connection..I have to say u ve not listened to a modenine album…I you can’t relate to “leaders of tomorrow, fellow Nigerians, journey so far, my skin is black, africa, tears of pain,tales of the pot, top eleven, green passport, follow ur heart politics and lies, issues etc and even recently Where una dey….then..I don’t know what to call you…try basing ur assumptions on real events and enlighten people rather than misleading them..And Lastly I feel modenine shoots videos for the wrong songs

  6. The definition of music will never be unanimously agreed upon, every man with different opinion as to what the subject matter means to him.
    Back to modenine, in relation to the opinion of the writer, (Labzy) his style of music which others may term hardcore is natural to him, the lyrics come naturally to him. His kind of style however will mostly be appreciated by young elites, who can easily relate with his choice of vocabulary and expression.
    On the other hand, in order to bring everybody under his understanding, the so called commercial music came introduced.
    Professionally, there is nothing like commercial music, but these days that expression has been gaining attention as people would ordinarily believe commercial music means music that sells appeals to majority of people.
    I guess since ‘hardcore’ rap/ music is not MUCH appreciated in Nigeria, artistes tend to go ‘commercial’ in order to meet the musical needs of fans.

  7. Just bcos u Find it difficult to rel8. wit a particuLar genre of music doesn’it mk d song,d writer or d artiste less awesome.he just isn’t to u.cos u and not him but u are uncultured Whr dt kind of music is concerned.its ok if u can’t rel8 …those who do do..dnt go about spoiling d fun for those who relate..and PLs try to be a bit more sensitive …labzy put in a lot of hard work to get ds far…he could only get better…

  8. Mathematical shege or the Polymath…..jez dump dis commercial music where the belong ”in the bins” cause such music don’t last,buh wen u get a grasp of classics like ”contradiction,regular guy,cry,the music lives n the song that nearly made rugged man quit music,talking to u” then u’d know what Modo’s worth….to me,his tha best in Africa.Love u Man.

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