M.I Abaga and his record label, Chocolate City, are suing Queensbridge legend Nas, real name Nasir Jones.
M.I and Chocolate City have filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court claiming Nas didn’t deliver the verse they wanted.
In the lawsuit, which was filed in the New York State Supreme Court, Nas and Mass Appeal Records’ Ronnie Goodman are accused of duping Chocolate City after they had paid the rapper $50,000 for the verse.
According to the lawsuit, in 2013, Nas and Goodman entered an agreement to contribute a verse to a track from M.I. The details of the deal were that Nas was supposed to mention “M.I, Chocolate City, Nigeria, Queens, New York—NAS’s hometown—, Mandela, Trayvon Martin, and the struggles of Africans and African Americans” in his verse.
Nas went on to deliver a verse but it didn’t mention any of the subject matter Chocolate City had asked for.
Although the lawsuit said it in flowery words, the essential beef here is that Nas delivered a wack verse for M.I, who isn’t having it. You don’t pay N10 million (2013 evaluation, N200 to 1$) for a verse and have a substandard product? No.
But the question everyone is asking is that, should M.I be paying Nas for a verse?
It’s easy to say no in 2017. Wizkid and Davido have made records with some of US finests. Drake has had a Nigerian write on his album. Ayo Jay and RCA have released a record together. Tekno’s ‘Pana’ has been bought by Columbia Records. These are signs that Nigeria is growing and the focus on the world is on the music that we are making.
But M.I and Nas happened in 2013 when we didn’t have the spotlight. The rapper and Chocolate City were on the brink of something new and radical by chasing a record from the Hip-hop legend. If this new broke in 2013, it would have shock value and dominate the news cycle.
Put this into context. In 2015, Sarkodie paid Acehood $25,000 for a verse on ‘New Guy’. That’s just half of what Nas took home to create the verse. And if he had delivered, knowing the sublime skillset of both MCs, I’m salivating at the thought of M.I and Nas. It would be an overload of greatness.
What would Nas have brought to the record? Skill. In the lawsuit, Chocolate City is very complimentary to Nas. They called him “a highly respected lyricist in the music industry” and wrote that they wanted a verse from him “because of NAS’s exceptional talent as a lyric writer.”
Unfortunately, according to Chocolate City, that talent and lyricism were not evident in the verse they got. Nas wouldn’t only have brought artistry, he would have given the record range, credibility and attention. According to the requirement, the record would have been a cross-cultural conscious creation with social value. That would have been a timeless win for M.I and Chocolate City.
If things had gone right, it would have been worth every dime.
But critics would say $50,000 is too much for a verse from Nas. The rapper is a legend, but he isn’t the hottest ion the game right now. A hot record with a chart-commandant like Drake would have been a more savoury use of the cash, no? If news broke out that this money was given to Drake for a verse, many people wouldn’t bat an eyelid.
This is the age of music where hit songs are the rave and the biggest pop acts are instrumental in pushing records to the top via collaboration alone. Wizkid got nominated for a Grammy because he worked on “Views” album. That’s another level of achievement.
As a record label, people would argue that the money can be channelled into various ventures to generate value at home. Maybe pump it into a 12-week rollout of a new Jesse Jagz album? Maybe?
But all of these exist in the mind. Nas didn’t come through, M.I and Chocolate City are claiming damages, and a case has been filed in court. That’s the reality of the situation. One that holds the possibility of Chocolate City either getting more money or settling behind the scenes and getting the verse that they have always dreamed off…with a video appearance thrown in for good measure.
That’s the only scenario where everyone from Nigeria wins.