The 2019 edition of the Martell Cypher features legendary rapper MI along with Blaq Bonez, Loose Kaynon and A-Q. This follows a 2018 full of drops from the “Martell Cartel” with the albums Yung Denzel by MI, Crown by Loose Kaynon & AQ and BadBoyBlaq by Blaq Bonez. The cypher wasn’t short on talent or bars but the highlight of the video is the clear call-outs and provocation. From Loose Kaynon asking you to go check on your favourite rapper with a “Get Well Soon” teddy bear dashing across the screen to MI boldly instructing another cognac brand on how they should spend their budget, this cypher shook the table. And we love it.
Hennessy artistry has a long established reputation in the music industry as a stepping stone for hip hop artists. With alumni like Ice-Prince and multiple cyphers featuring major players in the industry like Reminisce and Phlow, Henessey has an impressive track record. This didn’t, however, stop MI from proclaiming that;
- This cypher is the only one that matters.
- Other Cognac brands should take notes from Martell on how to spend their budget.
- Other Cognac brands do not pay artists and atrists should, therefore, come to Martell.
While this may come across as typical rap “braggado” it’s incredibly important. For one, healthy competition within brands in the culture is so necessary. Hennessy (allegedly) not paying their artists is not only detrimental to the artists themselves, who are pushing the brand forward, but creates a culture in which people do not give influencers and creatives what they should. Music is an integral part of marketing and branding and should be valued as such.
As a fan of Nigerian rap and hip-hop in general I understand the importance of shaking the table. Rap beef (musically of course) is an integral part of the the hip hop legacy and “call-out” culture has given us some classic content over the years. MI is no stranger to this and has routinely been known to call out where the industry need to “fix up”. Hopefully this bar-heavy cypher sparks a much needed conversation and, most importantly, some new music (whether in support or retaliation). 2019 is going to shine a bright light on Nigerian hip hop and I, for one, am excited to see what’s in store.