Government Name: Jude Abaga
Date of Birth: 4 October 1981
M.I Abaga, is a Nigerian hip hop recording artist and record producer. He has been the CEO of Chocolate City since June 2015. He was born in Jos, Plateau State. His parents, Pastor and Mrs Abaga are from Takum, Taraba state. M.I has two brothers, Jesse Jagz who is also in the Nigerian and African music scene, and Jason Abaga. He has always kept his relationships secret but did reveal in an interview that he lost his girlfriend while writing the continental banger “One Naira” which featured Waje. On 7 November 2016, he officially unveiled his girlfriend, Erica Okundaye- a former employee of Chocolate City, on the occasion of her 30th birthday.
His role in the music industry cannot be overstated. He has been responsible for bringing out many upcoming artistes such as Wizkid, Vypa, Jesse Jagz, Ruby, Pype, Tone Ice Prince, Brymo and the latest is KhaliGraph Jones.
M.I’s venture in the hip hop world started with the sampling of musical works from DMX and Lauryn Hill as early as 1998. After his stint at Calvin College, Michigan, US, he delved into poetry while pursuing a career in Business and Economics there, he performed regularly at the school’s major hip hop shows and concerts. His impressive rap flows and attitude gained him a third-place finish at the Calvin College show tagged ‘HipHopera’ in 2003. M.I. also made some amateur attempts at comedy, but decided to stick to music because he was embarrassed when nobody laughed but him.
The rapper began his music career when he returned to Nigeria in 2003. He quickly commenced the production of mixtapes with his friend Djinee. This led to the critically acclaimed single “Safe”, (a song which he parodied popular Nigerian songs in its lyrics) which gathered impressive airplay by African radio and music video stations such as MTV Vibe. The track also earned him awards at the Nigerian Music Video Awards, City People, N.E.A among others.
The hype surrounding the release of Safe led to the critical acclaim given to his first studio album titled Talk About It. The album won him a few awards in his country including Best Hip Hop Artist (City People Awards).
Back in Jos, Nigeria, he teamed up with several music personalities including his brother,Jesse Jagz and Ice Prince to form Loopy Music. M.I was later signed to the Chocolate City company, a renowned music label in Nigeria, which made him move from Jos city to the nation’s capital Abuja and also influenced the beginning of his successful career in the Nigerian music industry. M.I also work in music production with Chocolate City, and has produced albums and songs for his label mates- the most notable of these being in 2011 when he produced two songs off Ice Prince’s album Everybody Loves Ice Prince and recently Ruby Gyang’s Good Man off her “This Is Love” Ep.
He has also received international recognition in South Africa from the popular Channel O music Award, MTVbase Awards and also the American BET Awards.
He won Best Hip Hop and Best New Act at the 2009 MTV Africa Music Awards, and was nominated in the Best International Act category at the BET Awards 2010. His critically acclaimed debut studio album, Talk About It, was released on 11 December 2008. He is considered one of Africa’s most significant rappers of all time.