Whoever says 2018 was a bad year for Nigerian music hasn’t been looking in the right spaces. Burna Boy came back smoking, Brymo continued his excellent run and Chocolate City put out a series of projects worthy of the hype. We present the albums that gave rocked the entire year. MI educated a generation loosing it’s values and place.
10. Crown- A-Q and Loose Kaynon
Crown, the statement album from A-Q and Loose Kaynon, two of hip hop’s finest and longest serving combatants is exactly what one would expect, and then more. Opulent, poetic, adversarial and strangely complementary, Crown is the product of two rappers working at the height of their talent. A-Q and Loose Kaynon inspire each other to bring out the best, assisted by a production finish that is almost second to none.
9. Red Velvet- Waje
A long time coming, the sophomore record by Waje- and first in half a decade- delivers everything that is expected of the supreme vocalist. Waje is emotional, sultry, fierce and adventurous as she focuses on diva R&B but adjusts the sound to accommodate contemporary audiences. Red Velvetisn’t pandering to the charts or clubs and Waje is exactly the artiste to present basic material in a bold, compelling narrative. Love never sounded this good.
8. Rare- Odunsi
Rare, the debut album by producer and leader of the alte pack, Odunsi (The Engine) does not quite live up to the makings of its title, but that is not to say that the sound which Odunsi creates and immerses himself in on the project is common place. Rare has a sense of mystery that is betrayed by Odunsi’s weak songwriting but the soul, trap and disco adventures are interesting enough to forgive his weaknesses. Surprisingly Rare also benefits from assists by Davido, Runtown and Tay Iwar.
7. Life is Eazi Volume 2: Lagos to London- Mr Eazi
The sequel/companion piece to last year’s Accra to Lagos mixtape has Mr Eazi further exploring the varied influences that have informed his music from Lagos to London. On his mind are the usual suspects; love, money, property, and sex. He mines these interests with the assistance of a wide variety of artistes across the divide. Burna Boy, Diplo and Simi are just some big names to come along for the ride.
6. About 30- Adekunle Gold
Thanks to the usefulness of a larger than life lead single, About 30, Adekunle Gold’s sophomore album was one of the year’s hottest musical tickets. Mr Gold shows some musical progression and willingness to take more risks than he did on his debut. About 30 will appeal to Gold’s considerable fan base, but it is just as fluffy and gimmicky as his debut. The best thing to be said about the record is that the songs are easily adaptable for live performances, which is where Mr Gold is at his strongest anyway.
5. The Mayor of Lagos- Mayorkun
Everyone and their mother knows Mayorkun is a reliable hit maker (Posh, Bobo, Mama) but with The Mayor of Lagos, his debut album, he earns for himself, the right to be taken seriously. Confident and calculated, The Mayor of Lagos knows what it s about and doles out the feel good tunes almost nonstop. Don’t expect any depth when the dancefloor is the destination. But it is hard to quarrel with that when the packaging is as sleek as The Mayor of Lagos.
4. One People One Nation- Femi Kuti
Touching on familiar ripped-off-the headlines topics, Femi Kuti’s latest, One People One Nationhas a central unifying theme, calling for collective action on climate change as well as preaching political and civil responsibility. If this comes across as a sign that perhaps Kuti, 56, has been softened by old age, better think again. Kuti has some strong words for the bad guys and the good for nothing politicians on Evil People and Corruption na stealing. But ultimately the disc is hopeful that Africa will be great again, a far cry from the doomsday tone of Kuti’s contentious Sorry Sorry.
3. Black Times- Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
Nobody does protest quite like Seun Kuti and on the Grammy nominated Black Times, his fourth album with the Egypt 80 ensemble, Kuti is in top form, excellent form actually. The protest nature of Afrobeat pulsates through the record, from the Carlos Santana assisted Last Revolutionary, to the Goodluck Jonathan inspired, Theory of Goat and Yam. With Black Times, Kuti embraces his roots fully and pours out a record that is both singularly his and indebted to his legendary father.
2. Outside- Burna Boy
The sound on Outside is a rich and viable mix of genres that have inspired Burna Boy as well as those he has picked up along his musical journey. While the record sounds familiar at times with elements of afrobeats, dancehall and reggae, it deviates from these lived in realism and strays into grime and hip-hop territory, by way of R&B. The eclectic mix that Burna Boy cobbles together on Outside could easily have gone south but his investment in and control of the material makes it one of the finest records put out this year. It is hard to point to a phase where Burna Boy has been better than he is on Outside.
- Oṣó- Brymo
Oṣó is excellent for the most part. Impeccably arranged and exquisitely produced, it carries all of Brymo’s strengths and little of his weaknesses. Which is to say that the record isn’t totally self-absorbed and does not take itself too seriously.
A Study on Self-Worth- MI Abaga
M.I Abaga used this album as an avenue to answer some of life’s pressing questions, ably assisted by some of the finest bubbling pop and Afro-fusion artistes like Odunsi The Engine, Tay Iwar, Lady Donli, Niyola, Lorraine Chia, PatrickxxLee and Cina Soul. The album’s high anticipation was owed to the controversial track ‘You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives’