Looking Back At Nigeria’s Hottest Music Projects Of 2018!
2018 Saw A-lot Of Dope Music Content been Put Out By Our Favorite Old, New & Upcoming Nigerian Artistes,BY Ikechukwu Aham-Ejelam twitter:@rapanalyst101
Without Further Ado, lets Jump into EKPO’S Top 5 Nigerian Albums Of 2018
BURNA BOY –OUTSIDE
Daminili Ogulu popularly known as Burna Boy, an indigene of Rivers State, is an artist who has grown over the years, developing his sound in every possible way he can. After taking a two year hiatus post releasing the Redemption EP in 2016 and On A Spaceship in 2015, one an underrated extended beautiful body of work and the other a period of deep, mind altered reflection which saw him share his broken heart out in a new work environment as he parted ways with Aristokrat record, he has shown that his diversity and domination over different sub genres of the Afro beats makes him one to stand the test of time. Despite the fact that his last album was released as early back as January, it still reverberates beautifully due to the fact that his sound is genuine and timeless in its own way.
Certain tracks stood out in the album which showed why the artist delivered accordingly showing his versatility whether it was Afro-fusion, modern gyration, fast-tempo noir Jamaican sound, blended trap, the artist was able to create beautiful sound within it, certain tracks which included Ye produced by Phantom showed his delve into the Afro sound even extending lyrics highlighting Fela Kuti the originator of the Afro-beats sounds, also including Ph city vibration, Sekkle down featuring J.Hus and Heaven’s Gate featuring Lliy Allen which showed the artist kept features to the minimum thereby creating room for more performance form the both the artiste and the artistes featured, both tracks produced by Jae 5 and Fred Gibson respectively, the smashing single Rock Your Body produced by Julz which served as a tease before the album dropped also explored the depths of Afro beat with laced strings and rhythmic bass.
As much as the album was beautifully written, soulful driven in ingenuity, sparks of light were beaming for life in certain corners of the album, Giddem, the seventh track on the 12 list album did not lean on the same energy others reached out for on Outside, as hooks used becomes a little too repetitive and overbearing at some point ‘giddem, giddem, giddem, giddem nau’
Outside comes from a deep and sentimental part of his musical dexterity, clouded amongst rumors, fabrications and that which is purported to bring down the foundations of a well-structured career, yet, Burna boy was able to get deep into his feelings and pour his heart out all over the microphone, embellished and specifically produced by creative fingers suited to blend with the emotions of his statements, Outside is an expository, near wistful driven story laid out in concise track listing enabled to leave the consumer wanting more and enough room for impactful creativity as regards the artist.
M.I –A STUDY ON SELF WORTH: YXNG DXNZL
Jude Abaga known as M.I from Plateau State in Nigeria, current C.E.O of Chocolate City is regarded as one of the veterans in hip-hop as far as the continent of Africa is concerned, coming over the years, a king reigning in his decadal castle, the artiste has trod the African hip-hop terrain and has inscribed his name in the sands of time, also paving the way for younger, insightful like sounds that have deserved a seat at the table making room for a legacy to be created
After a long break from delivering lyrical content worth mass appeal, Yxng Dxnzl his later found alter ego, kicks the door back in the rap game in 2018, expressly declaring his right back to the rap throne left in apparent shambles with first a self-acclaimed playlist titled Rendezvous early in the year and an introspective follow up in the titled A Study On Self Worth, a personal expression of an album that states itself as a journey embarked upon by the artist, it supposedly turns out to be a therapeutic musical content, it’s a discussion between the artist, the therapist whose statements shed light on the content of the album and the individual listening as it is a heed to not be ignored; apt and nurtured words are being used by the individual which shows his maturity in his lyrical expertise; these gems enable the artiste tell his story coupled with life changing advices given to the artist, he describes these words of wisdom given in different forms which is in turn the name of the album which is a study of self-worth, he explores hip-hop beats of different tempos, sounds, variations be it hollowed sounds which accompany the rhythm of some songs in an album. Tracks like Never Second Guess Yourself featuring Cina Soul sheds light advice on a hard hitting question that centers around the youthful demographic like *Am I good enough* *Is this Worth it*,also a song which grabs the attention of the listener is +- which features the likes of Odunsi and Lady Donli who are apparent heirs to the alternative throne and heavyweights in their young division, permission is given to the artiste to play on words, spill advice like an overly intelligent drunk high off his own knowledgeable content, also exploring the balance between staying positive and avoiding that which is considered negative, produced by Odunsi ‘the engine’ himself, there is present use of aligned and organized hard hitting base and chimes from wind instrument considered the saxophone.
Sadly, Self Evaluation shows his rawness and unbridled clarity regarding that which he considers his priorities, such is seen as an individual who has set up such priorities in a minimal list as it is that which expresses his freedom but freedom which is lyrically near profane and somewhat cringe in delivery.
In summary Mr. Incredible a name he soared heights on shows his growth both in maturity in lyrical content and dexterity considering he released a totally sub-generic difference tagged Rendezvous in the same year, he gives rare gems to both the audience and growing, young, hungry rappers that are looking ahead in the ever dynamic rap game exploring both introversive thematic that are emphatic in their own way, kept at a balanced track list numbering, it leaves the listener hungry for more as it is advice that is permissible time and time without counting
Odunsi the Engine- Rare
Born Bowofoluwa Odunsi, stage name Odunsi the engine, a young, talented artist releases a brand new album titled Rare, Prior to earlier releases of extended plays, Rare is the first official studio album following his deal with Universal Music earlier this year.
An alternative masterpiece apparently different from the norm in the Afro genre and somewhat imaginary, suited for different emotions and feelings exploring harmonized depths which have been fairly trod in the African music as we know it, be it a deep nostalgic feeling expressed in mild hip-hop/boom bap beats like Outcast or an infusion of derivatives of classic 80’s pop, Motown funk and gentle rhythm and blues like Wanted You, all blend in to give an exquisite ethereal feel which is most pleasurable to the ears of musical enthusiasts, a shared feeling of love pined away, regret, exuberant friendship, all dished out in fourteen records long and barely all in one hour, Rare leaves the listener stuck in its footprints as stories, memories are being shared over distinct and near classic production effect as there is a certain strategic revolve around rhythmic pop with sounds so archaic and yet futuristic in its own way; a clandestine beam uncovered only to the deep observing eye, it is perceptible to note that as an artiste, he has been able to inscribe his name as a part and parcel of the producers who have the extra, graceful talent to transcend given skills from the cubicles of a productive corner to the ever evolving dynamics of the microphone in the booth, records like Star Signs, allows the artist explore his versatility and expressive nature as far as production credits go, pulsating electronic chords serenade percussion instruments as echoic resonating instrumentals let out a figuratively irresistible sound; Hectic featuring 234 Jaydaa, Amaarae& Solis shows a blend of genres rub shoulders against each other as alternating chords break out into a classic rhythm and 80’s blues, elegant and ethereal in a deeply nostalgic way.
As exceptionally different as the tape goes, a great painter once had smudges around his beautiful work of art, surprisingly, records like Green Light feat Tay Iwar sounds repetitive, sadly dull and lullabic production which is supposedly soothing exasperates at some point leaving the audience weary. Clarity another key merit needed in a musical individual frails away at some point, Angel featuring Duendita embodies the earlier statement as the chorus echoes blandly over the production which in its turn sounds lazily punched, ironically longing for more life.
Odunsi is a truly gifted artist who has been able to expand the horizon amongst his peers, a true creative in a raw form, shedding his feelings emotionally through vintage chimes, undoubtedly those which are distant, nostalgic and most definitely rare.
SDC- Palm-wine Music Vol 2
Show Dem Camp a rap duo shortly referred to as SDC, with singular aliases as Tec (Wale Davies) and Ghost (Olumide Ayeni) are one of the few conceptualized rappers making eccentric waves in their lane of musical prowess, the duo have been able to transcend from different aligning sounds over the years, fusions that have shown growth and miscellany in their skillset and transformations that have woven deep into their lives even inclusive in the stage name they bear.
Palmwine Music Vol 2 refers to a mid-tempo sequel to Vol 1 which in itself is lush driven, beach side, cozy and a tense-free compilation of musical knowledge basked in mostly stringed instrumentation alongside wind instrument experimentation which impart nostalgia while being carried on in an Afrobeat voyage which revolves around the name of the album itself, the album cover also sheds light to rhetoric questions where animated ground to aerial views are depicted as that which glares into mild oblivion. The album rolls off on different subject matters and thematic are permissible in their style of music as both artists blend in each other’s styles, exploring their versatility and dynamism be it gritty hard hitting rap as seen in the Clone Wars trilogy or this intoxicating album itself, a sequel to the first collection of the palm wine musical vibes which is glaringly afro-fused, gifted instrumentals are being put to its best use and output as pleasant sounds are charted on course within the duo and features alike, records are combined concisely in shortly above 30 solid minutes which leaves the listener drooling for more, in essence, the whole mix is a regurgitated experience all over again, songs like Tropicana, Love on Weekends, Legend, Garden all show the balance and mood induced lyricism exemplified by the duo and features alike, it also reveals the experience, creativity and ingenuity that is Spax
Malibu and Palmwine the eight song off the ten listed album strays a little far off from the distinctive aura cautiously and sequentially pullulated from tracks before it, in its course, sounds used are fast temped in comparison with the others and various distinct resonating almost all at once as though it was a barge attack creating a minimal orchestral or ensemble fail
The album waves off an infusion of Afro-beat and rhythmic poetry blending reminiscing clangs softly artful to a compilation devoid of complex narratives ( as seen in Clone Wars), it focuses on minimal use of extra musical techniques as the duo bring the tape to life with simplistic, home-trodden lyrics as its main focus is to forward the feelings of the listener to feelings synonymous with eased, deep relaxation and refreshing alluring vibes in general, sort of children playing at near dusk with no harm near or no one to fear.
LADI POE- TAP
Ladipoe Ose, a talented lyrical wordsmith who goes by the stage name LADIPOE currently signed to MAVIN Records releases his highly laced soulful debut rap album titled Talk About Poe (TAP) which is immensely touching to the heart as he talks to certain extents about issues plaguing his conscience, the necessities of applied rhythmic poetry in this millennial age and a legacy he hopes to lay a blueprint to.
Poe is one artiste who has over time proven you do not have to be extremely commercial or out of place before you get plays on the radio or remain top ten viewer’s choice list, he describes himself most times as one who transcends the normality of slowly surviving hip hop in the country, one who is thoughtful in schools of science and art but with a business degree, with influences ranging from conscious rappers like Lupe Fiasco, it’s obvious as to why his music is packed with dense lyrics, prophetic messages bordered around sober reflections and rhyme schemes that would put a grin on the face of a hip-hop head; he speaks inwards on the record Voice where he is faced with pressure from different angles but still strives to maintain a balance in his life ‘my girl is worried, she say I don’t sleep enough, my manager keeps calling me telling me that I’m not deep enough, adding to the pressure as if the climb isn’t steep enough’, amidst all this he believes he belongs in the rap game that weighs him down with questions and thoughts as he’s the last of a dying breed not minding the education and degrees attained ‘think of my MBA put it to good use, see I have to ask myself when I think of an office life, could I give up on being a rapper, there’s only a good few’, the production is heavily hip hop and rock influenced as electric guitars and drums strike and boom out in pattern; Mood plays a deeper though on issues surrounding the clichés which neighbor various genres as Poe is in his full component as we know him to be, thoughtful, deeply inquisitive and near sage mode, ‘What would grime sound like if you couldn’t say man, hip-hop sound like if you couldn’t say nigga, afrobeat sound like if you couldn’t say whine?’, he believes he’s in a lane of his own that does not confirm to the norm and he clearly enjoys it, ‘It’s just the mood I’m in, it feels so good o’, the production by Bankyondbeatz is considerably solemn as it matches the emotions of the artiste creating a quiet, morose atmosphere as keys ran gently along each other and the and the drums are patterned and kept at distance, the originality of Poe’s music is that he steadily acknowledges his faults thereby creating a balance in his sphere of thoughts ‘Are half of these people really intelligent, celebrating that fake shit like it’s genuine, that’s the pot calling the kettle blacker than melanin cause I too dumb my shit down for relevance, a song like One Step Closer is a brilliant effort that will sink in the emotions of many as Funbi lays angelic touches with vocals serenading the chorus of drive a message of closure home ‘ Don’t leave me, don’t love me, just pull me one step closer’. Given the circumstances and the duress to release a club banger in the industry in respect to gaining commercial attraction, Poe takes a turn with the song Red Light which is fast-paced, heavy drumming unlike his natural solemn persona via deliveries, the track is different which raises brows but is recoiling in nature.
Ladipoe, a lyricist stuck in his own lane of rhyming expertise puts pen to paper once again, delivering impactful messages or in most cases self-admonition sent as words of wisdom in verses and hooks, the message is sent, the words reach, but not far enough as many are stuck on other bulletins and notification; in essence, yes, a little blend or mixture won’t spoil the taste in this case.