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It is 2018 and the album is dead. At least, what we think an album constitutes – a front view to an artiste’s development and what not. It is okay to admit that up till this moment, Tekno doesn’t have an album whereas not so long ago, it wouldn’t have.

In today’s world of over saturation, we the critics have many hours of listening to pass across an opinion. If you’re on the lucky side of the day’s job, you get a not too lengthy album, say ten to thirteen songs. But there are few of such lucky days.

Other forms have been made popular by the Age of Distraction: EPs, mix tapes and compilations, playlists. These forms aren’t preferred necessarily for their length (most artistes want to clear up their stash of unreleased music). Let me explain.

Traditionally, an album is meant to showcase an artiste’s direction at a particular time and when that particular artiste’s career is viewed in retrospect, there’s a possibility his/her albums would be called to the stand. Albums are pressure, ask your favorite. It is the job which needs to make sense simply because you can’t throw anything to the listener. Put loosely, that’s what the other forms are for – some times a test drive to collect data, most times a chance for experimentation, rarely a failure. Who else have pulled off an incredible stunt behind doors but struggle to recreate the genius when in full glare of an audience? Most of us, right?

Unfortunately, because of the wrongly perceived second place significance of these forms, most Nigerian artistes even though they prefer it for their low budget executed ideas, do not get enough means to promote it. And so, they get swept under, beneath your favorite A Lister album featuring major talents in and around Africa and sometimes, the world.

The “Best Non Albums of 2018” list is Individually dazzling with sheer brilliance and creativity which will stick with you beyond the last second; collectively they burst with the indie spirit and creative freedom (most of these are by independent artistes).

So, to the music.

There’s a Lady Donli quote somewhere decrying the term New Age but if there are many musical positives that the Age has brought with it, Jinmi Abduls encompasses many of those.

With his name like a throwback Ali and Simbi esque boyish brilliance, the matured sound of Jinmi will surely place him high in the list of musical greats of his generation. Consistency (he released the JOLAG first installment in the previous year) has been a key for the young man as he has produced for many of his peers and has put out stuff of his own.

JOLAG 2 is a project with showcases his nuance and skill, his preference for Highlife revealing a childhood of gold dust and playing. Love becomes a character and Lagos a setting. When Teni is tapped for Once, Twice, the usual back and forth is widened to a broader dimension and with Folarin, he states his mission.

Many words have been spoken in awe of Mr Eazi’s marketing brilliance but it is his loyalty that has gotten him this far.

His themes of being the losing lover will get front place and it has taken him to places but what works for him is the power of his musical affiliations. As a Ghana bred Nigerian returning to his own country to blow, he instantly carved a niche with his Banku music but one can only please for so long. He dropped the sound but not without documenting his inter country travel in Accra to Lagos.

Now, his transient nature has taken him to places and he has formed new friendships. His musical soundscape has increased and like his first mix tape, he bookmarks two places: Lagos and London. The mix tape is a collaborator’s collection but not even one song sounds forced. His travel partners and foreign friends make the trip a worthwhile one and while numbers are more of a popularity game than quality, Mr. Eazi’s Lagos to London is a rare demonstration of its dualism in a project.

Like his name, he is a weird one. Rice, absolutely one of the more enchanting projects we’ve heard this year got little or no media run. 

The obscurity however, serves a purpose. An hazy peek into the mind of someone who’s supposed to have paranormal powers. From its first moment with the audience’s gaze, (the cover) there’s a conflict of purposes: realism or surrealism? On the cover is a man (presumably Esper) seated atop a bag of rice. A political statement, maybe? An economical observation of an EP?

The first song Conditional is of the classic plot I-wan’t-to-leave-and-make-money and Esper’s refrain of “would I ever choose love over money?” paints him as human after all, even in the event of his god like defiance. His six track EP probe the materialistic but it is his penchant for surrealism (“catch me if you can I’ll invade your dreams/ with that Elegushi sound I’ll put your ass to sleep”) and sudden turns in his word building that mark him as a distinctive rapper with one of the year’s better EPs out there.

D Truce’s first big TV moment came in that single with Simi. Freshly cut Truce. Slightly foreign accented voice. One of the rich kids. How wrong we were!

On a solo run, he has a largely underrated 2016 project Eden and solidifying his creativity and thought put into his projects is Backbenchers Vol. 1: a collaborative EP with childhood friend alongside whom, they both rocked back seats in class, notoriously reserved for the least attentive students even though they are the more intelligent ones.

Both Tyler and Truce show it on the opener this EP, Kalakuta. (do away with the distracted tag, however) With an Afro electro sound, they align with the streets from the get go even as they retain their Sweet Boy personas throughout the EP.

A favorite moment was Commit and its relatable hook with a twist of the sexual.

5.      MAKA – CTRL + M
Her SoundCloud account pronounces her as a “Nigerian Soul Singer” and while a nod to her genre more than anything else, coming in at a close second is her music’s ability to convey ideas and pull at the toughest hearts.

Inspired by Black America’s darling SZA and her expectation defying album ctrl, Maka lets go on a host of male lovers while gloriously worshipping herself. Alpha makes the sole guest feature spot and his verse is a defensive male's jibe but Maka wasn’t having it.

In an industry of ultra masculinity and everything else being peddled as things to the male gaze, Maka challenges accepted standards and perceptions in an head strong way which makes you wonder even more when you listen to the EP and know that her battle ground is nothing more but the powerful strings of the Bigfootinyourface’s guitar.

An M.I Abaga project is a carefully thought-out one. Most times, the process is eventually revealed on the project, on some radio show or some interview. Rendezvous however, sells the product and not the process.

As a playlist meant to cater to today’s musical climate, M realizes the existence of beautiful shallowness and he plots through it. Recognizing his shortcoming (no pun intended) as no member of these circles, he calls up the leading young voices and together, they make a playlist worthy of all the fun times.

The masked producer and iBoro have made magic in the past but it is Autopilot which shapes up both creatives for their most commercially acclaimed project.

As the following project to The Biggest Tree, his most personal work in a discography of mugshot detail infos, Autopilot was the updated entry into his diary and what a happy one. Embracing the trap sound and bouncy production of Charlie, Paybac sees the light finally, as he sings on the closer Energy For Life.  

Funbi, with his powerfully crisp voice released perhaps the best R n B/ funk/ Soul album this year. Building on his impressive showings as a member of The Collectiv3 and influential input on the cult classic of Show Dem Camp Palm Wine Music Vol. 1, Serenade is his first solo project and he handles his plate well.
Whereas his contemporaries embody and praise the sexuality of the opposite sex, love isn’t just a word coined to get laid. Funbi takes the art of serenading quite serious and the results are evident in this project. 

Eight tracks of an EP and K Switch is the highest profile feature. As something of an icon in Hip Hop circles, a few phone calls would have had the biggest continental names on his first project in a while. But Ice had his eyes on a grander prize than commercial reception.

With a lot of floaty funk instrumentals dazzling like disco lights, Ice Prince's flow got only bettered by himself, a occasionally talented artistes meld behind him sonically like second skin.

Recently, Apple Music revealed Ice Prince as the most streamed African rapper on its platform; talk about quiet success!

“Is it my fault I’m better than you and the rest?” Boogey raps on VERSUS a song off his second project of the year. In his track by track how-it-happened piece for Pulse NG, he discloses he rapped from two perspectives: a blown Boogey and present Boogey.

It’s been a dominant theme in his music; his under appreciation. But amongst his EPs, Never Enough is perhaps, the most accessible. Fun Boogey who does a “Bad and Boujee” line is well, fun to hear.

Kid Marley & 3rty – Grey Area

Bella & Ycee – Late Night Vibrations

Wani – Lagos City Vice 

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