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2018 has seen us covered in the album department. Many of the industry’s brightest stars, recognizing the need for a body of work amidst their hit singles, pushed out an album.

Conceptually, an album is the shelter you run to when the ideas come to you vast and untrimmed. Traditionally, it is the big occasion where all eyes are on you. Releasing a good streak of singles places you in consideration to be viewed upon as a more ambitious artiste and an album is what does that.

Usually, you’re catering to many needs (label pressure, fans demand, your artistic process) and pulling it off is a rare victory today. Even rarer in Nigeria where Afrobeats / Pop artistes are the word and their insistence to throw anything at the audience and let what stick sticks have done more damage to the scene than good. 

Albums are almost not what they are anymore, we appreciate those that still put in the effort with this list. 

Riding on the wave of his singles Melanin Melody and the MI cosign and feature on Rendezvous, Blaqbonez seemed to be prophetic with his last project titled Last Time Under.

It was truly going to be his last project as an underground rapper and Bad Boy Blaq was the icing on the cake for Blaq. Channeling his age’s energy and customized variation of Hip Hop (Trap), Blaqbonez drew on important issues (Consent), showed the youth’s spirit (Denied, Accommodate, 5AM) and still had it in him to make a commercial single – Mamimota, featuring the prodigy Oxlade.

The former G Worldwide artiste once he became a label owner (Flyboy Inc.) and his own boss was always going to put out an album at some point.

With strong showings in features and some songs of his own, an obvious confidence in his abilities was the precursor to one of the loudest titles in a year which Mayorkun declared himself “Mayor of Lagos.”

Vado the great, as he calls himself, announced NBS: No Bad Songz. In an album of twenty songs and just two previously released singles,  he somehow manages to pull off on his boast.

NBS is a dazzling collection of sounds which are ferried by the folksy singing of Kizz Daniel. Even while it seems the album suffered a dip in form at the middle, a little wait till you’re back in the groove.

The man of the year. There isn’t much to say about Burna Boy’s album which hasn’t been shouted to the high heavens (it also made Complex's list for Album of the Year.)

A project which plays at the leisure of its creator, fun and exotic sounds are packed into each song and while there are strong UK influences, it is the lyrics of the national anthem Ye and its Afro sound which has placed Burna Boy’s album amongst the better albums of the year in any country, in any genre.

That Outside only has three features (J Hus, Mabel and Lily Allen) is proof to his abilities to soak up on cultures and sound without overwhelming influence from its major participators.

The Mavins signed act has always held down a peculiar spot in the Nigerian music scene. He was the kind of rapper who could have Tiwa Savage in a song and not sound corny or relegate her to a hook-only role and he also was the kind of rapper that could feature in Show Dem Camp songs and spar lyrically with arguably Africa’s greatest Hip Hop duo.

His album was demanded and years after his Victoria Island of Dreams feature, he released Talk About Poe. TAP drew greatly upon his strengths and showcased a pop awareness missing in his contemporaries. With a major label backing and a reputation as a good guy in the industry’s circles, he got favorable features and a brain shifting verse from one half of the Show Dem Camp duo, Ghost.

For our review, we wrote that Poe should get his spot amongst the stars in the “ideal industry” and while that seems to be slow in its shaping, TAP with its genius should prove an important step up for Poe, usually the feature wrecker.

5.      BRYMO – OSÓ
On a Loose Talk episode titled High Vibrations, Brymo announced an album. Around the time, a video of him nearly naked and playing a piano was trending and it was immediately discerned that it was showbiz, but there was probably artistic intent we all missed.

However, do away with the metaphor of a naked pianist and Heya remains: a melancholic and largely pessimistic take on existentialism. It would be the lead single of Oso, (which translates to wizard in Yoruba) an album which turns and swirls with the magnificence of open air magic. Brymo, with production from Mikkyme Joses applies a texture of folklore and social commentary to each track, sometimes veering off in search of meaning in love.

The product is Oso, arguably his best project; possibly his magnum opus.

The youngest Fela Kuti son with his band released one of the more thought provoking albums of the year.

An ardent follower of his work would find his firebrand style of music and social commentary a peculiarity. Just recently, this excellent album was nominated in the Best World Album at the GRAMMYS.

7.      ODUNSI THE ENGINE – rare.
What makes Odunsi’s debut tick is community. Everyone has hands on deck and voices to sing out their peculiarities. From the first track, the young producer/musician proclaims it as his time and who would argue?

With excellent impressions left on both of MI’s 2018 projects, his role of “Alté Jesus” (according to Joey Akan) has largely benefited his tribe and rare. is the communal spirit on show. From a spoken word by Tomi Thomas and an Idris King interview tapped for an insider’s insight on the man, everybody comes through: SA’s Nasty C and UK’s Hamzaa. Zamir and Santi. Runtown and Davido.

rare. then, has just enough musically to qualify for its position. From funk to negro blues, Odunsi studied age long sounds that is aidind his current developmental process.

The J Town’s uber introspective album makes the conversation for his best ever not because of its distinct production but the back story.

You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives took body shots at rappers and many felt offended, many responded. MI suffered from his cocksure brilliance but his last laugh was ironically a break down. The Chairman broke down before us but in the same space, he found  strength and strength follows through the album.

His compound sentence titles all play to a larger narrative as a sword forged from the harshest fires and with several swipes of brilliance, he comments on self worth, depression, disloyalty and his place in Nigerian music history.

The iconic producer’s debut album is easily one of the best produced projects of the year.

With full showings of his productive genius as a former Syndik8 act, occasionally dropping nuggets as a member of the Three Wise Men, Hungry to Live was his first stand alone; a man with his art and his heart to sell and hope the buyer loves it.

A breeze of an album, Hungry to Live is religious, fun filled and features Boogey on Grow. Each song bursts with a renewed creativity you won’t find elsewhere and even Ikon delivers sparsely on his promise of a somewhat autobiographical tape, there are personals on Hungry to Live that your favorite gossip blogger probably hasn’t reported.

“I’ve been going through some shit, I’ve been swimming through the belly of the beast,” Paybac raps on the opening track of Frank Ocean Type Beats.

On The Biggest Tree, his depression cumulates into a growling animal of its own, even as Paybac repeatedly vows to be fine, it’s hard to say. On Akireke, he is urged to sometimes be happy but House 22 showed a man whose past still breathes. Demons is acceptance of his flaws, his unhealthy methods of coping, like spending on month ends, hoping to be accepted into normalcy. But normalcy is hard to attain with economic hardship (Naira to my name).

As Paybac tells us, The Biggest Tree is a metaphor of how one doesn’t necessarily have to be great to do great things. That interview proved that The Biggest Tree is an in spite of, a so what?

Months later, Paybac will release Autopilot and a track on that; Energy For Life, will show his regained desire to live. In spite of.

Loose Kaynon & A-Q – Crown

Adekunle Gold – About 30

The Collectiv3 – Live. Create. Repeat.   

Show Dem Camp – Palm Wine Music Vol. 2

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