Tuesday, 23 April 2024

12 Nigerian Albums turning 5 this 2024

2019 was the year of many firsts, a novelty for the likes of  Rema, Fireboy, Wurld, Tay Iwar, Teni, and a monument of artistic finesse from the stable of Burna Boy, Wizkid, Davido, Falz, Show Dem Camp and Santi. Just like every occurrence in life, the album releases all started with a progression from January to December. We didn’t catch a break from the goodness of these artists, and 5 years later, as these albums hit their quinquennial milestone, they have unequivocally proven to be sempiternal. 

Sonically, we experienced a gem-packed cycle of individual solitaire projects from these artists, comprising conscious music, love songs, motivational tracks and everything in between. We have curated some of the best albums to walk you down memory lane.

These Buhari Times – Show Dem Camp

These Buhari Times Album Art
These Buhari Times Album Art

On 1 January 2019, Show Dem Camp ushered us into the year with These Buhari Times, a musical documentary on the various social injustice and oppression plaguing Nigeria. The duo, through rap and fervid lyricism, paints the tragic reality of the excesses Nigerians have been subdued to. 

In Duade, they address the problems surrounding toxic masculinity, “Over here we feel like being a man means we have to swallow everything, chest everything, keep it inside.” 

4th Republic featuring DAP The Contract and Vector symbolises the harsh consequences of the Buhari regime. They sing, “Many claim in these Buhari times if you only carry rhymes you go soon carry arms. It’s a cold world and you can’t even afford a cardigan.”

These Buhari Times undoubtedly awakened our consciousness. It was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 13th edition of The Headies.

Moral Instruction – Falz 

Moral Instruction Album Art
Moral Instruction Album Art

 Moral Instruction arrived midway into the first month of the year on the 15th of January 2019, exploring themes of police brutality, corruption and social injustice. Moral Instruction is not only a testament to Falz’s unique rap style and rhythmic artistry but also an attestation of his ability to creatively infuse the harsh reality of pressing issues in a way that sounds comforting. 

Johnny specifically targets the dangers of police brutality. Talk, the hit single of Moral Instruction addresses the implications of the deteriorating state of corruption in Nigeria. Falz won two awards at The Headies 2019. One for Best Rap Single for Talk, and the other for Best Rap Album for Moral Instruction.

Rema (EP) – Rema

Rema EP Album Art
Rema EP Album Art

Rema popped up as the newest kid on the block with a promising career in 2019 after the release of his debut EP, Rema on March 22. The  EP comes off as a very light body of work and at the time of its release, there were controversies surrounding the authenticity of Rema’s artistry, but the beauty of the EP lies in Rema’s ability to fearlessly enact a newfangled style and genre that has earned him accolades globally.

Iron Man, the first track off the EP is a scintillating introduction to Rema’s world of Romance. Irregular, but canorous, Dumebi swiftly became the star of the show. Rema praises his muse in Corny and slips into a debilitating heartbreak in Why.

Love is Contagious – Wurld

Love Is Contagious Album Art
Love Is Contagious Album Art

 The Nigerian King of Afro Soul, Wurld released Love Is Contagious on March 28 2019. Although the first track, Show You Off, was initially released as a single in 2016, its choice as the album’s intro is pertinent in portraying the contagious element of love as Wurld sings, “ Don’t know no man I won’t kill for your love”.

Wurld further expresses his stance on Love in Contagious, Gbemisoke and Paranoid, where he sings to his muse in light of his consuming desire. In Candy, he whips up a melodious R&B track. 

Wishes and Butterflies off Love Is Contagious won Wurld The Best Vocal Performance at The Headies 2019.

Gemini– Tay Iwar

Gemini Album Art
Gemini Album Art

Tay Iwar’s debut album, Gemini, was released on the 29th of March, 2019. The 16-track album explored themes of love, devastating heartbreak, and soul searching.

Apart from being an incredible vocalist, Tay Iwar had a hand in curating the foundational sounds on his tracks, as he produced 12 of the 16 tracks on Gemini

The songs on the album possess a raw energy, passing messages that could resonate with listeners who have found themselves asking the different questions that Tay asks in these tracks. In Utero, Tay sings, “Every time you pray for yourself does it work? Do you believe angels will go and do your work?”

The emotion that exists in Gemini is palpable, giving us an insight into how Tay Iwar sees the world, and how he deals with his feelings. Throughout the album, It’s obvious that Tay ensured an exceptional execution of his vision for the project.

Mandy & The Jungle – Santi

Mandy & The Jungle Album Art
Mandy & The Jungle Album Art

Alté artist, Cruel Santino, released his debut album Mandy & The Jungle on the 14th of May, 2019. The 16-track album emanates a consistent chill vibe, despite incorporating several blends of sounds. 

Mandy and The Jungle is home to Rapid Fire featuring Shane Eagle, Tomi Agape and Amaarae, which is arguably one of the best alternative tracks stamping the peculiarity of the genre. Murvlana, Sparky and Raw Dinner maintain solid eccentricities. 

In a press statement, Santi shed some light on the album’s title, saying;  “I decided to create a universe, combining everything that has ever influenced or inspired me, the story of Mandy, a girl who has no idea the power that lies inside her.”

The album creates a universe; one of friendship, love, romance, and growth. It is a cumulation of a wide range of emotions, beautifully woven by Santi into an amazing body of work.

African Giant – Burna Boy

African Giant  Album Art
African Giant Album Art

Released on the 26th of July, 2019, African Giant is the fourth studio album by Nigerian singer Burna Boy. The album is a harmonious mixture of Afrobeats, Dancehall, Afro Pop and Hip Hop. It includes guest appearances from the likes of Jorja Smith, Jeremih, Damian Marley, Zlatan Ibile, Angelique Kidjo, Serani, Manifest, YG and Future.

African Giant was incredibly well received by audiences in Nigeria and beyond, easily finding its way into multiple year-end lists by publications including Billboard, Complex and Pitchfork. The album gained a lot of recognition, winning Album of the Year at the 2019 All Africa Music Awards, and granting Burna Boy his first-ever Grammy Award nomination at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album.

Several tracks on the album received special recognition. At the 2020 Soundcity MVP Awards Festival, On the Low and Killin Dem won Viewers’ Choice and  Song of the Year respectively. Burna Boy also performed Anybody on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

In 2024, African Giant was recognised by Rolling Stone magazine as #330 on its list of the top 500 greatest albums of all time, topping all African albums on the list and inferring the album as the greatest African album of all time.

African Giant is indeed a reflection of Burna Boy’s supremacy.

Billionaire EP – Teni

Billionaire EP Album Art
Billionaire EP Album Art

Following the release of her lead single Billionaire on the 4th of October 2019, Teni’s debut EP, the Billionaire EP, was released on the 11th of October, 2019. The EP includes 6 tracks titled Nowo, Billionaire, Complain, SuperWoman, Shayo, and Online, all of which were written and recorded by Teni, with no features.

In Billionaire, Teni sings about her ambition to become rich and influential, using the likes of Otedola and  Adenuga as references. Teni channels her inner lover-girl into Super Woman and Online, where she sings about standing by her lover through thick and thin.

The public reception of the EP was lukewarm at best, with critics generally giving it a mediocre rating. Yet, Teni’s talent could not be overlooked. Her sound versatility and lyrical prowess cemented that she would be here to stay.

  I Love Girls With Trobul – Sarz & Wurld

I Love Girls With Trobul Album Art
I Love Girls With Trobul Album Art

Sarz, who has earned fame as one of the Crème de la crème Afrobeat producers and Wurld, who has carved an idiosyncratic artistry of being a  lover boy, merged to produce one of the greatest love albums. Unlike the usual portrayal of perfect love, I Love Girls With Trobul explores the hardest and messiest aspects of love. 

Prisona, Trobul, and Mad paint a vivid image of toxic love and its implications. Sweat is Wurld’s call for passionate sex amidst the toxicity. In Focus and Ego, Wurld pleads with his muse to allow them to put their egos aside, and when nothing works, he resigns to fate in Sade.

I Love Girls With Trobul was released on the 8th of  November 2019 and was nominated at the 14th Headies for Best R&B Album.

A Good Time – Davido

A Good Time Album Art
A Good Time Album Art

Davido released his second studio album, A Good Time on the 22nd of November 2019. 

The Afropop album comprises 17 entertaining tracks, featuring artists both home and abroad including Peruzzi, Zlatan, Naira Marley, Dremo, Wurld, Gunna, Chris Brown, Summer Walker, Popcaan, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, and Yonda.

A Good Time peaked at Number 6 on Billboard’s US hot albums, and it stamps Davido’s position as one of the biggest Afrobeat artists out of Nigeria. Davido’s ability to create euphonious party tunes, as well as seamless collaborative music is what sets A Good Time on a high pedestal. 

Davido calls himself a shooting star in Intro and professes his love to his then-girlfriend, now wife, Chioma in Assurance and 1 Milli. D&G featuring Summer Walker is the origin of the jokes flying around David’s hilarious lyricism. He sings, “When I look into your eyes, all I see is your waist”.

Fall, the hit single of A Good Time made history as the first Afrobeat song to be certified gold in the US. 

 Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps – Fireboy

 Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps Album Art
Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps Album Art

On November 29 2019, Fireboy released his debut album Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps, arguably one of the best debut albums of the modern Afrobeats era.

On Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps, Fireboy paints a nuanced portrait of his emotions from the bubbly exciting feeling of young love which he records on Like I Do, Need You, What If I Say, and Jealous to the self-proclamatory tune of Wait and See where he announces his becoming. 

The singer takes us through a melodic imbued experience saturated with mellifluous songwriting.

Laughter, tears and Goosebumps remain etched in the history of great Afrobeat debuts.

SoundMan, Vol 1 – Wizkid

SoundMan Vol 1 Album Art
SoundMan Vol 1 Album Art

Soundman Vol 1 is a debut EP by the record label Starboy Entertainment. It was released on 6 December 2019 completely unannounced. The EP contains 7 tracks and features vocals by the CEO of the label, Wizkid, with input from Chronixx, Blaq Jerzee, Kel P, London and DJ Tunez. 

The songs on the album are mid-tempo tracks, giving off a soothing and viby feel. Soundman Vol 1 is yet another body of work showcasing Wizkid’s tranquil and relaxing vocals. 

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