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Best Albums Of May: Ayra Starr, Tiwa Savage, Ajebo Hustlers & more

On the last day of May, we got perhaps the most anticipated album of the year, so far. But that’s not to say, the rest of the month wasn’t eventful and some great music wasn’t released. In this article, we delve into the best 5 moments of the month musically.

1. The Year I Turned 21 – Ayra Starr

Released off the heels of one of the most resourceful and inventive roll-out sagas over the past few years, Ayra’s sophomore album had a lot to live up to. Unlike when she initially broke out, she’s now a globally relevant artist lurking for her major crossover moment and also—her debut album was just so musically accomplished as a cohesive body of work, that showcased her identity and strengths as an artist.

And TYIT21 has been released to much critical and commercial acclaim, already positioning Ayra as a force to reckon with as she’s now the African artist with the most Spotify listeners in the world. At 15 tracks, the album is quite the potpourri of different sounds, drawing influences from Reggae, R&B, Pop and African genres like Fuji and Highlife. As a result of this, it’s not the cohesive masterpiece 19 & Dangerous, but it still makes for a very satisfying listen.

2. Water & Garri (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Tiwa Savage, Ajebo Hustlers & more

The movie might have been met with lackluster reviews and a generally unfavourable consensus about its quality, but make no mistake—the music is brilliant. Matter of fact, that alongside the cinematography were the positive takeaways from it. Tiwa Savage has proved before in the past that she can make a good body of work, but curating a soundtrack for a movie is a different ball game. Good music isn’t enough, it needs to elevate and compliment the movie in question and boy, did she hit it out of the park.

From emotive contemporary R&B songs like Lost Time and Love O, to visceral, energetic Afropop in Commona featuring Olamide and Mystro to just raw, unfiltered psychedelic pop in Reason ft. Reekado Banks—there is something in here for everyone. Tiwa has not only made good music here, but has also raised the bar and set a golden standard for future Nollywood blockbusters where music is concerned.

3. What Would You Do Without Me – Cheque

Right from the onset of time, Cheque has always been an elite talent. Since breaking into the mainstream during lockdown with Zoom, a cloud trap song that became a hit record—a feat that was unprecedented at the time—to going on to release his amazing debut album, Bravo that housed gems like Call Me Baby and History ft. Fireboy DML, making good music has never been a uphill task for Cheque. Rather it’s generating enough clout to get people interested or delivering enough resonance to score another hit record.

Nevertheless, What Would You Do Without Me is another good addition to a quality discography built on the fundamentals of Hip Hop and Afrobeats fusion. This EP is not as cohesive as his masterful debut EP, Razor but it strives to be just as expansive as it is. Glory Days is more attuned for mainstream sensitivities with the log drums, whilst records like Savage and Sorry, I Missed Your Call sees Cheque treading the same trap, emo soundscapes that endeared him to us in the first place.

4. Bad Boy Etiquette 102 – Ajebo Hustlers

Ajebo Hustlers have built a solid reputation for themselves in the industry, that thrives on very compelling and resonant music, suffused with the sort of dynamic personas and unique deliveries that easily sets them apart from their peers who tread similar territory. And now their latest album, the second installment in a new franchise has continued on the note of that same tried-and-tested formular, doubling down on what worked on its predecessor.

And now with the presence of a diverse set of guest appearances, there is enough range and dynamism on the record to take it to the next level. ODUMODUBLVCK brings his trademark, aggressive style and it deftly compliments their rough exterior of PH city breeds. Magixx on the other is on the swooning spectrum, bringing much of a needed soft touch and sentiments and they even have Sarkodie on another song, ready to go bar for bar and trade energy with them.

5. YP & Azanti, Vol. 2 – Psycho YP & Azanti

The first collaborative effort from this duo had no right to have worked the way it did. On one hand, you had a drill rapper that was the farthest thing from mainstream aspirations, and then you had a young, R&B singer still coming into himself and discovering his sonic identity. But the music worked nonetheless. Volume one is one of the stronger collaborative projects the industry has produced in recent years, where both artists actually push themselves to their respective bests.

Volume 2 continues in that fashion, although it swaps out R&B for Pop in its Hip-Hop fusion. For this reason, it doesn’t shine as bright as Vol. 1 but that isn’t as a lack of effort or dynamism. RnB is simply more fusion friendly with Hip-Hop, but that’s not to say there isn’t good music on here and there is no better evidence, than the pre-released single Naija Funk that combines some pretty dominant drums with a sporadic, careful delivery from Azanti that works to a tee, with YP delivering the rap goods as usual.

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