Unlike almost every other month this year, November wasn’t so frontloaded where releases were concerned. At least, not from premier or heavyweights artists. But that’s not to say quality albums didn’t drop and the following list is our pick for the projects that made our month.
1. Tears Of The Sun – Teni
Teni burst onto the scene in 2018, with a breakout year that was so successful to the point that a lot was expected from her. She wouldn’t release her debut album until 3 years later, when most of her momentum had waned and the album itself didn’t exactly notch the sort of success she’ll have wanted. Whether Tears Of The Sun is going to tread a similar path, it remains unknown but you can’t deny that there is a gulp in class where the quality of music is concerned.
Teni is simply making the best music of her career against a very rich and expansive production backdrop that takes sonic elements from synth-pop, Dancehall, House music and Afrobeat to integrate into the dominant sounds of modern Afrobeats. It’s a great album experience with vocal perfomances that are impressive and so starkly distinct from track to track, you’ll almost want to to question who else is on the track with her. Bottomlime, Tears Of The Sun is a sonic triumph.
2. Body, Soul & Spirit – Joeboy
Joeboy’s sophomore album, Body & Soul was an all-round improvement on his debut project. Through vulnerable and relatable writing, heartfelt emotions and contagious melodies, he was able to craft one of the best albums out this year. The LP though couldn’t generate a moment, due to the lack of a resonant hit and that’s perhaps the reasoning behind an EP that extends the thematic direction of the LP. The decision though is less commercial and more artistic inclined, since an EP and not a deluxe was opted for.
Body, Soul & Spirit digs even deeper into those vulnerable emotions and leans more towards the dark and toxic repercussions of exerting oneself all in the name of love. Whilst the preceding album had a more lighter and optimistic take on love and relationship dynamics, the EP is darker and bares a more ugly, grueling reality. Which makes a lot of sense, when you consider the scope of the title.
3. Make E No Cause Fight 3 – BOJ & AjeButter 22
After the last installment in the series saw an artistic detour that included Falz, the series has now been rerouted to its initial origins with just BOJ and Ajebutter back at the helm and it makes for the best music that this duo is known to combine for. The avante-garde aesthetics of the project might indeed present it as alte branding, but the music has very strong mainstream leanings.
The music is sophisticated and pristine with a tropical ambience that evokes the feels of picturesque vacation on some dreamy island. Lines are blurred between Highlife, Afro-Pop and R&B and it results in a seamless experience that feels very wholesome and rewarding, to the point that the music definitely leaves a lingering taste at the back of your tongue.
4. Anger Management: At LEasT wE tRIED – Bloody Civilian
Alte music isn’t dying, it’s simply evolving and shedding the meaningless shackles of overbearing classifications and dramatic antics. Bloody Civilian’s remix EP of her debut EP, Anger Management is a masterstroke in blending abstract rhythmic progressions that aren’t popular in the mainstream and infusing it with more pop friendlier influences and guest artists that bring enough dynamism to balance the scales.
At its core, the music is still very much alte in the manner of its hyper approach to production and delivery, but on every song there are pockets and runs that are groovy and enjoyable enough to generate lamba moments and make the songs in question primed for mainstream penetration. This is how alte gets integrated into the mainstream without losing its soul.
5. Rybeena EP – Rybeena
Since its resurgence in the past couple of years, street-pop music has experienced monumental feats that defy the parameters one would expect from music that’s tailor made for audiences with specific and unique stories in a form and manner that’s not so widely accessible, but you just can’t cast a blanket over incredible music, it would seem. No matter the form it is made in.
Rybeena’s self titled EP has him in his element and utilising the full scope of his immense talent and artistry, after a meaningful breakout moment on ID.ME. There is no question about the quality of the music and considering the fact that the artist is in one of the most strategic labels, especially for street acts, it’s safe to assume that he’s in safe hands.
–written by T.J. Martins, an avid lover of music.