We recap the year that was with a countdown of the best albums released during the eligibility period, 1st December 2014 to 10th December 2015.
- Wanted- Wande Coal
Six years after the release of the hugely successful debut album, Mushin 2 MoHits, singer Wande Coal arrives with the hotly anticipated follow up. Wanted as an album title indicates that the project is so hotly anticipated that its scalding arrival deserves to be printed on asbestos. But Mr Coal’s Wanted does not burn with that kind of white hot flame. It burns brightly, then flickers, misled by an improbable assurance that an audience is assured irrespective of quality of content.
- Baba Hafusa- Reminisce
The striking cover art for Baba Hafusa has the rapper, clad in a traditional outfit, menacing as usual, but clutching a teddy bear on one arm and an infant carrier on the other, both, presumably belonging to his daughter, Hafusa. This powerful imagery hints of a more mature, reflective Reminisce taking on the challenges of family and fatherhood and eager to document his experiences. Following multiple spins of the album, it turns out the only inspiration tangentially relating to Hafusa on this record is a quest for financial security. Playing down the wild, untamed, underground hot head of his previous 2 records, Reminisce has taken it upon himself to deliver a record that is as acceptable to mainstream audiences as anything his 2 more successful compatriots (Olamide, Phyno) have done.
- Seyi or Shay- Seyi Shay
Ms Seyi Shay’s long in the works debut collection arrives late in the year to hold the forte for the females in the business. The disc is bright, sexy and zippy, with up to the minute production bona fides that may find their way into the international market. Her superb single, Right now is just the primer for the other enticing fare that is to be found on the album. Femi Kuti, D’banj, Olamide are some of the big name friends Shay co-opts into aiding her cause.
- The Incredible Choc Boi Nation- Choc Boi Nation
TICBN isn’t a shoo-in for album of the year but it plays way better than the average, vanity inspired compilation label. Rap music has always been Chocolate City’s mainstay and the bulk of material on this transition to Choc Boi Nation is sterling word play. Perhaps in recent times, only the Mo’Hits Curriculum Vitae record and the EME All Stars project, Empire State of Mind can rival it for pure thrill seeking pleasure. It puffs, it floats, it sings, but it doesn’t quite sting.
- Naked- Darey
In terms of cohesion, Naked is more UnDAREYted than Double Darey. He goes full retro and embraces the sounds of days gone past. Perhaps much of the credit for this should go not to Darey, but producer Oscar Heman-Ackah. In this regard, he is assisted by frequent Darey collaborators, Cobhams Asuquo and Vtek. Experimenting with golden highlife melodies, mysterious lyrics, talking drums with a side of Juju, Darey crafts a record that is both fresh and tastes like old wine at the same time.
- Skillz- JJC
Music doesn’t have to be terrible just because it comes packaged in pop coverings and JJC’s Skillz is here to prove that. For an industry big on youth and always on the lookout for the next flavour of the month, Skillz also offers lessons for artistes on how to evolve musically while still retaining that core feel good sound that is necessary to conquer the pop charts. Properly arranged, well written and tidily mixed and mastered, the songs on Skillz point to an artiste who knows exactly what a pop album is about and how to go about putting together a solid one
- Ise Ise Mukan- NNB
The music of NNB is at once a pleasant surprise and welcome departure from the madding crowd of pop music. The band’s debut album Ise ise mu kan is a furious blend of jazz, gospel and afro-soul with a dash of modern hip hop. At 11 tracks long, it knows exactly where to quit and does not overstay its welcome for a single moment. With its sweet, innocent blend of fine indigenous African sounds with western inclinations, Ise ise mukan celebrates the beauty of team work over individual display and elevates it to a subtle, bubbly art form.
- Stories that touch- Falz
Rapper Falz makes his grand entry into the mainstream charts with his sophomore album, Stories that touch, a sweet toothed, good natured collection that showcases his stellar rhyming skills and knack for picking songs with cross over potential. Immensely quotable and rich in goodies, Falz makes a strong manifesto for his readiness to play in the big leagues.
- The Collectiv3 LP- Various Artists
Away from the madding crowd, a motley crew of bright young creatives with more than just money on their minds stepped forward to create the year’s most pleasant surprise. Hip, eclectic and fresh sounding, the more famous guys who make up the Collectiv3 (Temi Dollface, Poe, Show Dem Camp) are joined by newbies like Funbi and Nsikak. They receive help from producers Ikon and Kidconnect and the result is a brief but enriching experience in contemporary hip hop soul.
- Soundbender- Beautiful Nubia
Those who are familiar with the music of Beautiful Nubia and his Roots Resistance Band are certainly not surprised to find him atop this chart. His latest studio release, Soundbender is a vital, vibrant mash up of folklore, reggae, highlife, afro beat, spoken word and Bata. Alive and throbbing with feeling Soundbender, performed in Yoruba and English is a fine, affecting slice of the human experience.
The following could have made the list also.
The Lost Sounds- Leriq
2 Kings- Olamide, Phyno
On a spaceship- Burna Boy
Rich & Famous- Praiz
The Gehn Gehn album- Orezi
Do you agree?