by Wilfred Okiche
After a slow start, thanks in no small part to the Federal government’s unpopular fuel subsidy removal decision and the Occupy Nigeria protests that followed, the Nigerian music scene picked up considerably and 2012 saw the release of some of the finest albums since the industry’s resurgence.
We count down 10 of the best records of 2012 (period covering from 1, December 2011 to 1, December 2012)
10) Timeless- Sunny Neji
Sunny Neji’s groovy collection of uptempo highlife ditties might not have made much impact on top 10 radio, but ‘Timeless’ offers Sunny Neji for a whole new generation of listeners and serves as an example for younger artistes on how to make music that matters 20 years after their debut.
9) Empire Mates State of Mind- EME All-stars
This adrenaline-fueled synchronic ride through today’s dance music proves why the guys at EME are a force to be reckoned with. Life is a dance floor for the duration of it’s running time and if indeed one message is passed across soundly, it is this- There ain’t no party like an EME Party!
8) Blessed- Flavour
Highlfe crooner and dance floor favourite attempts pleasing his hard core fans and attracting new disciples to his music with this album and we say he’s succeeded mightily. With dance favourites like ‘Baby Oku’, ‘Shake’ and ‘Kwarikwa’ he fueled many a wild parties while his loyalists were rewarded with gems like ‘Ifem n’eli’ and ‘I don’t care’. ‘Blessed’ is in prime position to become the soundtrack for the holiday season. Are you dancing yet?
7) The year of R n’ B- Capital F.E.M.I
2012 was not quite the year of R N’ B but if there was one album flying the flag for the oft’ under represented genre, it was Capital F.E.M.I’s debut effort. The elegant, tasteful collection of smooth ballads was proof that sometimes less can be so much more and that talent, chanelled properly is a prerequisite for the sweet sound of musical success.
6) Oga Boss- Ill Bliss
Ill Bliss’ perfect balance of germane lyrical wordplay with big, broad choruses summed up to create a sophomore effort that pleases the hip hop heads and panders to the all-important pop charts. Preceeded by the street anthems ‘Anamachikwanu’ and ‘Emi ni baller’, and guest starring everyone from Chidinma to Timaya, ‘Oga Boss’ is an example on how to make a crowd pleaser without losing your roots.
5) Higher- Lara George
Lara George can sing. But of course you knew that already. What is new here is that her third album ‘Higher’ plays as a cohesive, focal unit with her supreme soprano taking centre stage and assuming full control. The song writing could do with some lifting of it’s own but when Ms George sings, it is hard to begrudge her anything. Simple gospel roots notwithstanding, with ‘Higher’, Lara George has crafted one of the year’s best discs.
4) Bashorun Gaa/Versus- 9ice
Now we must confess, 9ice stood a bright chance of topping our list and he may well have done so had he released only the excellent ‘Bashorun Gaa’ as his fourth studio effort. Alas, 9ice put out a double disc instead and it must be said that ‘Versus’, despite it’s tantalizing concept and high profile duels simply does not amount to the sum of it’s parts. Still both discs remain strong enough for a top 4 finish.
3) Son of a Kapenta- Brymo
From it’s shaky albeit intruiging first part, to the vise-tightening and dreamily inventive second act and down to the simply stunning finale, Brymo’s ‘Son of a Kapenta’ is a contemporary pop master class and is required listening for any one out there hoping for a career as a vocalist. It is so good, it erases any bitter taste left over from Chocolate City’s last serving, ‘Everybody loves Ice Prince.”
2) Away and Beyond- 2face Idibia
After spending over a decade in the industry and breaking all kinds of records, Africa’s biggest superstar probably has nothing left to prove anymore but on his fifth album, he goes ahead anyway to show that when it comes to feeling the pulse of the nation with music, he has no peer.
And truly who else would have crafted an album that is at once jubilant, introspective, hedonistic and soul searching? ‘Away and beyond’ is a triumphant song-cry from an artiste on his way to true legendary status and who are we to stand in his way?
1) African woman- J’odie
The last time we were this excited about an artiste’s debut collection, it was Asa with her soul-stirring eponymous set. J’odie’s ‘African woman’ doesn’t quite measure up to Asa’s soul classic but it is no less impressive in it’s scale. Incorporating elements of soul, rock, dance and africano grooves, the West African Idol alum has succeeded in serving up an ecletic feast for the senses and in the process, puts out the best album of 2012.
Do you agree? let us know who we missed out.
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