by Okon Ekpo
Sifting through the loads and loads of music put out during the calendar year, we made use of parameters such as audience acceptance, pop culture effect, quality of recording and lyrical content to assemble our 10 best songs of 2016.
Only songs released or promoted as singles from January to December were considered.
- Pree me- Burna Boy
Once in a while Burna Boy steps away from all the controversies, hooks up with Leriq and just makes a song that is a worthy reflection of his talent. Pree Me is one such hit. Staying true to his roots, Burna Boy lays a slowed down dancehall vibe that bristles with emotion, pours vitriol on them haters and still sounds ready to be played at skank parties.
- If I start to ft. Dr Sid- Tiwa Savage
Also known as the video that marked the official and very public end of Tiwa Savage’s marriage to former manager TeeBillz. But controversy aside, If I Start to Talk is a mid-tempo, lush yet jaunty pseudo-traditional prayer of thanksgiving and a plea for blessings yet to come.
- Asamalekun- Reminisce
In one of the hardest songs to drop this year, Reminisce benefits from Sarz’s dubstep mix of Afrobeat beats and EDM leaning and drives home some hard hitting lyrics- in both English and Yoruba,- intended to scare away pretenders who fancy themselves fit to walk in shoes. He scoffs with overconfidence, Ti m’ ba ever bo crown gan /It will not fit. And he may well be telling the truth.
- Holla Holla- Sugar boy
If there was an award for song of the summer, it would probably go to Sugarboy’s infectious charmer. An ode to hard partying days and nights, Sugarboy’s lyrics don’t necessarily say anything refreshing but when he wails, We live for the party/Oh! lord have mercy, anyone who has ever fallen under the spell of a good party knows he tells nothing but the truth.
- Bad gang ft. Falz- Ajebutter 22
This one speaks to the times in a way that is fun and easy to digest. It has a message but does not come swing it with a sledgehammer. Ajebutter 22 and Falz recognise that as working millennials, they are in on the joke too and instead the send up the madness of students gone wild on campus and cast themselves as complicit participants, same as the rest of us. The brief verse by Falz probably elevates the song beyond its humble origins.
- Soft work- Falz
Falz had such an incredible year that it was hard picking out one of his quality hits to make this list. Of these, few are better than Soft work produced by Sess, a bright bubbly rap single featuring breezy wordplay and punchlines that come across so effortlessly yet hit their mark with precision. Exhibit 1: Even real talent gan still need promo/ If you fake your own death you fit still no blow. Skibii probably dies a little more every time this song comes on.
- Something good is happening- Brymo
Something good is happening has a doo woop vibe that makes you just want to break out and dance. Joyous, colourful and delivered with flawless vocals by Brymo, no other song this year made you feel so glad to be alive.
- Play na play ft. Angelique Kidjo- Omawumi
For some reason, this high-profile duet between two of Africa’s finest vocalists slid by unnoticed but now is about a good time as any to rediscover this gem about exercising caution and looking before you leap. Come for Omawumi’s ever present promise of quality but stay for Angelique Kidjo’s inimitable vocal inflections. Talk about a power duet.
- Gentleman- Ric Hassani
Ric Hassani’s soul opus is so stripped down, it consists mostly of him, his voice, the fluent taps of the silt drum and the chants borrowed from South Africa. But it is all that is needed to pass this message of self-worth across. Sadly songs like Gentleman have become the rarity in today’s music landscape but kudos to Mr Hassani for doing it at all and doing it right.
- Sin city- Kiss Daniel
The tepid, laughable video for this album highlight from Kiss Daniel’s New Era album may have done it no favours but Kiss Daniel has never connected better than on this attempt to sully up his good boy image a bit. In just under 3 minutes, Mr Daniel tries to maintain his clean cut bonafides (They can’t believe that I smoke no Kush/that I’m the one them choose) but insists on not falling by the wayside (You push me and I push too). The only thing wrong with Sin City is its all too brief duration