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 albums of 2018 for the YNaija2018Review.
The records are arranged in ascending order.
The Mayor of Lagos – Mayorkun
Everyone and their mother knows Mayorkun is a reliable hit maker (Posh, Bobo, Mama) but with The Mayor of Lagos, his debut album, he earns for himself, the right to be taken seriously. Confident and calculated, The Mayor of Lagos knows what it is about and doles out the feel good tunes almost nonstop. Don’t expect any depth when the dancefloor is the destination. But it is hard to quarrel with that when the packaging is as sleek as The Mayor of Lagos.
About 30 – Adekunle Gold
Thanks to an effective publicity campaign that dates back to last year at the least, and the usefulness of a larger than life lead single, Ire, About 30, the second album by Adekunle Gold is definitely one of the year’s hottest musical tickets. Mr Gold shows some musical progression and willingness to take more risks than he did on his debut but if these efforts go by almost unnoticed, it is because Mr Gold by nature, is his own rate limiting step. About 30 will appeal to Gold’s considerable fan base, but it is just as fluffy and gimmicky as his debut. The best thing to be said about the record is that the songs are easily adaptable for live performances, which is where Mr Gold is at his strongest anyway.
Rare – Odunsi
Rare, the debut album by producer and alte star boy, Odunsi (The Engine) does not quite live up to the makings of its title, but that is not to say that the sound which Odunsi creates and immerses himself in on the project is common place. Rare has a sense of mystery that is betrayed by Odunsi’s weak songwriting but the soul, trap and disco adventures are interesting enough to forgive his weaknesses. Surprisingly Rare also benefits from assists by Davido, Runtown and Tay Iwar.
One People One Nation – Femi Kuti
Touching on familiar ripped-off-the headlines topics, Ffemi Kuti’s latest, One People One Nation has a central unifying theme, calling for collective action on climate change as well as preaching political and civil responsibility. If this comes across as a sign that perhaps Kuti, 56, has been softened by old age, better think again. Kuti has some strong words for the bad guys and the good for nothing politicians on Evil People and Corruption na stealing. But ultimately the disc is hopeful that Africa will be great again, a far cry from the doomsday tone of Kuti’s contentious Sorry Sorry.
Crown – A-Q and Loose Kaynon
Crown, the statement album from A-Q and Loose Kaynon, two of hip hop’s finest and longest serving combatants is exactly what one would expect, and then more. Opulent, poetic, adversarial and strangely complementary, Crown is the product of two rappers working at the height of their talent. A-Q and Loose Kaynon inspire each other to bring out the best, assisted by a production finish that is almost second to none.
Red Velvet – Waje
A long time coming, the sophomore record by Waje- and first in half a decade- delivers everything that is expected of the supreme vocalist. Waje is emotional, sultry, fierce and adventurous as she focuses on diva R&B but adjusts the sound to accommodate contemporary audiences. Red Velvet isn’t pandering to the charts or clubs and Waje is exactly the artiste to present basic material in a bold, compelling narrative. Love never sounded this good.
Palmwine Music Volume 2 – Show Dem Camp
Show Dem Camp’s instantly lovable if not quite original Palmwine Music Volume 2 is a heady brew of hip hop, soul, highlife and Afrobeat. The duo of Ghost and Tec, industry veterans both, can still rap rings around any of their peers, but rhyming and punchlines take a back seat here as the duo take more than a passing interest in creating moods and feelings with incredible instrumentation and crafty melodies. Falana, Poe and Funbi come along for the ride.
Oṣó – Brymo
Oṣó is excellent for the most part. Impeccably arranged and exquisitely produced, it carries all of BrymO’s strengths and little of his weaknesses. Which is to say that the record isn’t totally self-absorbed and does not take itself too seriously. Oṣó goes straight to business with No Be Me, a melodious but affecting snapshot of the way we are. In a single verse, BrymO jumps from broken love to thieving politicians and then ties it all together with a collective indictment that is scathing as it is subtle. He gets bolder as he goes on.
Black Times – Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
Nobody does protest quite like Seun Kuti and on the Grammy nominated Black Times, his fourth album with the Egypt 80 ensemble, Kuti is in top form, excellent form actually. The protest nature of Afrobeat pulsates through the record, from the Carlos Santana assisted Last Revolutionary, to the Goodluck Jonathan inspired, Theory of Goat and Yam. With Black Times, Kuti embraces his roots fully and pours out a record that is both singularly his and indebted to his legendary father.
Outside – Burna Boy
The sound on Outside is a rich and viable mix of genres that have inspired Burna Boy as well as those he has picked up along his musical journey. While the record sounds familiar at times with elements of afrobeats, dancehall and reggae, it deviates from these lived in realism and strays into grime and hip-hop territory, by way of R&B. The eclectic mix that Burna Boy cobbles together on Outside could easily have gone south but his investment in and control of the material makes it one of the finest records put out this year. It is hard to point to a phase where Burna Boy has been better than he is on Outside.
Also on our radar…
Greatness – DJ Neptunes
Yung Denzl – M.I
Life is Eazi Volume 2: Lagos to London
The Collectiv3: Live. Create. Repeat.
Do you agree?