The year was awash in excellent Eps and mixtapes with both established and upcoming stars putting in commendable effort to curate these side projects.
We have the extremely difficult job of picking out the best 10. Ranked from good to best.
- Lagos City Vice- Wani
With six dynamic and evolving tracks, Wani’s Lagos City Vice encapsulates the Lagos contemporary scene. Without coming off as forced or pretentious, Wani approaches Lagos via afropop, dancehall and contemporary R&B. Wani gets really creative as he reworks and remakes well known hits by Eminem Tekno and 2Baba but finds a way to make the creations purely his own.
- Leopards- Sute Iwar
While his latest EP, Leopards may seem like a coming of age record, it seems right that Sute Iwar appears to be settling into pure hip hop after being pulled in different directions in his earlier work, some available on Sound Cloud. Suté is raw and tense on Leopards, with drums and piano keys helping to present a fuller picture of the person he is at this stage of his life.
- Make E No Cause Fight- BOJ, Ajebutter 22
On Make E No Cause Fight, Ajebutter 22 and BOJ set about a common goal, appealing to their shared fanbase. Their easy familiarity blurs the lines that would have separated them and their artistry becomes a single coalescing unit. The linearity of this sound isn’t quite the drawback but it helps that Tay Iwar is around somewhere to introduce some variety to the record.
- The Biggest Tree- Paybac
How does one process loss? Paybac isn’t quite sure yet but with The Biggest Tree, he lets us into the process. Paybac’s latest is a deeply personal record, a cathartic offering highlighting insights on loss. Paybac doesn’t just dwell on the darkness though. He is processing his feelings as well and seeking for ways to leave some of it behind him.
- Rendezvous- M.I
M.I went left of field and teamed up with a bunch of exciting young (and alte) talents to produce a playlist unlike anything he’s done before. The mood is wavy, the sound is lazy and on tracks like Lekki and Soup with Cassper Nyovest, M.I shows himself as a chameleon making some of the most dynamic and self-assured music of his career.
- First Daze of Winter- Maleek Berry
The follow up to Berry’s 2016 stunning debut, Last Daze of Summer is a subtle shift from carefree summer goodness. Winter is light on ideas but has a delicious groove that is sure to win over hard-to-please dissenters. With tracks like Sisi Maria and What If, Berry’s project relays brittle emotions, carried on the back of lush yet minimal afro-pop beats.
- The Cries of my Subconscious- Deena Ade
It is hard to place Deena Ade in a box. She is constantly ready to evolve at a moment’s notice and with the change of a track but on The Cries of my Subconscious, her liberal bonafides shine through. She is a modern Nigerian woman and wants to live as such without fear of judgement. On this EP, she pours out her mind.
- 1997- Tay Iwar
Short and sweet never sounded so good. 1997, named for the year of Tay Iwar’s birth is a wldly successful experiment in genre bending. This 3-song compilation flaunts the dazzling level of artistry Iwar usually unlocks in his live performances. It is almost inconceivable how much musical goodness Iwar packs in merely nine minutes.
- Serenade- Funbi
In Serenade, Funbi comes almost fully made. His chemistry with Spax is incredible, almost palpable and the duo serve up sweet melodies, catchy hooks and gorgeous vocals. Serenade is a reasonable 7-track compilation in which Funbi projects his songwriting depth over a variety of funky, bluesy and relatable narratives.
- Create. Repeat- The Collectiv3
When Show Dem Camp, Funbi, Poe, Spax and Ikon come together under the banner of The Collectiv3, expect nothing short of music magic. Temi Doll Face is missing but, Live. Create. Repeat is a worthy sequel to its 2015 predecessor. Forward thinking, genre defying and vigorously entertaining, Live. Create. Repeat is an instant classic.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.