#YNaija2019Review: African Giant, Lucid, Moral Instruction… The 10 best albums of the year

The soundtracks of our year.

  1. Omo Charlie Champagne Volume 1- Simi

The third Simi album comes nowhere to touching the magic that made 2017’S Simisola such a rewarding musical experience. A safe guess would be that the record was made primarily to fulfil contract obligations before she parted ways with X3M music. Simi can write and sing rings around a good number of her colleagues even when she is less than inspired and Omo Charlie Champagne is proof. It delivers the goods but doesn’t aspire to better.

  1. Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps- Fireboy DML

Sugary sweet and endlessly addictive, Fireboy DML’S debut record does not have a song or hit as enchanting as his breakout Jealous, but it is a testament to the YBNL singer’s talent and charm that he is able to cobble up a solid record made up of lesser singles. Jealously is the kind of song to make- and break- careers but Fireboy DML proves on L,T&G that there is more to him left and he has plenty more to say.

  1. Alternate Ending- The Lost & Found (Paybac and Boogey)

With 13 cumulative projects between them, all in the space of five years, nothing quite prepares you for the punch that Alternative Ending, the second collaborative record between Paybac and Boogey packs. The duo, going by the moniker The Lost & Found for this project, wizened by time and the vagaries of the local music business, present a thorough concept album that speaks to the realities of working as a Nigerian musician.

  1. The Light- Bez

Bez’s scaled down hopeful fantasia plays like the reflections of a man who tapped into his inner love religion and found peace with the elements. He is looser, freer, less self-conscious and totally committed to the vibe. Who can resist ditties full of optimism and hope when they come packaged in sound capsules like Shine, Better Days and Beauty? Love and light never sounded better or shined brighter.

  1. Falz- Moral Instruction

After going rogue last year with his reimagining of Childish Gambino’s This is America hit, Falz put out Moral Instruction, his most politically charged album. Clocking in at a modest nine songs, Moral Instruction is alive with all the sound and fury that made Fela Kuti a national symbol. With art designed by Lemi Ghariokwu, and beats supplied by frequent collaborator Sess, the record sets out to make a sonically pulsating experience that rages and preaches and judges. Everyone is guilty in the world according to Falz.

  1. Gemini- Tay Iwar

The music on Gemini the latest navel gazing exercise by Tay Iwar is unapologetically his; organic, immersive and wonderfully introspective. Iwar’s songwriting dwells in sad spaces, loose cynicism and quiet tragedies. Romance is complicated and so is love and Iwar seems to know this all too well. Which isn’t to say that Gemini isn’t fun. The record is a living, breathing thing and constantly changes to suit Iwar’s moods.

  1. Lucid- Asa

Asa’s fourth record houses thirteen tracks navigating the highs and lows, joys and pain, the rights and wrongs of romantic relationships. Intimately observed and somewhat restrictive in scope, Lucid touches on genres such as soul, folk and soft rock, all familiar places where Asa has dipped her toes in albums past. A diary of love if you will, Lucid is proof that even when Asa isn’t astounding like she was on her debut record, she remains one of the most compelling and unavoidable artists working today.

  1. A Good Time- Davido

When Davido put out his debut album, it arrived with all the energy of a rich kid high on his own supply. No one would have imagined that it would take seven years for a sophomore to arrive. A Good Time is well worth the wait though. A stormy reflection of Davido’s artistic growth and a record with a unifying vision that can be described as all his. A Good Time is buoyant, generous and clever even. Davido delivers exactly what the title promises.

  1. Enjoy your Life- Lady Donli

Think of Lady Donli’s Enjoy your Life as a retro time machine travelling through some of the most interesting musical eras of Nigerian a music. Or think of it as an aural feast, one that serves a menu of retro-inspired African sounds, drawn from east and west and north and south. Enjoy Your Life is music that only an Afropolitan in Lady Donli’s mould would make. Edgy, traditional, conforming and yet totally rebelling from whatever else is on the radio, Enjoy Your Life may be the year’s most scattershot yet interesting record.

  1. African Giant- Burna Boy

With Burna Boy’s African Giant, Afrobeats music finally realized all of the potential long hinted at by artistes like 2Baba, D’banj and Wizkid. An imperfect but thoroughly realized record, African Giant is a combination of spell bending grooves that get the party started sure enough but also do a fine job of speaking truth to power. It isn’t the best record Burna has made but it is the one that all of his future output will be judged by. It shouldn’t top this list but no other record made a stronger claim at the end of the day.

Honorable mentions:

The Erigma II- Erigga

Mandy & the Jungle- Santi

Wilmer- Patoranking

Woman of Steel- Yemi Alade

 

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