This year was a productive and interesting year for Nigerian Hip-hop music, as some of the biggest urban songs in the country were performed by Rappers/Hip-hop artistes, and a Rapper Olamide is considered the biggest act in the nation for the year, while the next-rated artiste across all genres is Lil Kesh, another Rapper. This year a lot of Hip-hop/alternative rap albums were released both on the mainstream and on the underground and we present to you a combination of the hottest and best albums which were considered and selected based on album quality, lyrical content, originality, acceptability and the market performance ( especially the “hottest” ones ).
Falz – Stories That Touch
Falz was clearly not affected by the sophomore jinx when he delivered his second studio album Stories That Touch in November. The project which was clearly miles ahead of his debut album was well written, arranged and produced, so much that there is hardly a “wack” song on it. The album caters to everyone with songs like Ello Bae, Karashika and Celebrity Girlfriend for the ladies and teeny-boppers, as well as songs like Clap, Karashika Remix, My People, Soldier and Chardonnay Music which were crafted to appeal to the core hip-hop fanbase. Falz was able to combine his unique style of rap with his brand of “Lagos humour” and delivered an album that cut across different demographics of music listeners, a project that will stand the test of time and is easily one of the best rap albums that was delivered this year. The album also “gave birth” to music producer Sess whom I think is the next best Nigerian hip-hop producer, as he showed his calibre and class by handling the production on 11 out of 16 tracks on the project ( including the biggest songs), injecting musical diversity and ushering in a new sonic signature which I am sure a lot of rappers will gravitate towards. taking into consideration the power of the singles which this album produced, it’s lyrical content and production direction, I can say categorically that this is one of the best rap albums that has dropped in the last 5 years and it takes the top spot this year.
Karashika Featuring Phyno and Chigurl
Karashika [ Remix ] Featuring M.I Abaga And Show Dem Camp
Chardonnay Music Featuring Poe & Chyn
Ill Bliss – Powerful
The month of July witnessed the release of one of the best rap albums of the year by Illbliss who delivered his third album of work titled Powerful, a project that showed evident growth in all departments and has earned its right as one of the best albums of the year. Ill Bliss sounded hungry and lyrically advanced as he utilized his signature “irregular rhyme” scheme in a way that he has never done before. The album is a rivetting collage of political issues, ( Different Kind Of War ) , social commentary ( Uwa Featuring Storm Rex ) and street gospel ( Chukwu Agozigo Gi , Many Men Featuring Wizkid ) that had Bliss firmly in the drivers seat, dictating the sound and musical expression which he intended to convey. Considering his status as a veteran, Bliss showed he has his ear to the street by meddling with the “Trap sound” which the youths currently favour, thus showcasing his adaptability and “up-to-date status”. He also rapped more in Igbo on the album, perhaps influenced by Phyno with whom he has worked closely in the past, an experiment that paid off and fortified this project as a praise worthy stellar body of work.
Reminisce – Baba Hafusa
The third time happened to be the charm for Reminisce when he released his album Baba Hafusa, which proved to be his most successful album till date, superseding the impact of 2012’s Book Of Rap Stories And 2013’s Alaga Ibile, his first two studio albums . Baba Hafusa topped the I-Tunes chart for more than 24 hours after its release, beating the soundtrack to the popular American series Empire and made it’s debut at number 12 on the billboard world music charts a week after its release, catapulting Reminisce straight into the A-List realm and earning him a European tour as well as a string of endorsement deals. On the album, he finally established the best balance he ever had between Afro-pop music, alternative rap, and traditional hip-hop music. On the hip-hop scene,No rapper in recent times has created the kind of controversy in hip-hop which Local Rappers, the lead single from the album caused,as the track had a seismic effect on the rap game and elicited responses cum reactions from different quarters. Tesojue, another single from the album grew into a smash hit organically and also inspired what I call the “Tesojue flow” which many rappers imitated and experimented with all year round. Reminisce is firmly on top of his game, and he let it be known [ no pun intended ] on this album Baba Hafusa, an album that is deservedly one of the best offerings of the year.
Naeto C – Day 1
Super C season was definitely in full-effect for the last half of the year as Naeto delivered two different albums in quick succession, the gritty hard hitting Day 1 and the commercial mainstream project Festival both of which were crafted to cater to two different audiences and that happened to be the case, but it was the former mentioned project Day 1 that was shrouded with critical acclaim by fans and music critics alike. The album saw him return to his rapping roots, far away from the formulaic album format with the sole objective of delivering a quality rap album, a task which he undertook successfully. Devoid of radio singles, promotion and famous guest appearances ( except Wizkid ), Naeto utilized the sonic expertise of Teckzilla, Sossick and Masterkraft to create an album which was up to date, entertaining and lyrical from start to finish, all qualities which contributed to making it a hip-hop masterpiece. Naeto lived up to his expectations as a trendsetter and delivered another blueprint to modern day Nigerian rap music.
Erigga New Money – Okorowanta Since 1987
The only individuals that will disagree with Erigga’s Album Okorowanta Since 1987 making this list are people who did not listen to the project, because the Warri rap kingpin delivered one of the best rap projects of the year. While this album may have been slept on by the mainstream music fans, it established him as a regional juggernaut in south-south Nigeria and most importantly in Warri, where depending on whom you ask, opinion is spilt 50/50 between him and Yung 6ix in the citys Hip-hop circles regardig who the number 1 is. Having delivered his debut album Erigma in 2012, Okorowanta was definitely a step further and showcased his distinct style of Street-rap and pidgin flow, delivery/cadence on a bigger platform and it elevated his status and also helped him secure an endorsement deal. Out of 20 songs, Olamide, Lace and Harrysongz are the only “super-famous” guests on the project, but the bulk of the 17 tracks were strictly a Waff-town affair as it featured acts like Shuun Bebe, PFizzy, Debi J and Gasky, while Erigga himself went in solo on 11 hard hitting songs. It’s not too late to get this album, and if you needed any further convincing of the projects quality, this is it.
Paper Boi Featuring Olamide
Coupe Decale Featuring Shuun Bebe
Olamide & Phyno – 2 Kings
What Is a hot album ? An album that has hit tracks . Simple! and that is what 2 Kings the collaborative album by Olamide and Phyno is. While you can argue that they paid no significant attention to this album,a sentiment that is evident by the glaring misnomer which is the fact that no video has been shot for any song on the project, you cannot deny the fact that the album produced two top 100 songs ( if ever there was such a thing ) with Confam Ni, the Wizkid and Olamide collabration, as well as the super smash Ladi which was performed by Olamide, Phyno and Lil Kesh ( It grew organically too ). The hip-hop heads were not left out,and songs like Cypher, Nobodys Fault and For My City testify to that. I scored the album a paltry 5.8 when it dropped, but that was more from a lopsided A&R, as well as managerial perspective; simply put, I expected more attention to be paid to this album as far as promotion ( I pointed out the videos ) and composition goes, but upon closer and more critical evaluation at the end of the year, 2 Kings by Olamide and Phyno is a Solid body of work that deservedly makes a cameo on this list.
AQ – Son Of John 2 [ History Untold ]
Love him or hate him, you cannot deny AQ his tenacity, perseverance, hard work and most importantly his lyrical abilities. 2015 proved to be a pivotal year for the Surulere based artiste owing primarily to the fact that he dropped one of the best rap albums in the country in Son Of John 2: History Untold. While his beat selection and lyrical style has been questioned in certain quarters in the past, his sonic bearing started to take shape when he started working with producer BBJN who handled the production on the first installment of the project and once again contributed to the “soundscape” for this project along with Bemshima, Bionic and Sleek Amos. Guest appearances included Teeto Ceemos, Lord V, Paybac, Peter Clarke and a host of artistes who all contributed to the solidity of the project. The outcome was a first-of-its-kind Hip-hop concert which was held in August and though it as mildly successful ( with little or no sponsors ), it has fuelled talks of a second event which promises to be bigger and better. No doubt AQ’s stock has risen and this album is the catalyst that initiated that growth.
Free Thinker Featuring Antwon
I Don’t Need Love
Mosaic Music Featuring Lord V, Peter Clarke, Teeto Ceemos, Eclipse & Paybac
Jahbless – I Am Me
Is Jahbless a Rapper ? that is a question you need to ask yourself before you go to sleep at night, but I have no qualms admiting that I consider him an alternative Rapper, however if you need any further convincing, listen to the lead single from the album Lights, Camera, Action. If Olamide is still being viewed as a rapper, I don’t see any reason why Jahbless cannot be called one and I’m not comparing their lyrical abilities, after all he is the Olori-Ebi of Hip-hop. I Am Me is one of the best rap albums that dropped this year. If Nigeria had a proper Hip-Hop award ( no shot at the Headies ), 69 Missed Calls Featuring Lil Kesh, CDQ, Chinko Ekun, Reminisce And Olamide will definitely earn a nomination for collaboration of the year, not to mention Owambe, a nominal hit song which I feel is quite underrated, just like Jah Bless is. Although he sings more than he raps, and this album is a poutpourri of Nigerian urban music genres, there are more than enough rap songs for one project on the album. The guest appearances include Kiss Daniel, Akymz, Lamboginny, Small Doctor, Seriki, Ice Prince Cee Boi ( a very promising rapper ) and more, It is another project that flew under the radar and was perhaps poorly promoted, but that doesn’t take critical acclaim status away from it, it is my favourite Jahbless album and deserves a mention on this list.
Olamide – Eyan Mayweather
Olamide has fashioned himself to be a progressive rapper who does not want to be limited by genre boundaries and over the last 3 years he meddled with pretty much every contemporary urban music form ( except rock, R&B and Soul ), but that has earned him some vitriol from some quarters of the Hip-hop community as he has been accused of abandoning the sound of culture that shaped his foundation and opting for a more mainstream musical disposition. His versatility has definitely worked wonders for his brand and increased his enterprise bountifully making him not just the Number 1 rapper of the year, but the biggest artiste across all genres. Only Mavin records was more productive that YBNL in 2015 and the former only released an album ( Tiwa Savage’s RED ), but YBNL released two, 2 Kings which got a spot on this list, and Eyan Mayweather which is also one of the biggest and hottest albums of the year. It’s another project that was crafted by a rapper at the top of his game, and unlike his joint effort with Phyno, he paid a lot more attention to the album ( as he should ). Bobo, Lagos Boys, Melo Melo and Matters Arising are all certified mainstream hit songs, but the 21 track album has songs like Eyan Mayweather, Igara Chicken, The T.I inspired Ball and OG Waheede which he created with his core rap fanbase in mind thus allaying their sentiments and feelings of abandonment. The album should be treated as a buffet on an eat-what-you-like basis but I can say for a fact that it is packed with much more palatable than unpleasant music, and I think it is one of the best rap albums of the year.
Sidenote:- Eyan Mayweather had no guest appearances, that has never been done by a mainstream artiste, let alone Rapper.
So Kleva – Fistful Of Stones
Fistful of Stones by one half of the Rooftop MC’s So Kleva is one of those albums on the list that falls more under the category of “best” and not “hottest” , a concise and well crafted body of work that was released this month to little or no fanfare from the mainstream fans/media but that is no surprise, because even at the height of their career, the RTMC’s were stationed in what I will call “musical purgatory” as they were not accepted wholeheartedly by the Hip-hop community because they are considered to be “gospel rappers” but the gospel music industry never truly embraced them either. However they had a succesful career as an entity and though the last time they shook up the game was on 2011’s Eromplaini, they have expanded the band to The Rooftop Clan, inducting gospel rapper Protek and IBK Tha Spaceship Boi as affiliates and also started to function in solo capacities. His partner-in-rhyme Soul Snatcha relocated to Europe and continues to spread their brand abroad, but Kleva has been at home working with different artistes and also putting together a solo album which he delivered this year. Inspired by the biblical story of David who came against Goliath with 5 stones, eventually slaying him, So Kleva utilized his minimalist rhyme pattern over top quality production to deliver superbly crafted body of work. Armed with collaborations by Okey Sokay, Protek, Nolly, Gamie and more new-school gospel acts, the album will be very welcome by RTMC’s core fans and also win him a few new admirers as well. While his chemistry with Snatcha was evidently missing from the project, Fistful Of Stones is one of the best Rap albums that droped this year and may well be a catalyst for two of them to re-unite musically to deliver their highly anticipated and long-awaited album Drunken Masters.
Helicopter Flow Featuring LC Beats
Category Featuring XL2Letters And Gamie
Yung – Multiple Personality Disorder
Kaduna born-and-raised Rapper Yung delivered his album Multiple Personality Disorder this year, a project that has all the makings of a classic body of work and is good enough to warrant a spot on this list. The 16-track project is another well rounded hip-hop album which was released with little or no promotion/fanfare but commands a strong consideration for Hip-hop album of the year. MPD is not only a window into the Rappers mindstate and his Arewa musical style, but a musical narrative that aptly represents Northern rap culture. The album was entirely produced by Jxmmy Whxxlxxr a talented producer who produced SK Nah Bastard for Terry Tha Rapman off his GOD EP and further expressed his extensive sonic range by creating top quality production as the canvas for Yung’s artistic expression. The album has no famous guest appearances, and that is a testament to the confidence which the Young rapper has in his music and his lyrical abilities. His clever blend of the English and Hausa languages will surely ensure that non-Hausa speaking rap heads enjoy the album and find a common ground with his brand of rap music, Multiple Personality Disorder is the wildcard on this list and an album I personally vouch for, so take my word for it and give the album a listen
Chocolate City – The Indestructible Choc Boi Nation
Out of the 15 songs on The Indestructible Choc Boi Nation compilation album, only 3 tracks were unrelated to Hip-hop music, the remaining 13 were either rap songs or had a guest verse by a Rap artiste, so technically it merits consideration for Rap album of the year and I say it is a fine body of work that ushers in M.I and Ice Prince‘s reign as President and Vice President of Chocolate City respectively. Do Something by Koker has proven to be one of the biggest songs on the album and it is one of the three non hip-hop songs I mentioned earlier however songs like Restoration by Jesse Jagz, Summer Time by M.I, Ice Prince and Jesse Jagz , as well as Go Hard by Loose Kaynon, Ice Prince and Milli are all top notch rap songs for heads to enjoy. The album served as a promotional platform for the newer artistes on the label Milli, Dice Ailes and Koker and also helped the older fringe artistes like Pryse [ Ricochet ], Loose Kaynon [ Go Hard ] and Victoria Kimani [ Loving You ] to lay the foundation for their future releases with imposing singles, most importantly Pryse who released what I will call her best song yet with Ricochet. Another key factor to this albums top quality is the fact that Chocolate City reinforced their production department by signing L37, Reinhard and Ckay all of whom made remarkable contributions to the project and laid the foundation for a sonic revolution in the label. If the quality of music on this album is anything to go by the future promises to be bright for the label under the leadership of MI and Ice.