By Obinna “Fazillion” Ifechi-Fred
2020 was yet another memorable year for the business of Hip-hop music in Nigeria. Despite the Corona virus outbreak that is still currently plaguing humanity most rappers increased their output and continued the precedence that was set the year before. The resulting nationwide lockdown inspired a lot of rappers to stretch the boundaries of their creativity and deliver full-length studio projects which numbered over 50. We had a difficult time whittling the list down to 10 of the best full-length studio albums that were released in the year 2020, with one honourable mention.
As usual, The final criteria are the ears of our editorial team, who utilized extensive knowledge of the Nigerian Hip-hop scene to thoroughly review all the projects and arrived at an informed conclusion.
We also compiled a playlist of selected singles from each project on Audiomack and also added some more gems for the consummate Hip-hop head to enjoy while perusing the article.
- Commercial reception – 40%
- Lyrical pedigree – 30%
- Cultural significance – 15%
- Critical acclaim – 15%
Pherowshuz – Tha Phero
Record Label:- Airbove Music.
Guest Appearances:- Danny Joe, Magnito, Rezman, Mista Gwan, Overdose, E Sonngz and Enzo.
Producers:- Pherowshuz [All Tracks].
Release Date:-April 18 2020.
Streams On Audiomack:- 7,500K. [December 2020]
Many rappers in Nigeria claim to be “Independent“, but when it comes down to the real definition of the word, taking into context the structure of the contemporary music industry, veteran rapper Pherowshuz is one of the few rappers that can stake that claim. For the better part of the last decade, the Kaduna born rapper has also been operating from his base in the northern part of Nigeria as he had relocated from the central nucleus of the Nigerian entertainment industry, Lagos. However, that has not prevented him from continuously releasing some of the best rap projects in Nigeria, more so in the last 5 years.
Pherowshuz, who was responsible for producing Sample, one of the biggest rap singles in Nigerian Hip-hop history, is also one of the few artistes in Nigeria that single-handedly handles the production, mixing and mastering of all his albums. With little or no interest in mainstream promo shenanigans, Phero has been focused on mastering the art of catering to his core cult fanbase while remaining true to his fundamental musical identity and Tha Phero was a continuation of the independent promo formula which was first made manifest in his second studio album The Return Of Phero Tha Great, 2010[read review here].
His collaborative album with his longtime collaborative partner Terry Tha Rapman, For The Culture was well received by the core Hip-hop community when it was released in 2019 and in April 2020, he released an appetizer mixtape titled King David, which was crafted primarily with his core Hip-hop fanbase in mind. Tha Phero, is very different from the aforementioned projects and intentionally strikes the right balance between radio-friendly rap music and traditional “real hip-hop“. It’s a solid rap album that was made even more enjoyable with a memorable rare guest verse from elusive lyricist Overdose and outstanding performances by emerging singer DannyJoe, -a versatile performer that reminds me of Skales– who was featured on 3 songs delivered strong performances on every record.
It’s a testament to his boundless creative talents that 14 years after he released his classic debut album House Of Raps, Pherowshuz is still relevant to the culture and the success of his Magnito-assisted single Hauwa in the Northern part of the country is evidence of his ability to make chart-topping hit rap records that can stand the test of time.
Tha Phero did not make my list of top 10 rap albums last year but was good enough to warrant an honourable mention.
- Hauwa Featuring Magnito
- Holla My Name Featuring Overdose & Danny Joe
10) Eclipse Nkasi – Child Of Destiny
Record Label:- The Wild Bunch.
Guest Appearances:- Giniz, Clay, Pepenazi, Salmin Swaggz & Cheqwas.
Producers:- Damie, Talking Fingers, Townsvile and Eclipse Nkasi.
Release Date:- February 11 2020.
Streams On Audiomack:- 27,700K [December 2020]
When Eclipse released his sophomore album Child Of Destiny back in February 2020, I listened to it and adjudged it the best rap album in Nigeria. In the course of the year, over 40 albums followed its release, but it remained one of the strongest Hip-hop albums in a year that saw the release of very strong Hip-hop projects.
The album which was almost entirely produced by the rapper, who is also a published author and a budding actor was refreshing and the listening experience gave you an authentic expression of his journey, experiences and candid view of his life, his faith, and worldview. Hope, self-doubt, faith, grief, love & gratitude make up the core themes of the album. Sonically, the album has something for everyone, from energizing Afro-pop and grime infused bounces to meditative alternative and country hip-hop fusions. “Child of Destiny” captured the dynamism of life from birth to death.
In an in-depth interview, I spoke with Eclipse shortly after the album was released [read the interview here] and he spoke about the creative process, and the challenges he faced while putting the album together and he remarked;
I had to be my own label in addition to being an artiste. This meant functioning as a songwriter, artiste, producer, P.R agent, distributor and project manager. Like any human, I had my moments of doubt while trying to get the project out. Especially because funding was a problem. I didn’t have a big enough budget as I would have liked to, so it all came down to a game of strategy. One solid lesson I learned in the process is that anything is possible if you really put your mind to it. I know it sounds like some cliché motivational speech (aspire to perspire) but it’s real. I had to deal with a lot of disappointments from people that ranged from issues with graphic designs to distribution (all of which I ended up doing myself) but in the end I pulled it off and when the album dropped I crossed my progress milestones faster than I expected.
His debut album City Of Dreams was an introduction to his musical capabilities, but Child Of Destiny is an all-round upgrade and that sits comfortably alongside any album that was released by his contemporaries in 2020.
- Falling Featuring Clay
- Could Have Been Worse
- Prepare For War
- King Right Now
9) Teeto Ceemos – Verses After Dark
Record Label:- Fresh Boy Music.
Guest Appearances:- Niyola, Lord Vino, Rae Slick, Ozone, April Maey, Show Dem Camp, Moon, Chike Agada, Vector, Dami Oniru & Zamir.
Producers:- Licious Crackitt, Gooo, Dicey, Ex-O Teeto, Beats By Jayy, Kung Fu Mike & Teeto Ceemos.
Release Date:- November 7 2020.
Streams On Audiomack:- 19,700K [December 2020]
In 2009, Lagos based rapper Teeto Ceemos was generally considered one of the finest young rappers in the country and his mixtape Da Freshness, which was released that same year was heralded as one of the best rap projects of the year and served as a full showcase of his capabilities as a rapper.
He went on to make a name under the umbrella of the iconic Hip-hop powerhouse Knight House and worked with some of the best talents in the business including Sauce Kid, Mo Cheddah, Wizkid, Shank, M.I Abaga, Ice Prince, Skales and many more and his endeavours in the rap game paid off when he was featured on the top 10 rap hit Won Beri by Knight House.
For a brief period, between 2009 and 2012, Teeto bade farewell to the sport of rapping, relocated to the United Arab Emirates and resolved to focus on other real-life endeavours. However, he continued to appear on sporadic collaborations, release his trademark freestyles and service the culture which he holds so dearly from his base in Dubai. He returned to Nigeria in 2014 and began continued where he left off, acclimatizing himself to an industry that had changed so drastically since his departure and with hard work, commitment and dedication, worked his way back to public consciousness. In 2019, his collaborative project with Rae Slick, Lataaaro was a worthy comeback album and reminded everyone just how lethal his pen is. The fans accepted him back to the game like he never left and he lived up to his “Fresh Boy” identity by reinventing and reviving his career which has spanned over a decade in the Nigerian hip-hop scene.
As 2020 drew to a close, seemingly inspired by all the accolades that he received for his 2019 release, he released a spectacular project Verses After Dark another extension of his witty, punchline-laden, and cocky rap persona that has very much been embraced by his loyal and expanding fanbase. Supported by an all-star cast of some of the best lyricists (Show Dem Camp, Vector & Ozone), singers (Niyola & Dami Oniru), and new generation (Lord Vino & Zamir) talents; Teeto matched all of them creatively and lyrically proving that he still belongs in the game and has a lot to offer.
Packaged with top-notch production, and some very intense rapping, Verses After Dark feels at home with other rap album released in 2020, yet on the album, Teeto comes across as unconcerned with competition of any kind but rather he reminded that it’s never too late to rediscover our passion.
- Gidi Nights Featuring Niyola
- Loyalty Featuring Ozone
- Ride With Me Featuring Show Dem Camp & April Maey
- Falling Featuring Lord Vino & Chike Agada
8) Yung 6ix – Introduction To Trapfro
Record Label:- Billionaires Circle.
Guest Appearances:- Sinzu, Dammy Krane, Dr Barz, Peruzzi, Charass, Erigga, Payper Corleone & DiSally.
Producers:- Disally, Ciq, Fresh VDM, Benjamz & E-Kelly.
Release Date:- June 4 2020.
Streams On Audiomack:- 2.73 Million [December 2020]
When it comes down to putting a rap album together, very few rappers in Nigeria can rivals Yung 6ix‘s pedigree and he has proven himself by releasing three quality bodies of work which came after his debut mixtape Green Light Green, 2011-A project that turns 10 this year.
From his debut album 6ix O’clock to his 2017 effort High Star, 6ix has continuously pushed the envelope creatively, lyrically, and most importantly, sonically. Having transformed himself from a mixtape rapper hustling on the gritty streets of Warri to a Hip-hop millionaire with national and continental stardom, he was on a mission to take his sound international with Introduction To TrapFro.
With 11 banging songs on the project, Yung 6ix did make a very strong case for his invented sub-genre of Nigerian rap which was inspired by a fusion of the Afro-pop energy with the American Trap-rap sound and went on to describe it as thus:
Trapfro is a new hybrid genre of music I felt I could contribute to the global music scene in 2020, its is a fusion of trap and afrobeat music. Growing up and listening to some of my favourite rapper in the west, I often wondered what kind of music they would have been making if they grew up in Africa, and I think this record might just answer that question for me
Over the course of my decade-long career within the African music landscape, I realized that when hip-hop records are big on the continent, they didn’t get the full accolades that they deserved, maybe because rap was considered a genre of western culture and not African culture, but the same audiences celebrated trap/hip-hop records and gave them their dues when these records were from western artists.
My solution to that was to unapologetically bring my African originality and finesse into the rap and hip-hop records I was created, these were attributes the African hip hop scene had been missing for decades, so I’ve delivered on a genre that is comfortably defined by both African and western interpretations of rap, trap and hip-hop music, and out of that sound, we’ve birthed this ‘Introduction To Trapfro’ album to bring you into our new world”.– Yung 6ix, 2019
I expect Yung6ix to continue to refine and reinvent the Trapfro sound on his subsequent releases and possibly score some international collaborations in the process. The sound is still its inceptive stage and it was obvious on this album, but Introduction To Trapfro was undeniably a top 10 rap album in my opinion.
- Intro [Wake Up]
- On A Daily
- Shole Featuring Dammy Krane & Sinzu
- You Don See Am Featuring Erigga, Dr Barz & Payper Corleone
7) Dremo – Code Name [Volume 2]
Record Label:- Davido Music World/30 Billion Gang
Guest Appearances:- Falz, Naira Marley, Davido, Sinzu, Idowest, The Flowolf, Peruzzi, Knucklez & Lil Frosh,
Producers:- Fresh VDM, Benjamz, Alpha Ojini, VSix, Samfire, Mosess Beats, Nackademus, Elythagreat, Zhyno & Milakeyzz
Release Date:- April 17 2020
Streams On Audiomack:- 10.1 Million [December 2020]
Apart from Olamide, no other rapper on this list has more resources available to him when creating a project than Dremo and he put all of that to good use when he was crafting the second instalment to his Code Name album series
The number of producers and featured guests on the album -19 in total-is a testament to that fact and in a bid to outdo the success of Code Name Volume 1, Dremo reached far into the depths of his creativity, pushed himself musically and successfully delivered a crossover album which I posit has already shot him up the ranks of the Nigerian Hip-hop totem pole.
Not every rap artiste has creative access to Davido and Naira Marley, but Dremo does and he managed to utilize that to his advantage while creating the album which resulted into two radio-friendly singles, [Mabel and Konjinaba], which have been topping various charts since the album was released.
Staying true to his self-acclaimed monicker “rapper wey dey sing song“, Dremo followed the blueprint already laid down by rappers like Olamide, Ice Prince and Reminisce to create a credible balance between performing a combination of rap music and contemporary Afro/street-pop. Code Name 2 has something for everybody, from the traditional rap fans to lovers of contemporary Afro-pop, down to street pop/Lamba aficionados, the project shows Dremos understanding of the business and expresses his desire to explore and manage every resource available to him by virtue of his close proximity to labelmates Davido, Mayorkun, Idowest and Peruzzi.
Though it is very Olamidesque in nature, Code Name 2 is not quite Carpe Diem, however, it is undoubtedly not only his best album till date but also a clear indication that Dremo is on the right trajectory.
- Konjinaba Featuring Naira Marley
- Mabel Featuring Davido
- GuguDeMap Featuring Lil Frosh, Idowest, Sinzu & Knucklez
6) M.I Abaga – Judah EP
Record Label:- Chocolate City Music.
Guest Appearances:- A-Q, Bucky Raw, Nawe, G Plus Chang, Alpha Ojini, Reinhard & Kauna.
Release Date:- March 7 2020.
Streams On Audiomack:- 1.25 Million [December 2020]
M.I’s castigation of Nigerian rappers in 2017 on You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Life the lead single from the album Yxng Dxnzxl continued to dog the rap scene for the next two years and elicited over 50 responses in that period. In late 2019 he fired another broadside at his former nemesis Vector Tha Viper on the single The Viper and the Lafiaji raised rapper wasted little time in responding with the equally scathing Judas The Rat.
When the smoke cleared, the Chocolate City head honcho announced his decision to release a new EP in time for Christmas 2019, but he delayed it till 2020 when he delivered the riveting Judah EP. A project that consisted of 8 tracks on which M.I put his achievements in Nigerian Hip-hop to the side and reached down to his core of clever penmanship in a bid to buttress his lyrical abilities, notwithstanding his domination of the traditional mainstream rap scene for over a decade.
The quality of production on the project suited his the biblically themed project and gave M.I the most suitable sonic platform to elevate his quick-witted, razor-sharp lyricism. M.I may have been betrayed by a handful of his disciples and has been crucified by the general public on certain occasions but one thing that never let him down is his musical genius.
Judah is sonically proficient and was reinforced by a religious thematic concept and some of the best lyricism M.I has displayed on a project in his career. Listening to it gave me an otherworldly nostalgic experience that most M.I fans will identify with. The knowledge M.I packed into the project is priceless and will be feverishly analyzed by rap fans till he drops another one.
Judah is the only EP on that was considered for this list. Since it was released in March, I’ve consistently listened to it and I can say that it not only feels like a rap album but was generally one of the best ones released in 2020.
- The Trinity Featuring A-Q
- The Lion Featuring G Plus Chang
- The Commandement Featuring Bucky Raw & Reinhard
- The Blood
5) Protek Illasheva – Counter Culture
Record Label:- Peaceville Entertainment.
Guest Appearances:- Chize, M.I Abaga, Vector, K3ndrick, The Rooftop MC’s, Naffymar, Mercy Tshiamo,Limoblaze, Eli-J & Brain.
Producers:- Jonah D Monarch, K-Play, Limoblaze, Egar Boi, M.I Abaga, Sparkzy & Protek Illasheva.
Release Date:- May 1 2020.
Streams On Audiomack:- 66,600 Streams [December 2020]
While the average, casual fan of the Nigerian Hip-hop scene may not be familiar with his music, real Hip-hop connoisseurs will be very conversant about the journey of the artiste known as Protek Illasheva. A former underground rapper, with over 10 years under his belt, in 2015, he made the transition from a traditional rap artiste to a “gospel rap” performer and since then, he has risen to the very top of the Gospel music scene and has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the genre, most notably Frank Edwards and The Rooftop MC’s to whom he is affiliated as a member of the collective The Rooftop Clan.
After delivering his EP titled Heaven Indigene early in January 2020, a project that was crafted specifically for fans of traditional Gospel music, the rapper -whose name is an acronym for Positively Refined & Overwhelming Techniques Enlarging (Gods) Kingdom-, returned to the studio and 4 months later and delivered Counter Culture, which was more geared towards the Hip-hop community. With guest appearances from two of the biggest rappers in the country M.I Abaga and Vector Tha Viper, the album was crafted with the right formula to capture the attention of any core Hip-hop Head, as well as position himself within the Hip-hop community and bolster his stature as a respectable lyricist regardless of his religious conviction.
Following the same script already laid down by American rapper Lecrae, Protek blurred the lines between Gospel and rap music on this album in a manner that has not been attempted since the Rooftop MC’s did it 18 years ago. Counter Culture was undeniably one of the best rap albums released in Nigeria in 2020 and deserves its position on this list.
The project has a cross-genre appeal and can be described as a fusion of Melody, Rhythm And Poetry, which embodies a result of well-produced thoughts and vibes centred around bringing conversations that would juggle minds into reinventing themselves and defining their culture.
The project was supported by UK based Songbird, Naffymar. South African Spoken Word Artist/Rapper, Mercy Tschiamo, and some of his colleagues, such as Eli-J, Limoblaze, Chize as well as young rising stars with amazing vocals K3ndrick and Brain.
- Life Of God Featuring Vector & K3ndrick
- Jesus Is Real Featuring Brain
- No Hook Featuring The Rooftop MC’s
- Aye [Jesus Gang]
4) Illbliss – Illy Chapo X
Record Label:- The Goretti Company.
Guest Appearances:- Phyno, Yemi Alade, Niniola, Johnny Drille & Olamide.
Producers:- Toye Aru, Kezyklef, Legendury Beatz, Major Bangz, Young D, Books, Shay Who, Johnny Drille, Bigfoot, Benjamz & Kwenu Beatz.
Release Date:- 29 May 2020.
Streams On Audiomack:- 680,000 [December 2020]
At 41 years of Age, Hip-hop royalty, label CEO and budding movie actor Illbliss can be said to have had a wholesome career in Nigerian Hip-hop. Ever since he made his national debut on the single Street-Hop, as a member of the collective The Thorobreds, which also consisted Elajoe, B-Elect, Amaka, MGB and Obiwon, the Enugu bred rapper has gone on to establish himself as not just the most successful member of the collective, but undoubtedly one of the most accomplished rappers in the history of Nigerian Hip-hop.
Between 2009 and 2015, Illbliss released a trilogy of albums Dat Igbo Boy 2009, Oga Boss, 2012 and Powerful 2015, three albums that were adjudged as top 3 rap albums in their release years with the latter winning the award for Best Rap Album at the 2016 Headies. Illygaty:7057 was the first album on which he launched the “Illy” prefix and continued it on 2017’s Illy Bomaye and most then Illy Chapo X which was released last May, in the thick of the Covid-19 lockdown.
His mafioso inspired alter-ego”Illy” is the non-conforming Igbo tycoon, who does not mess about with his numerous business endeavours and executes his dealings with ruthless precision. nonetheless, he puts God first and his family next and will stop at nothing to protect the things he cherishes the most. That is the message on Illy Chapo X, and he passed it across with a combination of relatable lyrics, top-notch production, quality guest appearances and relevant topical issues that old rap heads will relate with and younger heads will be motivated by.
Illbliss’s social consciousness( Country) makes Illy Chapo X a refreshing release, his characteristic braggadocio (Upper Iweka) upholds his core identity and his level of deep introspection (Remember) is the pinnacle of raw emotive poetry. From beginning to end, Bliss’s maturity as an artist is at the forefront of this project; the songs in which he acknowledges his achievements feel more believable than ever, and his raw lyrical capability which allows him to capture and depict real-life struggles and successes position him as not just a superb craftsman but a veteran artist who still has something to say 15 years on.
Every Illbliss album is special, but Illy Chapo X is a unique blueprint for the grown-up Hip-hop connoisseur and was a top 5 rap album in 2020.
- Upper Iweka Featuring Phyno
- Fever Featuring Yemi Alade
- 40 Ft Container Featuring Olamide
3) A-Q – Gods Engineering
Record Label:- 100 Crowns/Chocolate City.
Guest Appearances:- Oxlade, Tomi Thomas & M.I Abaga.
Producers:- Beats By Jayy, Olumba & Amos Kantiok.
Release Date:- March 10 2020.
Streams On Audiomack:- 324,000 [December 2020]
15 years after A-Q made his debut on the national Hip-hop scene with the 50-Cent-inspired single (W)rap up Nigeria, He announced his decision to retire from the rap game as a performer and rap artiste late last year and make the transition to a full-fledged, operating CEO, online music aggregator and label executive but not before he released arguably the best album of his career with God’s Engineering.
To put it quite candidly, A-Q has spent the better part of his career battling the odds in the music industry, re-inventing his brand, expanding his musical empire whilst experimenting with different ways to convey his message and adequately promote his music. Hustle Inc. was his independent imprint, under which he released his debut album [The Past, Present And Future, 2011[read review here] and continued to his 50 Naira EP Son Of John, 2015[read review here],– two projects that were marketed online by Nigerianhiphop.net and Nigeriansounds.com respectively. whilst continuously releasing credible rap projects and collaborations, he spent those years exploring and experimenting with various music distribution schemes-especially online-as the industry was generally moving in that direction. His efforts eventually paid off in 2016 when he released Rose and followed it up the following year with Blessed Forever. The aforementioned albums were positively impactful to his career, so much that by 2018, he was already involved in conversations with Hip-hop mogul M.I Abaga about signing a marketing or distribution deal with Chocolate City Records. The result was the launching of a sub-label named 100 Crowns, a joint venture partnership between himself and rapper Loose Kaynon with who he subsequently released the joint album L.A.M.B under the imprint[read the interview he granted us then here].
From the album cover of God’s Engineering, it’s evident that A-Q is totally revelling in his position as a CEO, and has no plans of turning back anytime soon. Clad in a business suit, an expensive wristwatch and a diamond bracelet, it’s a stark contrast to his previous urban image, complete with Hip-hop gear and braided hair, a clear indication of his newfound no-nonsense business persona. He has scored considerable success with rapper Blaqbonez, who is presently the face of 100 Crowns and one of the top 5 young rappers in the game and has also been prepping promising rapper Torna, a young talent who is currently earning his stripes in the collaborative rap circuits. Beats By Jayy is the official in-house producer on the label and innovation on the soundboards has gone a long way to creating a sonic identity for the nascent collective
For an avid fan of the Surulure raised rapper, it’s evident that Gods Engineering is the climax of A-Q’s endeavours which began way back with Hustle Inc and reached a pinnacle on 100 Crowns. While his top-notch lyrical capabilities have never been in doubt, his musical pedigree which has been questioned in some quarters over the years is made a strong case for with this album. After 11 projects- 5 Albums and 7 mixtapes- he sounds content, confident and composed, his message is lucid as ever and his mission has never been more evident.
The project is a Hip-hop masterpiece that is considered by many traditional rap fans as the best rap album of 2020. The avant-garde production on the album gives it a cross-generational appeal, as it would satisfy older hip-hop heads while appealing to the younger generation at the same time. Its clear A-Q has reached his musical Uhuru thus far and God’s Engineering is a documentation of his victory lap.
- A Class Act Featuring M.I Abaga
2) Paybac – Cult!
Record Label:- Iboro/Timeless Music.
Guest Appearances:- Blaqbonez, Jazzz, BarelyAnyHook, Bunmi Africa, Ria Sean & Pizzo.
Release Date:- March 26 2020.
Streams On Audiomack:- 54,500 [December 2020]
Cult! by Paybac is my personal favourite album on this list and I feel like the album can stand head and shoulders with any project-in any genre- that was released in 2020 in Nigeria and was only lacking one essential ingredient, the big-budget promo rollout that was available to all the rappers that made the top 5 spots on this list.
Paybac started off in the game as an Independent artiste, continued and persisted down that path and has managed to catapult his career to a commendable status with sheer hard work, tenacity and innovative promo concepts. Every single project he has released in his 7-year career have been conceptual in nature and Cult!, is the culmination of the shattering of his creative cauldron resulted in the delivery of his most definitive body of work so far. His achievements in the rap game have led to him been considered by a number of labels in the country, but none of them have been bold or crazy enough to take a chance on him and leverage his eccentric musical capabilities to bring out even more from him and add to his already saturated discography.
From 2014’s Broken Speaker Symphony, he went on to release The Other Side Of The Radio  and Face Off [which launched his album series with Boogey as The Lost & Found, 2016] and then the underground sleeper classic The Biggest Tree  a project I believe served as a direct precursor to Cult!.
If The Biggest Tree was an ode to the depressed and neglected west African millennial kids who have been tethered by superstitious beliefs and religious shortcomings, Cult! is the result of what happens when that child comes of age, emancipates himself from the shackles of socio-cultural and religious barriers and sticks his middle finger at the system responsible for his present dysfunction.
The combination of raw social commentary, brazen anti-establishment rhetoric and candid introspection was subtly delivered with the help of razor-sharp lyrics and clever metaphorical pop culture and historical references, as well as a progressive, ambitious sonic platform.
A great example of this is on the single Aguiyi Ironsi [Through The Mud] a song that was inspired by the gruesome manner in which the first Nigerian military head of state Aguiyi Ironsi was murdered during the infamous military counter-coup of 1966. Through the rumour mill, it was learnt that the soldiers who perpetrated the assassination allegedly tied General Ironsi to a Landrover like a car about to be towed and dragged him across Ibadan for a few hours before he eventually died. It takes an advanced level of mastery of the musical art form to transform an event as macabre as that to a haunting piece of music as Paybac did on the song.
7 years after I first heard him rap on the Yaba Left Cypher, I was immediately convinced that he could rap, but with Cult!, Paybac has released his most commercially viable body of work. Cult! is a project that will certainly catapult his career to a higher realm and is formidable enough to convince even the most sceptical and scared record label executives to re-open conversations with the anomalous MC.
- Boy Band
- Fuk A Politician
- Aguiyi Ironsi [Through The Mud]
1) Olamide – Carpe Diem
Record Label:- YBNL/Empire Music
Guest Appearances:- Bad Boy Timz, Bella Shmurda, Omah Lay, Fireboy DML, Phyno & Peruzzi
Producers:- P.Prime, VStix, ID Cabasa, Young John & Pheelz
Release Date:- October 17 2020
Streams On Audiomack:- 94 Million [December 2020]
10 Years afterYBNL Records CEO Olamide -who was then a young aspiring rap artiste- shook up the rap game with his Lil Wayne inspired single Eni Duro, a song that catapulted him to national recognition and set the foundation for an illustrious music career, he has not looked back. His 8th solo studio album Carpe Diem which was released late last year is a testament to his longevity at the pinnacle of the contemporary music business and has cemented his position as one of the most prolific rap artists and business savvy entities of his generation.
Having previously released an EP titled 999, which can retrospectively be accepted to be a warm-up project, that comprised of singles that sounded like album out-takes and cutting room floor cuts and was subsequently met with a lukewarm reception by the general populace, he knew he had to deliver something more potent that lives up to the very lofty expectations that his status in the game has bequeathed him and 6 months later, he did just that by delivering a sonically cohesive, and commercially viable body of work, which I personally consider his most balanced album since 2013’s YBNL and 2014’s Baddest Guy Ever Liveth , two albums that were considered the best of those years by the general public.
With only 12 tracks on the album- 6 solo and 6 collaborative- Olamide enhanced its replay value and struck the best musical balance between the various genres -Dancehall, Rap, Afro-pop, R&B and Afro-fusion- all of which constituted the final output of the album.
Dancehall-inspired singles like Infinity and Green Light– throwbacks to the Early Galala/Konto/Suor sound and other variations that dominated the urban airwaves in the early days of the contemporary music industry and contributed to the overall quality of the project. The Amapiano-inspired Loading is currently one of the biggest singles in the country and the juxtaposition of the aforementioned, vintage urban sounds with the prevalent sonic trend of the moment contributes to the albums premium quality.
Olamides ability to effectively collaborate with new artistes and evolve simultaneously with the contemporary scene has been one of his secret ingredients and has also helped him thrive as the CEO of his label YBNL Records, a platform that is seemingly functioning as a production line of fresh talent and has made superstars of artistes like Lil Kesh, Chinko Ekun, Kida Kudz and most recently, Fireboy DML. The label also signed a lucrative distribution deal with Empire Entertainment earlier this year.
This rare A&R quality also manifested itself on this project as Olamide showcased his collaborative chemistry with some of the newest emerging superstars in the music business, including Omah Lay, Fireboy DML, Bad Boy Timz and Peruzzi. His ability to evolve with the game and incorporate the evolution of the mainstream Nigerian urban sound into his music is one skill that made Carpe Diem the finest rap album that was released in Nigeria in 2020
- Loading Featuring Bad Boy Timz
- Infinity Featuring Omah Lay
- Plenty Featuring Fireboy DML
- Another Level