After careful consideration, here are our 13 favourite pop albums that were released in 2015 by Nigerian artistes…This is the last installment in our year-end lists, happy new year.
1) Leriq – The Lost Sounds
The Lost Sounds compilation album by hitmaking producer Leriq was only one point away from perfection when 1 reviewed it in October, as I scored it a thoroughly deserved 9 out of 10 and after listening to it over and over , sometimes I get more convinced it deserved a perfect score. The Album was brought to life with the input of 30 artistes and showcased the evolution of Leriq as a producer cum artiste in a manner worthy of the highest commendation. His duet with Wizkid Say You Love Me was one of the best collaborations Wizkid featured on this year and the same can be said of all the songs on the project as he brought out the best in Wande Coal, Naeto C, 2Face Idibia, Show Dem Camp and more. One of the biggest tracks on the album is Comment Tu Tapelle, a song that is has been hot for 2 summers, and was the beginning of Burna Boy’s now widely renowned reputation for delivering solid choruses. It is a project that has catapulted Leriq into an elite upper echelon of producers who have a studio album to their name, along side the likes of ID Cabasa, OJB Jezreel, Don Jazzy and Eldee Tha Don. Leriq combined all the elements of contemporary urban music, and explored multiple genres to create an album which is not only a breath of fresh air but a masterpiece deserving of the accolade of “Album of the year”.
Say You Love Me Featuring Wizkid
Wish List Featuring Wande Coal
Comment Tu’Tapelle Featuring Ozone, Mojeed, Burna Boy & Dammy Krane.
2) The Collectiv3 – The Collectiv3 LP
Every artiste in The Collective3 has one thing in common, they make some of the best music in their respective genres, but do not get the sort of media exposure or airplay their music warrants, not to talk of financial gratification, which might be considerably less compared to other artistes in their genres who churn out repetitive and somewhat redundant music on a consistent basis. Perhaps that was one of the unification factors that led to the formation of a like-minded super group which consists of the Hip-hop duo Show Dem Camp and their longtime affiliate Poe, Singer Funbi, The eclectic diva Temi Dollface, Guitarist Nsikak as well as producers Kid Konnect and Ikon who serve as the sonic architects, and together they did an amazing job on their self titled debut album The Collectiv3 LP . Their resolve to go against the grain, push the envelop and swim against the tide of mainstream monotony paid off greatly as they delivered a project which was just as unique and individual as it was diverse and relateable. It is a bold and inventive album that shows a lot of innovation, experimentation, an exceptional body of work that warrants to be labelled a classic.
Sexy Bitch – Funbi & Poe
School Your Face – Temi Dollface
Judgement – Kid Konnect Featuring Nneka, Loose Kaynon & M.Anifest.
3) Darey Art Alade – Naked
Darey Art-Alade in my opinion reached the pinnacle of his artistry and musicality on his fourth studio album Naked, a project which was well rounded, personal and proved that the soul singer had grown in leaps and bounds. The aptly titled album is Dareys most personal project, which exhibited a broad spectrum of his ideas, emotions and expressions, stripped down to it’s barest and most effective minimum to create a timeless piece of art. Darey had never dropped a below par album in his entire career and to say Naked is his best body of work is simply a testament to how groundbreaking the album is. Darey Art-Alade had already established himself as one of the best Soul singers in Nigeria, and this album further butresses that fact and places him amongst the icons of contemporary Nigerian music. The production on the album also deserves a lot of credit and commendation for it’s diversity, authenticity and distinctive qualities which makes it a contender for album of the year and one of the best projects by a Nigerian artiste in 2015
4) Bracket – Alive
Bracket do not get their just due in the Nigerian music industry, and my guess is because their music is constituted by components of Highlife music and is more inspired by and sometimes performed in Igbo language,thus making it more palatable to Eastern/South-south Nigeria and less heralded in the West and North, a fate that has also befallen artistes like Flavour, Phyno, J.Martins, Selebobo, and other artistes who fall under that contemporary highlife sub-genre. Perhaps taking that fact into consideration, they recruited artistes like Olamide, Cynthia Morgan, Tiwa Savage, Diamond Platnumz and DJ Arafat to give the album a more diversified sonic bearing,a ploy that worked out just fine and led to the creation of one of the best albums of their careers thus far in Alive. The biggest song on the album Mama Africa has over 16 million Youtube views as at press time and serves as one of the most viewed pop videos in the country, not to mention the Tekno featured Panya, another top notch track on the album that grew organically into a top 50 hit single. The album showed that not only can they make hit songs after 9 years in the music business but they can also make music that appeals to the newer generation of listeners and consumers as well as different demographics.
5) Skales – Man Of The Year
Less than a year after leaving EME, Skales delivered his long awaited debut album Man Of The Year which turned his life around, got him back into reckoning and solidified his reputation as one of the top Nigerian pop acts of the year. Not only was he one of the most featured artistes in 2015, but Skales was able to strike the right chords with his new-found label Baseline records which signed him last year and immediately proceeded to work on his brand and put him in the studio to prove his worth. The result was a well structured Afro-pop album man of the year which produced singles like Shake Body the biggest song of his career, Mu Jo, Lo Le, and many more bangers which made his album a great listen and also guaranteed that his career was successfully salvaged, Skales has one of the greatest comeback stories in Nigerian music this year, and the future promises to be brighter for the multi-faceted artiste.
6) Seyi Shay – Seyi Or Shay
To say I was pleasantly flabbergasted by Seyi Shays debut album Seyi Or Shay is an understatement of diminishing proportions. The talented diva lived up to her reputation as an international recording artiste who was once signed to Matthew Knowles ( Beyonces dad ) management company. As an artiste who has worked with Melanie C of the Spice Girls and Grime artiste Chipmunk, Seyi knew that expectations were high on her debut album and everybody was keen to see how the UK bred artiste would be able to deliver a body of work that fits in with the current musical disposition obtainable in he Nigerian music industry, and she definitely delivered. Seyi dabbled with Reggae ( Right Now ), Afro-pop ( Crazy Featuring Wizkid ), 90’s R&B ( In Public Featuring Cynthia Morgan ) , Afrobeat ( Loud Featuring Femi Kuti ), therefore displaying her ability to combine different forms of urban music and weave seamlessly between genre lines. The album was worth the wait and is in my opinion the best project released by a female urban artiste this year and it gives a lot of the albums crafted by her male counterparts a run for their money. Seyi Or Shay is a complete body of work that proves that the diva is here to stay and has a lot to offer the Nigerian urban music industry
7) DJ Spinall – My Story
When it comes to Nigerian pop music, one of the best albums that dropped under that sub-genre this year is My Story by DJ Spinall, an ambitious compilation which showcased some of the best Afro-pop vibes performed by some of the biggest names in the industry. Tekno delivered a solid song with Baby. 2Face and Wande Coal collaborated for the first time ever on Money and Sean Tizzle delivered a breathtaking performance on Feel It. Other artistes that made appearances on the project are Olamide, Reminisce, Sojay, Burna Boy, Niniola and Yemi Alade. The album is a crash course on present day Nigerian pop music, and is combined with different sounds and genres by producers like D-Tunes, Pheelz, Drey Beatz, J.Fem, Spellz and E,Kelly who all delivered some of their best production on the project and combined dynamically to give the album a well rounded pop aesthetic.
8) Orezi – The Ghen Ghen Album
6 years after he made his debut in the music industry, Orezi delivered his debut body of work, The Ghen Ghen album which was received to great pomp and fanfare. The project is 20 tracks deep and features Timaya, Wizkid, Davido, Flavour, M.I Abaga and 9ice who all assisted Orezi in bringing his dream to life. My only major criticism of the album is that it should have been a bit shorter and a good A&R direction would have taken care of that, but nonetheless Orezi showed with this album why he has been a relevant force in the industry for over half a decade without a body of work to his name. Having left out an album worth of material from the final cut of the project, Orezi still had 20 tracks for his fans and notable hit songs like Shoki, Shuperu, Ogede,and Baby Abeg to propel the sales and mainstream appeal of the album. It’s an archetypal pop album that compresses different influences ranging from Juju, Reggae and Afro-pop to Afrobeat, Highlife and Dancehall. He also shows spices the album up by performing songs in Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages, a highly commendable skill which will give the album mass appeal in the different geographical regions of Nigeria and Africa at large. It is a befitting debut from an talented artiste who understands the direction of popular music and delivered a project based upon his musical acumen.
Shuperu [ Remix ] Featuring Davido
Under The Blanket
9) JJC – Skillz
A founding member of Big Brovaz, 419 Squad, and most recently Backbone music, JJC aka Skillz has always believed in putting together a collective of creative artistes and making relevant popular music. The self styled producer, singer, rapper, CEO, Video director and performer is considered a Jack-of-all-trades in some circles and has worked with, mentored and broken many artistes like D’Banj, Master Plan, Don Jazzy, Oluwa Tipsy, 2 Kriss and more. He has also proven over the years that he has an undeniable talent for making music and a knack for spotting raw talent and harnessing creativity. After dropping numerous singles throughout the sourse of his career, he decided to deliver his first solo body of work titled Skillz and recruited Olamide, Kate Henshaw, Victoria Kimani, Seyi Shay, Ice Prince and Praiz to deliver a great album which has more than enough potential hit songs and is better than a lot of albums I heard this year. Granted it was not well promoted, and was independently released,but the album is entertaining from start to finish and shows that JJC understands the current terrain of the music industry and how to fit into it. the album is a entertaining, fun packed and an encompassing glimpse into the array of talents which JJC Skillz possesses.
Save The Last Dance
Motiwa Featuring Olamide
10) Wande Coal – Wanted
If Wande Coals sophomore album Wanted does not make a Top 10 pop album list at the end of 2015, then I have no choice but to respectfully question the music acumen of whoever wrote that list. While I totally concur that this album release was a long awaited moment which could have been managed and milked way better by Wande’s team and made to be one of the biggest events of the year, I listened to Wanted and I am quite sure it is one of the best pop albums I heard this year. The truth is that Wande Coal has simply evolved past the “Mushin 2 Mo-hits” sound and experimented with newer and more progressive production on this project. Songs like Superwoman, Same Shit, Ashimapeyin, Baby Hello , Monster and We Ball are all sure-fire hits that will appeal to different musical tastes and showed his evolution into a modern day pop act who can give the likes of Wizkid, Davido, Kiss Daniel and the likes a run for their money. Wande Coal is still extremely relevant to Nigerian urban youth culture and Wanted deserves a mention as one of the best albums of the year.
11) DJ Xclusive – According To X
EME records resident disc jockey DJ Xclusive delivered a well rounded compilation album in June with According To X, a project that featured 30 artistes and 11 producers including some of the biggest names in music on the continent. African rapper of the year Cassper Nyovest from South Africa traded bars with Ghanas number 1 MC Sarkodie and Banky W on Cash Only while Wizkid delivered one of his best performances this year on Jeje, a song that came out in 2014, but sounds fresh till this minute. 2Face Idibia, Timaya, Davido, Olamide, Lil Kesh, Niyola and Burna Boy are some of the artistes that contibuted to the star power of the album as well as its musical quality in equal measure. The album is packed with hit songs of different genres and songs that are strong enough to be nominated for Rap song of the year ( Cash Only ), Dancehall song of the year ( Jam It ) and Pop song of the year ( Wo Le ).
Cash Only Featuring Cassper Nyovest, Anatii, Sarkodie and Banky W
Jeje Featuring Wizkid
Jam It Featuring 2Face Idibia & Timaya
12 ) Burna Boy – On A Spaceship
Burna Boy took his fans on journey to outer space with his sophomore album On A Spaceship, a body of work which I will not say is better than his debut album L.I.F.E, but was good enough to make it into this list beating albums by the likes of Samklef, Naeto C, Iyanya, Oritse Femi and other respected pop artistes. The album was entirely without the production of Leriq who produced LIFE in its entirety , but was instead guided by the sonic bearing provided by J.Fem, Sarz, Orbeat, Simba Tagz, Spellz and J.Stunt who all brought put different sides of the Ragga artiste which we have not seen before.Soke is one of the best Afro-pop songs of the year, perhaps top 10 and he sounded confident and self assured on his organic collaboration with Wande Coal On A Very Good Day, delivered on Mine Tonight, a compelling duet with Jamaican-American artiste Nyanda of Brick and Lace and dedicated a soul-stirring emotive number to his late friend Gabriel “Gambo” Serunkumai on If People Must Die. Before featuring Flavour has a contemporary highlife twist to it, while South-African hip-hop royalty are featured on Birthday in the persons of AKA, Kid X and Da LES. If there is one thing this album shows, it is growth and confidence, and I am sure Burnas third album will be even bigger than this.
13) Tiwa Savage – R.E.D [ Romance, Experession, Dance ]
Tiwa Savage bounced back from her 9-month hiatus in spectacular fashion, when she pulled a “Beyonce” and out of nowhere released a 15-track project Romance, Expression And Dance, without any form of fanfare, or promotion. On the same day The 19th of December she released a colourful and tastefully directed video for African Waist the second promotional single following My Darlin’ which was released last year. The album features 2Face Idibia, Iceberg Slim, Olamide, Reekado Banks and Jamaican dancehall act Busy Signal and was made available as a Christmas gift for free download on the Mavin records official website. The album is an enjoyable one that has its great moments on songs like Love Me Hard, a slow Reggae tinged duet with 2Face Idibia, the middle-eastern sounding Rewind, and also on If I Start To Talk, a well delivered Afro-pop collaboration with Dr Sid. The album is already making its rounds in the market and is going to remain a talking point well into the new year.
Key To The City Featuring Busy Signal