Everyone says AI is the future. After all, it can write a 5,000-word essay faster than any human being. But does AI have taste when it comes to afrobeats music? I reached out to ChatGPT — the Beyoncé of AIs — for its top ten greatest afrobeats albums of all time. While the list looks good, I don’t agree with a couple of things.
Let’s get into this ranking.
10. Once Upon a Time — Tiwa Savage, 2013
Tiwa Savage doesn’t get enough credit for how she has and continues to impact afrobeats. At a time when the Nigerian scene was a boys’ club, she came in and disrupted the system.
But while there was a lot of anticipation for her debut album, Once Upon a Time, after excellent back-to-back singles — from Kele Kele Love to Without My Heart — outside of a few standouts like Middle Passage, Folarin and Ileke, most of the non-singles on the album sounded like filler tracks. That being said, an excellent replacement for this album would be Tiwa’s 2020 masterpiece, Celia, which finally found the balance between vocalist and club-friendly Tiwa.
9. Get Squared — P-Square, 2005
Can we go back to the smooth R&B days when men were dramatic AF, break-dancing shirtless in the rain and singing about how they could treat every girl better than their current man? When they made Get Squared, Peter and Paul were knee-deep in their afro-R&B F-Boy bag. They served breakfast on Temptation, got breakfast in return on Omoge Mi, pulled up to the club in Bizzy Body and ended up with the popo on Oga Police. These men didn’t put Mary Slessor to shame with this album, and it definitely deserves to be on this list.
8. Baddest Guy Ever Liveth — Olamide, 2013
Forget conversations about any big three; Olamide has always been an afrobeats icon. Since his 2010 breakout with Eni Duro, Olamide has used his music as a bridge that connected audiences to the streets of Lagos. Olamide made street pop cool, and now, we have artistes like Naira Marley, Asake, Zinoleesky and Seyi Vibez.
Baddest Guy Ever Liveth is top three Olamide, and it’s not number three. With songs like Eleda Mi O, the fuji-inspired Anifowose and Durosoke, Olamide created an album that started his legacy as an afrobeats GOAT deserving of a spot on this list.
7. Mama Africa — Yemi Alade, 2016
Say what you want about Yemi Alade, but the woman knows her sound and audience. Fresh off the success of 2014’s King of Queens, which had her breakout hit, Johnny, Yemi Alade dropped Mama Africa in 2016 and became a Pan-African rockstar. While the album had bangers like Na Gode, Ferrari and Mama, the production sometimes feels repetitive, but how can anyone hate on that with Asake playing everywhere? Yemi Alade deserves her flowers for the colour she brings to afrobeats, and even Beyoncé agrees.
6. A Good Time — Davido, 2019
We all love Davido, but before A Good Time, I never saw him as an album artist, especially after listening to OBO: The Genesis
5. Superstar — Wizkid, 2011
An album title can describe many things: the emotions the artistes went through while creating it, how they want their audience to feel, or their view of the world. For Wizkid, his debut album Superstar was prophetic.
Guided by Banky W, the singer delivered one of the most impressive debut albums in Nigerian history. With hits like Love My Baby and Pakurumo, and deep cuts like Scatter the Floor and No Lele, Wizkid had the world in his hands and still has it over a decade later. That being said, Made in Lagos, a more cohesive and expansive work, is a better album and should’ve been on this list instead.
4. African Giant — Burna Boy, 2019
Whether or not African Giant is Burna Boy’s best album is up for debate. However, it’d be almost impossible to talk about the trajectory of afrobeats, especially for our generation, without mentioning the album that should’ve gotten Burna Boy his first Grammy.
From award bait collaborations with Damian Marley Jr, M.anifest and Angelique Kidjoe, to viral singles like Anybody, Killin Dem and Dangote, Burna Boy made a statement with African Giant, and the world listened.
3. Expensive Shit — Fela Kuti, 1975
This entry is how you know AI ain’t shit. Fela isn’t an afrobeats artiste, he made afrobeat music.
Afrobeat is a music genre that fuses West African musical styles, such as fuji and highlife, with jazz, soul and funk. The genre is mainly recorded with heavy live instrumentation and was made famous by Fela Kuti, a pioneer. Meanwhile, afrobeats is a term that groups African pop music genres with diverse influences, such as rap, reggae, soul and R&B.
Since Fela doesn’t make afrobeats, he shouldn’t be on this list.
2. Juju Music — King Sunny Ade, 1982
Honestly, I’d never listened to King Sunny Ade’s Juju Music until now — let me tell the truth and shame the devil. However, listening to the album for the first time was a major experience because I realised I knew most of the songs. Living in Lagos and attending events with my mum introduced me to jams like Ja Funmi, Ma Jaiye Oni, and 365 is My Number. King Sunny Ade’s music makes it hard to pick between sitting down to relax and standing up to bust a move. This is an incredible album. However, whether or not it’s an afrobeats album is up for discussion.
1. Zombie — Fela Kuti, 1977
Fela’s Zombie is an iconic album. With just four tracks that last almost an hour altogether, the album is an enjoyable political statement that reminds us that not much has changed since 1977; after all, the government is still fucking us over. But despite being a great album, I’d like to refer to my last Fela entry. Dear, this isn’t an afrobeats album; it’s afrobeat. So much for the “intelligence” part of Artificial Intelligence.