This year alone, we were met with an overnight Twitter ban and also threatened with another ban that almost prevented our fave IJGBs from spoiling us with foreign currency this Christmas. Through all of these things, music has held us up together in one piece, helping us think, connect or just whine our waists. From the artists we discovered by ourselves to those we stole from other people’s playlists, this has been a good year for Nigerian music. Looking back, we decided to rank some of the albums that gave us good vibes (some made us cry sha) this year.
20. SGaWD – Savage Bitch Juice EP
The rap girls are making an entry into the scene and honestly, we’re here for it. Since she started popping up on our radar with features on songs with Dusten Truce and Sute Iwar, this fearless and unapologetic rapper has demanded our attention. Featuring Princess Mami and Somadina, on her debut EP, SGaWD reminds us that she’s the shit and the rest of us are just playing catch-up.
19. Buju – Sorry I’m Late
Buju is everywhere these days. Providing hooks for artists like Ladipoe, Blaqbonez, and Timaya, you can hardly go through a full day and not hear Buju’s voice somewhere. Buju released the EP Sorry I’m Late to a lot of anticipation. Does it match the energy we expected from the guy whose vocals carried the year? No. But we also can’t deny that this was quite an interesting record.
18. Kizz Daniel – Barnabas
Kizz Daniel is a certified hitmaker at this point. Since Woju attained wedding anthem status, he has switched record labels and changed his name. But despite all these changes, Kizz Daniel has remained reliable, pushing out earworm after earworm. On Barnabas, he maintains the same relatability that has made his songs slap over the years. While we’d like for some artistic evolution, the project carries enough weight to land itself on this list.
17. Ajebo Hustlers – Kpos Lifestyle, Vol. 1
If there was one song that soundtracked the #EndSARS protest of 2020, it’s Ajebo Hustler’s Barawo. Highlighting most of the issues young Nigerians were talking about in their demand for better, the song immediately catapulted this group to the top of the charts. But how do you follow up a song — no, a cultural movement — like that? The result is their debut album, Kpos Lifestyle, Vol.1, which sees the duo create standout moments while maintaining the same in-your-face Port Harcourt energy that made them popular in the first place.
16. Psycho YP – Euphoria EP
Psycho YP is in a league of his own when it comes to making trap and rap in Nigeria. Breaking out of the “Abuja-based” tagline to become a formidable force in his own right, Euphoria shows the artist at his best — hyper expressive, intense and confident AF.
15. Ladipoe – Providence EP
After years of mind-blowing guest appearances and some standout solo moments, Providence EP introduces one of our favorite rappers to a new, larger audience. Songs like Love Essential and Law of Attraction are sure to make it to your bedroom playlist, but it’s on the title track, Providence that Ladipoe reminds us who’s boss. Is this the same Ladipoe that gave us Can’t Forget and the iconic rap verse on Show Dem Camp’s Victoria Island of Broken Dreams? No, but that’s okay, the change here is a welcome one.
14. Prettyboy D-O – Love is War
Prettyboy D-O may just be to this generation what artists like Baba Fryo, Danfo Drivers and Daddy Showkey were to listeners during their time. Drawing from the late 1990s and early 2000s, Prettyboy’s influence goes beyond his multicolored hair and fashion choices; his music is brash and convoluted in a way that keeps you hungry for more. Love is War, his third album in four years, explores love (obviously) and what it means to be a young Nigerian navigating a country that keeps moving mad.
13. Show Dem Camp – Clone Wars Vol.5 – The Algorhythm
When discussing Nigeria’s rap or alternative scene, Show Dem Camp is sure to come up at some point. A decade after releasing their debut album, The Dreamer Project, Tec and Ghost have continued to remain relevant fixtures on both scenes. While their Palmwine series might bring them a lot of commercial attention, it’s the Clone Wars series that binds real SDC stans together. And in this installment, they don’t disappoint either.
12. Teni – Wondaland
After making a major break into the industry with the fuji-inspired Askamaya in 2019, Teni finally put out her debut album this year, and it was worth the wait. Covering afropop, trap, highlife, R&B and yes, house music, Teni gave us bop after bop with songs like For You and Injure Me. But it’s songs like Hustle—which sounds a lot like Uyo Meyo—that remind us that our sugar mummy is an intentional storyteller.
11. Blaqbonez – Sex Over Love
Blaqbonez is to Nigeria what Lil Nas X is to American pop culture. Self-marketing his way into our playlists and hearts, Blaqbonez not only understands the power of the internet, he has also mastered the art of sharing authentic and relatable content. This same authenticity is evident on his album Sex Over Love. While a lot of questions have been raised about the strength of Nigeria’s rap scene, this album proves that rap doesn’t always have to be a monolith; it could be many things all at once.
10. Cavemen – Love and Highlife
In a year where GOATS like Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy and Davido all dropped albums, one album that stood out from the pack was Roots by The Cavemen. Continuing their two-man mission of introducing highlife to a new generation, Love and Highlife is an expansion on the story they started last year. Featuring appearances by Made Kuti and legendary producer Cobhams Asuquo, this album has “modern classic” written all over it.
9. Joeboy – Somewhere Between Beauty and Magic
You have to have been living under a rock not to have heard at least four or five songs off this album. Focus was a regular on TikTok and Instagram stories, while Show Me was playing literally every time we turned on the radio. If there’s something we’ve learnt this year, it’s that this is Joeboy’s world, and the rest of us are just squatting in it.
8. Tiwa Savage – Water and Garri EP
When Tiwa Savage announced a new EP barely a year after dropping the best album of her decade-long career, we were shocked but excited. Water & Garri proves yet again that Tiwa is great at creating cohesive sounding EPs (Sugarcane, everybody?). While the album opens with Nas and features a collaboration with her vocal role model, Brandy, it’s the songs with alternative acts Amaarae and Tay Iwar that carry the heavy punches on this EP.
7. Tems – If Orange was a Place
From cracking the Billboard Hot 100 to securing a Grammy nomination and hanging out with Adele and Rihanna, there’s no denying that we all want to be Tems right now. If last year’s For Broken Ears found Tems asking existential questions while telling madmen not to call her phone, If Orange was a Place shows a more confident artist, one who finally understands, but still doesn’t buy into the hype around her.
6. Femi and Made Kuti – Legacy +
Does being a Kuti automatically translate to being super talented? We have a lot of questions about this because why did Femi and Made Kuti snap so hard on this cross-generational album? Already a Grammy contender, this album is a beautiful nod to the past and a clear sign that the Kuti clan can step into the future without losing the ethos of what made them iconic in the first place.
5. Lojay and Sarz – LV N ATTN EP
Sarz has told us time and time again that he’s not our mate, and while we already believe him, every year, he drops something to make sure we don’t forget. LV N ATTN finds Sarz working with Lojay to create a record that soundtracks a wild night out in the city. From the strip club on Tonongo to the dancefloor on Monalisa, this EP is filled with bangers. We can’t stop listening, and to be honest, it’s not like we want to.
4. Tay Iwar – Love and Isolation
Inspired by the lockdown, Tay Iwar’s sixth project is an elite body of work that will make you want to give someone your mumu button, eat hot breakfast and still fall in love again like it’s jazz. Minimalistic and burning with intensity, we didn’t even know how much we needed this EP until we started listening to it.
3. Ayra Starr – 19 & Dangerous
This time last year, less than a handful of people outside the Mavin headquarters could identify the name “Ayra Starr”. Fast-forward to today and Ayra Starr has cemented her spot as Nigeria’s first teenage female pop star and one of the most in-demand artists of the moment. With confidence way beyond her years, Ayra owns every track on this album. Not all of us are 19, but we can totally relate to wanting to be a bad bitch every day. A rare no-skips project, 19 & Dangerous was one of our musical highlights of the year.
2. Olamide – UY Scuti
This is Olamide’s 11th album. Yes, not one, not two, but 11 whole albums, and we’re not disappointed. While Carpe Diem was filled with hits like Loading and Infinity, this album replaces crowd-pleasers to show an evolution in his lyricism and approach to story-telling. He also reminds us of the importance of fighting for our lives by avoiding broke niggas. Talk about life nuggets.
1. Wizkid – Made in Lagos (Deluxe Version)
Yes, we know the album originally came out in 2020 but was Anoti, Mood, or Steady on the old one? No. If Wiz drops deluxe plus next year, best believe it would make our end-of-the-year list again. Periodt.