Happy New Year sweeties, 2021 was definitely a shocker . Who could have predicted the many dramas that ensued. From the pandemic which doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime now to the strings of riots and protests that filled the year. 2021 definitely gave us a run for our money. Even with all these however, it was still a beautiful year for African music. Our music keeps expanding out the shores of the continent to foreigners intrigued by our loud drums and thumping percussions. Lots of strides were made this year by artists, thanks to the pandemic, lots of time on our hands, technology, social media and dance challenges. Relatively new artists were able to gain a large loyal fanbase just through streaming platforms and Tiktok alone . Its been such a fun and exciting year and we are so glad we could be here to dish you all the latest songs and music entertainment there was. In that light, we bring you a recap of the hottest projects that made our lists as the best works of 2021. We know we’ll get lots of debates but really this list is unbeatable. Let us know what you think in the comment section. In no particular order, we have;
1) Providence – Ladipoe; We kick off this list with Providence by Ladipoe which housed the tracks LOTR II, Afro Jiggy, Law of Attraction, Running, Providence. This Mavin rapper employed the help of fellow Mavin star Rema, YBNL’s Fireboy & Ghanian songstress Amaarae. This album is making our list for top albums of the year because of it’s uniqueness and artistry. We dare say it was one of the best Nigerian rap albums of 2021.
2)Love and Highlife – The Cavemen; This is one project that gave us the palm wine music vibes and as retro-inspired as the group is, they have created a sound that helps Gen Z connect with the genre of music of the 50s and 60s. The tracks on the album include – Teach me how to love, New pammy, Biri Ft Made Kuti, Kpomkom Ft Etuk Ubong, The one, Stranger, Selense, Brother’s Keeper, Ihunanya, Nkari, Love and Trials, Azana Ft PC Lapez, Ugo, Were Kwushin Ft Cobhams Asuquo, Udo, Dance like cavy, Alright with Mama and Good people. This album borrows a bit from the music of legends like Oliver De Coque and Osita Osadebe. The subject of the project is love and philosophy. Now, that is a unique quality. It inspires merriment with a little bit of palm wine, it also brings highlife to the younger generation.
3)Natarja – Rexxie and Victony; Natarja showcases the prowess of two artistes like we have never seen before. This project highlights the benefits of utilizing each other’s strength and mixing it together to produce a distinct sound. The songs on the project include – Like dat and Ego.
4) We’re All Alone in this together – Dave; This project houses 12 solid tracks; We’re All Alone, Verdansk, Clash, In The Fire, Three Rivers, System, Lazarus, Law of Attraction, Both asides of A Smile, Twenty to One, Heart Attack, Survivors Guilt and collaborations with Stormzy, Snoh Aalagra, Boj, Wizkid and James Blake. The singer born David Orobosa Omoregie described this work as self referencing; it is self-aware. It captured his life, ambition, music and career.
5)Sometimes I might be introvert – Little Simz; The album discusses the singers quest to balance her split personalities as a public figure and her true self which she dubs an introvert. She poses questions to herself about her introversion and protecting her energy. The album also explores growing up in London and how the environment has shaped her. It is a quest to her true identity as she wrestles between authenticity, validation, connection and her lived experience as a woman.
6)Clone Wars Vol.5 The algorythm – Show Dem Camp; The Algorithm is an amazing project that sees the talented duo Ghost and Tec giving us hits back to back. Seven months into 2021, these rappers have blessed our ears with fifteen tracks that once again shake up the status quo in the industry. The tracks on this album include – Intro, YKTV, Align Ft Ladipoe, Rise of the underdog ft Tomi Thomas, Draw me close ft Shalom Dubas, Focus and drive, Big Liko, Tycoon ft Reminisce and Mojo, Big dream (Big Liko), New norm, Vipers ft Jesse Jagz and Tomi Thomas, Ghost Rant, Streets ft Ogranya, Moss and Alpha Ojimi, Human Ft Tomi Owo, and Bright skies. This project was definitely worth listening to. Each song was easily relatable and we think everyone would testify that the storytelling was on point. This project served as a time capsule of everything that happened in 2020 & the first half of 2021.
7)LVNATTN – Lojay; In this project, rising Afro-fusion star, Lojay, taps into the production prowess of Nigerian producer Sarz to deliver LVNATTN. This was one of the hottest songs of 2021!! This EP is too sweet. I mean with tracks like Tonongo, Park O x3, LV N ATTN Ft Wizkid, Panty and Monalisa this project is sure to keep you on your feet. Lojay’s silky vocals plus Sarz magical production and that feature Omoooo!! This is a mad jam. LVNATTN rides on Lojay’s smoothness and Sarz is an incredible producer. All in all, LVNATTN blends different world genres into one joint and that is impressive.
8)Somewhere between Beauty and Magic – Joeboy; This album comes as a 14-track pack designed to showcase the beauty and magic in music. Songs on the album include – Count me out, Focus, Number one, Police, Door, Show me, Runaway, Lonely, Consent, Oshe, OH, Sugar mama, Better Thing, and Celebration. The title of the album fits the description with the artist’s amazing performance. The album is lovable and listeners can get lost in the stellar space that is created by the artist.
9)Esan and Harmattan & Winter – Brymo; Last year, Brymo wowed his audience when he dropped twin albums on the 9th of September 2021. Harmattan & Winter is a mellifluous compilation of Folk, R&B and slow balladas while Esan is its yoruba counterpart. 9 : Èsan were mixed and mastered by MikkyMe while 9:Harmattan & Winter by Bigfootinyourface. These albums made our list because of the conscientiousness and intentionality behind them.
10)If Orange was a place – Tems; The leading vibe, Tems gave us music that is to be listened to and enjoyed thoroughly. This EP is a mixture of R&B and Afropop and the tracks include – Crazy things, Found Ft Brent Faiyaz, Replay, Avoid things and Vibe out. If orange was a place is an introduction To Tems’s own universe whilst doubling on the angst that powered singles like “Mr Rebel” & “Looku Looku”. Tems gives us a glimpse of her deepest fears and paints the anxieties of those who listen to her music. This EP talks about her time in prison, down to the artist’s emotions and she also shared a part of herself and gives her fans an escape through music.
11)Lagos City Vice 2 – Wani; On this album, Wani is transparent with his journey as he navigates the life of an independent artist and the vices of Lagos city. He does this with the tracks Grown Girl, Jailer, Times Two, Level, Smoke Out the Window, Hennessy, Calvin Clean, Faji and God Bless The Child (GBTC).This significant R&B fusion album is a follow up to his Lagos City Vice 1.
12)Barnabas– Kizz Daniel; In this work of art, Kizz Daniel talks about the different phases of his life as a lover, a youth and a dreamer. The songs on this project are Pour me water, Addict, Eh God, Oshe Ft The Cavemen. Burn, Lie, and Skin Ft Kevin Colt. Kizz Daniel’s ‘Barnabas’ EP shows that romantic songs don’t have to be explicit to show love and finally, an artist decides to talk about the psychological problems associated with addictions and societal issues like skin colour.
13)Sorry I’m Late-Buju; Why did this make the list? You might be wondering. Well, this project has seven tracks that have a bit of everything!!! This project places Buju as one of the best songwriters operating in the industry right now. I feel this project is a tip of what fans should expect from Buju, it is not there yet but the project is good enough to keep our attention for more. The songs on the project include – Daniel Benson, Never stopped, Kilometer, Something sweet, Ogechukwu Ft the Cavemen, For here, and Ido. Buju exposes different sides of himself as a human, a lover and a grieving son. Above all, Buju should be praised for his well thought out arrangement of the tracks on the EP.
14)19&Dangerous – Ayra Starr; 19 and Dangerous is an interesting Afropop/RnB album embodying unique sounds. The songs move from upbeat to serious and emotional, then angsty and somehow moves back to upbeat. This album served stellar songs like Bloody Samaritan, Beggi Beggi, Fashion Killer, Snitch, Amin and more. Fousheé and Ckay are the only artists featured. While it was Ayra’s debut, she definitely made a statement.
15)Water and Garri – Tiwa Savage; The EP comprises 5 songs Work Fada, Ade Ori, Tales by Moonlight, Somebody’s Son and Special Kinda. Tiwa employed the collaborative efforts of both International and African talents. Featured on the album are Nas, Rich King, Amaarae, Brandy and Tay Iwar. She recently released the video for Tales by Moonlight and it is currently trending. This album put out very successful songs which were even strong enough to turn our attention from scandalous tapes back to Tiwa’s wonderful music.
16)Sex Over Love – Blaqbonez; Chocolate city rapper, Blaqbonez unveiled his stellar project “Sex over Love” album. This rap project contains 14 tracks with major collaborations. Artists featured in this album include; Nasty C, Amaarae, Buju, Joeboy, Tiwa Savage, Laycon, Psycho YP, AQ, Superboy Cheque, 1DA Banton. This album went on to sit at the number 1 spot on the chart for weeks in Nigeria. The singer announced it was a dream come true.
17)Cheque – Bravo; Now, this is an impressive body of work for a debut album. ‘Bravo’ shows the dexterity of Cheque’s Afropop skills. The songs on this album include – Rockstar, Dangerous, Call me baby, No one else, LOML ft Olamide, Blind, Body, History, Sweet love, Change, Anybody, Pray and Free. It is no argument this album channels the artiste intunement with the evolution of global pop and Trap. Bravo allows Cheque to explore different sounds without staying in the confines of certain genres.
18)Before We Fall Asleep – Johnny Drille; Anchored by impeccable songwriting across sound beds replete with traditional, neo-classical and alté inflections, BeforeWe Fall Asleep is an absorbing excursion into Johnny Drille’s richly textured cosmos. The album houses 14 tracks with features from Don Jazzy, Styl Plus, Ladipoe, Chyldee, Ayra Starr, Cill Soul, Kwittee and Lagos Community Gospel choir.
19)UY Scuti – Olamide; Named after one of the largest stars in the Universe, We see a new dimension to Olamide in his most recent works, where there is tremendous improvement to his production quality. This Afropop/Dancehall album sought to reach a more global audience with it’s sonic fusion of Afrosounds.
20)Yaadman Kingsize – Yung L; This 11 track album released in the early month of January 2021 was filled to the brim with soulfully- distilled riddims. With the tracks Yaadman, Operator, Womanizer, Puna, Opp, Rasta, Bwoy, Eve bounce (remix), Cool & Ease, Police & Thief and Land of Light, Yung L distilled reggae, rock, afro-fusion, and afrobeat for a memorable opening of 2021.
21) Fluid – Ria Sean; Deploying her signature fusion of Afropop and R&B, Ria Sean effortlessly saunters between different sounds on Fluid, imbuing West African rhythms and elements of lo-fi with soulful lyricism. Between the affirming, Dehveen-produced “Money Bag” and tropical percussion of “Stamina“, her sensual take on Afro-fusion finds a home on “Satisfy My Soul”: “You always feel like home,” A very interesting debut.
We can’t finish this list without mentioning some notable songs which did exceptionally well last year. These songs were too good to be ignored.
First up is Love Nwantiti – Ckay: What a year CKay has had. “Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah),” a track recorded two years ago, without a doubt was one of the biggest songs in 2021. It’s hard keeping up with its phenomenal and unprecedented chart success, but we’ll try: it was the number one song on YouTube’s Global Chart, getting an all-time Nigerian record of 73.7million views in a week. It’s also the most Shazamed song in the world, it was number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100. and number 3 on the UK singles chart, ahead of Drake and BillieEllish. Plus, a continental record of 25 million monthly followers on Spotify confirms this. It has truly been a great year for Ckay.
Peru – Fireboy DML: Another single that shook the music industry in 2021 is the hit song ‘Peru’ by Fireboy . It has over 6 million streams on Apple Music and has also garnered large numbers on other music streaming platforms. Peru did really well charting in 20 countries on Apple Music including the UK, Top 5 on NG Apple Music. Top 5 on audiomack, Top 3 on Boomplay. Charting in 76 countries on Apple Music (worldwide) including the US, UK, Spain, colombia, Italy, Portugal. China. Shazam (worldwide) new peak #26. The music video also has a total of 8.3 million views on YouTube. British singer Ed Sheeran also jumped on the remix of the hit single and OMG!!! It is one mad jam that has raked up a lot of numbers all over the world.
Sad Girlz Luv Money; Ghanian-American singer Amaarae featured Moliy in her smash single Sad Girlz Luv Money from her debut 2020 album The Angel You Don’t Know. A song about needing to make more money and uncontrollable dancing achieved massive popularity on Tiktok after a remix with American singer Kali Uchis. It climbed several international charts like No #1 on the global Spotify Viral chart, #1 on TikTok U.S. Top Tracks chart, #1 on the Shazam US chart and #29 on the UK Singles chart including reaching number 80 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Essence remix; Essence remix with Tems and Justin Bieber became the first African song to top the Billboard Chart for R&B/Hip-Hop songs airplay. “Essence” is the first Nigerian song in history to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Global 200. The song received a nomination at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Global Music Performance. He also made history as the first African artist to sell out the 02 Arena consecutively for 3days. Essence was really the song of the summer. Wizkid needs to let us in on who his Jazzman is.
Once again, Happy New Year from everyone at the PGM Club. We are back and better with the latest gists, trendiest songs and music vibes from the continent. Stayed tuned.