Editors Pick

Muyiwa Akhigbe is on an unending artistic journey

In an oversaturated music industry teeming with young and vibrant acts, Muyiwa Akhigbe is part of a cadre of acts bent on standing out. He appears to be playing the long game, constantly exploring the road less travelled sonically rather than hopping on radio-friendly and club-ready formulas.

After experimenting with several other genres, Muyiwa seems to have found an anchor in what he describes as Afro-futurist sound. This is a fresh genre he stumbled upon while working in the studio with friend and frequent collaborator, BankyOnDBeatz. This new sound is a refreshing potpourri of Afrocentric and western futurist sounds spiced with elements of funk, afro-jazz and EDM.

In his words, “Afro-Futurist is a blend of Western Futuristic sound and also Afrocentric sound. When I mean Western, we are taking elements from EDM, House, and a little bit of their contemporary Pop and fusing it with the Afrocentric theme music that we have.”

Muyiwa and BankyOnDBeatz have now gone on to release four successive joint records that have been received with open arms. And what started as just an exploration of new musical complexities is now slowly building up into a project. Muyiwa even promises it could morph into something way bigger.

For their last 2019 release, ‘Better’, they both caught many off-guard with their promo run. They made customized cover arts for fans, industry go-to-guys as well as music influencers which were used as Twitter avatars and headers.  This simple but brilliant promo move sent ripples around Nigeria’s Music-Twitter community. People got curious. Everyone was trying to make sense of what was going on, thereby spiking anticipation for the coming single.

For ‘Better’ things were different. That song is already one of my best-performing songs of all time. The whole album art thing reduced the stress for me. It made people want to listen to the song,” Muiywa tells me over the phone. 

The 25-year-old singer is also a strong believer of collaborations. Just before the string of releases with BankyOnDBeatz, he released a joint project. Teaming up with rising lyricist, Rhye Ali, Muyiwa dropped a thematic rap mixtape titled “Conversations.”

“Art is just a journey that we pass through every day of our lives and we don’t know where it would end. So it is me just wanting to experiment with things and the idea of collaborations is one of them,” he says

PGM:  Why are you big on collaborations?

Muyiwa: Art is a form of expression and I like the idea of shared expressions. The whole concept of ‘let’s bring our expressions together and see what comes out of it’. Just because it’s art and it’s supposed to be unique. Art is just a journey that we pass through every day of our lives and we don’t know where it would end. So it is me just wanting to experiment with things and the idea of collaborations is one of them. 

PGM:  So how do you choose the people that you work with? Is there a process or method to it?

Muyiwa: I trust my instincts a lot. I don’t put too much thought into it. If I wake up tomorrow and tell myself I want to do a joint project with someone, shortly after that time the person would just come to my mind and I’d know that yes, this is the person.

PGM: Over your past few releases, you’ve been working solely on your new Afro-futurist sound with BankyOnDBeatz. Why did you decide to get involved with that?

Muyiwa: I am a non-conformist. I like to travel the road less used. In most cases, I’m just unconventional in my approach. I just thought to myself that the way sounds have evolved over the years, I want to be part of the people who have contributed to the advancement of sound as a whole. So threading a new part, trying to mix different sounds to create a new one is also part of that journey. Afro-Futurist music is something that in a couple of years, people would see why there is a need for it. It’s just good for someone to start so that others can continue.

PGM: How did this sound come together?

Muyiwa: At first it was like a coincidence. And then it happened again and I was like, there is a pattern here and this cannot just be some coincidence. So we went back and started doing stuff. Afro-Futurist is a blend of Western Futuristic sound and also Afrocentric sound. When I mean Western, we are taking elements from EDM, House, and a little bit of their contemporary Pop and fusing it with the Afrocentric theme music that we have. The percussion and everything it represents. The Africanness and the chords, the progressions are not normal. Everything that we have laid down has tried to bring this sound out as very intentional.

PGM: Is this all building up to a project?

Muyiwa:  This is building up to so many things if I’m being honest. As I said, art is a journey and you just have to keep going through it, experiencing it. Whatever it throws at you, you just see it as a challenge or as a good thing and just keep going. So in this case also, it is not only going to lead to a project. It’s going to lead to other projects and as long as we keep creating and as long as we keep staying true to what we are here for then the sky is the starting point. 

PGM: So given this climate whereby streaming has affected the way we consume music. Albums are slowly losing their relevance and sanctity. Do you believe in the sanctity of albums?

Muyiwa: As an artist, you don’t just wake up, or say you just started singing a year before and say you want to release an album. An album for me is that you’ve fully understood your sound. You’ve also understood your audience and you’ve found a way of making your sound and your audience meet at a middle ground. So that when it’s being released, they catch it the way you want them to catch it. If you’ve been able to figure out these three things then you can now say you are ready to work on an album. So it’s a thing of going through the process. That’s why we have stuff like EPs and mixtapes to see what works for you and what does not work for you. 

Like I told you it’s just a journey. And even when you do the album, it might not be efficient in those three areas. But then it’s just part of the journey so that the next one can be greater. So yes, I think albums are very necessary. Even mixtapes and EPs are winning “Album of the Year” at the Grammys. It’s part of your digital resume as an artist. It’s your legacy. You’d be known by those things that you put out.

PGM: On your imminent project do you have any persons you’re working with?

Muyiwa – The project is very dynamic. In terms of artists, we only featured one person and she’s a spoken word artist. But there are other features from artists but not like singing and all of that. We kind of picked off some of the elements on “Conversations” into this one that we are working on. 

PGM: What and who are your biggest influences? 

Muyiwa:  I’d start with what. I’m influenced by life itself. Life experiences, the things we see every day, that’s like my first source of inspiration. Abstract phenomenon also. I could sing about clouds just because I feel good looking at them. I’m also inspired by moods. When it comes to what, it’s daily happenings, abstract happenings and my mood. 

But when it comes to who, I try to consume a lot. I could get inspired by anyone and any type of music. It could just be the way the drums go on this and I’d be like this is mad, I need to adopt this. But without any argument, everybody knows that Brymo is the one whose music has been influential to my kind of music. There are two songs in my first project “Dear Music” that sounded like Brymo. Basically, alternative music in Nigeria. It’s from the alternative sound and also the alte sound. I try to listen to many of these people and they influence me even sometimes without knowing. Just because I have been exposed to their content, the influence could just pop up. 

PGM: So what is Muyiwa doing when he’s not doing music?

Muyiwa:  I’m doing 9 to 5 (laughs). I am an art director at an advertising agency so that’s what I’m on when I’m not doing music. 

PGM: Are you independent? How has it been navigating this industry as an independent act?

Muyiwa – Yes, I am independent. I am not signed to any imprint but I have mine which I started two years back – OLMA Records. And for navigating, na as the gbas gbos dey come daily na so we dey fight am. Every day, you’d just experience one new challenge that you didn’t expect. But because we love what we do, we’d find a to colter. And once we are done with that, we move to the next challenge. As we keep meeting them, we continue giving them gbas gbos with God on our side and hard work. It has been an adventurous journey and it will still be. 

This interview has been slightly edited for length and clarity. 

PGM LIVE with BUJU, GiGi Atlantis & Solis

Friday, 31st January was our first edition of PGM Live in 2020 and it took place at the newly reopened BLD by Play on Admiralty Way.
Pushing Good Music Live intimate session featured the sassy Gigi Atlantis, the soulful Solis and the salient rising vocalist BUJU.
We also had surprise performances from Evelle, Willifmore (The Poet) and the DJs on the night were DJ Ibbie & DJ Honeeay.
The amazing performances electrified the audience and soon had everyone on their feet singing and dancing while sipping on Jameson Irish Whiskey.
In its usual fashion, before the performances kicked off, Douglas Jekan (PGM – Founder), welcomed fellow music lovers and spoke about the recent displacement of Tarkwa Bay residents and the PGM Club’s intention to raise funds for the affected victims. He also urged attendees to contribute whatever they can and to keep the conversation alive.
Thanks to all the donors, so far, we have raised N485, 000 (Naira).
If you wanna donate, please click this link
THE NEXT PGM LIVE ON FEB 22, 2020 (ABUJA)
About The PGM Club
The PGM Club is a leading platform for unearthing and showcasing genuinely talented musicians with good music. Our believe is that good music should be embraced as an art that not only promotes freedom of expression and stimulates the mind, but also promotes self-awareness and consciousness.
For more information email admin@thepgmclub.com
And, follow the club on all social – @thepgmclub

Crayon Is Bound To Win Over Unbelievers With ‘Kpano’

When Mavin newbie Crayon released his debut and introductory “Cray Cray” EP, a lot of people didn’t know what to make of it. Undoubtedly, the boy had talent but many just couldn’t help seeing him in the shadow of Mavin’s golden boy, Rema.

In May 2019, Crayon was officially unveiled on the Mavins’ Don Jazzy-led posse cut, ‘All is in Order’ that got people asking questions.  Just a couple of weeks after, he also laid down a solid hook for Ladipoe’s fling with Afropop, ‘Based on Kpa’. 

But with ‘So Fine’ a standout cut off his EP, Crayon laid every doubt to rest about his talent, delivering a soothing yet body-moving love number that radiates a level of confidence rarely found in burgeoning acts. And with a label with far-reaching tentacles like Mavin, Crayon’s name was everywhere although the project recorded a middling success. 

Now, the singer has regrouped and is bent on winning over unbelievers with his first post-“Cray Cray” single, ‘Kpano’. 

Like most releases in this streaming-led climate, ‘Kpano’ is a very short but sweet affair, running just over two minutes of magic. On this stunner, the young singer needs no assists as he sounds super-charged crooning about his love interest over a heavily packed Ozedikus beat headed straight for the clubs.

Steaming with overwhelming crossover potential, this might just be the spark Crayon needs to propel him to mainstream consciousness and perhaps dominance.

Enjoy the record above.

The PGM Club’s Best 20 Songs In 2019

2019 in retrospect was quite a good year as far as the Nigerian music industry is concerned. Over the past 364 days, Afrobeats, Nigeria’s major music export, got more visibility on the world stage, we experienced so many exciting releases and bespoke rollouts. But most of all, we witnessed an influx of a range of young, vibrant and talented artists that dominated the airwaves such that people started to speak of a change of guard in the industry that up until recently was dominated by a duopoly. Amidst a tidal wave of releases this year, we at the PGM Club have come to put out a list of our top 20 records that believe dominated the year. 

Tems – Try Me

A follow up to her year-opening stunner, ‘Looku Looku‘, ‘Try Me’ is a breakout anthem for the oppressed, underrated and understated who have been suppressed from use and abuse. Over a simple and laidback beat, a spirited Tems is on a mission to set herself free as she continuously asks why her subjugator keeps pushing her to the wall.

With a powerful sing-along-hook, this song is so infectious that’d get you in the zone right from your first listen. If there was ever any doubt about Tems skill as a dazzling vocalist and songwriter, ‘Try Me‘ puts that to rest. The record has gained much traction on the airwaves and its video has racked up over a million views on YouTube.

Lady Donli x The Cavemen – Cash

Cash’ is the lead single off Lady Donli’s well-received debut album, “Enjoy Your Life” that got blessed with a Davido-assisted remix. The original single which Lady Donli revealed was recorded at a time when she was broke and frustrated soundtracks our unending hustle and bustle for money. The song has one simple message; this life is one so enjoy it as much as you can. 

Teni- Billionaire

The lead single Teni’s her 6-track EP of the same title, ‘Billionaire’ is that anthem that reaffirmed Teni’s position as a hitmaker after near-misses released earlier in the year.  Produced by Pheelz, ‘Billionaire’ is an up-tempo record, rich in instrumentation and overflows with ambition, providing a perfect blend of a stunning dance record with declarative and prayerful lyrics. Proudly weaving together Yoruba and English over ‘alujo‘-laced percussion, Teni sings of her lofty dreams of being a billionaire as well as the luxury and excess that comes with being one. She also backed this record with a brilliant TG Omori-directed video.

Mojo ft Prettyboy DO – Chop Life Crew

A highly enjoyable record, ‘Chop Life Crew’ as its title suggests is a not-so-subtle reminder that life is short and it is to be enjoyed to the fullest. Both D-O and MOJO deliver energetic verses that drive the message home over a slick production with rolling hi-hats and hard-hitting kicks. The Ronchi-produced record also houses a catchy-hook that gets you bobbing your head and whistling along upon every listen.

Rema – Dumebi

A standout cut off his 4-track self-titled debut EP “Rema“, ‘Dumebi’ is that monster hit that speedily propelled the freshly unveiled Mavins act to stardom.  A very catchy and danceable Afropop record, ‘Dumebi‘ alongside its accompanying video undoubtedly dominated the airwaves throughout 2019 making Rema a household name in no time.  

Reekado Banks – Rora

After a brief self-imposed hiatus, Reekado Banks came back with a King Tuzi-produced bang titled ‘Rora’. Undoubtedly, Reekado Bank took the doubts out of our minds and hushed naysayers with this sleeper hit. Over the mid-tempo Afropop record, Reekado Banks is in full woman-worship mode as he adulates his love interest begging her to ‘calm down’.

Joeboy – Baby

Very early into the year, Joeboy eased himself into the hearts of many with his Afropop love record, ‘Baby’. Over the soft but sparkling instrumental, the young singer openly declares love for his sweetheart, gifting us one of the best sing-along hooks of 2019. And ever since the release of this chart-topping smash, the Empawa has been on a joy ride to stardom and mainstream success. Proving he was no fad, the young singer also followed up with equally beautiful songs, ‘Beginning‘ and ‘Don’t Call Me Back‘ and an impressive 5-track EP, “Love & Light.”

Sarz & WurlD – Mad

Sarz and WurlD finally treated us to their much-teased “I Love Girls With Trobul” EP this year, and one of the standouts off the tape is ‘Mad’. Across the infectious record, WurlD’s artistic strengths are on full display as the song is well written and delivered with a solid vocal performance. He gives us a peek into his “trobul’d” relationship with Sade, one that isn’t exactly going through the best of times. Sarz’s production on the record is so thrilling that the song immediately ensnares you upon its first listen.

Santi – Sparky

A single off his debut album “Mandy and the Jungle,” ‘Sparky’ finds Santi crooning over a soft and minimalist production which leaves enough room for the dominance of the vocals and polished delivery of the dreadlocked singer. Just like the visuals for ‘Freaky’, the accompanying visuals for ‘Sparky’ appears to be highly inspired by the 90s Nollywood culture which others have subjected to ridicule. 

Johnny Drille – Papa

Released in celebration of Father’s Day, ‘Papa’ finds the Mavin Records alternative-folk singer appreciating his dad and crooning about his spirituality spurred and serviced by his father. Backed mainly by stifling strings and solemn keys, Johnny Drille opens the record by recounting the fatherly advice he was given when he was much younger to have his life guided and guarded by faith and prayers. He then describes how his father keeps in touch with him regularly and reminds him not to let go of his spirituality in the strange land he currently finds himself.

 Boj x Kwesi Arthur, Darko Vibes – Awolowo

Over the record produced by the acclaimed ‘alte playmaker’, GMK, BOJ recruits a team of Ghana’s finest; Kwesi Arthur, Darko Vibes and Joey B. The song also features additional vocals by Zamir and guitar by friend-of-the-family, Tomi Thomas.

Across the record, BOJ delivers a chilling hook with his gruff voice over the simplistic but dazzling GMK-production. Kwesi Arthur, Joey B and Darko Vibes also didn’t disappoint, coming through with impressive 16s woven in English, pidgin and their native tongues. This record also has a Naija remix that features Ycee, Fresh L and Falz.

Odunsi – Tipsy

A striking step-forward from last year’s debut album ‘rare.’, ‘Tipsy’ finds Odunsi (The Engine) pushing his music into darker territory, with elements of R&B, soul and pop part of his global-facing, Afro-fusion sound. His vocal interplay with RAYE is the perfect fit, with both artists possessing the character and star quality to naturally complement each other’s talent. This striking record helped to introduce the alte frontman to a wider international audience. 

Buju X Zlatan – Spiritual

One of the amazing talents that 2019 introduced to us is Buju. The young singer is no doubt one of the most talented singers on the rise and is looking to an even more promising 2020. One of the songs that thrust him into the public eye is his August release, ‘Spiritual’ featuring Zlatan. Over the ad-lib laced zanku anthem, Buju’s vocals shine through, dazzling the uninitiated as he croons about his lover over the chilledSteph production. Zlatan also came through on the record with one of his most thrilling verses of the year. 

Davido x Popcaan – Risky

On this Popcaan-assisted record, Davido crafted a beautiful hook from the disjointed, grating and hilarious Hot 97 freestyle. Just a few hours before its release, Davido gave us a fair warning on Twitter “What you all laughed at!! You will dance to!!” and he couldn’t have been more accurate.

Produced by Speroach Beatz, ‘Risky‘ helped reignite the anticipation for his long-awaited sophomore album “A Good Time.”

AYLØ – Paris

AYLØ gave us the first taste of the material he had been working on in silence “Dnt’ Dlt” with the record titled ‘Paris’. On the song centred around fiding beauty, AYLØ delievers a soothing and melodious record over a simplistic and minimalist production. With his emotive vocals on full display, he croons about how he is helplessly in love with his sweetheart. “We are all damaged …” he resigns. This song is co-produced by Le Mav and Odunsi The Engine.

Naira Marley – Opotoyi

Naira Marley isn’t exactly a PGM-type artist, but his influence and dominance this year cannot be understated. Throughout the year, he was surrounded with self-inflicted controversy that kept his name circling in the media and also had a string of hits to his name that made it very difficult for him to be ignored. On ‘Opotoyi’, Naira Marley hops on a catchy and fast-paced Rexxie-produced Zanku beat, ravelling in woman worship and street banter. 

Prettyboy D-O – Dey Go Hear Wehh

For his first post-“Everything Pretty” release, Prettyboy D-O came through with the high energy dancehall-influenced record, ‘Dey Go Hear Wehh’ and its Seyi Akinlade-directed cinematic video.  On the record, D-O delivers frisky verses over the hard-hitting instrumental before coming through with the highly infectious hook cut from a popular Nigerian pidgin dictum. He comes for non-believers and detractors, assuring us that they will soon be shocked beyond measure.

Tiwa Savage – 49-99

For her UMG debut, Tiwa Savage links up with YBNL producer, Pheelz to release ‘49-99‘, a mid-tempo afro-pop record with Afrobeat elements, particularly rich in instrumentation with scintillating underlying strings.

On the record, Tiwa Savage expresses her desire for the good things of life amidst the rife and turmoil in a country some are quick to refer to as a failed state. She is focused on securing the bag to afford herself the luxury designers and fast cars, “Mo fe ra Versace, Mo fe ra Bugatti” she croons.

Burna Boy – Anybody

In the future, when Burna Boy looks back at how much he achieved in 2019, he’d find much to be grateful for. Despite opening the year with a brief fall from grace following his infamous “African Giant” Instagram rant, the Atlantic act managed to turn things around swiftly, weaving it into his best yet – musically. One of the standout cuts and fan-favourite off his “African Giant” album is the percussive gbese anthem, ‘Anybody’. Burna basks in his full feel-good mode,  advocating the cutting off of any bad energy that seeks to kill the vibe. This record was one of the records he performed the most on his amazing post-“African Giant” press run.

Davido x Chris Brown – Blow My Mind 

One of the recurrent pitfalls of international collaborations in these parts is that it sometimes feels forced as most local acts sacrifice chemistry for star power but Davido’s ‘Blow My Mind’ is an exception. A lead single off his highly anticipated sophomore album “A Good Time,” Davido and Chris Brown’s chemistry radiated across the Shizzy-produced number. The sweet-singing Chris Brown seamlessly razzled across the track with a casual air that blessed the soothing and melodious love number with a scene-stealing feature. It was smooth and seamless that they also teamed up again on Chris Brown’s ‘Lower Body’ off his “Indigo” extension.

 

Notable Mentions

Alpha Ojini ft Ycee – One Knee (Chvmeleon)

SDC ft Buju – Do Me Nice (Palmwine Express)

SDC ft Tomi Thomas – Vibration (Palmwine Express)

Amaarae – Like It 

Crayon – Gock Am (Cray Cray)

Gigi Atlantis ft Fasina – Wahala On The Rocks

Ckay – Way (CKay The First) 

Dice Ailes ft Falz -Alakori 

Bris B ft Santi – Supa sigh 

Dami Oniru – Alive (Bri’s Lounge)

Blaqbonez – Shut Up (Mr Boombastic)

 

Remember to check out all these records and keep supporting good music. Cheers!

Burna Boy’s ‘Money Play’ Is A Fitting Cap To A Tremendous Year

In the future, when Burna Boy looks back at how much he achieved in 2019, he’d find much to be grateful for. Despite opening the year with a brief fall from grace following his infamous “African Giant” Instagram rant, the Atlantic-signed act managed to turn things around swiftly, weaving it into his best yet – musically.

Over the past 11 months, Burna Boy performed at the World’s biggest music festival, Coachella; clinched his first BET Best International Act Award — where Mama Burna delivered her now-celebrated speech –; won the Best African Act category at the  MTV Europe Music Awards; featured on Beyonce‘s “Lion King” album and released his culturally and commercially successful “African Giant” album.

This hit-laden project was accompanied by an impressive press run that strategically placed Burna Boy as the poster boy for the globetrotting Afrobeats sound. This is why it wasn’t much of a surprise when his Grammy nomination came through; an announcement that threw everyone into an orgy of celebration.

Enough said, it is simply undeniable that it was in 2019 that Burna Boy eased himself into the primus inter pares position as far as Nigerian music is concerned.

And in the spirit of Christmas, the grammy-nominated act released a new single, ‘Money Play‘ earlier today without warning, to crown the amazing year and decade. This record is one for the festive season as it is a tune you can show-off your updated zanku moves to.

Across the dance-prompting beat, Burna seems to be just having fun, stringing rhymes together and reminding everyone of the essentiality of money.

Enjoy this early present from Santa Burna below.

 

The 5 Best Nigerian Diss-Tracks of 2019

Over the past few months, Nigerian hip-hop has been at war with itself. What started as a playful but audacious ‘Best Rapper In Africa’ brag spiralled the entire scene into a Royal Rumble-type frenzy that found rappers aiming for each other’s heads. From Blaqbonez to Payper Corleone to Davolee, everyone was churning out tracks laced with not-so-subliminal shots and outright name-drops. Even the OGs were not spared: a video surfaced online of A-Q and Ghost (of SDC) engaging in a presumably heated debate about who the superior wordsmith was.

All these eventually snowballed into an M.I Abaga vs Vector The Viper showdown. This beef which had been brewing for quite some time finally found the perfect climate for a face-off. In what will go down in history as one of the spiciest Nigerian hip-hop beefs, their back-and-forth resulted in a total of four diss tracks in just three weeks. Climaxing with M.I’s ‘The Viper‘ and Vector’s ‘Judas The Rat‘ and its bordering antics, hip-hop which had been playing second fiddle to Afrobeats in recent years was – howbeit briefly – restored to mainstream consciousness.

But now that the dust seems to have settled, Let’s look back to highlight some of the hottest diss tracks off this 2019 Nigerian rap civil-war.

5. Davolee – Give Away

This might not be as polished or popular as some of the other songs on this list, but it’s one of the hottest on the streets. Disgusted by Blaqbonez’s audacity to crown himself the best rapper in Africa without the credentials to back such claim, indigenous rapper Davolee attempted to devour the 100 Crowns rapper. The abrasive rapper aims with a submachine gun flow, with enough rounds for whoever is lurking as he also had choice words for M.I Abaga, Loose Kaynon, A-Q, Dremo, Falz, and Ycee. In fact, ‘Give Away‘ also led to a quick back-and-forth with the DMW rapper, Dremo.

4. Blaqbonez – Best Rapper In Africa

After declaring himself the Best Rapper In Africa in a scorching freestyle, many came out to counter his claim as to many he just wasn’t worthy to crown himself with such title. Several rappers released diss tracks to that effect, including Tentik and Payper Corleone. In his combined reply, ‘Best Rapper in Africa‘, Blaq reaffirms his claim as he tears apart his adversaries. He also came through with his ‘Control‘-moment, teasing and calling out his peers for a face-off.

3. Vector – Judas The Rat

When M.I Abaga dropped ‘The Viper‘, everyone thought it was over. The question on everyone’s lips was “how is Vector going to come back from this?” But Vector did the impossible and pulled a comeback reminiscent of 2005’s magic of Istanbul. With ‘Judas The Rat‘, Vector digs up more personal dirt on M.I, particularly pointing at his strained relationship with his brother, Jesse Jagz. He also highlighted some of M.I’s antics, painting him as a rat who favours only himself. The ripple effect from this diss was so strong that it provoked M.I’s fall from grace, reopening sores inspiring many to share some of their bummers with the former Chocolate City boss.

2.  M.I Abaga – The Viper

After quick successive jabs from Vector with ‘The Purge‘ and ‘Tetracycline‘, M.I just had to respond. And when he finally did, the self-acclaimed rap messiah did not disappoint as he delivered perhaps the best song off the entire pack. Over a gloomy and ominous self-produced beat, an assertive and gruff-voiced M.I comes through with witty rebuttals for Vector’s previous jabs. He further paints the Lafiaji rapper as a snake who has been envious of his success from the jump.

M.I turned things up a notch just a few days later at the 2019 Big Brother Naija finale.  Sporting a black shirt with a bold “No Snakes” imprint, M.I performed his brief set metaphorically stomping over a viper image projected on the stage.

1. A-Q – Distractions 2

A-Q has been having quite a good year. After years of churning out critically acclaimed personal projects including “Rose” and ”Blessed Forever”, A-Q came to many’s radars this year off the strength of his stellar verses on the Martell Cyphers. Also this year, he finally picked up the coveted Lyricist on the roll award at the 13th Headies which eluded him for years despite picking up nominations. 

Of all the diss tracks released this year, A-Q’s heinous Vector-aimed ‘Distractions 2‘ takes the cake. The belligerent rapper who had built a name for himself as a war-ready gladiator fit himself right into the Vector-M.I beef and came through with the most brutish diss track in the pack. On ‘Distractions 2’ the 100 Crowns boss brought a grenade to a knife fight, coming for Vector for with a swift jab-cross-left uppercut-cross combo that gave him the knockout in less than five minutes.  It’s a joy to know that his recent status as a label president hasn’t robbed him of his viciousness on the mic.

Ilaye’s ‘Barbecue’ Is A Must Listen

The Tiwa Dara-produced ‘Barbecue‘ is, no doubt, a perfect opener to an emotive and beautifully crafted 6-track opus that has drawn adulation from several corners. Over an acoustic guitar loop and scintillating lead guitar riff, Ilaye delivers a soothing and melodic ode to her teenage love. Over the years, they have grown apart, moved on and probably even totally lost contact, but whatever they shared is still alive and relived in distant but charming memories. With a heartfelt reflection, she details some of the memories and lofty dreams they shared as kids. And just like on the remaining songs on the  “Pneuma” EP, she employs remarkable songwriting that projects a soulful realness in her artistry.  

This song could be a soundtrack to our young and naive romances filled with pipe dreams and wide-eyed promises, motivated by a childlike optimism that things will always go according to plan if we simply stay true. A time when we sincerely believed in “happily ever after.” But over time, we tend to shed this innocence and enthusiasm as we are repeatedly reminded of the uncertainty and dubious nature of the world as we grow through life. But in the second verse, Ilaye reminds us alongside her “special barbecue,” not to get caught up in the frenzy and try to hold on to our enthusiasm as much as we can – for ourselves and for those we claim to love.

Barbecuecomes highly recommended from us at the PGM Club. Listen, enjoy and share.

Erigga’s “The Erigma II” Is An Equivocal Celebration Of His Beloved City

Erigga is a true son of the soil. And like its predecessors, his new album “The Erigma II” is a fitting testament to that fact. Released right in the heat of the Nigerian hip-hop civil war which seems to have briefly restored the relegated scene to mainstream consciousness, this long-overdue sequel to his 2012 stunner “The Erigma” is an 18-track celebration of a city he has come to own: an ode to Warri.   

Erigga seamlessly has what many other rappers in these parts don’t; an identity. You don’t need a Google search to know where he’s from. Just hit play on any of his tracks and you’d most likely find out in the first four bars. Erigga has over the years proved himself a personal embodiment of Warri; a South-South oil-rich city, famed and celebrated for its pidgin, candour and fabled machismo. And if you know Erigga or his music well, you know this is what he represents. 

One of the markers of the Nigerian hip-hop eclipse in recent years has been the absence of a supportive local culture. In their futile quest for ‘purity’, Nigerian rappers, particularly English ones isolated themselves from their audience. A lot of them were not and still aren’t relatable and accessible. That is one thing Erigga and some of the indigenous rappers have tweaked earning them an expansive and loyal fanbase. 

Technically, Erigga might not be the most skilled or most gifted. But he is what hip-hop should represent. He has an unmediated connection to his community and through him, they are duly represented. The street at every point wants its story told and Erigga has proved himself a willing and worthy griot. That’s probably why his bars hit home and resonates the most.

See, you don’t need a 140-point IQ or Genius annotations to decode Erigga’s punchlines. You simply need to be a Nigerian. And if by chance you are adept with pidgin or come from the South-South, that’s a bonus.  When you hear lines like “Who wahala naked follow no dey use English pray” or “Fuck the world even if na me prick go pain” you’d probably pause the track and ask yourself, “na who born this guy??”

Erigga

Erigga

But the downside to his regional dominance is the simple fact that Warri just isn’t Lagos. The financial capital of the country also sits as the heartbeat of the Nigerian music industry. You can’t exactly be seen as fully “blown” if you haven’t conquered Gidi. And despite flashes of crossover successes, most recently with ‘Motivation’ which introduced many to the talents of Victor AD, Erigga has been long stuck on the brink of mainstream success. He has remained a regional success, and for the most part, a local hero catering to a niche audience that has been loyal from the jump.

On the new album, he delivers a heartfelt tribute to his cult-following on the ‘Next Track’. Here, he acknowledges that although the bulk of his fan base might not be as active on the internet, they are ever-present when he needs them. “Assuming say my fans get Instagram page, Followers go dey cry/ You don see me for stage?” he mutters before going on to list some of the events he recently shut down – reminiscent of Olamide’s legendary brag on ‘Eyan Mayweather’.

A Warri boy to the core, his verses, delivery, vocal tonality is usually in its rawest form. His stories are sculpted in unrefined rap verses and a delivery that might need some polishing. some might even say he has a monotonous flow. Erigga’s biggest strength is in telling his story delivered in its crudest and authentic form. Listening to Erigga is like gulping shots of vodka- it’s harsh at first gulp but intoxicating right after.  On the same ‘Next Track’, the unapologetic rapper dishing out some words for detractors who come at him for the vulgarity of his lyrics. “Wetin I wan talk wey snoop never talk before?” he asks

But this new album is at his best when Erigga is in his element, recounting area tales and doling out priceless gems of street survival tips.

With clear-eyed reflection, he paints a rough portrait of the gritty world he grew up in on the album opener, ‘Welcome To Warri’. A world where you are exposed to gruesome violence before you learn how to properly tie your shoelace. A world some of us only see in black hood movies. A world where your survival is dependent on how vicious you are or how fast your legs can carry you at the drop of a hat. He continues this story in ‘Victims’ where he describes a life where many of us were shielded from. A life some of us only witnessed in black movies like ‘Juice’. A life where you do your best to stay out of the way of hood fiends and the police. A world where you look around and find that most of your friends are either dead, in jail, or on their way.

Erigga

Erigga

In ‘Oyo’, assisted by Graham D and Vector, Erigga soundtracked some of the hardships we face in the poverty capital in the world whilst also doling out street knowledge. His verses on this track are perhaps the most heartfelt throughout this tape.  “Hunger dey slap man face for where him wife dey/ him las hope na Merrybet na where him life dey”. When he raps “My mama wey retire, government never pay her shishi/ You for see the responsibility them pack give me” “My text message na family account full am….” many of us can relate down to the last letter. Many of us have had to step up and take responsibility for the family as soon as you can. This is what is commonly called the ‘black man’s tax’.

When he raps “Who them shoot na him luck/ Wetin police hate pass: tattoo and dreadlock” it rings bells of several youths being harassed daily by the police simply because of their fashion choices. Although Erigga largely doesn’t concern himself with the vanity project of proving superlatives, on ‘Street Motivation‘ he is self-assured and aware of the threat he poses to his colleagues. 

Erigga and Victor AD, two of the city’s most successful acts at the moment have their I-made-it moment on ‘Area To The World’. This record is their victory lap as Erigga recounts some aches he experienced as an artist on the rise and appreciating how far he has come since his ‘Mo Street Gan’ days. A city which has remained home for him throughout his journey.

On the final track,’Goodbye From Warri‘, we catch a glimpse of the old Erigga, as he reads off the rap sheet of his notorious “senior bros”: a threat the entire hood but who upon his imminent death advises a young Erigga to choose a different path. Sadly, this closer not only marks the end of this album, but also the end to Erigga’s efforts at recreating the past for our entertainment. In the final seconds of the record, he reveals frankly that, “this na the last time I go rap about my past mhen, make we face front.” 

All good things come to an end; sometimes to give way to something even better. Artists evolve. And as fans and listeners, we must learn to morph with them. Up until “The Erigma II,” Erigga has relieved his past for our entertainment but now is the time to move on. It was fun while it lasted but the show is over. 

Erigga has, over the years, quietly established himself as one of the key voices of his generation, raking up enough credentials to earn his place in the Naija hip-hop pantheon. And right now, we are even more excited to find out what the South-South rapper can be.

Zlatan and Rexxie Have A Lot To Thank ‘Able God’ For

In September 2018, Chinko Ekun finally scored his long-sought hit. The Dek-Niyor rapper fielded a team of Lil Kesh and Zlatan Ibile over a scintillating Rexxie production and released ‘Able God’ to the warm embrace of the streets. Over hard-hitting percussions, the three rappers call on to God for blessings while providing slang-laced commentaries on street hustles. Its accompanying video shot largely in a church featured a new dance that entailed repeated rhythmic hopping, punctuated occasionally with a faux jump kick. It instantly became a street anthem and before long, the record found its way to the clubs, dominated the airwaves, and remained on the lips of music lovers. A hit was born. 

Able God’ which recently picked up the Street Hop award at the 2019 Headies was an enormous success that ushered in the Zanku dance to the mainstream as the successor of the globetrotting shaku-shaku. For Chinko Ekun, it was the much-needed hit single that eluded him since his YBNL days. But over a year since it’s release, the biggest winner of the monster hit record was Zlatan and Rexxie the producer for whom the club banger served as a launchpad to stardom. 

Yes, Chinko Ekun had a hit to his name, pushed him in conversations that he never existed before, and had a good run of stage performances in the last quarter of 2018. It even got him his first Headies award. But he has since struggled to replicate the success of ‘Able God’ or even something close. His last two singles, ‘Calling‘ and ‘Mafo‘ have been met with middling success – and that’s being generous. 

But for Zlatan, ‘Able God’ was the beginning of something way more massive.

Prior to its release, Zlatan was a balmy indigenous rapper seeking to thrust himself into mainstream consciousness. Yes, he had a couple of hot tunes on the streets but nothing strong enough to propel him to stardom. But with the release of the smash, Zlatan who many never knew existed just a year ago has grown into a household name. His standout verse on the record was the first of his run of killer features that is still on. That was where many of us first heard his tongue-twisting mantra, ‘kapaichumarimarichopaco’ that left us probing for its meaning and origin till the year’s end. Along with his heralded Zanku dance being the dominant step in the country for almost a year now, Zlatan has simply moved from obscurity to stardom in the space of just a year.

 It is almost irrefutable that Zlatan is the hottest rapper right now. Perhaps rivalled only by his friend and frequent collaborator, Naira Marley. Both are gradually unseating Olamide as the go-to guy for street anthems, haunting verses, candied ad-libs and pop slangs. As it stands, they could even give Burna Boy a run for his money as the hottest Nigeria act in 2019.

And just like the YBNL general, the green-haired rapper has comfortably positioned himself as a staple for both the gritty corners of Agege and the wavy waters of Lekki. He has been on a spree of killer-features, bringing the Midas touch to almost every single he blesses particularly with his infectious ad-libs.  Even our biggest superstars, wanting to get a slice of the Zanku pie have continued to tap him for assists. Zlatan has teamed up with Davido, Tekno and even Burna, in their award-winning duet,‘Killin Dem’, which is still one of Naija’s biggest songs at the moment.

Another winner is Rexxie who has now moved from a producer seeking validation to a certified hitmaker. Ever since ‘Able God‘, Rexxie must have crossed some things off his bucket list, having worked with some of Nigeria’s biggest acts like Davido and Tiwa this past year. He has also been on a streak of bangers especially on his team-ups with Naira Marley. Even his bio on Twitter says it all: “Hits Only”. Now when you hear his ‘Yo Rexxie pon dis one‘ as any song kicks in, you know that you’re in for a treat. 

The young producer has been beatsmith behind smash hits like Naira Marley’s ‘Soapy‘, ‘Am I a Yahoo Boy‘ as well as the most recent DMW‘s ‘On God‘ with Dremo, Mayourkun and label boss, Davido. 

Able God’ is more than just another hit. It was the ignition that propelled acts into the mainstream consciousness after years of underground dominance. This doesn’t imply that it is single-handedly responsible for their present successes. No, but it gave them the visibility that Zlatan and Rexxie particularly have leveraged upon to take their careers to the next level. While Chinko Ekun is slowly fading back into obscurity and Lil Kesh is almost nowhere to be found.

Scroll to top