Our Favourite Albums of 2018
2018 gave us some musical gems and so far, these are albums we absolutely endorsed.
Nao, an English singer-songwriter and record producer from East London, released her second studio album Saturn. The album swings between contemporary, R&B, and hip-hop in tracks like “Make It Out Alive.” Even so, Nao never deviates from her unchanging soul rhythm, which is especially pronounced in tracks like “Orbit.”Perhaps the pleasure of having a voice like Nao’saccounts for her ability to lure listeners into a magnetic pool of blues, neo-soul, and “wonky funky,” a term she coined to describe her sound.
Odunsi (The Engine) is one of those rare artistes whose success has felt entirely interactive—thanks to his fans and the advent of the internet. The branded alté artiste, and recently the curator of ArtX Live, has often followed the millennial route of releasing music online, particularly on SoundCloud. His album rare. is an innovative debut heavy with nostalgia—a smart move, given the popular cultural trend of exploring one’s roots. The first track, “rare,” transports you instantly to the 80s and 90s, a recurring experience throughout the album. He flaunts his diversity by pairing with artistes from different musical genres—with Davido in “divine” and with Runtown in “star signs.”
Burna Boy arguably remained an underrated artiste till 2018, when his debut album Outside gained mainstream attention. With features from only a few other artistes—J Hus, Lily Allen, and Mabel, Burna Boy infuses different genres enough to re-create a sound that is indigenous to him. And this is so whether he is showing love to his hometown in “PH City” or just enjoying the nightlife vibe of London in “Sekkle Down.” Burna Boy’s Outside is a reinvention of an artiste whose purpose is to create solely for the art while enjoying himself at the same time.
Seinabo Sey is a Swedish and Gambian singer most popular for her song “Younger,” which graced the global music scene in 2015. The album I’m a Dream is a bold and unapologetic portrayal of self-love. In “I Owe You Nothing” she declares her individuality and reassures us of her arrival. “I Love You” references the irony of moving on from someone despite being fixated. The album feels like a coming-of-age story and perhaps a recommendation on how to love and live without ever compromising oneself.
Mo’believe is an alternative singer disrupting the Nigerian indie scene. The socio-political undertones in his debut album Ariwo ÈKÓ tug at the heartstrings of every Lagosian. The artist, who is of Yoruba origin, blends his native language with English —an appropriate contemporary trend. He, however, does this with a seamless acoustic vibe that listeners from other parts of Nigeria are able to enjoy. He released a video for “Poverty” on October 17, 2018, to commemorate theInternational Day for the Eradication of Poverty. In this track, he narrates the economic anxiety hovering around most Nigerians and then offers his listeners some hope.
As a past literature student, Ray BLK (Rita Ekwere) often parades her songwriting skill. In her earlier body of work, including “My Hood” (ft. Stormzy), “Chill Out,” and “Gone” (ft. Wretch 32), she makes political statements that are both daring and riveting for a Black woman. A patron of the “neo-soul” vibe who emerged without a recording label, BLK remains an inspiring, political force in South London and beyond. And just like the rest of her interesting discography, her new album Empress does not disappoint. Most of Ray BLK’s album is a journal of her soul. This is clearly seen in the feminist anthem “Empress” and in “Mama,” where she addresses the societal impact of mothers. Her ability to merge the personal and political is indeed the reason artistes create.
Riton, the British electronic dance producer is the partner of Faridah Seriki (known professionally as Kah-lo), a Nigerian singer and songwriter. The Grammy-nominated duo, most popular for their songs “Rinse & Repeat” and“Fake I.D.,” released their album Foreign Ororo, which conveys the afro-pop ingenuity of Lagos and London. It is no deviation from the outstanding record the duo haspreviously achieved. In every sense, the project is a loud and proud millennial trademark that gets you on your feet.
The rap duo Show Dem Camp (SDC) made “palm-wine-music,” a Liberian musical genre, a thing in popular culture. PalmWine Music: Volume 1 set extraordinary precedence for Afrobeat’s narrative. SDC also have a reputation for accumulating tracks from a range of artists to fit this palm-wine genre. Volume 2 feels like an apt extension of the previous album, with rich undertones of Nigerian highlife. “The Garden” (ft. Falana) so juxtaposes love and patriotism that at some point you wonder if it is a socio-political statement about Nigeria or a simple love story between two people.
Parables by Dinachi is a soul-searching experience, especially during this holiday season. The alternative singer, who combines folk music, highlife, jazz, and gospel, was inspired by the parable of the sower in the Bible. The holidays are usually a time to reflect on the year’s losses and wins. And with tracks like “Fresh Love,” “Take My Life,” and “In My Prayers,” you are sure to find some comfort this season.
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