These are the songs that turned my year upside down – the good kind. While some made me fall in love with the idea of love, some made me damage the replay button. Others almost made me burst my eardrums if I wasn’t dancing over and over – to an extent I had to start a dance group: Dope Gang. Let’s go there!
1. Isabella – Sauti Sol (Kenya)
This is the ballad of ballads. If songs were people, Isabella is a beautiful goddess. Stripped down and only layered in piano and violin instrumentals, this is so far Sauti Sol’s best at flaunting their mighty prowess in writing songs for love. Its message is simple, just love in the moment – your race, religion or age doesn’t matter. Savara’s spiralling falsetto in the second verse is chilling. Very proud Publicist and friend to these guys.
2. Jagaban – YCEE & Olamide (Nigeria)
Jagaban is the nickname of Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos. Now sitting as a chief and a chairman in important associations and parties, you still can’t run shit in Lagos without Jagaban’s blessing. The traditional element in the beat of this song is too sick.
Delivering punch lines with an aggressive tiger flow, YCEE does sound like an heir of YBNL. When I first heard the song Nov 2015 while in Lagos, I wondered who dared to sound like Olamide. When I returned in December, I found that YCEE had done a remix with Olamide. “Olamide just put me on, do you know what it feels like?” He raps. Recently Olamide posted their picture performing together at Sound City Urban Blast Festival with the caption – “You gon be great bro.” I don’t doubt that. YCEE is one of the rappers from Nigeria to watch in 2016.
3. Don’t Bother – Joh Makini (Tanzania) & A.K.A (South Africa)
Sickest hip hop song and production I’ve heard all year! Illest dedication to all your enemies! The song is engineered by The Industry’s Nahreel – top Tanzanian music producer well-known as Joh Makini and Vanessa Mdee’s long-term collaborator. A.K.A brought it all. The two should do a collabo album in 2016. I wish the world could hear the Swahili, especially on Joh’s second verse. Joh Makini’s rap – the lines, message, attitude, rhymes and punch lines murdered the careers of all rappers in East Africa. RIP. Good thing y’all can start over in 2016 🙂
4. Nobody But Me – Vanessa Mdee (Tanzania) & K.O (South Africa)
Another winning Nahreel production, I really loved the music video and the simplicity of the song’s message. Vanessa teaching K.O Swahili lyrics was so cool. Their chemistry is at 100% and the song was a certified hit in East Africa, South Africa and the West.
5. All Your Fault – Big Sean & Kanye West (America)
Off the album: Dark Sky Paradise, this one is produced by DJ Mano, Kanye West, OG Webbie, Travi$ Scott and Wondagurl. You only top Yeezy on a track he’s delivered on once, and Big Sean did. I am a follower of Yeezus and his protégés and I haven’t seen anyone master Yeezy’s craft as well as Big Sean. Sean’s flow on this song is sicker than Malaria. I like that they both rap side by side each other on Verse 3, at times you can’t tell who’s who. The last line of the song should be everyone’s 2016 policy.
“People ask me how to make it/ I’m just like, “Man if you want the crown, bitch you gotta take it. Straight up”
6. Moto wa kuotea mbali The Kansoul & Nameless (Kenya)
This is my jam and my Nigerian best friend Abi’s song for days! Yo! I will just leave our Dope Gang performances here and pray that The Kansoul and my dear friend Maddy will deliver another mega hit like this in 2016. P.S Nameless killed it with that line, “Respect your elders! I started singing when you were still in diapers …”
7. Talk About It – Dre featuring King Mez & Justus (America)
Not one second in: “I don’t give a fuck!” Have to give it up to the zero chills in this production. There were many sick jams in Dre’s Compton album but I also picked Talk About It because it’s the one time since Still, that Dre has earned all the bravado he flaunts in one song. “I remember selling instrumentals off a beeper/ Millionaire before the headphones or the speakers/ I was getting money before the internet/ Still got Eminem cheques I ain’t opened yet/ MVP shit …” Goddamn! The song was partly written by A.J. Baptiste-Caselle, the producer/songwriter who goes by the name Jean Baptise. He’s also worked with Cudi, Madonna, Chris Brown and the Black Eyed Peas.
8. Boss – Ice Prince (Nigeria)
This is a banger, and my ringtone. It was playing in every single club I went to in Lagos Dec 2015. I really loved Ice on this one because it showed a different side of him 🙂 Part of its video was shot in Nairobi. The East African release of BOSS was handled by Anyiko PR.
9. Matrimony – Wale x Usher (America)
Wale has been a consistent NE-YO collaborator in his past two albums before the latest Album About Nothing. I really loved his songs with NE-YO: White Linen (Ambition) and Tired of Dreaming (The Gifted) but they never made it as big as Matrimony. I think it’s because he got my husband on a track – finally! 🙂
10. Ta-Ku – Love Again (feat. JMSN & Sango)
This is a dope soul song by the Australian singer. He’s also a dope photographer – his Instagram is magic. I dig the song because it’s so original; he’s my type of underground artiste and sings to my heart. Plus I just want to love again.
Special mention goes to JAB’s Winning in Life and Leon Bridges with Coming Home.