2016 put a funky twist to African albums and EPs, delivering highly anticipated music projects from artistes like Maleek Berry, Victoria Kimani, Nasty C and Patoranking. Special mentions go to Davido’s Son of Mercy, Burna Boy’s Redemption and Victoria Kimani’s Safari. Here’s a list of Africa’s most important 10 music projects from 2016– in no particular order.
- Africa (The Diary of an African Woman) – Yemi Alade (Nigeria)
In the album Africa, reigning Best Female artiste in Africa, Yemi Alade, delivers stellar collaborations and features including the song “Tonight” with Nigerian icons P-Square. The 15-track album includes certified hits like “Koffi Anan”, “Do as I Do” featuring DJ Arafat, the ode to our continent, “Africa”, with Sauti Sol, the original “Nagode” with Selebobo and “Kom Kom” with Flavour. In 2015, I wrote about why Yemi Alade is indeed the King of Queens in the article: Top Music Videos of 2015. 2016 has however been a redefining year for Yemi Alade thanks to an impressive mix of her tour schedule, performances and prolific hit releases – automatically unveiling her kingly traits. Power to the East African regalia on the original cover Yemi!
2. Bad Hair Extensions – Nasty C (South Africa)
At only 19 years old, Nasty C has hustled round the food chain to become one of South Africa’s most respected rappers. Releasing his debut album: Bad Hair Extensions (BHE) and clinching Best Newcomer award at the South African Hip Hop Awards has made this year one of the most important in his music career so far. In BHE, Nasty enlists heavyweights: French Montana and Cassper Nyovest while introducing us to new cats like Telleman, Tshego and Eric Rush. The lyrical content cuts across themes like party, hoes, snap chat, and a mature warning to keep off drugs in “Don’t Do It”. My favourites in the album include “Uok”, “Forget” and “Hell Naw” – that made it in my list of Top Songs of 2016 . This is truly the best hip hop/rap album straight out of Africa this year! Congrats Nasty C – future SA rap King!
3. God Over Everything – Patoranking (Nigeria)
We know that Patoranking is a hit maker thanks to “My Woman My Everything”, “Make Am” and “Girlie O”. He doesn’t disappoint in GOE, delivering bangers like “This Kind Luv” featuring Wizkid, “Mama Aboyo” featuring Olamide, “Killing Me”, “No Kissing Baby” (featured in top songs of 2016) and the remix of “Daniella Whine” featuring Elephant Man and Konshens – wish we could get a video for this! Upon releasing the album, Patoranking embarked on a tour across East Africa to promote the album. A lot of artistes underestimate PR and marketing or just don’t want to hustle for their fans so I really appreciated this. The hidden treasure of this 16-track album is “Forever”. What’s more? The album cuts across reggae, dancehall and afro beats genres.
4. The Chosen – Navio (Uganda)
A respected king on the East African hip hop front, Navio owns the crown on his fourth studio album – The Chosen flaunting high-profile features including The Mith, Mr. Blue, Khuli Chana, AKA and Ice Prince. I love all 16 songs! If I had to choose a few it would have to be “Throne” feat King Kaka, “Gbisele” feat Burna Boy, “To The Top” feat Charlie King, “You Want” with The Mith and of course “Rider”. Navio and Keko rhymes and chemistry on “Crazy” is like Fat Joe and Remy Ma on All the Way up – too legit! Navio is probably the most hardworking, down to earth and realest peeps I’ve met and worked with on a project. It was a pleasure to run PR for the Kenyan release of The Chosen earlier this year. Navio already talked to me about his upcoming album – talk about futuristic VIEWS. “My next album will be all conscious music,” adding on The Chosen – “I decided to make this an unapologetic snapshot into my feeling right now. It’s the raw Navio of old.”
5. Last Summer of Summer Daze: EP – Maleek Berry (Nigeria/UK)
Killer producer Maleek Berry gets it right on his debut solo music project. Last Daze of Summer: EP features none of the mega superstars he has been engineering in the past. We’re talking Wizkid, Runtown, Wande Coal and Yemi Alade, among others. It’s a big shoe to wear when fans are expecting you to show your friends on your EP but you only show up almost solo. But Maleek fits into his own so well! There are only six songs so you must hear them all and trust me – they are all treasures! “Kontrol” is a freaky sexy song – my boyfriend and I love it and the video (getting a shout in my Top 10 Music Videos of 2016 post). From a glance, this is the best musical piece I experienced in 2016 – thank you Maleek Berry.
6. We Cut Keys While You Wait – Blinky Bill (Kenya)
Don’t you just love when your friends shine? Been friends with Blinky Bill for a long time and I know just how much talented he is of a singer, producer and artist of the world. Breaking off from Just a Band to concentrate on his solo career gifted us his debut EP earlier than most fans thought it would land. Featuring Maia Von Lekow, Shappa Man and Sage, Blinky displays his awesomeness while showing off his friends whom he likes to call ‘Key Cutters’ in just six tracks. I’ve had a favourite song in the EP every time I pop it in so today I pick “Don’t Doubt Me” with Maia as the treasure and still hold “Wacha Maneno” as the ultimate party starter! Hello 2017, I am now ready for a Blinky album.
7. Black Boy EP – DJ Maphorisa (South Africa)
2016 was undoubtedly one of DJ Maphorisa’s best years in his music career. He had a hand in Drake’s “One Dance”—the top iTunes track of 2016 and Grammy-award nominated global hit featuring Wizkid and Kyla. Maphorisa also produced Trey Songz and a slew of top African artistes on Coke Studio Africa season 4. At the peak of his career as a producer, he dropped Black Boy EP. The EP’s treasure is Maphorisa’s careful selection of features including Vee Money, Ycee, Emtee and Maggz, and its production flow and genre – rap/hip hop, not kwaito or afro beats as you might have expected. Maphorisa – congrats on great year and cheers to many more!
I blogged about Blinky, Maphorisa and Maleek – When 3 Producers Drop 3 Dope EPs
8. Chemistry – Falz x Simi (Nigeria)
I love Falz and Simi so much – they will be my celebrity dream couple for a long time. Did you see their EP’s photo shoot pics? So sweet and the cover pic is just fire! The two have natural chemistry since “Jamb Question” days so the EP’s title doesn’t come as a surprise. There is a subtle sensuality that the two share on Chemistry – exactly what ticks Simi and Falz fans. I love “Foreign”, “Want You”, “Enough”, “Show You Pepper” and the authentically traditional vibes of “Shake Your Body”. I’ve already mentioned six in the 7-tracked EP lol. Musically speaking, 2016 was great to both Falz and Simi, and for me too! Got to meet and work with them on Coke Studio Africa season 4. Falz and Simi are in my list of African artistes to watch it 2017.
Last year I added Falz’s Stories that Touch in my Top Albums of 2015
9. Stella Mwangi– Stella Mwangi (Kenya/Norway)
Stella Mwangi has always been a bad girl and very aware of her power. In her eponymous music project, she attests to newly found self-realization, saying, “I am just in a playful mood dancing around the fact that I’m a grown girl and I can now do what I want when I want. I’m just being a bit cocky and funny at the same time.” True to her words, you will find that a song like “Murda Dem” is a certified rap, reggae, dancehall and hip hop jam while still a juggler of rhymes, beats and witty diss to dem haters. Norwegian producers: BIG CITY in collaboration with choicetracks.com & positionmusic.com have delivered six banging tracks. “Big Girl” and “Work” battle it out for my baddest and biggest beats! Play it loud! Guess I am also a big girl to have run the PR for Stella Mwangi EP in Africa this year 🙂 Was an honour!
10. Strides – Keko (Uganda)
If you love pop music and some rap too – Strides is for you! Uganda femcee Keko is badass, quite literally. She always leaves an impression. I love the attitude with which she spits in every track and that she knows how to balance her hard-spitting bars with dance/pop music. Just like Navio’s versatile style, she raps in English, Swahili and Ugandan dialects. “Naughty” and “Move Your Body” are serious treasures and perfect for partying! The 11-track album features no collaborations: talk about some J – Cole boss moves.