Top Videos of 2016: Anyiko’s Select 10

Africa’s top video directors deliver befitting videos and stunning creative direction, once again this year. First highlighting the unknown first-timers who delivered Sauti Sol’s most unlikely hit video, kindly re-watch as I break it down:

  1. Kuliko Jana – Sauti Sol & Redfourth Chorus (Directors: Timothy Mwaura & Joash Omondi of FullfilmENT Company)

This is the most unique music video dropped by a top African pop artiste this decade. In the black and white video, set exactly ten years after high school, Sauti Sol re-record the original Kuliko Jana with Redfourth Chorus (student choir at their former high school – Upper Hill) to create a beautiful a cappella song, displaying the originality of Sauti’s harmonious and melodic background. It was the magic of the serendipitous reunion fused with first-time video directors Tim and Joash that produced another classic from Africa’s Best Group. The directors do an excellent job in creating minimalistic transitions and lighting effects that let the song’s message and simplicity reign supreme.

2. Daddy Yo – Wizkid (Director: Starboy Entertainment)

It’s been exactly a year since Wizkid dropped his last official music video – Final (Baba Nla). A million YouTube views in one week – Daddy Yo is another Wizkid hit featuring Starboy signee Ghanaian singer Efya who holds it down on the hook. Producer Mutay (Legendury Beatz) samples that raggatone vibe of Gasolina in the song reminding us why old is gold. The video’s choice of dancers and choreography is 100% straight fire. I read some comments on YouTube questioning Wizkid’s lyrics – c’mon guys we all know what this song is made for – dance – period!

3. Kom Kom – Yemi Alade x Flavour (Director: Clarence Peters)

I have always loved Yemi Alade’s eclectic expression and how it pans out in music videos. Last year, I added her Paul Gambit produced Sugar in my list of Top 10 Videos of 2016. From the colourful set props to the white and gold themed scenes – Clarence Peters delivers a visual delicacy. I also loved Yemi and Flavour’s traditional attire in the video, too cute!

4. If I start to talk – Tiwa Savage x Dr Sid. (Director: Clarence Peters)

If I Start to Talk video shot by Clarence Peters gives the already full of life song new life. The song tackles life’s everyday ironic twists or misfortunes, declaring that at times only true blessings can trump the world’s evil – a situation the video cleverly portrays in a deep artistic way. Watch again – the men in masks, the nude couple lying on the floor next to empty bottles or the paradoxical two-way image of a sad street lady who seems happier dressed like a rich woman. What could these situations insinuate? Try watch this video without audio – it’s just perfect. Definitely my very best of 2016! Congrats Tiwa! Always winning!

 5. Kontrol – Maleek Berry (Director: JM Films)

Kontrol is just a cool and simple video thanks to its eclectic and radiant creative direction. I love its colours, the strawberries, pineapples, swimsuits and hot babes!  I think JM Films capture Maleek Berry’s cool quite collectively because it radiates out. As we finally put a face to Maleekberry’s name and beats, it’s fun to watch him take control of his image in the video, where he also shows off some cool dance moves.

 6. Niroge – Vanessa Mdee (Director: Justin Campos)

Justin Campos literally makes a movie in the video of Niroge starring Vee Money. The Tanzanian diva isn’t celebrated as an African style icon for no reason and I am glad that this video is a true testament to her reputation. The style direction and dance choreography in the Nahreel – produced song makes Niroge’s video one of Vanessa’s very best if not Africa’s top of the pops.

7. Soldier – Falz & Simi (Director: Clarence Peters)

We don’t hear songs on the love lives of soldiers everyday. Nobody sings about the hustle of dating a soldier or policeman but Falz does. The short musical film featuring Simi shot by Clarence Peters is brilliant! I applaud Falz’s 14-minute effort that sets the pace for African artistes. I am sure others might have done this before but very few have been on point while maintaining the delicate balance between a song’s message versus the authenticity and originality of the artiste.

Earlier this year, I posted Falz – Soldier Full Length Movie feat. Simi (Music Review)

8. Oya Come Make We Go – 2Baba x Sauti Sol (Director: Unlimited L.A.)

If you ask 2baba and Sauti Sol individually what they think of each other they will gloat over how much they are fans of one another. The fan-of-a-fan collaboration brings out good chemistry between 2Baba and Sauti Sol presenting an inspiring joint debut. Congrats to Tom Olango who wrote the script for the storyline of the video directed by Unlimited L.A.

9. Kabulengane – Bebe Cool (Director: Hanex Touch)

Bebe Cool has always been authentic and Kabulengane is a perfect Ugandan song to show that. From the waist whining of the colourful pop dancers, to the traditional waist-shakers, director Hanex does justice to one of Bebe’s best recent releases!

10. Feel Good – Navy Kenzo (Director: Justin Campos)

What a great year Tanzanian duo Aika and Nahreel just had? Just a month before releasing their debut album Above in a Minute (AIM), Justin Campos delivers another Navy Kenzo pop video. It’s this couple’s cool and youthful look and feel that inspires us all to also aim high. Justin you’ve done such a great job this year! Navy Kenzo – I love you!

Top Albums and EPs of 2016: Anyiko’s Select 10

15824179_10154624664362559_1171839996_o2016 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.

  1. Africa (The Diary of an African Woman) – Yemi Alade (Nigeria)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

Top Songs of 2016 – Anyiko’s Top 10

img_0128As 2016 comes to an end, I am happy to reflect on some of the songs that collectively made my soundtrack this year. There are countless songs including Let Me – Usher, Koffi Anan – Yemi Alade, Feeling it – Mayonde x Blinky x MDQ, Coolest Kid in Africa – Davido and Maga 2 Mugu – Davido & Simi – that unfortunately couldn’t fit in this post but deserve a special mention all the same. In no particular order – now let’s get into the 10 songs that made a mark and why:

1. Mungu Pekee (Nyashinski) and Bazokizo (Collo x Bruz Newton) – Kenya

Nyashinski and Collo are two of the three members of Klelptomaniax, now defunct Kenyan music group, who shot to fame in 2000s, leaving behind classics like Tuendelee, among Kenya’s most important rap songs of all time. In 2016, Nyashinski relocated back to Kenya from USA where he stayed during the group’s hiatus, only to concentrate only on his solo career.

Collo on the other hand also makes a strong comeback in Bazokizo, sparking a dance movement while addressing fans on his renewed spirituality and outlook. Both Nyash and Collo’s lyrical delivery and rap skill in the songs is hands down their solo magnum opus so far. Shout out to Kenyan producer Cedo for engineering Mungu Pekee, with the assistance of Fancyfingers.

  1. Omo Alhaji (Ycee) – Nigeria

In 2015, Ycee had one of the biggest songs in Nigeria – Jagaban, which I wrote about in Top Songs of 2015: Anyiko’s Select 10. Pundits obviously doubted that he’d make a come back this year but Ycee did it big with the release of Omo Alhaji –a slower tempo to Jagaban but a certified hit all the same. It’s Ycee’s style that I can’t get over. It doesn’t get cooler than an Agbada-dressed Ycee dabbing in his lazy slur-ish delivery in Omo Alhaji audio and video. At the close of 2015, I promised myself that I would have to meet and work with Ycee on his PR. Happy to have achieved that in 2016. Ycee’s debut EP: THE FIRST WAVE was supposed to be released in 2016.

  1. Moyo Mashine (Ben Pol) – Tanzania

Easily the sweetest and deepest lyrics I’ve heard all year. That paired with Ben Pol’s butter voice is best described in Swahili as – Sauti ya kutoa nyoka pangoni. Written and produced by Tanzanian maestro, Lollipop, the poetic value of this song alone is priceless. The song champions the heart’s magnificent motor-like love machine, that won’t stop running or feeling, even if unrequited or literally misunderstood 🙂 This is why Ben Pol is Tanzania’s king of R&B.

  1. Soweto Baby (DJ Maphorisa feat. Wizkid and DJ Buckz) – South Africa x Nigeria

DJ Maphorisa has over the years worked hard to establish himself as a goliath in African music production but 2016 was a year of establishing himself as a solo artiste in his own right. Together with long-term collaborator DJ Buckz and ally Wizkid, we can deduce that the trio delivered Africa’s top song of 2016 with Soweto Baby – a song that united South and West Africa, cutting across East and other parts with that feel-good Maphorisa beat marinated in some of that Wizkid’s star boy magic.

  1. Hell Naw (Nasty C) – South Africa

Hell Naw is a single off the debut album of future king of South African Rap – Nasty C. The song was a big hit in South Africa this year, making me give Nasty C the full attention he deserves. From lyrics to beats, Hell Naw is definitely the best trap song produced in Africa by an African so far. Seeing him perform it live at the 2016 MAMAs was also so dope! But why is the video of Hell Naw not even at 200,000 views on YouTube at the point of drafting this post? South Africans – you need to start cultivating a culture of watching videos on YouTube even if your internet isn’t the fastest in the world.

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  1. Wabe (Gabu x Frasha) and Gudi Gudi (Naiboi x Everlast x Kristoff)

The two biggest Kenyan club bangers of 2016 – you couldn’t throw a Kenyan party and miss to play Wabe and Gudi Gudi! Gabu and Frasha shut down rumours that we’d never see a P-Unit reunion with Wabe – a ragga/kapuka banger produced by the legendary Musyoka.

Gudi Gudi on the other hand is Pacho Entertainment’s best production yet, bringing together Rap Damu, now going by Naiboi, with Everlast and Kristoff. Usually in songs with lots of collaborators, someone somewhere drops the ball but in Gudi Gudi EVERYONE delivers. I wish I did PR for this song we could have had a chance of taking over Africa with this one. In both songs, the vibe lyrical flow and delivery is at 100% Very impressive!

  1. Pana (Tekno) – Nigeria

Many thought that Tekno had made his biggest hits with the 2015 songs: Duro and Wash but 2016 came with an unlikely hit song Pana. From its unusual tempo to an artistic video, there is no pointing at why we all really love the song. As we ponder into 2017, it’s clear that Pana has joined Wizkid’s 2014 Ojuelegba in the list of pioneers of mid-tempo hit songs. What a great year Tekno had – congrats!

  1. No Kissing Baby (Patoranking and Sarkodie) – Nigeria and Ghana

It was an unlikely collaboration between Ghanaian rap king Sarkodie, also the biggest non-Nigerian artiste inside Nigeria, and Dancehall king Patoranking, as hit maker Pato hadn’t particularly had a massive song with a rap element. Thankfully he didn’t have to change his afro beats and high life element to fit No Kissing Baby as King Sark went on to show the world why he isn’t just one of the most respected African rappers but also the most tactful in adapting to new artistes and genres.

  1. Ngud’ (Kwesta and Cassper Nyovest) – South Africa

To get into the feel good vibes of Ngud’ you certainly don’t have to understand Xhosa or South African Kwaito and Kasi Rap genres. This was a well thought out collaboration. Sampling the vocal range of both rappers on a track is as sharp as a slice of hot iron in Alaska ice. Ngud’ authentically represents the hidden treasure that is South African hip hop.

  1. Mad Over You (Runtown) – Nigeria

I can only describe Mad Over You as a close relative of Pana and another show for how dope and original Runtown is. Just like Pana, there is no pointing at why I really love the song but I hope that like Pana emancipated Tekno from his almost-breaking-through status to a certified African superstar in 2016 – in 2017 Mad over You will finally help rid Runtown from the list of Africa’s most underrated artistes.

4 Your Eyez Only – J. Cole (Album Review)

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-1-53-06-amCole is back with another boss non-collaborative album, 4 Your Eyez Only (4YEO) – his fourth studio album, released on December 9, 2016 by Dreamville Records.

First things first – just a peek at the album’s title 4 Your Eyez Only reminds me of one of the greatest hip hop albums, Tupac’s All Eyez on Me. The title is a continuation of Cole’s Forest Hills Drive (FHD) style of replacing the s with z in songs like Wet Dreamz, A Tale of 2 Citiez and Love Yourz – just like Pac.

Head bangers and hip hop bass lovers – Neighbors and Foldin Clothes are your tracks. The first is dope and second is as plain as its last lyrics go: “It’s the simple things.” I love She’s Mine, Pt. 1 and She’s Mine, Pt. 2. They both give me a vibe of FHD’s Love Yourz – I think it’s the keys and minimalism. I am a little underwhelmed and starting to accept that J. Cole albums might never get back to songs written to be hits and go mainstream. It’s cool though because we’ve seen him do it all, and succeed. The sound of a baby crying in the back of She’s Mine, Pt. 1 makes me feel like it’s tied to Lost Ones off Cole World: The Sideline Story. This stripped down duo also make me feel like the album should have been called 4 Your Ears Only.

There are reports that a Cole – Kendrick collaborative album is in the works. That would be interesting to hear as I’ve always loved Kendrick more in collabos. In the mean time, J. Cole seems to be walking down the same path with 4YEO as continuation of FHD’s non-commercial appeal. Interestingly, the double platinum FHD ended up being Cole’s most successful album yet, also the first rap album in 25 years to go platinum without any guest appearances or features.

My favourite – Déjà vu samples the instrumentals of Bryson Tyler’s Exchange. Starting 2.59, Cole’s delivery is so similar to Pac’s in How Do You Want it and other jams. It’s so freaky – if I were a DJ I would just mix the two together. No doubt J. Cole is also Makaveli’s offspring. In a 2014 interview with Steve Lobel about Pac, he said, “Pac was my favourite rapper even before I started rapping … One day my mum’s boyfriend came home with 2Pac’s album and since then, even though I was too young to connect, I could hear Pac’s early albums and feel the truth.”

BONUS: I included a J. Cole video in my Top Music Videos of 2015: Anyiko’s Select 10

When 3 Producers Drop 3 Dope EPs

2016 will go down in history as the year of dope EPs, from Davido’s Son of Mercy to Burna Boy’s Redemption. However it was the silent producers behind some of our beloved hit songs from our favourite artistes who ruled the roost. This blog post is an ode to 3 dope producers: Blinky, DJ Maphorisa and Maleekberry. It’s your turn to shine!

1.We Cut Keys While You Wait (Blinky Bill) – 2016

img_9346For those who don’t reckon renowned Kenyan multi-talented artiste Blinky Bill – start to get your facts. He’s a founding member of Kenya’s most successful house/funk/disco band Just-A-Band (JAB). Alongside former JAB member Jim Chuchu, he produced almost, if not all, of JAB’s discography, and the albums: Sorry for the Delay, 82 and Scratch to Reveal. Last year, JAB announced a break – a move that broke the hearts of many JAB fans (including me). Fear as to what will happen to their legacy is now a thing of the past as the group has since cemented it all in writing through the launch of their own book cleverly titled Just A Book. Blinky’s EP We Cut Keys While You Wait dropped in August. With features, Blinky likes to call key cutters, including former Camp Mulla rapper ShappaMan, soulful daughter of legendary singer Sal Davis – Maia Von Lekow, the most underrated Kenyan power vocalist Sage and JAB member Nairobidhobi – this is solid backing into his solo entrant into the game. It’s electronic, sometimes reminiscent of JAB but mostly fun, melodious and good vibes. Love them all but have to pick Wacha Maneno with ShappaMan as my stand out track.

I wrote about Why Just A Band can’t wrap things up yet.

2. Last Daze of Summer (Maleekberry) – 2016

maleek-berryMaleekberry is the genius feel-good Nigerian producer responsible for producing classic tracks from some top Nigerian artistes. Among hit songs he produced include Runtown’s Lagos to Kampala and Walahi, Wizkid’s The Matter and Wande Coal’s Weekend. What most of us never knew about Maleekberry was that he is a dope artiste by his own right. In the words of Gidi Culture Festival, he’s a “a triple threat producer, singer and songwriter,” adding, “Drawing influences from his Nigerian heritage and his British staple, he has created his own sound that no doubt will add some sauce to the fast moving African music movement globally.” I always prayed that he would one day drop a solo record and so when Last Daze of Summer dropped in September, it didn’t come to me as a surprise. Apart from Eko Miami featuring Geko (please who is this?), Maleekberry doesn’t flaunt his famous friends in music in this EP by inviting them to collaborate – a show that he’s stand-alone in any situation. This afro-pop EP has a touch of Burna Boy’s inimitable style and a touch of London’s underground indie soul music movement. It’s so hard for me to choose my standout track. I’ll pick Kontrol only because of it’s video’s eclectic and radiant creative direction. As we put a face to the name and beats, you can see Maleekberry taking control of his new image, and showing off his cool dance moves.

3. Blaqboy EP (DJ Maphorisa) – 2016

img_9347DJ Maphorisa of South African music group – Uhuru has in the last couple of years proved himself to be a strong independent artiste and one of Africa’s most influential music producers. He has produced gems like Yuri da Cunha’s Atchu Tchutcha featuring himself, Mafikizolo’s Khona, Happiness and Colours of Africa. When the world thought that Maphorisa’s pan-African hit release Soweto Baby, and co-producing Drake and Wizkid’s global hit One Dance were highlights enough for this year, he went on to be a major producer on Coke Studio Africa’s fourth season before dropping his solo project – The Blaqboy EP. Featuring Africa’s new kids on the block like Tanzanian pop diva Vanessa Mdee, South Africa’s rappers Mtee and Maggz, and Nigeria’s dancehall king Patoranking and rapper YCEE – the curation of collaborators on this EP alone is a solid 100% The best thing about the EP is it doesn’t sound like what you would expect—that very heavy Kwaito beat we know Maphorisa for. This is his big return to his founding genres of hip-hop & rap, and him probably telling he world that he’s more than just some type of African sound, but a collector and emitter of talent.

My Best Years – Yet To Come

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Pic by Cheka Photography.

On my birthday this year – September 4th – I got so flooded with such sweet and lovely Birthday Messages. If it will take me months to respond to all of them, let it be – I am on it. I feel so honoured and lucky to have good people – friends, family and fans around me. I just wrote this blog to tell each and every person a Huge Thank You for caring and remembering my special day, and share a review of my life over the past year.

Triggered by an olden 1843 (formerly Intelligent Life Magazine) post on ‘What’s the best age to be?’ I recalled my earlier years in a 2013 blog post: My Best Years – So far. Two years and one week later, I am here celebrating another milestone – birthday for me and my late Dad (because we were born on the same day). Today I look back at that 2013 ‘Best Years’ blog and still appreciate old memories and younger years but as I start to goodbye to my twenties, I must say I am becoming more complete, and aware of myself, strengths, weaknesses and challenges. As I find myself more prone to making new friends of late, I get worse at maintaining physical contact with old relationships. I still want to fix that but it’s a tough balance between my time, career, new priorities and dreams. I also can’t wait to see what this new year has to offer!

The last year has been plain amazing! My music-related work trips from Lagos to Kampala [I had to do that 🙂 ] and then Kigali to Mombasa and Stockholm were so rewarding and special – please read the posts if you missed … Every person I met, job I put my hands on and hurdle I encountered made me a better student of life. Lagos tales and nights were especially worthy to redo – why I am already planning my next trip to Nigeria in the coming few months. I find so many strong points in Naija Entertainment vis-à-vis music from the rest of Africa. At the same time, there is so much beauty and authenticity in African music as a whole. I have found renewed drive in being an Arts & Culture journalist and Entertainment Publicist. Recent travel and cross cultural connections across Africa have made me more open to opportunities and keen to expand, in ideas and business.

In the past year, I have developed an architecture around ideas I plan to accomplish. Now I am trying to work on individual projects to perfection because I have seen the potential in my business and reward in building a PR collective. I now have a business manager – who understands my vision and can easily create realistic business plans from preexisting and new work relationships that previously brought me professional quagmire.

Lastly, before the past year, I really thought that I wasn’t going to find someone to love because for years I’ve been so engrossed in my work. I never met anyone who understood me, and my passion. I never wanted to look for someone so I ignored the situation but on February 14th I made a joke at my hopelessness by posting a picture of a ring. Blogs and press went berserk with headlines claiming that ‘Anyiko is off the market’. I was just making fun of myself for happiness sake. But like they say, sometimes fake it till you make it – a few months later, somehow someone found me, and I found them too. So happy!

I look into my upcoming years as a time for me to dwell on what makes me happy and content. I no longer have time for games or pretense but feel comfortable in expressing myself even if at the expense of being wrong—that’s how I get to speak my mind, share ideas, learn more and open myself to criticism. As I enter a new year, I am open to broader thinking to facilitate my collaborations, and quest for celebrating African culture and achievement. I am today more than convinced that my best years are yet to come. Gracefully looking forward.

PS: From Blaze, Abi, Brenna, Sylvia, Smiles and all my close friends (you know yourselves), thank you for inspiring and empowering me.