OUR FIRST EVER DEFINITIVE LIST OF THE BEST
ALBUMS RELEASED ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT IN A WEIRD YEAR.
Wale Olowokorende, Oluchukwu Nwabuike, Nelson Charity John, Emmanuel Esomnofu, Boluwatife Adeyemi, Victor Aderibigbe, Makua Adimora and Olamide Adedeji
African music is at an all time high. In a year that has tried literally every human on earth, 2020 definitely won't be forgotten in a hurry. The global pandemic changed plans and altered fates around the universe, killing age old traditions but also opening new opportunities in different spaces, cue Bounce; our radio project spreading the gospel of good radio programming while projecting the Sound of the Culture globally.
As we wrap up 2020, we've worked tirelessly with a team of listeners, writers, curators, analysts and culture enthusiasts to discuss and close what has been a good year for music, especially African music. Our definitive ranking of the 50 best projects released this year features a number of favourites and new comers. This year gave us projects from artistes like Tems, Aya Nakamura, Omah Lay, Focalistic, Moonchild, Darko and some more dropping gems. Same year gave us giants like Burna upping the ante, Kabza declaring himself King of Amapiano, Wizkid finally dropping MIL, Tiwa blessing us with Celia and Davido giving us A Better Time; if there is anytime to pay attention to African music, it is now.
Folks, simmer through this definitive experience. It's how we feel and what we think about works from all these talented artistes, ranking each project from 50 to 1. It's powerful.
As you enjoy this, you can listen and Bounce through our five radio channels. It's alway lit on Bounce Radio, tap on #BSide too, never too much to enjoy on Bounce.
IBORO / TIMELESS
The country is Nigeria, and PayBac iBoro is the poet. He mirrors its eccentricity, humor, and wild story headlines across Cult!, the follow-up to his 2018 opus, The Biggest Tree. CULT! mashes an array of influences, perfectly executed through PayBac’s multilayered vision. A thread of local landmarks (a Chinua Achebe quote, references to Old Nollywood, a scared protester’s voice note) runs through the album as the rapper continually makes rebellious music, cursing politicians and the nation’s politics, middle finger held high. And, on “Boy Band” and “Activ8”, the rapper creates the perfect slow burn soundtrack for a community of contrarians who just want to chill, smoke weed, and have intellectual conversations. - EE
The Live Report
M.I & A.Q
For years, A-Q and M.I. Abaga served different roles within the Nigerian Hip Hop scene. While the J Town elder was the icon who’d most successfully combined lyrical dexterity with commercial acclaim, A-Q led the underground scene, revered for his god-level bars and quick to respond to the rare disrespect from any of his peers. Both rappers extensively worked for the first time in August 2018 when the LAMB album series was produced by Chocolate City and subsidiary label 100 Crowns, led by A-Q and Loose Kaynon. The Live Report was recorded in six days and turned the news-worthy into timeless art. From dissecting the COVID phenomenon (“The Live Report”) to considering their potential deaths (“Braveheart”), A-Q and M.I Abaga apply their elite penmanship to essential topics and, over typically boisterous production from BeatsbyJayy, emerge as elder statesmen with a firm grip on the today’s happenings. - EE
BTE . INTEGRAL
Pretty Boy D.O
I can’t quite forget the place I was when I first listened to Prettyboy D-O. It was a betting shop, and in the rush of noise, of exuberance and hope, joy and pain, in that moment of unedited black expression, “Pull Up” was right at home. Earlier this year June, Prettyboy D-O released Wildfire as a follow up to his impressive 2018 debut, Everything Pretty. Prettyboy indeed hasn’t ditched his working formula but stretches it, incorporating robust features like Olamide and WANI and leaning subtly on more trendy Afro Pop stylistics. The fiery “Waka” serves as a powerful opener, and on standout “Wetin You Smoke”, the iconic YBNL boss blesses his younger colleague with a masterful performance, both artiste’s energies syncing to create a highly immersive record. Known for his prominence with warm bops, Adey sets WANI and Prettyboy D-O up for greatness with his seasoned production. “Reality” recalls the gritty appeal of the Ajegunle Ragga era, our artist spazzing over a bouncy Dancehall-inflected beat, his words bearing the twang of prophecy. In this subsection of spirituality and affirmations of destiny, D-O thrives, Wildfiretoo. - EE
For many years, this album seemed like a myth, like it was never going to materialize. Before the release of Pioneers, the closest thing to an album DRB Lasgidi ー founding founders of the famed alté scene ー had released was DRB 10, a compilation project released in 2018 to commemorate ten years in the game. However, in May of this year, they finally released their long-awaited debut studio album, Pioneers, a coming-of-age album that captures the sound and aesthetics of the current alté culture and their very essence. The 12-track album brings together some of the finest acts from the alté scene like Odunsi (The Engine), Tems, Wani, Lady Donli, Cruel Santino, etc. DRB, however, does not get eclipsed by the plethora of talents featured as they all pull their weight, staking their claim as true pioneers of the burgeoning alté community. - BA
UNIVERSAL / ISLAND RECORDS
Eight years after his debut, and five years after his first real hit, Tekno’s debut album is here, and it could not be more perfect. This year was a series of unexpected occurrences, but Old Romance is solid, trustworthy, dependable Tekno.
Inspired by and designed around love, the album is an ode to the women who have captured his heart at various points in time. Full of innuendo and laid-bare vulgar suggestion, Tekno is both pleading and insistent. His message and mission of love will not be denied, no matter how he presents it; on ‘Sku Sku’, he is soft and slow, imploring his love interest to follow him back to Africa, on ‘Uptown Girl’ and ‘Tumbo’, the sound is more upbeat, although the message is more or less the same.
With no guest appearances, Tekno shows the strength and uniqueness that has set him apart from his peers, delivering a worthy debut against the odds. - ON