WurlD continues to ascend. It is instructive that the cover art for Afrosoul, his enchanting concoction of soul melodies and Xanaxed R&B missives, features the wing of a butterfly, a cogent reminder of the transformation he has undergone since he returned to Nigeria a little over two years ago. “Growing wings tonight,” he half-warns of his metamorphosis on “NATIONAL ANTHEM (GROWING WINGS)”. Gone are the long-winded sentimentalities of Love Is Contagious, his 2019 offering. On Afrosoul, WurlD is fervent, slightly impatient even, singing of ghosts and fame on “GHOST TOWN.” It is a travesty that the electronic thrums of “LOVE NOBODY” have not been given the full benefit of communal discovery as COVID-19 continues to limit social gatherings. In a way, WurlD adds soul to the body of popular Nigerian music with his almost koan-like insistence on discernable lyrics over syncopated beats hardwired with furious drumming. Still, on Afrosoul, he is shedding any restraint and showing a willingness to take risks in his quest to plot a path to Nigerian pop’s top tables. - WO
EFFYZZIE MUSIC GROUP
Ever since her ambitious debut album King of Queens was released in 2014, barely has a year gone by without Yemi Alade releasing a full-length project. And in that time, the self-ascribed Mama Africa has gradually morphed from a local superstar to a continental royalty.
However, this leap has come at a price: the alienation of her local audience. Yemi Alade appears to be fast losing the stronghold and dominance she once had in the Nigerian music space. But with her latest effort, Empress, Yemi Alade proves she’s still worthy of our undivided attention. Starring a guest list that features Rudeboy, Patoranking, Mzansi Youth Choir, Estelle, and more, the 15-track album plays home to thrilling love ballads, all delivered with her gift as a stunning vocalist on full display. - VA
DM RECORDS / ONERPM
With over 15 years in an unforgiving industry that chews and spits out talents by the day, Timaya has a lot to be grateful for. He has come a long way from the raggedy Egberi Papa and general of the Dem Mama soldiers to the refined elder statesman, Papi Chulo - an alter ego he introduced to us via his 2019 EP, Chulo Vibes. With this indebtedness in his heart, the legacy-focused star crafts and releases his eighth solo project, Gratitude, a project he deems so personal that it features no guests.
With a dominant mid-tempo, easy-going sound hovering across the tape, Timaya alternates between a decorated veteran living the best life and offering priceless gems of advice to younger colleagues and an indebted superstar who looks to the heavens in gratitude with praises on his lips. - VA
After stints of fame in 2008 following her debut album, Ogaju, Simi reclined from the limelight, rebranding and growing. She came back in 2014 with Restless, an extended play filled with covers of popular songs. This project earned her a record deal with X3M music. This deal paid massive dividends and saw Simi ascend to the Nigerian music scene’s summit, establishing herself as one of the most talented artistes around. Six years later, punctuated by two studio albums, she’s back with the second installment of the Restless series. Restless II, arguably her finest work to date, is a collection of lush pop and R’n’B tracks, mostly revolving around love, which perfectly demonstrates her deft songwriting and fluid flows over intricate and slinky production. - BA
It's been quite a long road to Darkovibez's debut album. In 2016, the rapper-singer plunged himself into mainstream consciousness with 'Mercy', a record that positioned the burgeoning rapper on the radar of many as one of the most gifted acts on the rise. Years have followed with the success of his La Même Gang collective, which is quickly cultivating a cult-following, given their impact in the Ghana music space, particularly in 2019.
Now, riding off the back of his dominant pre-released singles like 'Different' and the Mr Eazi-assisted 'Come My Way', he released his debut album Kpanlogo in April 2020 to the warm embrace of his zealous fanbase. Music lovers have been holding their hands out for this long-promised project for a while now. Replete with easy-to-sink-into melodies and spirited verses bearing his rawest thoughts, Kpanlogo proves Darkovibes worthy of our undivided attention. - VA