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B Side, Best 50 Albums, Music

Bounce Best 50 African Albums of 2023

Wizkid’s Made in Lagos in 2021, Obongjayar’s Some Nights I Dream Of Doors in 2022, who takes the number 1 spot in 2023?

  • 17th January 2024

In what will be remembered as a landmark year for the continent, 2023 tested the limits of African humanity, politics and diversity. The continent pulsed with a complex and contradictory energy. Nigeria’s election season set a familiar albeit new precedent while Central Africa underwent unexpected turnovers. In the midst of all of these changes, Africans (and occasionally non-Africans) purported to tell these stories in the most colorful language and melodies music would allow.


While the continent grappled with new realities, its musical pulse never faltered. Tellingly, the enduring quality of exceptional music in Africa has always been one of the stabilizing forces in the continent. This significance becomes even more pronounced as genres like Afrobeats and Amapiano secure their foothold in the global music mainstream alongside more widely recognized sounds.


As we turn the page on 2023, Bounce, in its annual tradition, presents a curated list of the top 50 African albums. This list does not just spotlight sonic excellence — it underscores the enduring vitality of a continent that continues to shape its narrative through the art of music. Each project works as a validation of the resilience of a people who continue to dance to their own rhythm, even as the world around them spins in uncertainty.



50. Face To Face – Vusi Mahlasela, Norman Zulu & Jive Connection 


Face To Face – Vusi Mahlasela, Norman Zulu & Jive Connection


Face To Face, a collaborative album resurrected from a 20-year slumber, doesn’t feel like a relic. Avoiding any of the rust that would be associated with an album recorded in a different generation is no small feat for projects that end up becoming time capsules, however Face To Face was clearly ahead of its time. It is pulsing, exciting, vibrant and most of all, politically potent. Originally recorded in 2002, the album was lost in the archives of producer Torsten Larsson until recently. Being retro cool, it does well to come across as modern and fresh. 


A meeting of musical minds, bringing together the legendary South African folk singer Vusi Mahlasela, singer-songwriter Norman Zulu, and the Swedish jazz/soul collective Jive Connection. It throbs with an immediacy that defies its vintage. The project is an interesting dialogue between diverse music traditions. It combines elements of Jazz, Folk, Funk, Punk and  Reggae for an epic project. Throughout his long career, Mahlasela’s songs have served as anthems for the anti-apartheid movement, and his commitment to socio-political activism continues to this day as is reflected in the album. – Melony Akpoghene



49. The Lion of Sudah – Bensoul


The Lion of Sudah – Bensoul

The Lion of Sudah
served as Grammy winner Bensoul’s debut studio album, and it is safe to say that he made an etching creation with this one.


While most listeners got locked in on the most vocal message, which was the cry for the legalization of Marijuana in Kenya, particularly on the tracks “Mida Ya 420,” and “Legalization,” the soulful singer told so much more on the album.


During an interview, Bensoul explained that the album was a product of events he went through: “This album is a very vulnerable one, full of personal experiences from day-to-day life.” The opening track, “Dreams,” is dedicated to his mother, who had a telling influence on his career. He brings out his lovey side on “My Boo” and ironically narrates a failed relationship on “Navutishwa.” He closes the album with an overview of his skirmishes in the musical world on the final track, “Miracles.”


The Lion of Sudah boasted extensive Kenyan features like BIEN, Mordecai Dex, Hornsphere, and Nigerian, Bayanni. – Favour Overo



48.  God’s Engineering 2 – A-Q


God’s Engineering 2 – A-Q


On his first foray into the booth since 2022’s Behold the Lamb alongside former lablemates, MI Abaga and Blaqbonez, Nigerian rap veteran A-Q delivers a fiery project with God’s Engineering 2, the sequel to his acclaimed album that boosted his reputation during the pandemic. The distinctive 11-track tape showcases his gritty and introspective rhymes, covering a range of issues from broken friendships to industry politics.

A-Q takes the pulpit for a 33-minute sermon. The opener “Friction” sets the tone with its solemn synths and twinkling keys, while the freewheeling “What’s Happening” finds A-Q clearing his mind of the social media noise. He is joined by frequent collaborator Blaqbonez, who provides a catchy hook that highlights the value of family over fake friends. The album is laced with soulful samples that complement A-Q’s impeccable songwriting and reflective storytelling. On “King Solomon” he gets personal, revealing his dark past and his struggles in the music business. But as the title suggests, it’s all part of God’s engineering for A-Q. – Abdul Obi



 47Ndani Ya Cockpit 3 – Wakadinali


Ndani Ya Cockpit 3 - Wakadinali

The Kenyan rap trio, Wakadinali, extended the
Ndani Ya Cockpit series following the release of the previous two in 2017 and 2018 respectively, and a bland version in 2021. Ndani Ya Cockpit 3 was a flamboyant relay of their drill and trap style of rap infused with the Kenyan Swahili, which the group introduced on their 2020 Victims of Madness album, labeled as NaiDrill or RongDrill.


Characterized by heavy bass and equally hard-flowing rap bars, the classic RongDrill style is evident on songs like “Mc Mca,” “Chunga,” and “Zoea.” The message on Ndani Ya Cockpit 3 remained the same as always, with the thematic focus being on the group’s  struggle to where they are now, and refutation of anything that likens giving up. Domani, SewerSydaa and Scar’s witty and brisk rap lines match the obstinate public figures they appear as, considering their regular involvements in squabbles and controversies. Wakadinali also added a bit of dynamism as the trio tried out slower production on songs like “Singefanikiwa” and “Shit Yangu,” and hopped on the Reggae genre on “Rong Reggae.”

Ndani Ya Cockpit 3 is an assertion of Wakadinali’s influence in the Kenyan music industry. Their energetic verses and head-bopping beats is paving a clear path for an almost nonexistent hip hop culture in the East African region. – Favour Overo


46. Point of View – Moelogo


Point of View - Moelogo


This project is a visceral expression of different emotions — from the heady rush of new love and lust to the sobering sting of past betrayals, all tied cohesively together. Moelogo’s R&B/soul inclinations dance throughout. However, he throws things back to his Afrobeats roots with “What I Like” where he playfully flirts with a potential love interest amidst infectious percussion and sun-drenched melodies. 

He flips the script for a heavier one on “15TH,” where he unearths the heartbroken cynic, his lyrics charged with cautionary tales and hard-won wisdom with bars like “be careful of humans”. “Where I’m From” is gut-wrenching — it is a reflective, spiritual testimony track recorded with strings and soothing vocals. Moelogo isn’t afraid to lay bare his vulnerabilities, his triumphs, and his growth, making for a body of work that feels as honest and relatable as it is musically diverse. – Melony Akpoghene


45. Uthingo Le Nkosazana – Nkosazana Daughter 


Uthingo Le Nkosazana – Nkosazana Daughter

Nkosazana Daughter’s debut album,
Uthingo Le Nkosazana is a unique blend of Afropop, R&B and traditional African music with her own twist of amapiano. According to the South African singer and songwriter, Uthingo Le Nkosazana means “rainbow”, a sentiment she was keen to represent by making an album that had everything. Her love for amapiano is evident across the 77-minute runtime, however, her dexterity also carries through to any genre she lays her hands on. 


The album is themed around love in all its different forms, addressing romance, platonic love, destiny, spirituality and dream-chasing. Launching with “Amaphutha”, a love song featuring Murumba Pitch, Master KG and Lowsheen, she sings about loving someone despite their flaws and not caring about what others think. “Ngeke”, continues in the same breath and enlists Sir Trill and Murumba Pitch again, where she sings about never leaving her lover. 


The general gist of the album is encapsulated in the first two songs and on records like “Valentines” and “In Love with a Foreigner,” the alluring 23 year old doubles down on romance. At a time when most young people are jaded and unwilling to delve into romance feet-first, Nkosazana lays her cards down and her soul bare, willing to fall headfirst at a moment’s notice as long as the conditions are right. – Abdul Obi



44. In Case I Never Love Again (ICINLA) – Oladapo


In Case I Never Love Again (ICINLA) – Oladapo

Oladapo is a promising Afrofusion artist who has had quite a resilient career to say the least. Building an audience from Instagram freestyles, he gained attention after his debut single titled “Mango” was shortlisted on Mr Eazi’s music initiative, Empawa Africa.


Debunking the one-hit-wonder allegations, he released his debut album, In Case I Never Love Again, on which he explores the intricacy of intimacy, particularly narrating a failed relationship between a young couple coherently, in the first-person point of view.


Oladapo’s style is vivid and realistic, with many pre-recorded samples, including the unanswered voicemail on “Voicenote,” and the agonistic discovery of his cheating partner on “Text.” This gives his music a kind of interactionism that connects his listeners and their emotions. His 10-track album is solo, with Afrobeats and highlife sounds to match his traverse story-telling skills. Easily one of the better put together albums from a virtually unknown act, In Case I Never Love Again is a tender debut that promises much more from the singer/songwriter. – Favour Overo



43.  5th Dimension – Stonebwoy


5th Dimension

A feature line-up of Angelique Kidjo, Stormzy, Tiwa Savage, Oxlade, Dexta Daps, Shaggy, and Davido would guarantee most artists solid first week sales and certain chart status. For the BET Award-winning dancehall sensation, all that this stacked shortlist represents is the high level he is operating at on this project.


In an autological sense, 5th Dimension is Stonebwoy’s fifth studio album, on which he expresses his stellar coalition skills, hooking his usual dancehall style with Afrobeats, modern pop, and reggae. The album also gained critical acclaim for its outstanding production and quality sounds. Its hit track, “My Sound,” featuring Jamaican star Shaggy, is bouncy, enticing, and exhilarating as both artists showcase their unique African-Jamaican musical connection.

5th Dimension is a brilliant body of work by the Ghanaian veteran singer. Characterized by his beautiful vocals and compelling lyrics, top features, and immense melodies, Stonebwoy created a generational/multi-dimensional album capable of permanently situating him on Ghana’s musical Rushmore. – Favour Overo



42. Billion Dollar Dream (Deluxe) – Jeriq


Billion Dollar Dream (Deluxe) – Jeriq

In a year that has given diversity a new meaning, South-Eastern rappers have staked a claim for being at the forefront of Nigerian rap. Following his 2022 release, Billion Dollar Dream, Jeriq, otherwise known as Jeriq the Hustla returns with a deluxe version. In what could be described as his biggest year yet, the Anambra born 24 year old rapper featured alongside Zlatan and ODUMODUBLVCK on “Oganigwe”, a giant hit that utilized traditional South Eastern instrumentation led by a South Western act.


In a deeply politicized year, this marked a return to the Olamide & Phyno collaborative years that saw them release a joint project littered with punchlines delivered in Igbo and Yoruba. However, Jeriq had no idea this would be what 2023 had in store for him. Jeriq set the tone for the year with a January release. Jeriq’s debut album, Hood Boy Dreams, is a reflection of his growing ambition and his determination to overcome the challenges of life.


The album showcases his versatility as a rapper, as he switches from hard-hitting tracks like “Hood Boy Dreams” and “Backdoor” to more introspective and soulful songs like “True Life Story” and “Oluoma”. The album also features collaborations with some of the biggest names in the Nigerian music scene, such as Flavour, Alpha P, and Phyno. Hood Boy Dreams is a testament to Jeriq’s talent and his vision to make his mark in the industry and leaves listeners dazzled by the underlying talent Nigeria’s rap universe has to offer. – Abdul Obi


41. Zango – WITCH


Zango – WITCH


Rock music may not have a stronghold in Africa so to speak, but WITCH (an acronym for We Intend To Cause Havoc) have put together a compelling project worthy of global recognition and praise for its fresh perspective and sonic originality. The band weaves Afrobeats, spacey Psych-pop, and something sonically metallic to form its unique brand of original African rock music.


After a 40 year hiatus forced upon the band by the death of members (stemming from the 80s AIDS epidemic) and economic hardships across Zambia in the 70s, Chanda AKA Jagari, the original lead vocalist is back with new band members at the age of 71 and is set to reestablish himself as the king of Zamrock. Hopefully, this time the legend isn’t short lived. – Seun Osho



40. Alaye Toh Se Gogo, Vol. 1 Reminisce


Alaye Toh Se Gogo, Vol. 1 – Reminisce

Like everything Reminisce does, the delivery on
Alaye Toh Se Gogo is sturdy. He is alternately full of slick punches while also being soft and sober. Traditional drums and horns meet boom-bap beats as Reminisce reflects on life, challenges, and — don’t be shocked — love. It’s a shaking of hands between hip-hop as it was then and hip-hop as it is now. He collaborates with his contemporary, Olamide, on “Orin” where they both celebrate their longevity and relevance in the music industry.


He also taps fresh blood like ODUMODUBLVCK and Powpeezy on “Olu Maintain”, a gritty track that explores one of the popular breakout sounds in modern Nigerian hip hop: drill. For many rap heads, Reminisce is a cultural icon. On ATSG, Vol.1, the artist isn’t trying to prove anything that we do not already know. He is a veteran who knows his strengths and plays to them masterfully. He simply reconnects with his roots, refines his sound, and delivers a project that’s both nostalgic and forward-thinking. – Melony Akpoghene

  39.  Emotions – Khaid


Emotions – Khaid

One of the surprise hitmakers of 2023, Khaid, launched into the scene with the release of his EP,
Emotions. The young Nigerian sensation who debuted with DIVERSITY in 2022, returns with his second EP, Emotions, a showcase of his musical expression and versatility. The EP reflects his Lagos roots as well as his global influences, and offers a range of vibes that he wants his listeners to relate to.


Describing the project as a statement piece demonstrating his maturity and potential as a new generation musician, Khaid’s range is on full display from the opener, “Hold Me”, a song inspired by a walk on the beach, where he came up with the melody in his head. Produced by Afrobeats constant, Ransom, the record is a solid encapsulation of what the kid is about. “No Time” plays with spiritual melodies and themses and is borderline a church hymn by the time the record closes. Following closely is “Jolie”, a hit song that garnered the budding star much needed attention. Produced by BMX, who knows his way around a hit record, Khaid drew inspiration from older Nigerian artists to create the melody. Started as a freestyle and borrowing the skill of repetition from mumble rappers, Khaid crafted what would go on to be one of the year’s biggest hits.


The project quickly winds down from there with “People (Evil)”, a response to the critics who say he doesn’t have lyrics and ends on “Anabella”. Attempting to redefine the wheel is an approach only the brave take, putting a spin on the expected however, is one the smart opt for. Khaid knows Afrobeats is already in full swing. He just wants to find his own place in it. – Abdul Obi


38. Legend or No Legend – Wande Coal 


Legend or No Legend – Wande Coal

Many have understudied, many have tried, a few have come close, but none has been able to touch Wande Coal’s untethered melodic vocal range and talent. On this project, Wande Coal really shows off his prowess by exploring multiple genres. This Afrobeats, R&B and Trap-infused project is proof that Wande Coal is actually a legend.

After an eight-year hiatus, Legend or No Legend arrived at a time where few of Wande Coal’s actual contemporaries were operational and the generation that followed were putting Afrobeats in the global conversation. The project serves as a response to the global industry, Afrobeats as a nascent genre was solidified by a crop of artists; Wande Coal was one of them. On his latest effort, the artist born Oluwatobi Wande Ojosipe did just that. Demonstrating his personal and artistic maturation since the release of his sophomore project, 2015’s Wanted, Legend or No Legend references a range of sounds and allows no limitations on Wande Coal’s expression.


The Black Diamond folds Fuji, Amapiano, Baile Funk, Cloud Rap and Indie Pop into his repertoire of falsetto-enveloped Afrobeats. On Legend or No Legend, Wande Coal sometimes supports the already very solid production with vocal stunts and lyricism only fathomable by a true maverick, almost to ensure the message is clear, his status as one of the greatest to ever do it is untouchable, regardless of anyone’s subjective opinion. – Seun Osho


37. Tropikadelic – Ireke

Tropikadelic – Ireke

Reminiscent of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s Afrobeat sounds, Ireke manages to put a fresh spin on the legend’s music style without watering it down on any tracks. This project explores core traditional African sounds in ways no one else was able to this year. Language blending, genre bending and immense sonic pleasure is all this project has to offer.


For their debut release on French label Underdog Records, Ireke, translating to “sugarcane” in Yoruba, put together Tropikadelic. Despite their base in France, not Nigeria or Madagascar, Ireke‘s Tropikadelic is a seamless blend of Highlife, Funk, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and electro, enriched with dub elements and studio wizardry. Charly Sanga takes the lead on “Bas Les Masques,” delivering a high-energy performance, while “Oh Ma Cherie” presents a pop-infused sensibility. The album’s opener, “Petit A Petit,” featuring Agnès Hélène, sets a lively tone with Congolese-styled guitar figures. Tracks like “Man Bo Diak” and “Métissage” showcase diverse tempos, while “Femme Qui Danse” and “Love Is Jokin” feature intricate layers, combining psychedelic elements with West African vibes.

Founders Julien Gervaix and Damien Tesson showcase an intriguing musical history. Gervaix contributed to Soulshine and Afrobeat group Walko, while Tesson excelled as a dubmaster with Shi Fu Mi Temple. Inspired by Fela Kuti and King Tubby, Tropikadelic transcends geographical bounds, drawing influence from TP L’Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou Dahomey and Ernesto Djédjé.


With Julien on saxophone, bass, and keyboards, and Damien on guitars and dub effects, Ireke’s compelling foundation is complemented by notable guest vocalists. Collaborators include Jy Cooly, Agnès Hélène, Pat Kalla, Amatah Keo, and Charly Sanga. 

Ireke’s Tropikadelic is a musical journey spanning continents, styles, and influences, underscored by a collaborative spirit. Every lover of beautiful music should be queued up for a taste of this masterpiece. – Seun Osho


36. Alusa Why Are You Topless? – BIEN


Alusa Why Are You Topless? – BIEN

Since the break-up of the Kenyan boy-band Sauti Sol, eyes have watched to see what was next for the quad. However, all attention was focused on the lead vocalist and Grammy-award-winning songwriter, BIEN, following the release of his first solo studio album,
Alusa Why Are You Topless?

BIEN revealed during an
interview that the notion behind the title is a metaphorical inquisition of his new phase of life. The artist’s second name is “Alusa,” while the question that follows refers to the start of something new. Alusa Why Are You Topless? is an ethereal song collection, with BIEN delivering the romantic-themed work through his soulful vocals, a range of African features, and varying beats.

The 16-track album reminisces BIEN’s earlier years and his growth as an artist and a person. Squarely focused on pushing the boundaries of a genre not traditionally considered African within the borders of the continent is a challenge many a Nigerian rapper in their 40s will tell you is not worthwhile. And that is for a genre people are rarely homophobic towards. BIEN’s attempts at proliferating R&B/Soul music with an African twist already met marked success during his Sauti Sol years. His attempts at recapturing the same energy have been pointed out. After all, this was the primary pen behind the boy bands multitude of hits for close to a decade, it stands to reason that there were always a few heat seekers chambered and
Alusa Why Are You Topless? is BIEN firing from the hip. – Favour Overo


35. When It Blooms – Nonso Amadi 



When It Blooms – Nonso Amadi

Nonso Amadi’s music has always been laden with tenderness.
When It Blooms, his first studio album after seven years of visibility in the industry, is rooted in feeling and specificity enhanced by lush instrumentation and his signature velvety vocals. Amadi remains at his best, whether he is exploring vulnerability in his duet with R&B act Tay Iwar on “Pieces” — or expelling his grouse about political corruption on “Ease Up” where he laments “Politicians, dem no send / Naija men are mad, you know the saying / But how man go sane when nothing changes?” 

The album marks a subtle shift – a conscious step towards wider appeal without sacrificing Nonso Amadi’s artistic core. He takes tentative steps outside his perceived comfort zone. Playful grooves like “Lock Up” featuring Zinoleesky flirt with Afropop sensibilities, while the Amapiano-tinged “Paper” is a welcome and thoroughly enjoyable detour.
– Melony Akpoghene





Following the success of her debut album,
WONDALAND, Teni blessed 2023 with one of the best collections of sounds modern Afro genres has produced. TEARS OF THE SUN, Teni’s sophomore album, began gaining momentum after she released two singles, “No Days Off” and “Lanke”. After her fans had a taste of the singles and declared them happy anthems, it was obvious that Teni was back to doing what she does best. 


TEARS OF THE SUN saw Teni flaunt her sonic abilities with brilliant tunes and captivating production. On the album opener, “YBGFA,” Teni connects to every Black girl in the world with the help of upbeat drums and her fantastic lyricism. She maintained the high tempo on “Devil Dance” with a rap verse from ODUMODUBLVCK and then goes spiritual on the gospel-like “Malaika.”


While most critics tagged the album as a completely different piece from Teni’s traditional style, TEARS OF THE SUN displayed the preternatural side this superstar has always possessed. Tapping into that across the entire project might have been jarring for some, but her audience has only grown as a result of the versatility on display. – Favour Overo



33. Trench to Triumph – Crayon


Trench to Triumph – Crayon


Crayon, the Afropop starlet who impressed on Mavin Records’ posse cuts, “All In Order” and “Overloading (OVERDOSE),” delivers his debut album, Trench to Triumph, a celebration of his journey from hardship to success. The album features his signature amapiano sound and crisp songwriting, as well as his collaborations with other artists such as Oxlade, Victony, and KTIZO. 


The album attempts to balance out his joyous mood with his reflections on his past, his love life, and his superstar status. On the album opener, “Calvary Kid,” Crayon delivers a gospel-inspired song that revisits his early familial struggles, while “Trench Kid” with Oxlade shows the pair’s determination to rise from the bottom. Crayon also showcases his versatility on songs like “Belle Full,” where he chases a lover, and “Ngozi” where alongside label mate Arya Starr, the pair deliver one of 2023’s most convincing duets effortlessly.


The project oscillates between personal struggle and triumph to love interests and platonic support and for a less experienced act, might have been an overwhelming swirl of emotions to navigate. Thoughts like that highlight just how developed Crayon’s craft has become since his early introduction into the scene in the mid 2010s. While waiting almost seven years for a major debut might be viewed as detrimental by some, Crayon is better for the wait. Hopefully, fans will receive a sophomore in the near future. – Abdul Obi



32. The Evil Genius – Mr Eazi


The Evil Genius – Mr Eazi


Sometimes tech founder and entrepreneur, always the artist, The Evil Genius represents the highly anticipated album from global superstar, Mr Eazi. Focusing on fresh subject matter, the project is a constant battle between Eazi’s needs for creative expression and the cost of keeping that outlet open at the cost of his happiness and potential opportunities.


Straying from his traditionally upbeat Afropop sound, The Evil Genius is an intimate take  expressed across varying genres and moods. Tapping Reggae, Gospel, Highlife and Afropop sounds, Mr Eazi utilizes Yoruba primarily as his vehicle through the project. Careful not to overwhelm with assistance, the features feel handpicked. Starting off with an Angelique Kidjo feature on “Òròkórò” and launching into “Chop Time, No Friend” (which he affectionately describes as brag therapy), Eazi’s musical growth sees him touch on themes of grief, depression, politics and love with glimpses of his signature playful style.

As part of the marketing campaign for the project, each record is accompanied by an individual visual piece from artists across Africa, commissioned by the singer-songwriter himself. According to Mr Eazi, “
they represent the essence of each track, making The Evil Genius not just an album, but an exhibition of my life”. This intricate approach is felt all over the album as each song feels like a specific piece that is not meant to fit with the rest, almost like a puzzle board with misaligned pieces that have to be forced together to present the most unexpected image. – Seun Osho 



31. Summer Breeze – Tay Iwar


Summer Breeze – Tay Iwar

Tay’s penchant for staying out of the way is well documented. Breaking his performative duck in Nigeria during 2023’s Art X Live showcase was the first time I had heard this music played in person. The experience was transformative for the act and his audience. Cathartic sing-alongs and fantastic vocal range married on stage is not common practice in Nigeria (backing tracks are generally employed by most) and to return in such fashion works wonders for a performer’s confidence.


The subject of this performance was his 2023 album, Summer Breeze, a decisively R&B project that ebbs and flows between loss, soul searching and acceptance. The limited runtime approach by most artists backfire, audiences either complain that the key records are too short and that the rest of the songs act as filler or are generally unsatisfied and assume laziness as the cause of the forced brevity. Streaming rules and formats are also thrown under the bus in this argument.


All of this is said to say, the 24 minutes spent across Summer Breeze can best be described as an afternoon in eternity. As paradoxical as that sounds, there is no better description for how music so compact can feel so drawn out. Arguably one of Nigeria’s premier songwriters, the young veteran’s Summer Breeze serves as a placeholder for a rumored 2024 full length album. We can only hope we get to listen to it live in less than five years. – Abdul Obi



30. Mass Country – AKA


Mass Country – AKA


The South African stalwart’s first posthumous project bears an eerie mark. Prepared and recorded before his untimely demise in Durban, February 2023, AKA’s grip on South Africa’s music scene had experienced significant peaks and throughs.


From breaking in new acts like KDDO to beefing with his peers like Cassper Nyovest, Keirnan Forbes always cut a controversial figure in his country’s musical history albeit being a consistent act. With five albums since 2011’s Levels, AKA managed to document his own history as well as South Africa’s through a POV that was not only welcoming for strangers, but one that made SA one of the continents biggest collaborative hotpots over the last decade.


Mass Country plays like the encapsulation of all of that effort. The title is a cue to this approach as the sprawling list of collaborators represent multiple eras and catchment areas of his home country. From Blxckie to KDDO to Musa Keys, it feels like AKA almost required a high level of unification to make the project, something he had not always centered on his projects. It is fitting he managed to mend whatever bridges he could on this project, sonically at least. As far as the personal demons that plagued him, we can only pray for his spirit’s resolution. – Abdul Obi



29. Sincerely, Benson – BNXN


Sincerely, Benson – BNXN


The arrival of BNXN’s debut album was met with so much anticipation that it birthed a monster of expectation. Graced by an exciting list of features and the sugary vocals of one of Afropop’s young lyrical maestros, it is safe to say the album lived up to said expectations. It is important as well to point out that this is the best production experience on a BNXN project, even if his catalogue is not the most developed. Anchored by one of the biggest singles of the year in “Gwagwalada”, Sincerely, Benson was too big to fail in the opinion of many.


Aided by a spattering of features and production from close associates Telz and Leriq, the album is a rollercoaster ride of emotions as the artist formerly known as Buju reflects on his meteoric rise, the price of sustaining it and if it is even worth it. Serving as an invitation to the next part of the artist’s journey, the album presents his most recent experiences in detail through vivid songwriting. Inspired by interactions with his environment, fame, spirituality and romance, Sincerely, Benson relays the results of Bnxn’s soul-searching, featuring Amapiano, Gospel, Dancehall and Indie cuts mixed with his trademark Afro-fusion. – Seun Osho



28.  Ugcobo – Nomfundo Moh


Ugcobo – Nomfundo Moh

Nomfundo Moh is usually at the bad end of critics whenever foreign acceptability is raised, and this is because of her high patronage of the Zulu native language in the majority of her songs. Nevertheless, understanding her is least necessary as her invoking vocals charge the soul rather than the ears of her listeners. 

The young South African maverick released her second studio album on the solid foundation of her debut, Amagama. Ugcobo, which translates to “the anointing,” was Nomfundo Moh’s assertion of her style. In a part of the world where Amapiano is most popular, her beautiful singing and adaptation of the R&B genre makes her music enchanting and unique. Moh also employs jazz and Afro-pop to express the album’s three main themes: love, gratitude, and personal rejuvenation.


On the sixth track, “Amalobolo,” featuring the famous Big Zulu, Nomfundo Moh entirely switches to the African side of her music, adding traditional shakers, distant ululations, and drums representing the Mzansi culture to its production. 

The title accurately matches Moh’s music on this piece because Ugcobo is a collection of spiritual sonics only anointed lips can produce. – Favour Overo


27. DNK – Aya Nakamura 

DNK – Aya Nakamura

Aya Nakamura, Malian born pop sensation in the French-speaking world, and one of the most popular music artists globally, even though she has never been to the US (as she said in a NPR interview in February 2023). Her previous album,
Aya, released in 2020, had five consecutive hits in France and hundreds of millions of streams. Her new album, DNK, is largely a mix of Zouk and Reggaeton reflecting on her experiences with love and sex.


The album’s fifteen songs run for 42 minutes, but unfortunately can feel lacking variety or depth to keep the listener engaged. The album tells the story of Aya’s struggle with a relationship that is not good for her. The first song, “Corazon”, combines cheerful Caribbean beats with sad lyrics about a woman who can’t leave a bad lover. This contrast between the music and the lyrics is the main source of tension in the album, but the songs leave too much to the imagination. The highlights of the album are the collaborations with other artists, such as SDM, Myke Towers, Kim, and Tiakola, who add some diversity and much needed fun to the album.


The last two songs, “Bloqué” and “Fin”, show Aya’s decision to end the relationship and move on with her life. DNK is a decent pop album with catchy melodies and hooks, both of which have resulted in strong charting success for the project. Aya Nakamura is cool and charismatic, but you leave the album feeling like she might have hit a glass ceiling, even if she is arguably the greatest Malian export in the last 25 years. – Abdul Obi  



26. Don’t Tell Anyone – Mannywellz


Don’t Tell Anyone – Mannywellz


Don’t Tell Anyone delineates copacetic sound engineering and tuneful melodies that buttress the catchy and relatable lyrics contained within the seven tracks that the work spans across. It separates quality from hype. Mannywellz is among those potentially influencing future directions for the soulful sub-genre of Afrobeats tagged, “Afro R&B.” Each track on Don’t Tell Anyone feels carefully crafted, woven with a distinct Nigerian swagger even though the 29-year-old left Nigeria when he was just nine years old. The melodies linger in your mind. It’s an emotionally honest project that does not necessarily follow a linear narrative but is still very tightly bound conceptually.


Mannywellz’ ascent into the Nigerian consciousness has been a tepid journey, collaborating with Nigerian acts from diaspora while also trying to break ground for his adapted version of Afrobeats and R&B in a market that was not quite ready has provided mixed results. The DMV-domiciled act has progressively achieved his vision of matching all the elements his adopted home provides against the backdrop of Nigerian sonics to create something new. Collaborations with acts like Wale, Foggieraw and ShowDemCamp who are cut from a similar cultural cloth have done much to progress said vision in both of his direct markets. – Melony Akpoghene

25. Noisey Neighbors – The Hause, Calix & Jamie Black


Noisey Neighbors – The Hause, Calix & Jamie Black


House music has made a nice little home for itself in some Nigerian subcultures and this project is proof that the genres roots are set and growing nicely. This collaborative project is so seamlessly synchronized in its production, it’s hard to tell where one producer starts and the other ends. Put together by the production group, The Hause, Noisey Neighbours serves as the groups first foray into releasing music.

Geared into action by the aforementioned House/Amapiano movement in Lagos, budding rave culture and a willingness to impact the culture, the group decided to work on a handful of records that ended up being put together for their debut EP. Coming in at under 25 minutes, the high energy cuts are primarily instrumentals but that will not stop you from singing along to the ad libs. A potential second edition is reportedly in the works and we cannot help but wonder if this is going to be another Major League DJz moment in the not too distant future. – Seun Osho



24. Yusful Music –  YKB

 Yusful Music – YKB

YKB’s career over the last four years can be likened to a rollercoaster. Like Oladapo, he also was a recipient of the Empawa Africa shortlist in 2019, and got included in Ejoya’s
Class of ’20: Vol 1  playlist less than a year after, while still under the stage name Yusufkabani.


While it seemed like it would only get better onwards, the hardest part of every journey caught up with him; doubts. From listeners, from critics, from haters, and most unfortunately from his family. Yusuf Oluwo Gbolaga (as he is legally known) had to go back to the drawing board in search of what musical aspect truly identified who he was. He emerged with renewed fervour and new branding two years later and YKB was born. In 2021, he released his debut album, Before I Blow, and in 2022, his single, “San Siro.”


“San Siro” was a hit. The body-shaking rhythms of the Afrobeats production perfectly converged with the lovey-dovey route he took. At the dawn of 2023, he released the more sensual “Bo Card (Things I Need),” with slower production than “San Siro,” a polyrhythmic drum, and an amazing saxophone performance. YKB had arrived, but the naysayers still had their lips moving. 

Afrobeats and subtle romance is a heavenly match, especially when conveyed in the Yoruba language, which YKB often sings in. Keen to see YKB deliver something different, something unique, audiences pined for a project that married both sensibilities. And in a self-possessed response, YKB released his sophomore EP, Yusful Music.

Evidently being eponymous, Yusful Music was a 14 minute, 27 second display of what YKB could really do. The five track compilation housed tales from the difficult times on “Pressure” and “Traffic,” on which he explained that he was ruled-out and just caught up in the traffic of the music industry. The fourth track, “Komplete Riddim” did not miss out on his usual romantic feel, but he played around the beats, showing that he could have as much fun as he wanted with sonics, and still produce an appealing piece of music. 

Yusful Music is the first chapter to YKB’s story, one that is far from being complete. – Favour Overo



From Uganda with Love –  MAUIMOON & La Soulchyld


From Uganda with Love – MAUIMOON & La Soulchyld


MAUIMØON, the singer and producer who debuted with the well-crafted Pleasure in 2021, returns with his 2023 EP, From Uganda With Love. The project showcases his refined sound and his smooth, soulful vocals. The project is a romantic affair, as MAUIMØON expresses his love and desire for his partner. Collaborating closely with La Soulchyld, MAUIMØON’s focus is enabled by the division of labour across the project. Focusing on the lyrics and letting his partner focus on instrumentation enabled both acts to churn out this tender R&B tinged album.


Opening with the indelibly soft “Sayin My Name,” he takes his listeners on an emotional journey, with songs that range from the upbeat “Cherry Sweet” to the seductive “Supahawt”. Blending a handful of genres, such as soul, R&B and Afrobeats, served as the bedrock for this pronounced Alte approach. From Uganda With Love is a testament to MAUIMØON’s talent and his passion for music. MAUIMØON’s lyrics are sweet and sincere, connecting with his fans on a powerful level and leaving them with bated breath until his next release. – Abdul Obi



22. Tequila Ever After – Adekunle Gold


Tequila Ever After – Adekunle Gold

AG Baby’s fifth studio album is another phase in his never-ending evolution. Being the first project released under the Def Jam Recording label, Adekunle Gold’s creativity has been freed up, allowing him to go into an overdrive on the album.


Tequila Ever After is a poetic representation of the double-sided influences of alcohol, as Adekunle Gold cryptically tells the tale of a night with a bottle of tequila. The album opens with “Chasing Peace of Mind,” on which he believes “one shot…one smoke will be the only way to derive true peace. Then, the night truly begins.


Not far into the tracklist, listeners meet the already intoxicated Adekunle Gold, accompanied by Zinoleesky, on the album’s biggest hit, “Party No Dey Stop,” having the best time of his life on the dancefloor. The story continues in this fantastic format, following with numerous love proposals like “Come Back To Me,” featuring Khalid, and “Look What You Made Me Do,” featuring the remarkable vocal skills of his wife, Simi.


Next up, AG Baby switched things up on the confident mashup alongside ODUMODUBLVCK, “Wrong Person” and revealed personal reflections on “Falling Up,” featuring American stalwarts, Pharell Williams and Nile Rodgers.


Tequila Ever After is bubbly and energetic, and explores many distinct Afrobeats sounds. The single-note drums on “Soro” or the tight synths on “To My Own”? Stop that, Adekunle Gold! – Favour Overo



21. Emeka Must Shine – Blaqbonez


Emeka Must Shine – Blaqbonez

When you think about disruption in the Nigerian music industry, very few acts personify the idea better than Blaqbonez. Bucking trends from fashion to appearance and subject matter, the artist attempts something new with every release while maintaining consistent canon. On
Emeka Must Shine, Blaqbonez furthers his sampling attempts and draws inspiration from R&B to Dancehall in a bid to marry his own signature brand of Afrofusion with the perfect blend of lyricism, melodies and feature usage.


Each song transports you to a timeless place where the sonic cadence of 90s hip-hop might meet the fresh bouncy, melodies of present day Afrobeats. The album ends as it begins; the outro, “Cinderella Girl” finds him trading bars and melodies with a transcendent Ludacris and in what he describes as his greatest intro ever and he does the same with a refreshed Black Sherif on the opener. Across the project are moments that feel familiar but new, helmed by brilliant pop-sample filled production, alongside a smidge of Highlife, Dancehall and Drill elements, there appears to be something for most appetites.


On “Young Preacher”, Blaqbonez came to terms with his fame and fortune, reeling from the magnitude of his success in relation to where he’s from, but on this project, he settles into his new reality and declares that his appetite is not satiated just yet. – Seun Osho



20. London Ko – Fatoumata Diawara


London Ko – Fatoumata Diawara

Besides being the first female in Mali to lay hands on an electric guitar, and a huge cultural music icon in the country, Fatoumata Diawara is renowned for using her music to raise social issues. Imperialism is a motif in her music, while her debut album released way back in 2011 housed her single “Boloko,” a condemnation of the rampant female circumcision in Mali and Africa at that time. 


On her fourth studio album London Ko, Fatoumata retains her activism, as she speaks about “barbaric” child ritualism in Africa on her third track, “Sete,” but that wasn’t the biggest highlight of the album.


London-Bamako, which was the original idea for the album’s title, is an indicator of the seamless combination of Western genres like Funk, Rock, Pop, with traditional Malian Wassoulou music. Opposed to her full Malian tonal technique, Fatoumata makes use of interesting Anglo-instrumentation to discuss life, family, and exalt Africa as her true home, despite her long stay in France.


The album is outright celebratory as the Malian rockstar uses infectious tunes and perfectly paced beats that match every emotion to spice her track list. Fatoumata features famous producer and long-time friend Damon Albarn on six tracks and adds the rap prowess of Ghanaian M. Anifest and extra vocal power from Yemi Alade.

“Blues,” is the album’s standout track, but her electric guitar freestyle on “Yada” is one not to miss. – Favour Overo



19. Blessed – MohBad

Blessed – MohBad


This was a project of moods, certain moments found Mohbad braggadocious but most found him introspection in public, sharing thoughts about his position in life and the music industry. Welcoming a child in the same year his sophomore was released, Mohbad had more than a few things on his mind, many of which are laid bare for his audience from the opener, “Beast and Peace” and he bleeds into the Timi Jay inspired “Sabi” where he flexes his penchant for working hard and playing hard. Introspective instrumentation stands out across both records belies the delivery that is distinctly Ikorodu as evidenced by the Zlatan assisted “Account Balance”.


The entire project is helmed almost exclusively by Mohbad’s voice, only receiving aid from Bella Shmurda and the aforementioned Zlatan, there is ample room for Mohbad to let his voice be heard and he does, if unfortunately for the last time (barring posthumous releases). Barely two months after the release of Blessed, Mohbad died under unclear circumstances in a case that has raised concerns over the treatment of young artists in the Nigerian music industry. – Abdul Obi



18. Planet Pluto Shallipopi


Planet Pluto – Shallipopi

Planet Pluto is littered with iconic moments. From “Elon Musk”, to “Ex Convict” and “Speedometer”, it contains politically aware lyricism that maintains its funk at all times. The artist created an album that flexed brain and bottom, extracting political and moral nuance from the biting diatribe of Nigeria’s moral system and grounding it in the everyday, making it danceable and cool. 


Shallipopi thumbs his nose at the concept of a blatantly serious project being a hit, weaving witty wordplay, pop culture references, and even socio-political metaphors into the mix. While Yoruba and Igbo music acts have long dominated the mainstream of contemporary Nigerian streetpop, Shallipopi throws open the doors for even more diversity, standing as the charismatic vanguard of what may just be a new subgenre.


Subverting expectations is something the budding artist is quickly becoming adept at. Adopting the approach of backpack rappers in the 2010s has had marked results for the young rapper who has spammed his way into our hearts with three projects in 2023 alone, a few of them spawning the hits he has rightfully earned the right to chart with. – Melony Akpoghene



17. Okay Baby, Let’s Do This – Baaba J


Okay Baby, Let’s Do This – Baaba J


Alluring, relaxing vocals. Carefully woven, relatable lyrics. Clear messaging. These are the tools Baaba J uses to trap her audience on this finely blended album. The seamless maneuvering between languages and the gentle airy flow of the music might not be teachable. This is because the effortlessness behind her delivery screams talent, the kind that isn’t encountered very often.


Rapping and singing lyrics in English, Ga, and Pidgin, Baaba J’s flow is precise and poetic across, Okay Baby, Let’s Do This. The 20 minute EP chooses from a flow of production choices, coasting on an acoustic guitar be across opener “Kaakpa” to “227”, after which the upbeat percussion on “Wonderful” takes things a different route. 


Released as a single earlier in 2023, “Ole” is the standout record on the project, a 2:30 ballad half yelled and half sung by the budding singer. The live instrumentation and abrupt ending show off Baaba J’s dramatic sensibilities which are also visible in her colorful lyrics. Can’t wait to see what else the former aspiring footballer from Ghana has in store. – Seun Osho



16. Unruly – Olamide

Unruly – Olamide

On Olamide’s tenth full-length studio album, a lot is apparent. First and foremost, no Nigerian act working today can make an album like Olamide and the proof is in the pudding. Badoo is coasting on his golden chariot, leading us into familiar territories but being good enough to not recycle past glories. Gone is the youthful aggression, replaced by a seasoned confidence that permeates every track. The rapper utilizes his signature cadences, flexing his streetpop agility on records like “Gaza”, “Hardcore” and “Street Jam” while moving across other subgenres. He invites some of the hottest talents in Nigerian music. Stars like Rema, Fireboy, CKay, BNXN, and his very own Asake bring their individual fire to the album, pushing its boundaries and keeping things exciting. 


Thematically tacit, sonically adventurous and lyrically as sharp as he was on RapSoDi nearly 15 years later, Olamide’s spot in the pantheon of modern day Nigerian music is uncontestable and projects like this go to show that formulas only work if the practitioner does not treat them as formulas. 


Sure, most of his projects have similar runtimes. Sure, not a lot of the content is wildly different. Sure, his delivery could be refreshed a bit more frequently. However, the bias consistency grants is one Olamide has earned. The project is full of hits without sacrificing an ounce of its brilliance. It’s a victory lap, a reminder that Olamide is still the undisputed king of Nigerian street-pop. – Melony Akpoghene



15. L. I. T. A Camidoh

L. I. T. A – Camidoh

Camidoh, one of the most thrilling voices in the contemporary African music scene, has released his new album L.I.T.A, a stunning exploration of love, growth and personal discovery. L.I.T.A, which stands for ‘love is the answer’, invites listeners to join Camidoh on an emotional journey, as he showcases his soulful vocals and infectious rhythms.


The mixtape features collaborations with some of the biggest names in African music, such as M.anifest, Stonebwoy, King Promise, Mayorkun and more. Camidoh blends soul, R&B and Afrobeats elements, creating a unique sound that reflects his versatility and creativity.


L.I.T.A demonstrates Camidoh’s innate ability to convey his emotions through music. Songs like “Sugarcane” and “Brown Skin Girl” featuring Stonebwoy are energetic, catchy and perfect for the dancefloor. However, Camidoh also reveals his vulnerability on tracks like “Decisions”, “Dance With You” and “Available”, which touch on themes of resilience, determination and human connection. Camidoh’s heartfelt storytelling connects with audiences, who find comfort and inspiration in his lyrics.

With the release of L.I.T.A, Camidoh proves his exceptional talent and his growth as an artist. He continues to challenge the boundaries of Ghanaian music, experimenting with diverse sounds and genres. – Abdul Obi



14. Piano Republik –  Major Lazer & Major League DJz

Piano Republik – Major Lazer & Major League DJz

Some argue that Amapiano has never been presented as beautifully as it is now since its introduction into mainstream consciousness (and global music playlists). Major Lazer’s latest release, marking their return after three years, is a perfectly marinated serving of incredible vocal performances and stunning Amapiano production. The synths and beats blend seamlessly, providing a soothing ambiance that simultaneously compels you to groove.


Major Lazer teaming up with Major League DJz feels like the sort of collaboration that already happened, yet on Piano Republik we are firmly reminded that these turntable titans have operated in two different hemispheres for far too long, the idea of them working is almost inevitable. Feature-rich and fluff light, all the records feel handcrafted and gentle, like mini sculptures too frail for anything more than the dancefloor. 


Piano Republik feels like a South-Africa-Los-Angeles crossover of immense quality, Ty Dolla $ign is as comfortable over African drums as Tyla is over Western synths. In a time when diversity is as championed as it is, Piano Republik  is an album of the times but definitely one for the ages. – Seun Osho 



13. Boy Alone (Deluxe) – Omah Lay


Boy Alone (Deluxe) – Omah Lay

Omah Lay’s music seemingly isn’t always for everyone. At first listen, it may not even be for you. But once you’ve let the guy in, let his music grab hold of you, you are forever changed. The deluxe edition of his debut album,
Boy Alone, did all the things a deluxe is supposed to. It raises the stakes, shows maturation and polish. It contains more vulnerable ballads disguised as dancefloor anthems.


Omah Lay’s lyrics ring exactly like poetry, filled with metaphors condensed in the English Pidgin language. And that is what makes his music quintessential. He demonstrates his heritage, prides in unconventionality, matching his lyricism with a raw level of depth that can only be conveyed via the unembellished form of this base street language. The aesthetics in Boy Alone Deluxe are seemingly minimalist, but powerful, which the artist tries to blend into the album’s rhythmic character and succeeds. – Melony Akpoghene



12. Thy Kingdom Come – Seyi Vibez


 Thy Kingdom Come – Seyi Vibez


Seyi Vibez is an alchemist. The streetpop act has not been known to conform to the cookie-cutter pop formula. I have respect for the music listeners who listen to Seyi Vibez’s music and actually hear it. To look beyond the noise and clamour. To properly contextualize his art, to listen to him and understand his impact, to fully digest his influence.


For many, Thy Kingdom Come is his most palatable body of work yet. Seyi Vibez spends most of  his time with public opinion here. The beats are still sharp, but they simmer instead of explode. His signature rasp takes on a smoother sheen. He intentionally takes some turns thematically. On the Ami Faku-assisted “LOML”, he comments, “Na dem yarn say I too dey sing about sapa.” Hence, the love-inspired track. It is not easy for street pop artists like Seyi Vibez to crack the mainstream market: their music is not always cute, digestible, safe. It often spills over with an authenticity — a rawness — that can be intimidating.  They insist on singing in their own language, to an audience that identifies completely with them. But Seyi Vibez is doing it. – Melony Akpoghene 



11. Gangster Romantic – Lojay

Gangster Romantic – Lojay

Lojay, as an artist, is easy to love. Depending on who you ask, every song in his catalog can be counted as his best song, every record that he has created resounds mightily with a genius, artistic quality. On
Gangster Romantic, there are many standout cuts; you can single out any one song and it’s probably fantastic. There is a battle between the “romantic” and the “gangster” evident in the interplay of songs like “LEADER!” and “MOTO”.


Lojay’s raw vocals are impressive, combined with his famed lyrical finesse. Upbeat burners like “AVAILABU” and “CANADA” are serious summery jams which beckon to the dancefloor. He continues to demonstrate his artistry, his raw talent blossoming alongside his ambition. This project is the sound of an artist comfortably in his own skin, making music that is effortlessly smooth. – Melony Akpoghene



  10. Try Again – Yo Maps

Try Again – Yo Maps


Yo Maps’ push to become the face of Zambian music is evident as ever on his fifth studio album, Try Again. Released in May 2023, Yo Maps seized control of his region’s streaming platforms, dominating South and East African charts for the next two quarters. 


The album’s triumphant tone from the first to the final track incorporates Yo Map’s melodious Zam-Rock style with his dazzling vocals, presenting one of the region’s more compelling acts in a while. Yo Maps’ approach to romance is markedly beautiful and aimed at the female audience, singing primarily of female adoration in his Zambian traditional Chewa language and English. Featuring more than a handful of South African and Zambian acts throughout the sprawling project, there are strong performances from Wezi, T-Sean and Chenda Na Kay across the hour and change that the project runs for. Try Again has helped further solidify Yo Maps’ claim as a dominant force in East Africa, however incorporating Afrobeats and more varied influences could help spread that claim further West. – Favour Overo


9. Qing Madi – Qing Madi

 Qing Madi – Qing Madi


On this eponymous project, Qing Madi masterfully inserts herself into the conversation of Afrobeats teen queen. Qing Madi’s approach to Afro-R&B is seamless and so well done, it doesn’t need to be any longer than it is with just seven songs. Her strong songwriting, 90s R&B babe aesthetic and clear mastery of her own vocal range has catapulted the new act to star status with four of the songs on the project receiving incredible airplay. 


Building upon her established formula of carefree midtempo beats and candid lyricism delivered in her crystalline tone, Madi explores themes ranging from yearning for someone entangled in a relationship to the disorienting experience of unexpectedly falling in love. The standout track? “Chargie,” an irresistibly velvety groove tied together by an unexpectedly polished horn riff. 


Surprising music theory like that is why Madi at first glance appears to be a cut above her contemporaries. Perhaps someone can give the established Mavin teen sensations a run for their money in 2024. – Seun Osho



8. Ravage – Rema

Ravage – Rema


Ravage is a mean, fiery project. It embodies its title. But even more, it is exhilarating, unpredictable, and undeniably addictive. Rema embraces chaos and experimentation. He basks in rebellious joy. Psychedelic rock inflections bleed into his trademark melodic Afrobeats, creating a tremendously hypnotic auditory experience. The production and cadences are effervescent. His flows, specifically, shapeshift, effortlessly morphing from smooth croons to rapid-fire verses that fizz with an almost manic energy.


The self-proclaimed Prince of Afrobeats hits all the right notes, the full body and yet out of body experience. Rema is one of the avatars of where Afrobeats is currently going. He is courageous, daring and grounded in a way that is becoming uncomfortable to many, a topic that has become a bone of contention for his audience to tackle on this project. Ravage’s thematic soil is fertile but with much of it bogged down by the 15 minute runtime, it is commendable that he manages to show so many facets within the EP format.


Considering the success he has enjoyed with the “Calm Down” remix featuring American pop superstar, Selena Gomez, Rema offers this project as a statement piece that declares his artistic independence. He is “H-I-M”, undoubtedly. – Melony Akpoghene



7. I Told Them… Burna Boy

I Told Them… – Burna Boy

Burna Boy is a hitmaker who understands that the formula to generate a hit album is a tight tracklist with a row of culturally relevant artists, alongside carefully considered producers and an interesting mix of personal and commercial tracks. Most times, it’s quite intentionally experimental and all over the place. This takes nothing away from Burna’s incredible, generational talent. He leans into the sprawl. He’s an artist with limitless gifts who seems to be exploring the full scope of his artistic potential, contemplating the sheer expanse of his possibilities. There might be a skip or two depending on mood, but like anything the African Giant has ever made, any one song of his could be one person’s favorite and the next person’s least favorite.


Curiously absent, though, amidst the rigmarole of self-congratulatory boasts and arrogant pontifications is the artist’s occasional forays into social activism and political commentary — the political urgency and social consciousness that define his artistry alone. He deems it unnecessary. Afterall, he’s at the peak of his career: a point where posturing for Western validation is less pressing. – Melony Akpoghene



6. Solace – Uncle Waffles


 Solace – Uncle Waffles

If escapism was a genre, it would be this soulful, soothing melodic rendering over rich bouncy instrumentals that would have you in your feelings, bopping your head and swaying hips, at least. The introduction of soul and jazz to the DJ’s sound is definitely a step in the right direction for the COVID breakout superstar.
Solace is truly an exhibition of refined taste and grace and a welcome addition to Uncle Waffle’s ever growing canon.


Following different themes from her first installation, Asylum, Solace looks to slow things down for the dancefloor. A markedly reduced BPM across the 43 minute runtime does wonders for the established Amapiano champion, forcing her vocal collaborators to apply varied deliveries and cadences to match her mood.


Often described as ‘private school Amapiano’ in the genre’s home region, Uncle Waffles shows off her sampling kicks with a interpolation of Splash’s 1986 hit record, “Peacock” on her “Peacock Revisit” featuring Sbuda Maleather and then preps for an exit on “Khula” alongside Optimist Music ZA. Listeners can feel the growth of the 23 year old in the records released across 2023, and shows across the continent through the year have only served to endear the hitmaker further to her die-hard fans. – Seun Osho



5. Maverick – Kizz Daniel

Maverick – Kizz Daniel


Kizz Daniel’s career has been helmed by success out the gate. Since his entry into mainstream  Nigerian consciousness with “Woju”, the singer’s grip on Afropop has been near absolute, even if not always reflected by his placement amongst his peers. A combination of the album approach derided by most Nigerian acts at the time of his breakout and the singles approach that the market admires has created this conundrum for him, engaging in a balancing act that sees him market test his projects with undeniable hits.


For his latest project Maverick, there are more than a few. “Buga” and “Cough” have been out since early 2022, yet their presence on this project is not a shameless cash grab as they only serve as launching pads for the potential sleepers lurking throughout the project. “One Dollar” alongside rapper Blaqbonez is an unexpected direction for the singer/songwriter but one where he appears at home, further evidence of his versatile approach. “RTID”` taps from the same well of prosperity porn that Kizz Daniel frequently draws from and finds him proclaiming unending wealth for himself and his audience, while “Shu-Peru” is him at his whimsical finest, launching in with the paradoxical ‘we do bad things for good reasons, we do good things for bad reasons’ and proceeding to have a great evening. Regardless of format or sub-genre, one thing is clear, Kizz Daniel may be a maverick, but he is a hitmaker at his core. – Abdul Obi  







The intro tag “black sheep for life, black sheep forever…” had the Nigerian music streets in a headlock, as the Okporoko pioneer, ODUMODUBLCK, took no prisoners this year. 


Odumodu was everywhere, precisely ensuring the gallant spread of his hard-hitting grime and drill music , marking the genre’s arrival, across the country. The Abuja-based artist titled his debut album EZIOKWU, which translates to “The Truth” in the Nigerian Igbo language. While most debut albums with such a title would be reflective and thoughtful, ODUMODUBLVCK took the more challenging route. 


Emerging as bold as his signature caps-locked typography, his version of the truth was his capability of claiming the role of the “Vladimir Putin of the music industry.” His 14-track album housed slow drill flows like “DOG EAT DOG II” featuring Cruel Santino and Bella Shmurda, and “STRIPPERS ANTHEM” with Teezee and PsychoYP; brooding menaces like the album’s lead-track “DECLAN RICE,” and the politically controversial “MC OLUOMO,” an adoration of a public tyrant during the 2023 Nigerian general elections. Plus, the sweet body-shaking melodies on “BLOOD ON THE DANCEFLOOR” featuring Bloody Civilian and Wale. 

Weeks after the album’s release, Big Kala, as he is famously known, added the deluxe version, EZIOKWU (UNCUT), to the stream. With seven extra tracks, maintained standards, and many exciting features, including his Anti World Gangstars, Teni, and Nasty C, ODUMODUBLVCK struck 2023 twice! – Favour Overo



3. Work of Art – Asake


Work of Art – Asake


Defiance is a keyword in Asake’s ascent. Bucking all expectations with such a powerful debut as Mr Money with The Vibe subverts audience’s expectations in a weird way. The world is largely cynical at this point in history and  a sophomore slump is almost more expected than a successful follow-up. This must have been Asake’s thought process through the preparation of Work of Art. Achieving critical mass on album one afforded the Lagos born act some privilege, and one that he specifically tapped into was the ability to not pander. Not to foreign audiences at least. 


The authenticity that bled through on Mr Money would carry over regardless of whether or not his sophomore was primarily apala or polka, he had earned this goodwill and he was going to flex it. Barely a year later, his audience was met with Work of Art. A lot is the same, both projects run in and around the 30 minute mark, the features do not stray too far in terms of quality and the songs are as introspective as his debut.


However, everything on A Work of Art is tinged with a sorrow that is as palpable as his need to erase it. Attainment is generally viewed as one of the only worthwhile pursuits in real life, and Asake has finally attained success by pop standards. What do you do when you get everything you prayed for? Make an album about it, a biopic of sorts retelling your fairly new story through a stronger lens of reflection than any of your peers care to utilize. That is how songs like “Yoga” and “Amapiano” cross paths on a project that should not have them sharing space, but he somehow makes it work. – Abdul Obi



2. Fountain Baby – Amaarae


Fountain Baby – Amaarae


Amaarae’s fluidity and refusal to be held down by sound restrictions makes what she does very special. She came into the limelight after her hit track “SAD GURLZ LUV MONEY” swept streaming platforms during the first year of the pandemic, and has since then been one of the best multi-functional acts in the industry. 


Her sophomore album Fountain Baby was one of the artistic highlights of 2023, with her unerring soprano singing and global instrumentalism molding the project into a compelling piece. Known for her limitless versatility, the Ghanaian-American musician fuses several genres including Afrobeats, pop, dancehall, R&B, and electronic music with her signature hedonistic vibe.


On Fountain Baby, Amaarae expressed love in various facets; wealth enchantment on “Reckless and Sweet,” Gen Z categorization on “Co-Star,” on which she parodically highlights the importance of astrology in modern love: “Sign, baby, what’s your sign? Capricorn or Pisces?”; the surreal delight of being in a committed relationship on “Princess Going Digital”: “Baby, hold me down / I got feelings for you now,” and high-tempo libido on the sultry “Angels in Tibet.”

Listening to Amaarae on this project gave an “African Doja Cat-esque” feel, one with heightened sensual energy and enchanting choruses, African beats, high percussions, and where creativity permitted Asian sonics, like her Japanese Koto riff sample on “Wasted Eyes.”


Amaarae is so exciting that you do not stop when you start Fountain Baby. – Favour Overo



1.  TimelessDavido

Timeless - Davido

Seemingly the close-out to his chronological-influenced trilogy,
Timeless finds Davido at a crossroads in his career. On his sophomore album, A Good Time, Davido’s position was under question, his peers appeared ahead of the race for Afrobeat dominance and this represented his second album in nearly ten years. On album number three, A Better Time, 2020’s COVID-19 presented the perfect opportunity for music to be consumed fanatically, but perhaps music geared for the outside did not present the best fare. Building up to Timeless, Davido’s highly anticipated fourth album, the artist suffered intense personal losses, forcing an extended retreat from the public eye and perhaps creating the perfect storm for his creativity to blossom.


And blossom it did.  


Across Timeless’s 17 tracks, Davido is resilient and immovable, declaring his status at every turn by letting the music speak for itself. In what can be described as a collection of his most measured performances, the Afrobeats leader is assured of his success as he is aware of his pitfalls, harking through lyrics “shey na man I for carry” on “UNAVAILABLE” where he addresses claims of infidelity. The opening song, “OVER DEM,” references the story of David and Goliath to make a point about his inevitable rise, hinting at an introspective turn from Afropop’s premier frat-boy. Records like “GODFATHER”, “AWAY” and “LCND” offer a glimpse into Davido’s thought process as he dissects pain and seeks healing. However, there are stark reminders like “KANTE”, alongside Fave, that serve to remind, regardless of what the terms may be, Davido will make songs for the party and songs for love. – Abdul Obi

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