EPs cover artwork: “Pandemic” (top left); “Boyfriend” (bottom left); “Early Stage” & “Ayra Starr” (top right); “6th Heaven” (bottom right).| All pictures courtesy artistes's social media

With April ending on Friday, May ushers in yet another quarter of 2021. What a time to be alive! It is a fact that just like other years preceding 2021, we have got enough music content to last us for years but truth be told, trying to rate every project—albums, mixtapes, complications and Extended Playlists (EPs)—would be prove cumbersome and eventually futile. Hence the title, on this write-up, the aim is to list out the best of musical projects so far in 2021 pertaining to EPs only.

To be fair, my list may be bias in some way, as it was solely compiled by me but trust to still see some of your favourite EPs while discovering new ones you might or might not have heard of so feel free to update your playlists.

Enough of the interlude, press play! Ok pause for a while, (what is an interlude without a little skit?), Let’s roll out the honourary mentions:

Twelve A.M – Crayon
Love & Isolation – Tay Iwar
Something Else – Mr Eazi
Hear Me Out – Pheelz
Carterstrophy – Harry Carter

Now you can press play.

5. Early Stage – ELFAB:

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For so many people, myself included, ELFAB is an unknown figure but oh boy did he deliver on Early Stage. ELFAB has the smoothness in his tone that once his song comes on, you cannot help but try to sing along or at least hum to the tunes. On Early Stage, ELFAB put 4 songs ranging from Pop to Afrobeats to a feel of R&B production; tracks like “Not That Deep” and “Notice” shed light on how nice his pen game can be, while on “Pum Pum”, he shows he is capable of making commercial records which fits just perfect for radio.

For a debut project, ELFAB did not disappoint, coupled with the fact I just stumbled on his music while surfing the ‘New Music’ category on Apple Music and Early Stage still being on heavy rotation on my playlist since January, that is a statement in itself.

4. Ayra Starr – Ayra Starr:

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Fast rising Pop and R&B sensation, Ayra Starr is for sure one talent to look out for. From being almost unknown musically speaking to becoming a star-in-the-making on release of her debut self-titled EP – Ayra Starr on the 22nd of January.

Ayra Starr touches on teenage fantasies (on “Away”, “Ija” and “Sare”) and vice (on “Ditr”) to filling nostalgia into our systems (on “Memories”), Ayra Starr not only released one of the finest debut EPs by a Nigerian act but displayed range, making an early statement that she is not one to get boxed into a particular genre of music. From her lyricism to her vocal dexterity to her flow on the instrumentals, Ayra Starr is really one of the projects which with time might be considered a classic.

3. PandemicRuger:

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A post shared by Da Ruger Gon Screw U🏴‍☠️♎️ (@rugerofficial)

Although he always has a patch on, Ruger does have a panoramic vision of the Nigerian music industry he is in, a copacetic one at that. Ruger played intelligently with the release of his debut project – Pandemic.

What do I mean by ‘intelligently’? Ruger strength can clearly be said to dwell around infusing Carribbean Dancehall rhythms into his music (to which he fully maximised) but for a debut, Ruger did not fail to experiment with other genres like he did on “Bounce” and “Abu Dhabi”.

Pandemic is nothing short of an energetic, positive vibes, cross genre declaration of a young artiste whose goal is to have the “world world on their feet” according to his interview with Apple Music.

2. 6th Heaven – Niniola:

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With the Nigerian mainstream music scene being over-saturated with Afrobeat(s), Pop, Afro-fusion and Amapiano chunes. R&B is slowly making a return to the scene with the likes of Tems, CKay, Tay Iwar and Niniola at the forefront.

Niniola did something special on 6th Heaven, breathing fresh air into the R&B sector of the Nigerian music industry. Known predominantly for making the genre of music tagged—In-House music—and danceable records with heavy bumping beats, Niniola swerved away from that on 6th Heaven, where in my own opinion, she made one of (if not) the purest form of Rhythm and Blues I have heard from a Nigerian act in years.

From the well articulated slick verses to the ceilings reaching vocals to passing sensual tensions to the listener’s bone marrow, Niniola did everything fitting for a R&B tape to get cozy boo’d up to.

1. Boyfriend – CKay:

Ckay could not have chosen a better date than two days to Valentine’s to release his second EP – Boyfriend. Love was evidently the theme for Boyfriend, from simping on intro track, “Felony” to actually winning the heart of the girl to whom his heart desires on Amaarae assisted “Show My Side” to having relationship issues on “Skoin Skoin”, back to being on cool terms and doing what lovers do by show of PDA on the final song, “Kiss Me Like You Miss Me”.

Boyfriend soft pitched slow production is also very commendable, coming from CKay who has produced hard hitting commercial beats for other artistes but chose not to compromise his aim on this project for mainstream accreditation. Boyfriend did turn out to come out beautifully produced and well sung – an intuitive progression of CKay’s musical masterclass transition from just a record producer to also being a vocalist.


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