Underrated music projects of 2020

If something is to be identified as that factor that kept 2020 from becoming a total wreck of year, that thing will be the cumulative entertainment industry as a unit.

During the initial stage of Covid-19, before the pandemic era, we all thought it was just one of those diseases that will come and leave in no due time, afterall it is way over there in China, how does it intend spreading its wings over the horizons of the Earth? Well January came, it gained a little traction. February came, it began to rave a lot in the news (what a bad boy). Then March, quarantine, lockdown!

Those period literally generated a lot anxieties and uncertainties but the entertainment industry stepped up its game, especially the music sector, chuning out hits after hits, singles on singles, EPs started to look like the new normal for the music industry but albums kept coming in strong, one brilliant masterpiece after another.

At this point, we all (or at least 90% of people reading this piece) can offhand name at least three top albums of the year, judging by how our Nigerian artistes chose to step up their game, biase or not, I’m sure Wizkid, Burna Boy and/or Davido are likely to land themselves a spot on that list of yours if you are asked to rank your top Nigerian albums of 2020.

This article is to give credit to those music projects — albums, mixtapes and EPs — which in their own right could as well have been a top ranking album this year but just did not get as much mainstream recognition as they should have. Well enough of the long talk, straight to listing, shall we?

1. PIONEERS (album) — DRB Lasgidi

DRB Lasgidi is an Alté group consisting Boj, Fresh L and Teezee. They dropped “Pioneers” on 24th of April, a 12-track LP with Pop as its base genre. Trust me when I say this is one of the best projects you will (and should) listen to before the year runs out.

“Pioneers” boasts verses from Alternative-Pop singer, Boj and rap verses from Fresh L and Teezee. On “Pioneers”, DRB Lasgidi avoided what I will tag DTMDoing Too Much. Every song was the perfect length, the lyrics precise, the production on the album is magnificent (if I do say so myself) and the A&R work on collaborations, wow! From Lady Donli on “Ma Pariwo” to Prettyboy D-O on “Kasala” to Tems on “Trobule”, everything just falls into place (and I am just hyping to be honest).

Wani, Olamide, Odunsi the Engine, Santi (now Cruel Santino) and Maison2500 also have guest appearances on the album. When Boj started “Ma Pariwo” with the words: “E dey sweet you I know ma pariwo / you dey like am I know ma pariwo” I guess fans took those words to heart because they enjoyed the album yet stayed silent for this long about it. They did not pariwo (shout in English).

My top songs on the album: Ma Pariwo, Trobule, I Swear, Necessary, Softly.

2. WILDFIRE (EP) — Prettyboy D-O

If you are looking for one of the most energetic performance in form of musical audio, Prettyboy D-O is your one source for that. After dropping his debut project independently in 2018 titled “Everything Pretty” containing hit singles “Chop Elbow” and “Pull Up”, he signed a 2-project deal with a distribution company and the first product is “Wildfire”.

“Wildfire” is unique because truthfully speaking only Prettyboy D-O can clearly embody that sound, loud yet not offensive, a little bit of raunchiness, a nice blend of Street Hop, Pop and Rap, and as usual always full of vigour with very good vocals to match his personality.

Honestly I still do not understand how “Wildfire” did not go by its name and blast off but you should definitely give it a try. Timi Lyre, Olamide, Wani and Solana are all featured artistes on the project.

“Wildfire” is an 8-track project spanning 25 minutes, released on June 19. All songs are brilliant by my standards but if you require me to pick my top songs they will be: Wetin You Smoke, Same Energy, Dem Go Hear Wehh, Mentally.

3. YABASI (soundtrack for “Papa Benji) — Basketmouth

First let me start by saying the A&R job done on “Yabasi” needs to be studied. Basketmouth as we know is popular for his works in the comedy industry but on “Yabasi” he puts on his music cap, not to sing or rap though but to executive produce. From the features to the tracks placements to the production, “Yabasi” sets the standards high on what a soundtrack should encompass and how albums should be attacked.

“Yabasi” is the soundtrack for Basketmouth’s produced internet series Papa Benji and from track one to last, it is a seamless listen, one would not even know 30 minutes have passed by, you would be forced to put the album on loop trust me.

It is mainly an Igbo Highlife album with Pop as a sub-genre and a little dose of Rap. Artistes who appear on the this soundtrack also deserve the praise — Duncan Mighty, Ice Prince, Oxlade, Show Dem Camp, Flash, Boj, Flavour, Umu Oblilligbo, Phyno, The Cavemen, Dice Ailes, Peruzzi, Ill Bliss, Chike, Zoro, Bez, Waje, LadiPoe and Ceeza Milli — all came with the perfect verses to fit right into the theme of Papa Benji as a series and “Yabasi” as an album. By the way special shout out to Tee-Y Mix for his meticulous work on producing the album.

“Yabasi” had a release data of November 20 is a 10-track album. Yabasi translates to onions from Igbo to English; when you are done listening to the project you will realize why onions are costly right now (word to Basketmouth).

Top songs: Myself, One Bo, World People, Life, Hustle.

4. SATURN (EP) — Victony

2020 has been a good year for new and uprising talents on the Nigeria music scene which Victony has immensely benefitted from leading him to drop his debut EP and project — “Saturn”.

If “Saturn” was meant to be a ‘test the water’ project for Victony, then he must have surely learnt how to swim by now. One thing easily stands out about him and that is his mind blowing mellow vocals. Second thing will be his catchy Pop melodies; combine those two qualities, that is what you get on “Saturn” EP.

Tracks like “Jó Riddim”, “Space & Time” and “87 Club” all had a futuristic ET vibes and theme to it that made them standouts by my standards. Well done to Falz for the killer rap verse on “Maria” too.

“Saturn” was released 28th of August accompanied with 6 nice songs. Victony’s pen game is not bad either.

5. LOST FILES (EP) — Yinoluu

“Lost Files” EP was released at the perfect time, at the peak of quarantine, in May of this year, on the 15th to be precise.

Yinoluu as the producer he is, gave us the perfect quarantine playlist with “Lost Files”, a blend of Pop, Alternative and Trap. His good ears for music is clear by the artiste roll — Mafeni, Amaarae, Psycho YP, Remy Baggins, Aylø, A.Y and BarelyAnyHook — putting them just where they fit, under the perfect conditions (instrumentals) and not one artiste overshadowed the other, they all blend in perfectly like a well made glass of apple juice.

If truly, the EP’s name is just as suggested — lost files — then we are glad he found these 6 songs and put them out.

All tracks standout individually but I will pick: Righteous, Birthday and Cuckoo as personal favourites from the EP.

Notable Mentions:

Me (EP) – Moelogo
Midsummer (EP) – Damil the Great
Fell in a Trap (album) – Nano Shayray

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