Burna Boy sealed his position at the Zenith of the Afrobeat and Afropop genres with this album, African Giant. This release follows major achievements this year alone; winning the Listener’s Choice, Song of The Year, Best Male MVP, and African Artiste of the Year categories at the 2019 SoundCity MVP Awards Festival. Then going on to win the Best International Act category at the 2019 BET Awards, and finally having a solo track on Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack album for the Disney classic animation remake, The Lion King. The features on the album were also rich as he excluded A-List artiste in the Nigerian industry, for reasons best known to him. For an album titled African Giant, he didn’t bother adding African and internationally known artiste, but went ahead to add the likes of Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley, multiple Grammy nominated and winner Angélique Kidjo, Future, YG and so on. The 19-track album was full of hits and genre mixtures that made a perfect blend, with him trying different flows, ranges, and topics on the tracks. The basic thing lacking majorly in the Nigerian Music Industry is Content. Artistes with content in Nigeria suffer proper recognition. The most popular and successful artistes are the Afropop artistes, these artistes former 99% of the A-List group, the remaining 1% are mostly from the Rap, Alternative music, Afrobeat, R&B and Soul genres. These 99% percent of these 99% lack contents or have slowly dropped the ball somewhere along the line during their career and just churn out beats and vibes that has zero contents and meaning. Between 2013 and 2019, the amount of songs without concepts and meaning content have the most rotations on the Radio, and TV, and the artistes get the endorsement deals. This fluke has made great songwriters dumb down their lyrics for the sake of popularity and recognition. They forget that gifted can’t do a great job being mediocre, like a mediocre would originally do. Long story short, Burna Boy is our very own Content Rich Afropop and Afrobeat artiste to get international recognition without being overrated.
L. Shodunke III
Collected by ”@OBP”
Written by “@OBP”
J. Cole returns after a 2-year break since his 2014 Forest Hill Drive album with another and his second Solo, feature-less album. This time, he kept the track list to just 10 songs and touched topics ranging from racial discrimination, mass incarceration, love, fatherhood, depression, and Gang Violence that is common in the African American Community. A Dreamville source, according to genius confirmed that the storyline in the entire album was a true story and that James (not his real name), the name of the character in the album was a real person and that he changed in the name for the sake of privacy. J. Cole’s storytelling was also evident in this album and it was at its best in this album, as he told a story all the way from the situations surrounding the community and circumstances James was raised in, to selling crack, all the way to him falling in love to him becoming a father, then passing away. It turns out that the entire 4 Your Eyez Only was a memoir for his young daughter to remember him by. The drama before the release of the album was something else; J. Cole had earlier hinted at retirements on two occasions. The first being on DJ Khalid’s Major Key, released in July of 2016, he featured on a track titled “Jermaine’s Interlude”, he hinted at retirement with the lines “Niggas murkin' each other in murky water, Ias try and swim. How the fuck do I look when I brag to you 'bout some diamond? Said all that I could say now I play with thoughts of retirement”. The second time was at an October concert in 2016 where he announced that that particular performance would be his last for a while. That was discombobulating for a lot of fans as regards the status of his career, only for him release a pre-order on iTunes on December 9th, 2016. Like the 2014 Forest Hill Drive, the album didn’t enjoy any marketing; listening party, social media hype, interviews and the whole nine yards. The album had its first single, “Déjà vu”, released Thirty-one days after the release the album; yet, the album sold three hundred and sixty three thousand (363,000) copies on the first week, making it his fourth consecutive number-one album in the United States. As usual, J. Cole didn’t get a Grammy nomination, but got nominations from Billboard and BET. By January 2017, the album was certified Gold, and was certified Platinum by April. 4 Your Eyez Only remains the most controversial album of J. Cole so far and he didn’t bother to address any of the controversy and let people contemplate until it died out.
KOD, which can pass as Kids On Drug/Kill Our Demons/King OverDosed, is J. Cole’s fifth album and the third our in a row to be without a feature, with 2014 Forest Hill Drive and For Your Eyez Only being the first two in the no feature album series. Like the ones before him, the album didn’t enjoy proper marketing before it’s release. He just had two listening parties for this one which was on a first come first serve basis at the venue; no vip or special treatments, just show up, if there’s still an unoccupied seat, you get it. What a guy! KOD focused on the main problem of the society, young and old one kind of problem, Drugs. He preaches the evil drugs alone cause, dreams destroy by drugs, lives cut short because of drugs, the celebration of drug use and actually use of drugs in the music video by new Generation rappers or Trappers or Mumble rappers, as they prefer to be called. He addresses their loss of focus and direction as the drug usage keeps pushing them to make avoidable mistakes and reckless decisions. He addresses personal issues that hit home with his mom’s addiction also. The only feature on the album was his alter ego kiLL edward, a low pitched version of himself, which is believe to be his stepfather’s name and the fact that he thinks of killing his expresses how he feels about the abuse he, his younger brother and his mother suffered from him, which was a major factor that led to his mother’s addiction to alcohol. He also addressed greed in “ATM”, showcasing the extent folks will go just to make a dollar; losing dignity and integrity just to keep up appearances. It also addressed taxation by the Government and how much its weigh people that it could be a factor behind the addiction and he didn’t forget to touch depression. The album still had the Timbaland bass line, but this time J. Cole incorporated a Jazz feel into his sound and he has really grown into a wonderful producer over the years as the sound was a lot smoother and clearer than other song, and the use of bass guitar in a few of the songs shouldn’t be overlooked as well, probably it’s a new style he’s trying to cultivate for himself to make his own. The album was released on 4/20, which is a code associated with marijuana and that in itself is a statement. The album clocked 397,000 copies in the first week, making it his fifth album to clock number one, and it also went on to be certified Platinum in December 2018.
Jermaine Cole ranks as one of my top 10 current rappers in the industry. The fact that I did not accept him the first time I heard of him 2 years earlier on Beyoncé’s “We Like To Party” I wasn’t really into rappers that sing or vice-versa and since Drake was the sensation of that period, I didn’t really have the time to accept another one into the fold. My friend in Uni kept pressuring me to listen to him that he was worth my time and I’d be a sucker for him, I was more like “Nah! I’m good bro”. It was the end of the year in 2013, went on a road trip with 2 other friends to Abeokuta for the Christmas holiday and that was the first time the song “Born Sinner” crossed my path. I was awe struck and fell in love with the song. A complete rap song about self-reflection and the depth of the lyrics was something that was scarce in the reigning acts at that point in time where the popular rap songs were all about lavish life style and boasting. This song took me on a journey that I could relate with because I was at a junction in my life where I was deciding whether to go back to school, or just go on with my job and business; this song took me on a serious self-reflection journey. It took me another 4 days of continuous loop to move on to another song, I went back to the friend that tried to introduce me to the J. Cole earlier, he was also on the Road trip, and I told him how much I appreciated the song and J. Cole. I got his other mixtapes The Warm Up, The Blow Up, and Friday Night Lights, his EPs, Yours Truly 1 & 2, his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, and finally the complete Deluxe version of Born Sinner from him. I spent the entire holiday on J. Cole and being awed as regards why I had slept on him, a mistake I didn’t make with Kendrick Lamar. Born Sinner was successful one for coal as an artiste that recent broke through to the mainstream, it sold 297,000 copies in the first week of it’s release, received positive reviews general and was even said to have been better than Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City lyrically. Without much argument, J. Cole is a wordsmith and is in a class of his own.
J. Cole returned to the scene in the last month of 2014, over a year after his sophomore album Born Sinner. 2014 Forest Hill Drive did not enjoy proper marketing steps albums usually undergo as he began the marketing move 3 weeks prior to its release on 9th of December 2013. The album title comes from his home address in his early childhood, back in North Carolina, Fayatteville, where he, his mother, stepfather and brother all lived before he went to New York for his College Education at St. John’s University. While he was away, the house got foreclosed. He finally made enough money and the first Real Estate property he decided to acquire was the same one he left behind at Fayetteville. The sound in this album was quite different from the one in Born Sinner as he left behind the religious theme, and tried to water down the Timbaland style of bass line: although it was still there, one had to be very conscious to be aware of the traces of the bass line on this album. He touched a lot of topics and the theme of 2014 Forest Hill Drive was J. Cole taking on the conventional lifestyle and business style of Hollywood; it was more or less a “Fuck You Hollywood” album. First, he released a 13-track album without a feature, he didn’t release Singles to increase anticipation, and only started promotion 3 weeks prior to the release date. So he was going all out against the convention of things and somehow, the album ended up triple platinum in May 2019. It sold 353,000 copies in the first week, and reached number one, making J. Cole the 6th rapper, joining Drake, Nelly, Rick Ross, DMX, and Snoop Dogg, to make number one with their first 3 full-length albums. The album was both commercially successful and critically acclaimed in the hip-hop community and the power of his storytelling could not be ignore as he did justice to every verse on every track and staying on topic of each song and never getting carried away. He told stories of how he’s been trying to handle his new found fame, the lavish and immoral lifestyle he has been exposed to since his fame and hard work is now paying off. He also touched the vices of prostitution, drug habit, emotional blackmail, robbery, corruption, sex, and lust. The most important topics he touched were contentment, hope, and depression.
Anytime I hear any of Sia's song, I always get to remember the very first day I heard her song, "Chandelier". It was far back in 2014 and I was preparing for a job interview that I was going to have the next day. After spending most of the day preparing my certificates and everything I would need for the interview, I became tired and I decided to catch a little sleep before going to get a trim at my barber's. I slept off completely, only to wake up later at night around 10:15, I knew certainly that my barber would have closed for the day and my hair was so rough that I couldn't even take it to the interview looking like that. After much consideration, I finally stepped out of the house and started walking around the neighborhood looking for a barber's shop that was still open. Luckily for me, I hadn't walked too far when I saw one that still had its lights on. I approached and met him just in time as he was about turning off his TV set, I persuaded him to give me a trim and after I offered more money than he charges, he accepted. I knew the guy was an amateur from the way he held the clipper, but I had no choice but to just let him continue. It was when he started taking the cut that the song "Chandelier" started playing on TV, I couldn't see the TV from the angle I was but tried to catch a glimpse through the little space between the barber's apron, trying to figure out who this vocal powerhouse was. At first, I thought it might be Rihanna because she's the only versatile artiste that could power such vocals on a track but then again, the voice texture was more powerful. I was so engrossed in the song and kept trying to see whom the artiste was, that I paid no attention to the guy that was giving me a trim. Finally at the end of the song, I told the barber to hold on a bit so I would be able to catch a clear view of her name. Just as I was about to turn, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror. At the speed of light, I turned my face back to mirror and the person I saw in the mirror was definitely not me. All the while that I was busy straining to see the TV, he was busy scraping off my hair completely, as against the little trim I always do, which was what I thought he was doing. I was so shocked and speechless that I stood up and went closer to the mirror to get a clearer view. He must have realized how pissed I was, "You didn't tell me the hairstyle you wanted" he murmured but when he saw the bad stare I gave him, he kept mute as I sat down and let him finish the rubbish he started. When he finished, I paid him and walked back to my home pissed. The next day at the interview, it felt like everyone there were staring at my bald head, especially a lady that also came for the interview, I had to do a lot of self motivation before I could pick up my confidence again and once we were done with the interview, the lady and I were inside the same elevator when her phone started ringing. For a moment I knew I had heard her ringtone somewhere, I finally remembered it was the song from the barber's shop. After she was done with the call, I asked her for the name of the artiste and she responded just before we exited the elevator. In order not to forget the artiste's name, I punched it into my browser and "Chandelier" popped up, I downloaded the song and plugged in my hands free to my device. As the song blared into my ears, the events of the previous day played in my head and I was reminded that I was carrying a baldhead. I later found out that the song is a track off her 6th studio album titled 1000 Forms Of Fear, an album that is regarded as a very successful one.
Unlike R&B, Pop and other genres of music, Rap is a very difficult one to breakthrough with. It takes ingenuity, prowess, writing skill, deliver and demeanor. Over a decade or two now, the most significant rap breakthrough came from rappers like 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Big Sean and so on but one of the most recent is Kendrick Lamar. Describing one of the most significant moments in his life which highly impacted his music as a small boy in his home town watch 2pac and Dr. Dre make the video to their then major hit "California Love". Ever since then, he had made up his mind about doing rap and he never drifted away from this decision. Although he was out there doing his music and trying to find his way to the top for years but his breakthrough didn't happen up until 2010 when he released the Mixtape Overly Dedicated, especially with the track "Ignorance Is Bliss", where he rapped about gangsters and the crimes that goes down on the street. This track brought him the attention of many people, rappers and even the likes of heavyweight producers like Dr. Dre. This was the beginning of a successful career for Kendrick Lamar and he never for once let the bar drop. With every song, every mixtape, every album, he kept getting better and better. He got so good Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and The Game announced him as the "New King of West coast" at a concert in West Los Angeles in the year 2011. For someone who knows about the history of rap in the US, you would know how much of a big deal it is to be regarded as the King of West Coast especially when it's not self acclaimed and Kendrick Lamar never stopped getting better, he kept on grinding hard with his music. In 2013, he was declared the "Hottest MC in the Game" by MTV and in 2016 he was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time (Magazine). In 2018, his album DAMN was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music and that was the first time the award was given to an album that is not a classical or a jazz album. DAMN is the fourth studio album from Kendrick Lamar and it was released on April 14, 2017. Debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200, it had a first week sales of 603,000 album-equivalent units. After selling a total of 1,002,000 copies and earned 3,137,000 album-equivalent units in the US as of April 2018, the album was certified Triple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). DAMN ended up being the number one album of the year on the Billboard 200 in its year of release. It also received nominations for Album of the Year and Best Rap Album at the 60th Edition of the Grammy Awards, it ended up winning in the latter category.
Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, popularly known as Cardi B is a very good example of an artiste who took the quickest route to fame and success. As at some 2 years ago when I watched her song “Bodak Yellow” on TV, I didn't know she was set to take the industry by storm, I just knew I was into the song, a great rap song and that was all I thought about her, I didn’t even pay attention to her name. The day I knew she was fast becoming a sensation was at a hangout back in September 2017. I arrived late as a result of a last minute decision about attending alongside the famous Lagos state traffic. It was set to be an overnight hangout it was around 11pm before I got there, upon entering the apartment I found people already looking all tired and bored. I immediately put in on myself to make sure the place was brought back to life by interacting round with everyone, then went to the music player to increase the volume of the music. At first, people were still reluctant to stand up and dance but I pulled up those who wouldn't stand up, by the time the second song came on, the atmosphere was already getting charged up with positive energy. I quickly went off to grab a drink when I heard all of them screaming, I rushed back and found everyone jumping, shouting, dancing as Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow" blared out loudly from the speakers. Subconsciously, I found myself joining them, jumping as I sang out the lyrics at the top of my voice, lyrics I didn't even realize that I knew until that moment. Seeing everyone's reactions that day made me realize that CardI B was not just an artiste whose song plays on the TV, she was swiftly becoming the new sensation in town. Following the success of this song, she went on to release her debut studio album in 2018 titled Invasion Of Privacy. With songs like "Bodak Yellow" and "I Like It" which were earlier released as singles, being included on the album, Invasion Of Privacy debuted at the top of the US Billboard 200. Invasion Of Privacy was nominated for Album of the year and Best Rap album of the year and it went on to win the latter at the 61st edition of the Grammy awards while songs from the album also got Grammy Awards nominations. "I Like It" was nominated for Record of the Year, "Be Careful" was nominated for Best Rap Performance while "Bodak Yellow" got nominated for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance in the previous edition which was the 60th edition of the Grammy awards. This album further established Cardi B's success in the music business, especially in rap music as her fans wasted no time in trying to dethrone Nicki Minaj, the Queen of rap at that time. Following her Grammy awards victory, a very big argument ensued on the Internet, twitter especially, about how Cardi B had now earned herself the title "Queen of Rap" due to the fact that she was the first female rapper to ever win Best Rap Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards. Nicki Minaj's fans would not have any of that and this triggered a huge brawl on the Internet. At first, I was pro Cardi B about the argument because Nicki Minaj has never won a Grammy Award, then I went back to when Nicki was in her prime and I saw the heavyweights rappers that she went up toe to toe against, I had a change of mind as to who the real "Queen of rap" really is. I'm not trying to discredit Cardi B's success at the Grammy Awards at all but if we were to compare whom they both were up against in their prime, it would only be fair to agree that Nicki Minaj is the "Queen of Rap". Due to these arguments, many people including fans and fellow artistes came out questioning how Cardi B had managed to win the award especially in that category that she had won it. Cardi B in her usual manner would not take all the discredit and criticisms sitting down. She took to her social media pages to talk about how much effort she put into making the album and about how the award was well deserved. Well deserved or not, history would always remember her as the first female rapper to ever win in that category and she did that with her debut album, sensational.
I first came across Avicii's songs as far back as 2013 when he released his debut studio album True. I only heard a few tracks from the album though and they were really good songs, especially "Hey Brother" and "Wake Me Up.” Another great song from him that I liked was "The Nights.” I just liked and appreciated his songs from afar up until 2018 when he died. When I first heard about the sad news, it was so painful and one would think I had a personal encounter with him when he was alive. I was more pained by the fact that he committed suicide. That night, I went on to download some of his popular songs and I created a playlist for him on my phone. I listened to the songs all through the night and all the songs hit different that night. It was almost like I had never heard them before especially "The Nights" in the part where he said, "When I was sixteen, my father said you can do anything you want with your life. You just have to be willing to work hard to get it, that's when I decided that when I die, I want to be remembered for the life I lived and not the money I made", those words really pierced into my heart and changed my perception about life. That night, I cried. After listening to the songs I downloaded and I still had cravings for more of his songs, I decided to download his albums and I started with his first album True that had songs like "Wake Me Up", "Hey Brother", "You Make Me", "Lay Me Down" and so on. The Swedish man, Tim Bergling, widely known and referred to as Avicii a DJ that specialized more on the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) genre. He was a young man who had great potentials that he could not use up till he died. He rose to prominence in 2011 after he released "Levels.” A song which many people consider to be Avicii's biggest song ever and one of the greatest Electronic Dance Music of all time, after the success that came along with this song, he went on to release his first album True and this album was nothing short of his exceptional brilliance and talent. It was released on the 13th of September 2013. It debuted at number two on the UK Album Chart.
Collected by ”@OBP”
Collected by ”@OBP”
Collected by ”@OBP”
Collected by ”@OBP”
Collected by ”@OBP”
Collected by ”@OBP”
Lawon is an avid music lover, a blogger that delves into thriller and fiction and has a good ear for music. Loves to express himself in his writings and definitely loves to take it easy.