The year 2020 would most definitely be remembered as the dark year. It started off with threats of a third world war, then deaths that shook the world, to a virus outbreak, the ENDSARS protests, and social injustices across the world. In Nigeria, things have been a lot slow since around March. Businesses had to close for a while and we were all subjected to staying indoors, well, all for our own good. But something wasn’t stopping, it kept spreading like wildfire. It kept a lot of us at peace in this time of worry; it has kept us all sane. It’s good music.
In the year, every Tom, Dick & Harry dropped a project. It’s probably the most competitive year ever seen in Nigeria’s music industry. We witnessed comebacks, potentials from the previous year proving themselves, and numerous breakouts. It was a roller-coaster year, but with beautiful music playing in the background.
The team would like to appreciate everyone who put in their sweat, time and talent to give us reason to groove and vibe in these times, may the oil on your heads never run dry. If we’re keeping it real, every project released this year banged. Every artiste went hard, and after days of debating and arguments, we’ve come up with our “END OF YEAR REVIEW”.
For this, we’ll be dropping a TOP 4 OR 5 for the following categories, but in no particular order:
- ALBUM OF THE YEAR
- ARTISTE OF THE YEAR
- SONG OF THE YEAR
- BEST MUSIC VIDEO
Without any further ado, we present to you the BellavitaWW End of Year Review:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
There were too many solid albums this year, and it was hard to pick just five(it’s nice that in the midst of all the uncertainty this year music was a nice distraction) so honorable mentions, A Better Time, Original Copy, Afro pop. Vol.1, Roots, Yabasi; Davido was especially hard to leave out, but his album didn’t leave as big an impression on us as the others listed here, now the list.
Tiwa Savage’s ‘Celia’ is an amazing album with so many bright spots speaking on topics ranging from her relationship with her ex-husband on ‘Us’, societal double standards on ‘Koroba’, love on ‘park well’ among others, the features are stellar and the album shows us a glimpse of her world, imperfections and all, she’s completely honest on every track and it’s beautiful.
- MADE IN LAGOS
Wizkid is literally and figuratively starboy, arguably the biggest artiste out of Nigeria ever with the exception of Fela but on this album he doesn’t rely on the same formula as on his past albums, he looks inward and pays homage to Lagos, his city, but he does it differently than say Ojuelegba, where he sounds indebted to his home, here he sounds thankful but not indebted and this shows sonically too with him tapping into international sounds like on ‘Blessed’, ‘Piece of me’ and ‘Smile’. The result is something that sounds like Afrobeat but is more Afrobeat adjacent, and easily one of the smoothest listening experiences of any album released this year.
- TWICE AS TALL
How do you top a Grammy nominated album? An album that cemented your legendary status, that earned worldwide recognition and rightly crowned you the African Giant. That must have been the question Burna Boy asked himself after ‘African Giant’ didn’t win the award; were the naysayers right? Is this as high as it gets? Burna Boy deals with all these questions on ‘Twice as Tall’ and especially on the opener ‘Level Up’, the depression he felt, self-doubt and imposter syndrome, and how does he answer all these? By being his braggadocious self on ‘Way Too Big’, and after settling down, he addresses his inner self and this shows in the magnificent ‘23’, ‘Real Life’ and ‘Bank on It’(Burna is at his best when he’s introspective see. Soke, Ye, and Pree Me), the result of that Grammy snub is a more personal, sombre album and shows us a side we have not seen since ‘L.I.F.E’, and another Grammy nomination.
When Fireboy announced his sophomore album, it was met with reasonable doubt because his debut album released a year earlier was one of the best debuts from a Nigerian artiste in a long time, perhaps since Wizkid’s ‘Superstar’. How could he top that? He answers by delivering the beautiful ‘Apollo’, the people who don’t enjoy it spend too much time comparing it to its predecessor but it’s in a different lane. On here, he explores more mature themes especially on the sexually charged ‘Tattoo’ , but it’s still centered around R&B and Afropop. You may think ‘LTG’ is better, and that’s far but this is remarkable in its own right.
- THE ANGEL YOU DON’T KNOW
Amaarae is THAT babe, teasing us with her sultry, siren-like voice on singles and absolutely destroying anyone that features her on a track, with kindness of course, she finally released her eagerly anticipated debut project that showcased her otherworldly vision from how the album sounds sonically, easily blending genres like Afrobeat, Afropop, rap and trap into an exotic musical offering, to the trippy visuals for the singles on the album, it’s Amaarae’s world and we are just living in it.
ARTISTE OF THE YEAR
As mentioned earlier, 2020 should be regarded as the most competitive year in Nigeria’s music history. In and out of the studio, even on the protest grounds, Nigerian artistes went all in this year, and we appreciate them for that. With that said, here’s our list of four favorite artistes this year.
Practically everything the Mayor of Lagos touched this year turned to gold. It’s definitely not much of a surprise, seeing as he’s had one of the best runs in the game since he stormed the music industry in 2015. After an almost quiet year following the release of his debut album, the “Geng” leader was on a serious roll in 2020. From retaining his comic identity on social media, to releasing major hits in the streets, the DMW artiste is unarguably one of the most successful record-label-signed artistes of recent times; and this year, every penny placed on him, every studio session, was worth it. In the words of OG rapper – Olamide:
“Every single was a hit back to back!”, and in the case of the Mayor of Lagos, features were definitely not left out.
Mayorkun has shown that he truly learnt from the best and he’s become a serial hit-maker like his label head, Davido.
Without the release of any projects in the year of the “Battle of the Albums”, Mayorkun still managed to remain on everybody’s lips, minds, playlists and charts, this is why we’ve considered him worthy to be on this list.
- OMAH LAY
Port Harcourt is known to birth some of the best artistes in the country, before they are finally shipped to the entertainment capital of Nigeria – Lagos, for grooming *winks*. As it’s always been, every year there’s a new kid on the block with some hot new energy and bangers. Surprisingly, this year which should be the alternate year where the abnormal often happened; a hot new kid popped up, but the unusual was his sound – R&B.
Omah Lay gained prominence after the release of his 5-track debut EP – ‘Get Layd’ in May this year. It became a turn around point in his career as the artist began to stack up unreal numbers within weeks of release, retaining the #1 spot on Apple Music album charts for months, amidst releases from bigger boys in the game. A few months down the line, he’s bagging features with the OG’s, especially ‘Infinity’ featuring YBNL Boss – Olamide, which became a smash hit, and remix of hit single ‘Damn’ featuring 6lack.
In less than a year, with just two projects out, Omah Lay has attained heights a lot of peers may not be able to.
From major nominations to international recognitions, we’d never miss a chance to have him on our list!
2019’s golden boy has continued to prove to us that he can do anything and still shine. In his second year of being in the Afrobeats limelight, Rema’s talent can no longer be doubted, and his growth has been immense. The 20yr old went from upcoming to being a global phenomenon, keeping him at an arm’s length from his peers. He kicked off the year with a performance at the NBA All-Star weekend where he shared the stage with US rapper – 2 Chainz. Following this were massive bangers including feature with international artistes – 6lack, Tion Wayne & Manny Norte. Later in the year, Rema was announced to have his song ‘Beamer’ on the latest edition of the EA Sports FIFA – FIFA 21. He also got to perform at the premiere of the video game. He solidified his position as a global superstar as he received nominations from both the BET and MOBO Awards, all in one year.
Rema had a very eventful year, including controversies surrounding his father’s death, fake news about his death, and his past. But amidst all these, the unstoppable Rema continued to soar.
- BELLA SHMURDA
In 2019, a certain sound was sold to us, it wasn’t the conventional Afrobeats, it came from the streets. Its major crooners were rappers Zlatan Ibile, and the notorious Naira Marley. Mixed with a few controversies here and there, the sound continued to grow and in the end, flourished. At the beginning of 2020, it looked like it was slowly declining, streets went quiet, R&B was taking over. The crooners had tried, they put out music but it hardly hit. Then from the ruins rose a phoenix, carrying on one of his wings, arguably the biggest song of the year – Cash App.
Bella Shmurda kicked off the year with the release of his debut EP – ‘High Tension’. The rising star began to gain some attention in 2019 with the remix of hit single ‘Vision 2020’ featuring YBNL boss – Olamide. He capitalised on this newly found fame and continued to put in efforts to provide us with bangers. Few months down the line and he’s appearing on songs with OGs – Davido and Olamide, respectively.
Bella may be for the streets, but he has this unique sound that he takes everywhere with him, this makes him stand out, and that’s why we’ve found him worthy to be on our list.
SONG OF THE YEAR
Borrowing the lingua of 30BG leader – Davido, I’ll like to say when it comes to music this year, e choke! We saw the “New Music Friday” become a weekly tradition and it was always one to look forward to. We present to you our top 4 songs for the year.
- FEM – DAVIDO
Fem has to be the most controversial, yet anticipated song of the year. Its release came some months after a feud between Davido and newly found rival, Burna Boy. Davido did go off the radar at some point in the year as he seemed to be battling some very personal issues, months later, a snippet for this song was released on social media and everyone caught the vibe. Fem isn’t just a vibe, with its subliminal messages and warnings, Davido acknowledges his fans – the 30BG, as he claimed “my fans wey dey para gan…” The music is great, but the message is deeper.
- NOBODY – DJ NEPTUNE
This was one of the first major hits in the year. DJ Neptune collaborates with Empawa boys Mr Eazi, and Joeboy who was continuing a great run from 2019. This was more proof of the chemistry between Joeboy and his master, Mr Eazi.
- BAD INFLUENCE – OMAH LAY
For a breakout artist, Omah Lay really did drop a classic. His soothing vocals and lyrical depth put us all in our feelings during the lockdown.. Regardless of the time it dropped, Bad Influence had a very great time on the top of many charts across the country and certainly should be on everyone’s songs of the year list.
- DUDUKE – SIMI
A pregnant mother singing to her unborn child is one of the cutest sights to behold. Coupled with a challenge on social media, Simi really had us by the necks for a sufficient period of time in the year.
- CASHAPP – BELLA SHMURDA
The year was running out and the streets needed something to hold on to, Bella Shmurda stepped in with a late screamer. Despite its controversial lyrics which could be linked to internet fraud, Cash App is a straight banger and you cannot deny.
PS: It goes best with the palliative dance.
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
- NO STRESS – WIZKID, MEJI ALABI
Wizkid’s Video for ‘No Stress’ might just be the most visually appealing music video out this year with Meji Alabi killing it with his color compositions and transitions, the costumes and overall aesthetic were also very chic.
- GINGER ME , WOMAN – REMA, UAX STUDIOS
Rema has really been on a tear these past two years and yet he moves in the industry like a seasoned vet, his videos are a more underrated part of his artistry but with both Woman and Ginger Me, you can’t ignore him. The video for Woman stands out due to its color coding and how the Arabian themes from the beat influence the motifs in the video, the tent in what looks like the desert, the gorgeous women and choreography, the boy is good, and the best part is this is only the beginning.
- TATTOO – FIREBOY DML, CLARENCE PETERS
Fireboy has cemented his status as the face of Nigerian R&B, and his video for the sultry Tattoo only solidifies his case. Usually Nigerian songs that are more ahem sexually charged also come off as corny but Fireboy really sparks(hehe) something, he creates a fantasy that’s not foreign, the scenery looks like an regular house in Nigeria, but his use of colors(fuschia, neon green, space blue, sunrise yellow, purple, aquamarine) depict something that can only be a fantasy.
- LOADING – OLAMIDE, BADBOY TIMZ, CLARENCE PETERS
Olamide is an elder statesman in the industry and what marks him out from his peers is his flexibility and willingness to try out new things, and in this video he submerges us in a VR experience, something that hasn’t been done in Nigeria; as an artist and an executive, Olamide keeps innovating.
For a year filled with so much turmoil and unrest, 2020 shockingly was a great year for the music world. We want to thank everyone who rocked with us this year, we promise to give you a better experience come 2021, and we expect more musical heat in the coming year.
With these, we say adios nuestros amigos, y un feliz año Nuevo!!
Compiled by: Ogunwuyi Olumide, Isaac Aigbadumah, Jimi Agboola, Ayomide Bamise, Tosin Zoo, Ojimba Damian, Lanre Shonubi (The Radio god), Chima Ordu, Fatungase Olasunkanmi, Ayomide Akinnuga, Leke OGY