In many ways, the global journey of African pop music and the spotlight that has fallen on the scene has had many unintended implications.
One of such is the fact that many artistes, in a bid to make a better case for their artistry and take advantage of the opportunities it presents, are now more open to creating bodies of work.
Thus, it is no mistake that 2017 provided EPs and mixtapes like no other year before.
In the midst of relative neophytes trying to introduce their sound in four or five tracks to the world, veterans also dropped compilations to establish new phases in their music and experiment with what’s popping in the present.
Here are our 12 favourite EPs and mixtapes that dropped during the year in review.
1. SDC — Palmwine Music
Show Dem Camp’s Palmwine Music EP
The critically-acclaimed duo drops the heavy hitting bars and introspection for a sound that is ambient, relaxed and thematic.
The project settles on a sound that the group experimented with on “Feel Alright” and is executed to near-perfection with one thing in mind; a vibe.
Music designed to relax and groove to, SDC’s project puts a calabash of Palmwine in your hands, as you cascade through waves of neo-jazz, folk-pop and soothing R&B with support from new wave acts like Tomi Thomas, Odunsi and Funbi.
2. Lady Donli — Wallflower EP
Although the 20-year old singer/songwriter’s third EP dropped last year, it was late enough to fall into our year in review. Wallflower sees Lady Donli finding herself more, as an artist and a person as she talks about her anxieties, fears and insecurities.
Her willingness to test her abilities across genres reflects clearly, while the sheer imagery and ease of her song-writing bring the project’s personal themes to life.
Besides pouring herself onto wax, Wallflower shows that Donli has found a place of comfort and confidence in her music from which she was ready to take it to the next level.
It is no surprise that she has begun delivering on that promise this year with singles like ‘Kashe Ni’ and her breakout, “Ice Cream”.
3. Blaqbonez — Last Time Under
Tipped as one of the most exciting, if gutsy young rappers to watch out for, Last Time Under is Blaqbonez’s manifesto, a statement of intent as he looks to emerge from the underground for the acclaim many think he deserves.
Trap and new wave hip-hop dominate the sound on the project and the rapper’s furious lyricism does the rest. Blaqbonez oozes a sense of confidence about his ability and subject on every song that you cannot help but share with him.
4. Odunsi x Nonso Amadi — WAR EP
Two of the promising acts of Nigeria’s mood-heavy generation come together to create a body of work that is rooted in RnB and the emotional subject matter that defines the genre.
Alternating between nostalgic samples and ambient original production, Nonso’s work lays the perfect foundation for the two singers to express young love, hope and desire.
WAR finds Nonso and Odunsi in their lane and they meander through it with an ease that belies their years.
5. SDC — Clone Wars III
Aptly titled the Recession, the third instalment in the duo’s Clone Wars series focuses on the state of the Nigerian state and the emotions it has inspired since the country’s first recession in 25 years began.
With a slew of producers provided a confident soundscape, Tec and Ghost trade hard-hitting, honest rhymes to question the decisions that brought many Nigerians to their knees in 2017 while managing to find some room for positivity within the gloom.
The project is political yet personal in a way that only the duo can show you.
6. Tiwa Savage — Sugarcane EP
Tiwa Savage’s Sugarcane EP
Over a storied career, Tiwa Savage has used her experiences to push her persona out of that familiar corner of being the ‘love songstress’ that most artistes in her place so easily fall into.
Sugarcane EP sees her recline in that seat, however, to delicious effect. The songstress runs through themes of love, affection, faithfulness and compassion.
Elevated by her pop leanings, the EP becomes more than just a collection of love songs and the success of ‘All Over’ shows why Tiwa can do whatever she sets her heart to.