EPs and Mixtapes are the blood that pumps through the heart of any music industry.
An artist is defined by their body of work and output and where the resources to put together a proper album comes scarce, salvation comes through short projects and mixtapes.
The ‘fear’ of albums has further blurred the lines this year giving rise to an increased volume of projects getting released. The new trend of fewer than 10 songs projects, many artists, especially for underground artists also plays a major role.
This list put together by Pulse staff who shared their individual thoughts focuses on projects that are not defined by industry hype but pure skills and brilliance, recognizing artists who have put more into quality rather than ‘popularity.’
Here are the 10 critical EPs and Mixtapes released in 2018 [In no particular order]
Ycee and Bella Alubo – ”Late Night Vibrations”
Two different artists coming together to give us a well-put-together project.
There was great chemistry between Ycee and Bella Alubo in the project. Also, I love the fact that there was no attempt to get a hit or radio single – Steve Dede, Sports Editor
Ajebutter22 and BOJ – ”Make E No Cause Fight”
I do think acts like Ajebutter22 and BOJ like Erigga are doing us the service of bringing our realities to music. Though topics sometimes seem a regurgitation told by different voices and under different names and styles, music is a bed of fundamental lack of originality – It’s only saving grace is evolution.
We will always – and seemingly inevitably so – recreate the same things in different ways. What will matter is if you connect with your audience and deliver to their satisfaction and that is what ”Make E No Cause Fight” achieves – Motolani Alake, Senior Reporter, Special Reports
Paybac – ”The Biggest Tree”
Paybac made one of the most relatable projects of 2018.
What the album suffers in sound quality, it makes up for in heavily relatable doses of crushing reality from the heart of a man suffering from the numbing weight of expectations.
Songs like ‘Akikere’, ‘Mamiwata Song’ and ‘Seeds of Faith’ were heavily laced with honestly penned lyrics of mental health struggles, losses and toned down, hushed voices of hope.
What Paybac needs is the support to make some of the best music we’ve ever seen.
The album was like a collection of different thought-processes of a Nigerian millennial.
We needed this perspective, if M.I’s ”Yxng Dxnzl” was an anthem for 35-year-old Nigerians, the ‘Biggest Tree’ was made for Nigerians between 25-34. – Motolani Alake
Funbi – ”Serenade”
Funbi’s ”Serenade” is a seven track offering that makes for a thrilling listening experience with no tracks to skip.
I felt he made a definitive statement with this debut tape.
”Serenade” is backed by great beats provided mainly by the genius that is Spax, infectious melodies, catchy hooks, rich vocals and proves that the young man whose vocals have laid the foundation for the likes of The Collectiv3 and Show Dem Camp to thrive indeed has it in him to blow your mind and once you listen to Serenade, you can’t help but want to stay in that blissful place where his music takes you – Ehis Ohunyon, Senior Reporter, Music
Prettyboy DO – ”Everything Pretty”
‘Everything Pretty’ is a debut from the hyper-energetic D.O that you are bound to enjoy with relish. While riding the alte-wave, he also straps himself with edge and street sensibilities.
Everything Pretty is vibrant and most likely to leave you snapping your neck and flexing your muscles – Ayomide Tayo, Senior Editor, Special Reports
Eri Ife and Remy Baggins – ”YLLW”
The entire album had a flow in conversations. YLLW chats the usual struggles, pitfalls, excesses, imperfections and plus sides of a 20-something or 90s baby Nigerian.
Though it’s not really far away from things we’ve heard before, the strengths lie in its empirical relevance, the resonance of conversation, relatability and cultural idiosyncrasies in language, titling and deliveries. It felt like the creators wanted us to know they’re in their element.
The mixing however sometimes betrayed the creators with the beats overlapping with the vocals and vice versa, but it’s not their fault. Resources are a bit scarce at the moment. If anything, they deserve praise for utilizing what’s available to incredible success. Over time, it will correct itself.
Personally, I feel it’s a near-perfect project – Motolani Alake
M.I Abaga – ”Rendezvous”
You could sense what M.I was trying to do with ”Rendezvous” coming after the scathing single, ‘YRSFUYL’ and it was fascinating listening to how he went about executing it.
The Chairman teamed up with a bunch of young talents to produce this playlist that is heavily different from what he is usually used to.
Packed with wavy tracks like ‘Lekki’ and ‘On Code’ to ‘Soup’ where he goes head to head with Cassper Nyovest. The project, on one hand, showcases M.I versatility and youthful vigour while highlighting the heavy talents emerging from the new generation of artists.
‘Rendezvous’ plays like a perfect drive through Lagos from Sunset to Sunrise and the production on this also contributes in making it a well-rounded project that arrives just at the right stop- Ehis Ohunyon
Deena Ade – ”The Cries Of My Subconscious”
2018 has seen a number of deep and personal projects as musicians have grown more confident in putting their internal battles into their music and Deena Ade delivers yet another warm and honest offering inspired by love on ”The Cries Of My Subconscious.”
The 6 track EP is packed with ramblings of her inner thoughts as she gives in fully to her emotions on standout songs like ‘Melo’ and ‘Lover.’
Overall, the EP is a thoroughly enjoyable listen that triggers appreciation and penmanship. Deena sang about her feelings and we felt it hard. – Ehis Ohunyon
The Collectiv3 – ”Live.create.repeat”
Collectiv3’s ”Live. Create. Repeat.” is possibly my best Nigerian project of 2018.
I love songs like ‘Kiss the Fire’ and ‘Hold You Down.’ What draws me dearly to the project is really how the band fused our local musical instruments and style with traditional Alternative and Folk music. – David Adeleke (Editor, Business Insider SSA)
Psycho YP – ”YPSZN”
Sometimes life as an underdog has you afraid of trying new things, but Trap music has made it a lot easier for rappers to experiment and that is what Psycho achieves on this project, his second in three years.
For a 19-year-old, he sure packs plenty of energy whenever he raps and throughout the tape, he is able to re-invent his sound and deliver a body of work that fits into whatever mood you find yourself.
Songs like ‘Heartless’ and ‘Standard’ are pure delights that point to the potential of his talent if well developed – Ehis Ohunyon
Notable mentions: Leriq & Tomi Thomas – Illusions, Tay Iwar – 1997, Dremo – Codename, Sute Iwar – Leopards , Boogey – Nouveau Niveau