It is all right so far for Afrobeats and its stakeholders as the midpoint of 2022 is approaching quickly. From Brymo’s long-awaited return to the debut of emerging Nigerian singer and rapper, Khaid along with Smallgod’s sophomore studio project, May was jam-packed with important releases. These are just a few of the albums that we at DC Leakers chose for this month’s top five.
Smallgod – Connecting The Dots
A year after the release of his first album Building Bridges in 2021, Ghanaian music entrepreneur–turned–artist Smallgod returns with a follow-up that expands on his stated desire to lay out the latticework of collaborations and kinship that underpins the ever-evolving genre of Afro-pop.
While Building Bridges cast a wide net over the many artists Smallgod has worked with over the course of his fifteen-year career, Connecting the Dots, released in 2022, focuses on emerging artists whose success is dismantling old hierarchies thanks to democratic avenues for recording, releasing, and promoting music.
They require the platform as well. They, too, require encouragement. Smallgod tells Apple Music that the musicians he chose for his sophomore album also require applause. ‘I’m like a ship that they can utilize to reach wherever they want to go.’ We all have the same dream: to bring Africa to the rest of the world.’
The new approach also applies to the album’s up-and-coming producers, all of whom blend autonomy with collaboration: ‘Ninety percent of the time I play a beat for an artist I think they’ll like,’ Smallgod says with the assurance that only love and experience can provide.
Victony – Outlaw
Being an outlaw is a philosophy Victony has lived by since he dropped his first hip-hop mixtape, 2017’s The Outlaw King—and one that he’s used as the foundation of his career ever since. Inspired by his idols Kendrick Lamar and Drake, he stretched into R&B, trap and Afropop, while lockdown granted him a sense of freedom that allowed him to incorporate more singing into the mix, with 2020’s Saturn EP delivering earworms like “Jó Riddim” and “Space & Time”. (This was all while he pursued a bachelor’s degree in engineering. “Balancing music and studying has taught me how to prioritise,” he explains.)
The reasoning behind his unrestricted approach became even clearer for him in April 2021, after a severe auto accident claimed the life of his friend Doyin, and left Victony and three others severely injured. In the months that followed, he used his music to process, and explored deeper, more profound themes with singles like “Pray” and “Holy Father”, the hit collab with Mayorkun.
“If I had died in that accident, life would’ve gone on, and everybody would’ve forgotten about me,” Victony (Anthony Victor) says. “My music would live on—but life goes on, right? So, why don’t you just do what makes you happy and just be you—because at the end of the day, man, you’re going to die someday. So, just do what makes you happy and just be you to the max.” Victony embraces that sense of freedom on his first LP, 2022’s Outlaw, a showcase of his versatility and his ability to translate his headspace into melody underscored with witty lyricism.
Naira Marley – God’s Timing’s The Best (GTTB)
Nigerian street-hop artiste and Marlian Music’s top dog Naira Marley has released his debut album, titled ‘God’s Timing’s The Best (GTITB)’.
The singer releases the highly awaited project almost six months into the year. All three frontiers (Naira Marley, Mohbad, and Zinoleesky) released songs this month, indicating that the Marlian Music camp is on fire.
The new album features 14 songs, including Coming, First Time in America, Kojosese, and O’dun, which were previously released. Mayorkun, Lil Kesh, Jada Kingdom, Busiswa, Diquenza, Chivv, and, of course, his proteges Zinoleesky and Mohbad appear on the album.
Brymo – Theta
Ace Nigerian singer-songwriter, Olawale Ashimi, also known as Brymo, has released a new album named Theta. On the new album, which features ten songs, the vocalist goes solo.
His previous album, ‘9: Esan,’ received numerous nominations, and he has opted to maintain that momentum with the release of this new album.
Khaid – Diversity
Nigerian singer-songwriter Khaid (actual name: Sulaimon Shekoni Solomon) has shown so much prospects of a music superstar with his ability to blend emo-trap with Afropop.
At the age of 17, his melodious TikTok freestyles gained him a lot of attention, and he became the marquee artist at Lagos-based Neville Records (established by comedian Sydney Talker). “Freestyling allows me to generate flows and nice lines,” he said, “so when I’m writing a song, I might take a freestyle and add lyrics to it.”
DIVERSITY is the culmination of Khaid’s 18-month artist development program, during which he grew as a songwriter, live performer, and fine art connoisseur. “The EP depicts how I lived in the past while branching out into other musical genres,” Khaid explains. “We are all made up of various parts—discover them all and enjoy the variety.”
He straddles the booming bass and heaving drums of amapiano as he reflects on his streetwise upbringing throughout six tracks, blending the freedom of trap with local inspirations and straddling the booming bass and heaving drums of Amapiano.
Khaid is establishing himself as the next wonderboy of Afropop, an aim he stresses across DIVERSITY with the repeating word “shleet,” a name he coined to represent “a youthful, fresh blood doing things differently.”
The name ‘Khaid‘ is here to stay and gradually etching his name in the chronicles of African music.