This year came with a lot of happenings. From the COVID-19 outbreak that altered normalcy as we know it and claimed a lot of lives, to African Americans fighting for their civil rights. 2020 has been a constant struggle in many areas and for many people, surviving it is a feat worthy to be celebrated.
For music, Nigerian music in especial, 2020 has earmarked the emergence of exciting new artists with musicians such as Chike, The Cavemen, and The Ignis Brothers releasing debut albums. For other established artists, 2020 was expected to cement the global appeal Afrobeats has accrued over the years with a special focus on penetrating the American music market and in turn the world at large.
In August 2020, with cases of COVID-19 reclining; restaurants, country borders, beaches and cinemas opening back and the submission date for eligibility at the 2020 Grammys approaching its deadline, Nigerian artists flooded the markets with albums. Artists such as Burna Boy, Fireboy DML, Tiwa Savage, Patoranking, Adekunle Gold and DJ Cuppy all released studio albums within the thirty days. An unusual event in a Nigerian market that is characteristically known for singles and at best EP’s. Tonye believes these artists are putting out albums not because of the Grammys but because of the grander picture, breaking into the international market
“A lot of Nigerian artists are not trying to chase Grammys, they would want that but I think what they are trying to do is get more international viability because albums have always been standard. It is what shows your strength as an artist”
Another conversation that needs to be had is the reception of albums in Nigeria. Burna Boy and Fireboy DML have both released two studio albums within twelve months with Davido expected to follow suit with his third studio album, A Better Time, scheduled for release sometime in November. Both Burna Boy and Fireboy DML released albums that embodied a particular, the former preaching the gospel of embracing your black origins while the latter proclaiming himself a god of music and exploring different sounds than he was previously known for. Do Nigerians appreciate themed albums? Do they appreciate the cohesive seamlessness albums are expected to have? The transitions?
The one good thing artists releasing albums within the same timespan have presented us is the ability to gauge the impact and weight of these artists. As at the time of writing, seven tracks of Burna Boy’s Diddy-produced Twice As Tall occupies seven out of the top ten spots on top 100 songs in the country curated by Nigeria’s most reliable data-backed metric, Apple Music. Over the past twelve months, Burna Boy has ascended into Afrobeats royalty complemented by a Grammy nod, his ceaseless international press runs, and his latest effort, Twice As Tall which many believe should earn him another Grammy nomination. Regardless of the strength of these artists and the reception of the music, the famed December rush is soon yet upon us again. Tonye says this might be another factor that influenced the need to drop albums
“I think everyone has their individual intentions for releasing albums, not just the Grammys but the main thing is the international credibility. In Nigeria, December is a hotspot. Everybody is trying to get songs out so their songs are still in the minds of people, and believe me, there would be a lot of thanksgiving, party-throwing at the end of this year” – Tonye Ekine
Given the recent wave of albums and with more Nigerian artists signing international record deals, should we expect more albums from our artists? Do Nigerians appreciate the albums as much as they appreciate singles especially at a time wherein there is new music every other week? What really is the shelf life of these albums?
‘Imasuan is lawyer, writer, a member of the Nigerian history group.’