We reflect on 2016 and some of the best debut projects we heard and believe you should also listen to. Artists who go all the way to release projects deserve immense recognition and the first bite is often the hardest so big ups to everyone who’s dropped a project and continues to! Nobody has tagged these the best debut projects to come last year but barely some we believe you should bless yourself by listening to. In no particular order
Enjoy by Mafeni
Following great tracks like Fresh and Gold Grillz to launch his music career and open the year, Boston-based, Mafeni released his debut project, Enjoy, in August. Mafeni is similar to J Cole in that he goes solo (still waiting on platinum) on Enjoy and shows his ability to slow it down and speed up the tempo to convey the message as well as his immense quality as a lyricist. Enjoy sees Mafeni touch on topics like his journey, love and physical relationships, fighting depression amongst a host of other issues.
Recommended track: Function
LifT EP by Fasina
Afro-fusion act, Fasina released a 4-track EP in October. He opens the project with Tonight which could be said to be an ode to a lover before moving on to appeal to a lady to take him to a place he’s never been on Lights. The ultimate track to vibe to on LifT is Fly With Me. Over the 20 or so minutes you listen, Fasina takes you into a world of calm with the music. You can get the full project on either Apple Music, Spotify or Tidal.
Recommended track: Fly With Me
All Souls Tape by The Section
Atlanta-based rapper, The Section first popped onto the scene with Why Flex featuring label mate, Kash. However, a month before that track dropped, he had released his debut project. He touches on issues like being black in the US, being from Atlanta as well as trying to make his dreams come true with his music. Section particularly stands out for his flow and on the project he features Kash, Davion Titan, Hadena, The Section, Tezia, Felipe and Kell.
Circa 94 by Tim Lyre
R n B artist, Tim Lyre released his debut project, Circa 94. On the project, he shows his prowess with a range of genres like Afro-Fusion and R n B over the first 8 tracks and then closes with a remix to Olamide’s Who You Epp. He opens by declaring his intention to make hit records on The Artist before asserting his confidence on Alubarika. He soon moves on to praising a lady for her dance moves on Moves and appreciates a beauty on Marina. On Testify, he once again tags himself as a shining star and testifies that there is nothing he cannot handle. On the multi-genre project, Tim Lyre features Mojo, July Wild and 95.
Recommended track: Testify
Microphone Messiah by BrisB
BrisB of LOS opened the year with a 10-track rap project titled, Microphone Messiah. On the ten-track body, he features Tomi Thomas, Tay, Santi and Bridge. On the project, he opens with an inspiring message on Soul Insurance featuring Tay. He urges listeners to live another day as nobody knows their sorrows and argues that there’s no insurance for the human soul. He then moves on to lay claim to the title of Microphone Messiah and titles the track and project as such. On Romantic, BrisB enlists OzzyB and Bridge and they speak on their lifestyles appealing to the ladies.
Recommended Track: Microphone Messiah
Time Of Our Lives by Odunsi
Odunsi The Engine released his debut project, Time of Our Lives in July. The budding Afro-Fusion act featured the likes of Black Magic, Dami Oniru and Okuntakinte on the impressive piece of work. In a music scene where party music stands out, Odunsi’s TOOL stands out for the choice to make pacifying music as opposed to uptempo party tracks that are likelier to have more commercial appeal. Odunsi also shows his plenitude as an artist with this project as he was heavily involved in the production of Vibrate, Happy Hour, Vanilla Freestyle, Farabale and LoverMan.
Recommended track: Farabale just cos we all know Happy Hour!
Rehearsals by TauBenah
After releasing Reasons with Davido earlier in the year, Creative Elevation’s Tau Benah revealed his debut project. He features the likes of Jamo (Pepper Brothers), IC, Zinzi and Kasien on this soulful project. There are suggestions Tau Benah‘s sophomore project may also be done. Rehearsals sounds like a journey in search of true love. Tau Benah starts off on Jayler, a track that suggests a broken relationship before going on to speak on being dumped on Leftovers. He then asserts that he’s got money in his pocket on Hey Hey before finding love with Charlene on track 4. Track 5, GGY sees Tau Benah address the topic of fame over a wide array of musical instruments and with the help of Zinzi and Phlowz.
Recommended Track: GGY Feat. Zinzi & Kasien
Tau Benah only hosted the EP on his website.
Long Live the King by GMK
GMK has established himself as an audio engineer but on this 6-track project he shows he can also be an artist if he chooses to go that path. He chooses to feature another artist on every track excluding the Skit and is joined by Odunsi, Genio, Bridge, BrisB and Santino. He opens Long Live the King with No Name featuring Odunsi and the duo sing about the fakes who want to hold them back as well as the “game” and the how it messes with their pride. On Mama House, he and Genio sing about trying to get their music out and succeed from the confines of parent’s houses. Aye Ma Le is a track befitting of the times with the current recession and GMK, Odunsi and BrisB shout out their people in the lungu, the under and those feeling hunger.
Recommended track: Aye Ma Le
Traplanta All Summer by Kashlanta
Traplanta Army’s Kash released his debut project in July. He raps about being part of something larger than himself, the Traplanta Army and features The Section, Zaar, Folabi and isaacxhopes. He opens the tape speaking about balling on everyone before talking about The Army’s presence and success as well as being black in the US on Ice Cream Kash. He then reverts to rapping about the Army’s growth and development on Army (Gang) before touching on his relationship with the ladies on 7:16 and 1AM Thots. He then closes out the project with IDC and KashVision ’97 where addresses those who doubted him and also thanks all those who supported him in the journey.
Recommended Track: 1AM Thots
Honest Conversations by AYLØ
Afro-Fusion act, AYLØ closed 2016 with Honest Conversations. He is assisted in creating this 5-track masterpiece by Mafeni, Livia Banks, Sute, Le Mav, barelyanyhook, Chris Generalz, GMK, King Zamir, DOZ, Zilla and Lundun. AYLØ opens with Dreaming on which he employs a monologue to get his message about chasing his desires across.
Recommended Track: Circles