The Half Term Report: The 9 Best Songs of the First Half of 2019

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by

Oluwamayowa Idowu, 

Adedamola Onabanjo, 

&

Olusola Adenusi 

9. Good Morning Riddim– Sarz

Ironically, for an industry where Production acts as the unique selling point, very few music Producers have been able to successfully blur the line that separates music production and the business of music making itself. With the Sarz is not your Mate tape, Sarz set himself apart. 

A refreshing mix of Afro-House powered by electric fast paced drums and futuristic synths, Good Morning Riddim is a spacey upgrade and extension of Sarz’s signature sounds that inspired the Afro-House genre.

In the video; a visual sweep of communities across Nigeria, Sarz sheds light on the daily lives of everyday Nigerians in their natural elements. Briefly, he also spotlights his own journey while the mesmeric instrumentals punctuated by the occasional good morning call plays in the background.

8. Before You Wake Up- Adekunle Gold

A look at the biggest R&B songs in the country right now and you’ll find ‘Before You Wake Up’ by Adekunle Gold on the list. Mr. Gold sometimes nails the art of making earworms- a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing..

The tune produced by the magical fingers of Sess The Problem Kid sees Gold offering showing full commitment to his lover as he has his mind made up on loving his woman. The success of the song explains the new Vanessa Mdee remix. 

7. Tipsy- Odunsi ft. Raye 

The controversy that stemmed in the wake of Odunsi’s debut project rare, doesn’t take away from the fact that of the new school of artists with ‘alternate’ sounds and a myriad of foreign influences, he was one of the first to get it right and perhaps this has been his driving force since the album’s release. Tipsy, an off album cut which balances and accentuates his ability to create music accessible to the mainstream while staying true to his non conformist persona. rare might have been Odunsi’s ticket to greater opportunities but Tipsy which features British sensation, Raye was the bridge that closed the gap.

6. Awolowo- Boj ft. Kwesi Arthur, Darko Vibes and Joey B

As the tentacles of the Alté movement continues to spread, DRB have sought to position themselves as pioneers. Boj’s ‘Awolowo’- a GMK produced effort with input from Tomi Thomas and Zamir recruited Ghanaian hip hop acts Kwesi Arthur, Joey B and Darko Vibes invokes the late Nigerian statesman, Obafemi Awolowo and makes a metaphor out of him. 

Boj takes a backseat opting to bear responsibility for the hook relying on his signature gruff voice to deliver the goods while his counterparts from the Gold Coast deliver verses that examines the relationship between their funds and romantic relationships. 

5.  Cash- Lady Donli 

The Nigerian music industry is not always fair on women. However, in the last couple of years with the success of acts like Tiwa Savage, Simi, Niniola, Teni the Entertainer, Yemi Alade and Seyi Shay it is clear that there’s a clear pathway for the next generation. Lady Donli one of our faves will be one of those beneficiaries. From her days as a student cultivating her fanbase on Soundcloud to creating life engagement by couch surfing and her recent participation in Mr Eazi’s Empawa incubator program, we have witnessed a change of gear that indicates she’s ripe for the big leagues. This is best encapsulated by Cash- the lead single to her forthcoming project where backed by her Cavemen band, she’s able to build a record with highlife foundations that gets to the all time great motivator- $. 

4.  Raw Dinner- Santi ft. Kida Kudz 

Being one of the pioneers of the new school of alternative artists in the Nigerian music industry, it’s no wonder the best of the said class showed out with Santi on his debut project, Mandy and the Jungle. Of the enviable list of A-listers featured on the project including international artists, Goldlink and DRAM, very few made impressionable marks and top of this list is Kida Kudz whose performance on one of the album’s standouts, Raw Dinner is still a trending topic on various social media platforms.

Raw Dinner is not only popular because of the implications of its metaphorical title or raunchy but alluring lyricism but it’s relatability, the psychedelic soundscape and above all, Santi and Kida Kudz’s electrical and artistic synergy, the pillar of the mentally stimulating chart-topping track that will soundtrack activities this summer.

3. Dangote- Burna Boy

There are several theories that have been propagated to decipher how Burna Boy became the ‘African Giant’ that he is today. One of them being that he was a beneficiary of Kanye West’s 2018 Ye sharing a title with his Song of the Year effort. There is also the one that highlights that his acclaim came as a result of his use of jazzed up Afrobeat soundscapes, reminiscent of Fela Kutis’. The truth probably lies between pure artistic genius and originality and Burna Boy making music that is representative of the struggles Nigerians face in these Buhari times. The success of Ye evidences this and Dangote serves as  

With relatable lyrics that allude to his and our desire for a better life, a namecheck of Nigeria’s richest man and his signature laidback but reverberating drums driven background, Burna Boy was able to provide Nigerians with another anthem that speaks to the zeitgeist. 

2. Jealous- Fireboy DML 

Explosivity is not something that has been fully explored in the Nigerian music industry though it has its beneficiaries here. Usually when an artist, especially an unknown one makes a song that becomes a big hit, it’s always as a result of the amplification of our signature Afrobeat sound which is why it comes as a surprise to everyone that Fireboy DML – whose sound is parallel to his labelmates’ – was able to not just score a solo single on his label’s joint mixtape, but make it big with Jealous. 

Forming part of the visible 2.0 update of Olamide’s label which is creditable for the manner in which he invests in up comers while also encouraging and offering them freedom to take the solo route, when successful. Fireboy’s Jealous gained him the kind of traction none of the other songs on the project have found. The fact that Jealous deviates from the usual Afro-Pop sound makes its popularity harder to digest but with its textured chords, rhythmic percussions, engaging lyrics and the charming video that followed the release of the song, its saturation is understandable.  

1. Dumebi- Rema

When an individual from a communal environment makes it big, it’s often said that it takes a village to raise a child. This phrase can be used to describe Mavin’s ‘rave of the moment’, Rema whose talent came to light when he was catapulted into the industry as a result of the recognition of his immense talent and creative style. Apart from said talent and connections, Rema’s charming persona was what sold him when the first single off his debut 4-track EP, Iron Man was put out. It was in the same vein and spirit that himself and his team sold us the Ozedikus produced Dumebi, his biggest single till date. From the intoxicatingly unconventional instrumental to Rema’s flow, Dumebi is one of the most memorable break out singles of our time. 

Taking off from where Burna Boy and Zlatan’s Killin Dem left as the song of the first quarter and owning the airwaves in Q2, Dumebi’s Ademola Falomo directed video stirred up as much commentary as it gained the new golden boy traction. With old heads like Don Jazzy and D’ Prince providing direction and the institutional backing of Mavin, in Rema we have a generational talent who has the combined pluses of youth and the hallmarks of a global Superstar. While much has been made of the underutilization of his influences and creativity, it doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s well on track to becoming Nigeria’s next big thing.

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