This year acted like a leveler, it gave opportunities to both rising acts and established acts to establish or reassert artistry. Most releases were more introspective and paid mind to the senses and sensibilities of listeners— 2020 was really the year of great songwriting. In a year blessed with scores of quality projects, here’s a list of our top 10 EPs of 2020.
10. Full Moon Weekends – Whoisakin.
Heartbreak set the thematic tone for this project. The 5 track E.P presents an interesting peek into what could be Whoisakin’s love life. Properly produced with honest and heartfelt declarations, Whoisakin reminds us of all the beauty that love has to offer and as we listen, we are happy to remember.
9. Wildfire — Prettyboy D-O.
On this project, the artiste famous for his multicolored hair styles presents us with a multi-faceted exploration of vulnerability. The project seems incredibly personalised and is relatable to a lot of Nigerian youth considering the struggle to “make it” here. The EP’s title is apt too, as D-O’s energy is bright and raging, never stopping… like wildfire.
8. ME – Moelogo.
There is no doubt that Moelogo is an incredible artiste, considering his impressive work on Tiwa Savage’s Celia and two personal projects all in one calendar year. On ME, Moelogo speaks about himself, with a lot of it centred around his love life. In his usual manner, he uses a soothing blend of Yoruba & English to make groovy & melodious tunes that are equal parts thought provoking and introspective.
7. High Tension — Bella Shmurda.
“Vision 2020” seems truly visionary as Bella Shmurda had quite a successful breakout year. On High Tension, he talks about his life struggles & his motivations to succeed. With a slew of successful collaborations and a next rated award nod at the upcoming Headies, “Dangbana Orisa” has absoloutely achieved the vision. High Tension is a stellar start for what looks to be a stellar career.
6. Afrosoul – WurlD.
Considering it’s release in the thick of the lockdown, Afrosoul is the quintessential quarantine project. With the most intricate blend of Afrobeats and Soul, Wurld makes a complex, frightening and comforting project in a time where we need it the most. For a man looking to birth a whole new genre, Afrosoul feels like more than an attempt. It honestly sounds like success to us.
5. Razor – Cheque.
Having stayed under the radar for a while, Cheque released his debut project, Razor, this year.
As far as debuts go, Razor is incredibly effective. It functions a cohesive, introspective body of work that introduces us to the emo/cloud- leaning artistry that is Cheque’s. It’s no wonder that “Zoom” is arguably this year’s biggest sleeper hit. With Razor, Cheque zooms past his contemporaries and into the big leagues.
4. For Broken Ears — Tems.
Forget the title, Tems is anything but broken on this EP. The rebel gang leader weaves a complex web of opinions and emotions to deliver the most stunning alternative E.P of the year. On For Broken Ears, she is light and heavy and doubtful and assertive, culminating in a most human experience. Tems doesn’t need to reach for the sun with her art. Here, she’s able to go deep into the recesses of our minds and explain our deepest complexities. Despite appearances, Tems’s music is actually for every ear, in a year like 2020— we all had broken ears.
3. Oxygene — Oxlade.
Afro-pop perfection, Oxygen sounds like a breath of fresh air. Here is an artiste who just wants to sing and who actually can. By far the most commercial project on this list, Oxlade avoids the pressures and pitfalls of an Afropop record to create an EP that is absolutely enjoyable yet introspective enough. As far as mainstream debuts go, Oxygene is an admirable balance of vocal, thematic and commercial balance. Well done, Oxlade!
2. Restless II – Simi.
Coming straight from the biggest song of her carrer and one of the biggest songs of the year, Simi released in October, what is by many standards, a songwriting masterpiece. Restless II, the continuation of her breakthrough EP, Restless is the most intricate and well thought out “lover’s record” this year. It is mature and witty and emotional and commercial all at once. For an acclaimed chart topper like Simi, she presents the most delicious return to her R&B roots and we are more than happy to hear it.
1. Get Layd — Omah Lay.
2020 is widely regarded as the year of the underdog and no one represents this more than breakout phenomenon, Omah Lay with his perfect 5 track EP, Get Layd. Quite simply, the EP has no skips. Every song is a bop which is an incredible feat considering the slow pace for most of it. With this record, Omah Lay has managed to achieve the impossible— immense critical and commercial success with a debut project. It is by far, the most streamed EP of the year and is through and through an instant classic. With Get Layd, 2020 truly became the year of Omah Lay.