The year 2021 was a good year for Nigerian music, despite the economic effect of COVID 19 as the music industry found a way to entertain its audience thanks to the rise of streaming platforms which gave Afrobeat a wider audience, a development that also led to record-breaking streaming numbers and major award nominations.
After extensive research, BusinessDay’s findings have selected the top ten music albums that made waves in 2021. Although some of the selected albums were released in the latter part of 2020, they still gained lots of attention in most clubs, parties, and musical concerts in 2021.
BusinessDay’s criteria for selection include albums that had the highest streaming numbers, commercial successes, and how critically acclaimed the albums were in 2021.
Here are the top albums that made waves in 2021.
10 – Ruger – Pandemic (EP)
The fast-rising music artist Micheal Adebayo popularly known as Ruger released his first work Dubbed ‘Pandemic’ which houses records like ‘Ruger’, ‘Abu Dhabi’, ‘ Bounce’ etc. The record ‘ Bounce’ took a life of its own and became one of the hottest songs in Nigeria. The album which was released March 25 this year is one of Apple Music’s top 20 most streamed songs in 2021 and has over 12 million streams on Boomplay.
9 – Olamide – UY Scuti
Following the success of the 2020 album carpe diem, Nigerian rapper Olamide released UY Scuti on June 18, 2021. The album name ‘UY Scuti’ which refers to a star in the galaxy is seen as a new approach to his rap sound. The album with 10 tracks of 28 minutes of play had successful streaming numbers on platforms like Boomplay, Audiomack and was among the top 10 best albums on Apple Music in 2021.
8. – Ayra Starr – 19 & Dangerous
Dubbed the Celestial Being after starting her career under the leadership of Mavin boss Don Jazzy, Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe at the young age of 19 made Nigerians move to the sound of her song Bloody Samaritan which was the lead single of the Afropop, R&B, and alté sound album 19 & Dangerous. The album which revolves around unrequited love, romantic breakup distress, and betrayal received a favorable response from music fans and within its first two months amassed over 30 million streams with over 100 million streams at the time of writing this article on all platforms.
7 – Joeboy – Somewhere Between Beauty & Magic
Released February 4, 2021, Joseph Akinwale Akinfenwa- Donus also known as Joeboy released his debut album Somewhere Between Beauty and Magic to the waiting fans who were looking for new sounds for the Valentine season. The 14 track album which is themed with Love blends Afropop beats with classic instrumentals taking an earnest journey through various love stories. From gaining confidence to reach out to a love interest in ‘lonely’ to recovering from unrequited love in ‘ Focus’ with the beauty of boundaries in ‘ consent’ audience could not get enough as the album reached massive streaming numbers being the top 10 best albums in Apple Music with over 124 million streams on Audiomack and over 54 million streams on Boomplay.
6 – Fireboy DML – Apollo
After a very successful first album in 2019, Adedamola Adefolahan also known as Fireboy DML released Apollo in August 2020, with 17 songs that played for 48 minutes. The album, which has a contemporary Afropop iteration, has a layback R&B sound in songs like “New York City Girl” and ‘ Tattoo” with other top streaming songs like’ Champion’, and ‘ Spell’. The album made Apple Music top 20 songs with over 147 million and 60 million streams on Audiomack and Boomplay respectively.
5 – Omah lay – What Have We Done
Often tagged a sequel to his first EP ‘Get Layd’, Stanley Omah Didia released his second EP ‘What have we done on November 19, 2020, with tracks like ‘Godly’ which was the lead single, ‘ My Bebe’ ‘Can’t Relate’ etc. The award was nominated 7 times this year and the song Godly won the singer Net honors ‘most played song’. With over 200 million streams on all platforms, the album gets a spot at our number 5.
4 – Olamide – Carpe Diem
The eleventh studio album by the Nigerian rapper Olamide and his first work under American label and distribution company Empire Distribution was so successful that it crossed the 500 million stream mark across all platforms on June 1, 2021. The album which was released on October 8 2020 has 12 songs on it with top streaming songs like ‘loading’ featuring Bad Boy Timz, Unconditionally featuring Peruzzi, Infinity featuring Omah Lay among others. The album was nominated for Album of the year in 2021 Afrima.
3 – Burna Boy – Twice As Tall
The fifth studio album of Damini Ogulu popularly known as Burna Boy was released August 14, 2020, by spaceship entertainment, Atlantic Records and Warner Music. The album is a mixture of Afrobeat, Dancehall, Afrobeats, Pop, and hip hop. With guest appearances from Naughty by Nature, Chris Martins of Coldplay, Stormzy, and many more the album sure packed a full punch of Entertaining genres. Some of the commercial successes include number 1 in US World Albums, UK top Hip Hop / R&B Albums number 2, number 54 in the US Billboard 200 among many others. For more recent success on streaming, it was Spotify’s number 6 most-streamed album in 2021 with over 500 million streams on all platforms.
2 – Davido – A Better Time
The third studio album released by David Adeleke on November 12 2020 was packed with a lot of guest features from American rappers Nicky Minaj, Nas, Young Thug, Lil Baby, Chris Brown, and other Nigerian music singers such as Tiwa Savage, Ckay, Mayorkun, and others. With a length of 54 minutes, the album comes with huge streaming songs like FEM, The Best, Jowo, and others. The album was nominated for best album in 2021s Afrima. The album is 4th on Spotify’s most-streamed album in Nigeria and Second on Apple Music’s best Nigerian album with over 220 million streams on Audiomack and over 40 million on Boomplay.
1 – Wizkid – Made in Lagos/ Made in Lagos Deluxe edition
Nothing screams music success more when your album and song are nominated for Best Global Album and Best Global Song at the biggest music awards of all ‘the Grammys’. With the original album released October 30 2020 and the huge success it received from music fans home and abroad especially for the gem of the album Essence where he featured another Nigerian music singer Tems, the album broke several African streaming records. Following the release of the deluxe edition, the album sold an additional 17,000 units in the United States peaking at number 28 on the US Billboard 200. The R&B fused Afrobeat album is well on the way to becoming the most successful streaming album with over a billion streams on all platforms.
Other honorable mentions include Wondaland by Teni, Legacy + by Femi Kuti and Made Kuti, Man of Galilee by Judikay, and Rum and Boogie by Peruzzi.