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Best songs, films of 2017

By Wilfred Okiche

Sifting through the loads and loads of music put out during the calendar year, we made use of parameters such as audience acceptance, pop culture effect, quality of recording and lyrical content to assemble our 10 best albums and movies of 2017.

10. Ijele The Traveller – Flavour

The album’s title is steeped in Igbo masquerade culture, where the Ijele is recognised as the largest and most ceremonial of them all. Masterkraft oversees the bulk of the project and incorporates the traditional instruments such as drums, ogene, and ekwe but just before you are about to entertain the thought that Flavour is finally making the pure highlife record he was born to make, he capitulates and dilutes the punch. Everyone has to be satisfied.

9. The Glory – Olamide

Every December for the last six years, Olamide has put out an album of new material. The critics haven’t always been kind. And for good reason too. Look no further than this year’s messy entry, Lagos Na Wa. Released in the twilight of 2016, The Glory is his sixth studio album and the Olamide that shows up here is a (gasp!) grown man. At a respectable (by his standards) sixteen tracks length, The Glory is almost sparse, as Olamide begins to consider his legacy both as an artiste and as a father.

8. Illy Bomaye -Ill Bliss

After fatherhood comes introspection it seems and while this is a trajectory that has worked for everyone from Jay Z and Eminem, no one wears the role quite like Ill Bliss. As on past albums, on Illy Bomaye, the rapper’s fifth studio album, Ill Bliss does introspection quite well. With little or no A-list help, Ill Bliss and his team of producers (Tha Suspect, Major Bangz) put together some powerful verses set to deep ominous beats.

7. Timeless -Omawumi

For her third merry go round, Omawumi could not have taken a more divergent approach. Signed to a new management and with an eye on the international market, Omawumi has carefully downplayed her considerable hit making abilities and embraced a richer, fuller, jazzier sound – one that mixes Fela Kuti and the throbbing pull of Afrobeat with the vivacious scatting of jazz songstresses gone by. If the album had stayed true to the energy of the first half, Timeless might have topped this list.

6. Blessed Forever -A-Q

Thinker. Troublemaker. Veteran. Genius. All these parts of A-Q show up and battle for prominence on Blessed Forever, his fourth studio record and follow up to the brilliant Rose album. Nothing much has changed since he last put an album out. A-Q on Blessed Forever is just as crazy, just as brilliant, and this time, quite emotional. Divided into five acts, the record is inventive with hot takes like Lekki Expressway showing his inventive, subversive side.

5. Niniola -This is Me

Home to Maradona and Sicker, two of the biggest Afro-house anthems of the year, Niniola’s debut has more goodies embedded within. Jam-packed with slick, sexy, power dance tunes delivered with relish, in both English and Yoruba. First albums aren’t usually this assured but having spent a couple of years, developing her craft, This Is Me is Niniola burrowing in, carving her own niche, and then bursting out the gate confident in her abilities.

4. Agberos International -Bantu

For regulars at Afropolitan Vibes, the premier live music gig in Lagos put together by Ade Bantu and his 13-man band, Agberos International is simply a continuation of the quarterly visits to the Muri Okunola Park. Familiar yet refreshingly so, the music on Agberos International is an amalgam of Afrobeat, jazz, rap and performance poetry. Standout track, Niger Delta Blues, featuring legendary Fela Kuti collaborator, Tony Allen, is by itself worth the price of admission.

3. For You -Cobhams

For his first album as a solo artiste, Cobhams Asuquo abandons the trappings of fame and lure of the bright lights and makes a complete gospel album that astounds in its craftsmanship and overflows with richness. Technically the project is faultless. The finish is of international quality and Asuquo’s big booming voice is placed at the center of the affecting ballads that make up the album. The entire experience is a thoroughly pleasurable and enveloping, yet intimate encounter with the Most High.

2. Simisola -Simi

2017 was the year X3M Music’s years long investment in Simi, the awkward but terrific singer, songwriter and sound engineer finally paid off, reaping well deserved rewards from Lagos to London. Responsible for this was the arrival of her debut album with X3M, the gloriously imagined, conceptualized and delivered Simisola. Simisola is easily the most enjoyable disc put forward this year, boasting delightful songwriting, beautiful melodies and sublime singing.

Musa Jikan Musa -Morell

The city of Jos has contributed its fair share to the music business (2face, the Abaga brothers) but because of the humanitarian crises in that part of the country, somehow the North seems to have been written out of pop culture. Morell is here to address that. He takes on this responsibility without being self-aware and delivers a debut disc that is proudly reflective of his origins, yet bears a finish that is ready to cross over. Musa Jikan Musa’s unique blend of traditional instrumentation, impressive songwriting and delicious rhymes is almost second to none.

10 best movies of the year

Only Nollywood films that had major cinema releases, or were premiered during the calendar year were considered for this list. Ranked in ascending order. From romantic comedies to twisty thrillers, we summarize the year in film.

10. The Wedding Party 2: Destination Dubai

The sequel to Nollywood’s biggest film delivers exactly what it promises, no more no less. It isn’t better than it has a right to be, and no worse than it could have been. The entire gang returns for another romp of escapism and jolly good fun. Niyi Akinmolayan grabs the helm and delivers a sequel that knows exactly what its audience wants.

9. Potato Potahto

Potato Potahto certainly remains pretty to look at, even when the screenplay begins to sag with repetition. The sets are colourful and costumes were designed to both grab attention and flatter the actors, particularly Jocelyn Dumas, who is a designer’s dream to dress; and Lala Akindoju, who flaunts legs that stretch from Accra to Ankara.

8. Couple’s Award

It isn’t a complete picture that Couple’s Award, as written and directed by Kehinde Olorunyomi Odukoya presents, plus, there is that troublesome itch to reach for a crowd-pleasing ending. Looking beyond this though, Couple’s Award is a finely acted, well presented effort that is marked by a rich story and a somewhat faithful execution. Shame it wasn’t widely seen.

7. King Invincible

Ultimately, King Invincible is a director’s film and Femi Adisa’s hard work and vision is what is most striking about the entire picture. His passion is visible in every shot, and in every fight scene. He falters on occasion, with what he gets in (clustered sets, unimpressive supporting actors) and with what he leaves out (a pivotal battle scene that could have told more of the hero’s character) but anyone can see that bigger things are sure to come from him.

6. Slow Country

Slow Country moves with a deliberate pace until it gets to the bloody shootout that is really where director Eric Aghimien’s heart lies. He unspools a final act that is impressive in its stunt work and easy command of visual effects. It would be unjust to dismiss Slow Country as a minor work from a promising auteur. Pretty obvious Aghimien has plenty more things to teach Nollywood. Someone just needs to give him a budget worth his talent.

5. Banana Island Ghost (BIG)

The real star of BIG is the picture. Sasore manages something special here with drone shots and visual effects that tell a story all their own. His cinematography is pretty basic but the pictures are lit up to near perfection, only interrupted by the over enthusiastic product placements. Watch out for Akah Nnani who steals his scenes and makes quite the impression as a hopeless police sergeant.

4. CaTCH.eR

A basic police procedural – to the extent that it can be called one – masquerading as a clever whodunit, CaTCH.eR turns out to be more tame domestic drama, albeit with some blood and gore, than edge-of-your-seat thriller. The attraction for the young actors, must have been the chance to work with Taylaur, a filmmaker who with a soft focus on style and action, is setting himself up as one of Nollywood’s thinking men.

3. Hakkunde

In many respects, Hakkunde is the story of contemporary Nigeria, a witty, emotional exploration of what it means to be young and Nigerian. Set in Lagos and Kaduna, Hakkunde places one young graduate’s quest for dignity at the center of a larger, more encompassing story of resourcefulness, doggedness and the importance of community.

2. Isoken

Isoken builds up to a satisfying, if cluttered ending as the usual romantic comedy tropes are ticked off. Director Jade Osiberu’s imprints are all over the film as she unspools the sights and sounds of contemporary upperclass Lagos living. Her camera work is deft and even when she needn’t bother; she comes up with interesting ways of presenting her picture.

Ojukokoro

With its voice over narration, noir-ish mood, ensemble cast and time bending snap structure, Dare Olaitan has obviously studied the iconic films of auteurs like Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs) and Guy Ritchie (Snatch). He pays homage to them in ways that may seem obvious but makes it clear that his vision is no lazy copy, as he situates his madcap story very much in present day Nigeria.

The writer tweets from @drwill20

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