Here are the top 10 Nigerian albums of 2023.
2023 delivered notable LPs from Nigerian superstars who continue to push the creative boundaries of Nigerian music as Afrobeats finds the next gear.
In 2023, the Nigerian music scene was defined by the works of several artists whose talents are contributing to the sonic and commercial advancement of Nigerian music.
From Street acts exerting defining mainstream influence to superstars crafting albums that solidify their global status, the year has been marked by several notable albums.
Ranking the best albums of 2023 is no mean feat as there are several notable albums with wide critical acclaim and those whose impact has been felt in both domestic and international markets.
In ranking the top 10 Nigerian albums of 2023 (December 1, 2022 – November 30, 2023), Pulse Music Desk considers the impact (on the soundscape, local, and international markets), success (local and international), and critical acclaim.
It’s important to note that priority is given to local feats while international acclaim is an added bonus.
Here are the top 10 Nigerian albums of 2023:
10. Olamide – ‘Unruly’
On Unruly, Olamide reminds listeners that he’s not just the capo di tutti capi of the YBNL Mafia but the entire industry.
Olamide has for decades stayed consistent, operating at the summit of the industry as an artist and a label head. On his 10th album ‘Unruly,’ he talks himself up in his quintessential braggadocio manner.
He combines smooth street language driven flows and laid-back bars to deliver feel-good records as he attempts to fit into the current Afropop framework without losing his cool. Having influenced a new crop of artists, he elects to let them influence him as he embarks on what might be his last hurrah.
9. Burna Boy – ‘I Told Them’
I Told Them captures Burna Boy’s existence in multiple worlds (Nigeria, UK, US, Caribbean) and his unrelenting desire to showcase how they influence him.
“There’s nothing I’m doing now that I didn’t tell them,” Burna Boy told Ebro Darden, the American radio presenter before his historic London Stadium concert. He repeated this sentiment to Zane Lowe just days before the release of his seventh album, I Told Them.
The album has enjoyed international success in what has now become the norm for Burna Boy who recorded his fourth consecutive Grammy nomination for Best Global Album this year.
The hit single City Boy earned a Grammy nomination for Best African Music Performance, while the Hip Hop cut Sittin’ On Top Of The World featuring 21 Savage earned the nod for Best Melodic Rap Performance, making him the only African lead artist to earn a nomination outside of the global categories.
8. Tekno- ‘The More, The Better’
At the time when the ovation is lowest and listeners may have forgotten about his genius, Tekno delivers his sophomore album ‘The More The Better,’ a defining project that etches his name in the annals of Afrobeats history.
For his sophomore album, Tekno showcases the genius embedded in simplicity. A quality that makes him one of Afrobeats’ most brilliant minds.
Like the quintessential Tekno music, the album doesn’t require any mental calisthenics to contextualize it or capture his state of mind.
The feel-good nature of the tracks, the percussions, the deployment of Konto bounce, and the use of Highlife chords all tie the music together and combine with Tekno’s trademark simple delivery and writing to achieve a richness that showcases Afrobeats in all its glory.
When listeners may have forgotten his genius and when the ovation is lowest, Tekno emerges with an album that secures his legacy in Afrobeats. And it is beautiful moments like this that would inspire future generations that add their quota to evolving Afrobeats.
7. Joeboy – ‘Body & Soul’
Aside from his reticence and humility, another noticeable common denominator is his lover-boy leanings. Joeboy is an artist who doesn’t hesitate to wear his heart on his sleeve, and exploring this romantic side birthed some of the best songs in the modern era of Afropop.
It’s this romantic side that Joeboy embraces in his sophomore album ‘Body & Soul’ where he creates a soothing body of work that boldly steps aside from the toxic love that’s becoming the dominant theme in the industry.
‘Body & Soul’ achieves impressive sonic and thematic coherence which makes for a comprehensive and enjoyable listening experience.
6. Seyi Vibez – Thy Kingdom Come
While confidence and momentum have led him to release four projects in the space of eight months, Seyi Vibez sounds most sure-footed and unshakable in his talent on Thy Kingdom Come.
With Thy Kingdom Come Seyi Vibes further pushed the boundary of his talent in an album that sees him explore Apala at a whole new level.
Thy Kingdom Come’ offers an artistically confident and mature Seyi Vibez who declares himself the “man of the year,” while also pointedly making it clear that the sky was big enough for more than one” man of the year” thus indicating his intention to move past the rivalry that helped launch him to mainstream fame.
Across 10 tracks, SV enjoyed chest-thumping moments while offering a share of his success to family, friends, and fans through the eulogy, a good time, and an elevated listening experience.
5. Adekunle Gold – ‘Tequila Ever After’
Speaking on how he made the Tequila Ever After album, Adekunle Gold shared that he had what he likes to call a life-changing shot of Tequila and the liquor placed him in a fantastic mood and inspired him to make his best music yet.
It’s this happiness he shares on an album that lets listeners into the world of a man who made it to the top without losing his essence. On this album, he uses Tequila to make a toast to his success.
His decision to stretch his artistic boundaries and ignore the simplistic elements of making a hit by partnering with acclaimed music producers Labrinth and Pharrell Williams showcases intentionality.
The intentionality in the writing, collaborations, production, and the decision to retain artistic quality even while delivering hit records like ‘Ogaranya’, ‘Party No Dey Stop’ and ‘Wrong Person’ is why ‘Tequila Ever After’ is a commercial and critical success.
4. Nonso Amadi – ‘When It Blooms’
‘When It Blooms’ takes fans who have been part of Nonso’s journey on a familiar trip that offers in large pieces the talent they know he possesses and which they have keenly waited for the rest of the world to see. For new listeners, the album takes them on a first-time excursion to discover new beauties while trusting Nonso as a reliable guide.
Nonso puts together a collection of beautiful records on which he explores love, desire, pain, growth, and gratitude. He embraces his Western influences and balances them with his Nigerian influences through an elevated stream of thought, reliability, and achieved successful collaborations for an exquisite album.
3. ODUMODUBLVCK – ‘EZIOKWU’
ODUMODUBLVCK broke into Nigerian mainstream music when Hip Hop desperately needed someone who could add some excitement and much-needed complexity to the scene.
Odumodublvck’s mainstream success is captured in his latest project EZIOKWU which he described as a Mixtape. Although a bulk of the project was made before his mainstream success, his rise means that the project takes on a level of commerciality that’s not ordinarily associated with Mixtapes.
On EZIOKWU, Odumodublvck brilliantly delivers a variety of Hip Hop cuts, smoothly codified with his unique artistry and vibrant personality.
“Eziokwu” which translates to “The truth” in English is Odumodublvck’s attempt to share an undisputable proof of his artistry through an exploration of his experiences. On each song, Odumodublvck draws from different events in his life which he brilliantly brings to life through stellar penmanship and swaggering delivery.
The album showcases parts of Odumodublvck before and after gaining mainstream success with both parts tied together through his compelling identity.
Across the 14 tracks, he showcases his unique blend of rap, his fusion of Highlife melody, his originality, and his skillful use of attention grabbing titles through catchy song name choices like Declan Rice, Kubolor, Picanto, and Saint Obi.
2. Asake – ‘Work of Art’
Buoyed by momentum and the confidence of a dominance that still lingers, Asake elected to explore the same style that brought him fame and he did this by cashing in his superstar token knowing fully well that whatever he offered would be feverishly consumed.
The album extended Asake’s unprecedented mainstream run in 2022 as the lead single Lonely At The Top enjoyed massive record-breaking chart dominance.
While the album packs sonic similarities with his debut, it nevertheless offers sensational tracks that captivated listeners and prepared them for his landmark headline show at the O2.
With Work of Art, Asake consolidated his super status and topped it with his first Grammy nomination for Best African Music Performance courtesy of his hit single ‘Amapiano’ featuring Olamide.
1. Davido – ‘Timeless’
After taking a rare break away from music for the first time in his 10-year career as a serial hitmaker, Davido returned with his highly anticipated fourth album ‘Timeless’.
The album enjoyed record-breaking commercial success as it shattered multiple first-day and first-week African streaming records on major streaming platforms.
The album showcases Davido’s hitmaking prowess as he crafted tingling records that pay homage to Afrobeats’ rich history of party-starting hits.
The album delivered multiple hits with ‘Feel’, ‘Unavailable’ featuring Musa Keys, ‘No Competition’ featuring Asake, and ‘Kante’ featuring Fave enjoying wide success.
At his fourth attempt, Davido delivered a critically acclaimed album which also earned him 3 Grammy nominations.
- Crayon – ‘Trench to Triumph’
- Lady Donli – ‘African Rockstar’
- Monaky – ‘Patient Zero’
- Payback Iboro – ‘West African Goat’
- A-Q – ‘God’s Engineering 2’
- Oladapo – ‘In Case I Never Love Again’
- Flavour – ‘African Royalty’