Top 10 Nigerian Movies and Music Albums of 2016

10. Mama Africa (Diary of an African Woman) – Yemi Alade

The title is only a ruse for Yemi Alade to thread her influences and copy-catting into a cohesive effort. But at the end of the day, Mama Africa is as Nigerian pop as they come, only presented by an artiste with increasing foreign tastes. Azonto, Swahili, Coupe-decale, Juju, and Fuji, Miss Alade tries them all and doesn’t always succeed. She deserves credit for effort still.

9. The Playmaker – Phyno

The Playmaker is a big sprawling, glossy, messy but ultimately worthwhile outing. It is a project that can only come from a star at the peak of his fame, confident that his audience will be quick to forgive his excesses. And they are many. The disc does not aspire to perfection, wears it flaws proudly and seeks legitimacy in its failings. Do not be afraid to be human or to take risks, Phyno seems to be saying. And have fun while at it. The Playmaker is plenty fun.

8. God Over Everything – Patoranking

God Over Everything is an interesting record, reflecting an unlikely choice of direction for an artiste still high on his breakout success. The usual suspects – Wizzypro, E-Kelly, Sarz 0 – all contribute to the production but Patoranking shows little inclination to pursue the hit making tendencies that made him such a successful singles artiste.

7. Oba Orin – Jaywon

Oba Orin is a fine collection of sounds that reflects Jaywon’s superior talent and the current state of pop music. It is rich, lively, refreshing, timely and timeless all at once. Occasionally bewildering, it could have been arranged better, and the lengthy track listing cut to a more responsible length. Jaywon may make a bold claim but none can say he doesn’t work for it every step of the way. Only time will tell if he has indeed earned the title.

6. Suitcase – Aramide

Aramide’s debut, Suitcase, is a welcome delight. Fun, flirty, sensual and an all-round great listen, Aramide incorporates elements of soul, funk, jazz, folk, pop and mashes everything into a palatable mix that sounds different from most of what is on radio, but is still relatable and recognisable as the unmistakable sound of Naija. If Afrobeats is going to stick around as a music genre of its own, then Suitcase is its best argument.

5. Klitoris – Brymo

No two songs on Klitoris are quite similar and Brymo confidently stretches himself across a range of sounds and indulgences. The mixing, composition and finish on the album is indeed second to none and one leaves the record instantly itching to relive the experience all over again. There can be no higher praise than that.

4. Taabaku – Beautiful Nubia

Beautiful Nubia, the alternative artiste and folk hero returns for his 12th studio merry go round with 2016’s Taabaku, an engaging rich tapestry of sounds that mines the author’s roots in Apala, folklore, Jazz and storytelling. For the newcomers, now is as good a time as any to be initiated into the immersive sounds of Beautiful Nubia and the Roots Renaissance Band. For the cult members, Taabaku represents another wondrous slice of real life.

3. New Era – Kiss Daniel

Kiss Daniel proves himself a chip off the old block, but one with a style and essence that is all his. New Era is a delightful mix of breezy pop tunes crafted to fly by effortlessly. Hints of old masters (2face, 9ice) are present but Daniel still manages to come across as a refreshing change in a climate coloured by bland homogeneity.

2. Gbagyi Child – Bez

For his sophomore studio record, Bez took all of five years since his Supersun debut. It was worth the wait. Gbagyi Child is an almost perfectly expressed product of musical introspection that reveals the growth of both the man and the musician at the centre of the project. Swirling, expressive, poetic, lush and bursting to the seams with its influences, Gbagyi Child is that record you didn’t know you needed.

1. …And the Bass is Queen – Lindsay Abudei

…And the Bass is Queen demands to be consumed as a whole as the songs segue deftly into the next. Radio will find it difficult identifying one hit single and this, instead of working as a disadvantage, is a testament to how compelling and complete the record is. At just about 50 minutes short, …And the Bass is Queen never outstays its welcome and builds to a deeply satisfying climax. Forget the bass, Lindsay Abudei is Queen.

Only films that were released within the calendar year (January to December 2016) on the big screen were considered eligible for this list.

10. Surulere

Director Mildred Okwo’s anticipated follow up to the terrific The Meeting was disappointing on some levels, but even Okwo’s lesser efforts easily trump the bulk of what is out there in terms of engaging content. Seun Ajayi’s brilliant performance is the heart and soul of this tale that preaches the rewards of patience and adds a love story to boot. Rounding out the supporting cast are Lala Akindoju, Enyinna Nwigwe, Tope Tedela, and Beverly Naya.

9. Ghana Must Go

The plot of Ghana Must Go does not make much sense at some spots, but the ridiculousness is saved by extremely funny situational gags that leave audiences clutching their sides with laughter. Ghana Must Go succeeds in becoming the rare comedy that is actually really funny, making comic gold out of ugly history and leaving room to wonder sometimes just how far the cast is willing to go to elicit a laugh or two. Hint: They go far enough.

8. Oloibiri

Oloibiri isn’t a perfect film. Some of the writing needs an editor’s competent eye, the acting could have been better captured and extras could have used some more training. The ending is rushed and events fail to occur naturally as much as they are hustled along just for the sake of arriving at a logical conclusion. Oloibiri isn’t the definitive film that tells the Niger Delta story in a deeply effective and engaging manner, but it is a bloody decent start.

7. It’s Her Day

It’s Her Day looks and feels like a low budget effort. The production design is basic at best but the film works mostly because of the terrific cast. Bovi as the leading man carries the film with a certain level of confidence and charm. The laughs do not come fast and hard; maybe a chuckle here and there but the cast and crew, shepherded by Aniedi Anwah acquit themselves quite credibly. A bigger budget may have guaranteed a neater film, but at the scale Bovi and crew are working on, they do okay.

6. The CEO

The CEO is a pretty picture. Beautifully shot and expertly rendered, the film is once again, less the expression of an inspired auteur, and more the product of his strategic collaborations with various masters of their craft, in departments like production design, cinematography and sound. Kunle Afolayan outdoes himself in terms of the scale and ambition of his vision, but all the good in the world cannot quite cover up the film’s shambolic ending.

5. Gidi Blues

Femi Odugbemi’s Gidi Blues may feature a love triangle involving actors Gideon Okeke, Hauwa Allahbura and Nancy Isime as the plotline, but even if you ignore this obvious necessity for drama, the film still works, maybe even better as a love letter to Lagos. Story may not be Odugbemi’s strong suit but visuals are and the thrilling shots of mainstream Lagos as achieved here are almost worth the price of admission.

4. The Wedding Party

Leave it to studio head, Mo Abudu, to take on a pivotal role in the team that produced and marketed the feel good movie of the year. Directed by Kemi Adetiba (famous for her work on music videos), The Wedding Party is a glitzy, star studded slice of contemporary Nigerian life, a send up of that most sacred of Nigerian traditions, the wedding ceremony. The Wedding Party does not aspire to high art and has its fair share of clichéd tropes but it is charming and funny and well made.

3. The Arbitration

The Arbitration is Niyi Akinmolayan’s glittery meditation on corporate power structure and how it plays out between both sexes. A fine, competent outing for most involved, The Arbitration is a Nollywood rarity, a finely acted, adult leaning drama that is big on ideas and wants to be so much more than its obvious constraints. Execution remains a challenge but the team scores cool points for effort.

2. 93 Days

An almost perfect confluence of funding, talent, skill and passion, 93 Days traces the heroics of the health workers who in 2014, put their lives on the line to stop Ebola in its track. Director Steve Gukas balances his cast and crew like a true profession and churns out a movie that though not without its falls, gives a very convincing, competent rendition of a slice of contemporary Nigerian history. Bimbo Akintola and Somkele Idhalama give career best performances.

1. ‘76

Although, proudly made in Nigeria with a local cast and crew, the long in the works ’76 wants to play in the big leagues where the best of world cinema comes out to party. Adopting historical events as background for a young marriage’s ultimate test, ’76 is perhaps the most complete piece of work to hit cinemas in a while. Speaking to the Nigerian experience, all the efforts put in displayed on screen. The acting is (mostly) rock solid and the technical achievement is stunning to look at. Movies do not have to be perfect to work and this one is proof.

TARKAA, Moses Kator

Writer and Student of Law, Benue State University.

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