For artists who delivered quality debut albums, the pressure to retain similar standards in the Sophomore is present, and for those whose with shaky debuts, the pressure to surpass the debut with a compelling second album is also present. Truly, many have caved under this pressure, thus leading to what’s commonly called the “Sophomore Curse” in music.
In Afrobeats, several artists have scaled this sophomore curse and delivered compelling second albums. Some of these artists made a solid comeback after a shaky debut while others tapped into their artistic pouch to make albums that matched the qualities of their first offerings.
In an attempt to highlight some of the notable sophomore albums in Afrobeats, the criteria for consideration are:
- The quality of the album as it compares to the debut. A quality sophomore must either match up to a compelling album or significantly surpass a shaky one.
- Commercial success and acceptance of the project when it dropped.
- How well the project has aged and the impact it has had on the career of the artist and the industry since its release.
While age would undoubtedly play a significant role in listeners’ appreciation and contextualization of a particular body of work, there are sophomore projects with indelible footprints in Afrobeats
Here are 22 notable sophomore albums in Afrobeats in no particular order.
1. 9ice – ‘Gongo Aso’ (2008)
Only a few artists who deploy indigenous language have reached 9ice’s level of fame in Nigeria and African music.
After his debut with ‘Certificate’ enjoyed a moderate level of success, 9ice rocketed to the summit of the scene with his sophomore album ‘Gongo Aso’.
The hit records ‘Gongo Aso’, ‘Photocopy’, ‘Party Rider’, and the 2Baba-assisted ‘Street Credibility’ quickly dominated the streets as the album took 9ice from relative obscurity to superstardom while also earning him the Headies, MOBO, and MAMA Awards.
2. 2baba – ‘Grass 2 Grace’ (2006)
2baba was already a star by the time he released his sophomore album ‘Grass 2 Grace’. Thus there was pressure on him to see if he could replicate the brilliance he offered in his debut ‘Face 2 Face’.
2baba then known as 2 Face left no doubt about his talent and star power as he delivered a sophomore that elevated the quality of Afrobeats through compelling R&B and Hip Hop infusion.
3. M.I Abaga – ‘M.I 2’ (2010)
After altering the Nigerian hip-hop trajectory with his debut album ‘Talk About It’ in 2009, M.I. continued his era-defining run with the release of the Iconic ‘M. I 2’ which would become a point of reference for an entire generation of Nigerian Hip Hop fans.
From the hard-hitting rap cuts to the brilliant collaborations and the impressive unwholesomeness, M.I. effortlessly surpassed his debut album.
4. P-Square – ‘Get Squared’ (2005)
P-Sqaure brought excitement and innovation to the Nigerian music industry with their debut album that showcased their American-styled melodies and Micheal Jackson-style dance moves.
Their sophomore album ‘Get Sqauared’ planted their feet in the mainstream and shot them to African music sensations with hit singles like ‘Bizzle Body,’ ‘Get Squared,’ and ‘ E Don Happen’.
5. Olamide – ‘YBNL’ (2012)
After parting ways with Coded Tunez Record label under whom he released his debut album ‘Rhapsody’ in 2011, Olamide needed to build on his early gains and he did this with the brilliant sophomore that not only showcased him as a fine rapper but also as a generational hitmaker.
6. Da Grin – ‘CEO’ (2009)
Little was known of Da Grin before he released his sophomore album ‘CEO (Chief Executive Omo Ita) in 2008. The album delivered the smash rap hit ‘Pon Pon Pon’ that completely disrupted the scene and instantly brought him mainstream attention.
The album would become arguably the first major Indigenous Hip Hop album in Nigeria and earn Da Grin critical acclaim that continues to endure.
7. Duncan Mighty – ‘Legacy’
Duncan Mighty might have been a South-South sensation before 2011, but it was not until he released his sophomore album ‘Legacy’ in 2011 that he gained nationwide fame and success.
The single ‘Porthacrcourt Son’ where he praised his hometown became a nationwide hit. ‘Obianuju’ off the album also enjoyed commercial success and rocketed Duncan Mighty to stardom.
8. Asa – ‘Beautiful Imperfections’ (2010)
Asa’s debut album launched her into mainstream success and earned her massive critical acclaim. Delivering a sophomore as innovative and groundbreaking as her debut was an uphill task, however, Asa made light work of this task with ‘Beautiful Imperfections’.
Through a blend of African Folk music, Jazz, and Funk that showcased her European influences, Asa delivered a sophomore that measured up to her debut.
9. Faze – ‘Independent’ (2006)
After his impressive debut album, ‘Faze Alone’, Faze who used to be one-third of the defunct Platainshun Boiz, dazzled listeners with his sophomore album ‘Independent’.
‘Independent’ pushed the boundaries of R&B and Pop in Nigeria with singles like ‘Need Somebody’, ‘Kolo Mental’, ‘Tatto Girls’, and ‘Letter To My Brother’.
The album brought Faze success as a solo act following the split with 2baba (2 Face) and Blackface with the former going on to become a superstar.
10. Naeto C – ‘Super C Season’ (2011)
Naeto C is the rapper who brought style, luxury, and panache to Nigerian Hip Hop.
From his fashion choices to smooth flows, and classy demeanor, Naeto C was a rapper’s rapper.
His sophomore album ‘Super C Season’ captured Naeto C at the peak of his powers. From the hit singles ‘Ten over Ten’ to ‘5 & 6’, and ‘Ako Mi Ti Poju’, Naeto C delivered a compelling body of work that made Hip Hop more appealing.
11. Ruggedman – Ruggedy Baba (2007)
Whatever Nigerian Hip Hop was in the 2000s a lot of it is owed to Rugged Man, a rapper so talented his album was an educational material for other rappers.
His sophomore album ‘Ruggedy Baba’ was an early domestication of Hip Hop. Through collaborations and embracing indigenous elements, Ruggedman brought Hip Hop closer to the Street even though his style was fundamentally Western.
12. Flavour – ‘Uplifted’ (2010)
Flavour was already a star in the East but it was his sophomore album ‘Uplifted’ that brought him mainstream success.
Riding on the super hit single ‘Ashawo’, Flavour became a sensation whose music defied language barrier and connected with listeners across the continent.
The album had other notable singles like ‘Alcohol’, ‘Pant No N’iro,’ ‘Kwakrikwa,’ and ‘Adamma’ which won him the hearts of female listeners.
13. Show Dem Camp – ‘Clone Wars’ (2011)
Show Dem Camp has been in the scene since the late 2000s and after their impressive debut ‘The Dreamers Project’ failed to get tangible listenership, they made another push with the first installment of ‘Clone Wars’.
‘Clone Wars’ showed the gems that existed in Nigeria’s underground rap scene while also earning SDC a cult following.
14. Lord of Ajasa – 2nd Turning By The Right (2008)
Lord of Ajasa is one of the people who popularized Yoruba rap in Afrobeats.
His sophomore album connected him with listeners across the South West whose reality he captures through his lyricism and swagger.
15. RoofTop MCs – Minority Report (2008)
The ultimate “Street will never forget artist”, RoofTop MCs were a force to be reckoned with during their time in the Nigerian music industry.
Following their debut album ‘Shock Therapy’, the RoofTop MC returned with their second album ‘The Minority Report’ in 2008. The Cobhams Asuquo produced album left listeners stunned, especially ‘Lagimo’ which is a blend of Hip Hop, Afrobeats, and Rock.
The album showcased the brilliance that makes them one of Nigerian Hip Hop’s most eccentric rappers.
16. IllBliss – Oga Boss (2012)
Illigatti, Oga Boss, Odogwu Malay, whatever the moniker you may choose to call him, Illbliss is one of Nigeria’s most brilliant, assertive, influential, and flamboyant rappers.
After announcing himself on the scene with ‘Dat Ibo Boy,’ Illbliss blew listeners away with his compelling sophomore album ‘Oga Boss’ which massively commercialized Igbo rap in Afrobeats.
From the hit single ‘Emi ni Baller’ to the swaggering rap cuts ‘Anam Achi Kwanu’ and ‘Hustlers’ Footsteps’, the album massively contributed to the takeover of “Local Rappers”.
17. Reminisce – Alaga Ibile (2013)
One of the most commanding Hip Hop stars in Nigeria, Reminisce’s road to success was a long one and when he did gain mainstream attention, he left listeners stunned at his abilities.
His sophomore album ‘Alaga Ibile’ was his attention as the head honcho of Nigerian Street Music and he emphasized his status by collaborating with top acts including Davido, Wizkid, Naeto C, and Olamide on an album that contributed to the popularity of “Local Rappers.”
18. Falz – Stories That Touch (2015)
Falz is a man of many talents, Falz brought relativity to Hip Hop through his storytelling, his endearing delivery, and thought-provoking lyrics.
After announcing himself on the scene with ‘Wazup Guy’, Falz followed up with the compelling ‘Stories That Touch’ that showcased him as a talented rapper, poet, and hitmaker.
From his laying bars in ‘Karachika’ and ‘Clap’ to making cool rap in ‘Chardonnay Music’ down to delivering a mesmeric duet in ‘Soldier,’ featuring Simi, the album has it all.
19. Brymo – ‘Merchant, Delears, and Slaves’ (2013)
The most mercurial talent of his generation. Brymo’s music aims for a celestial level of consciousness in thought.
His sophomore album ‘Merchant, Delears, and Slaves’ is one of Nigeria’s finest Folk projects that showcases the richness that abound in Yoruba culture. The album also assisted him in building a cult followership as he forged a career away from the mainstream.
20. Jesse Jagz – Jagz Nation Vol.1 (2013)
After wowing listeners with his debut ‘Jagz of All Trades’, his follow-up album ‘Jagz Nation Vol. 1’ is a chest-thumping project where he stakes a claim as one of Nigeria’s greatest lyricists.
Blending hip-hop and Dancehall cadences, Jesse delivered a project that continues to speak for him in hip-hop great lists.
21. Kizz Daniel – No Bad Songs (2018)
Kizz Daniel dazzles listeners with his Headies Album of the Year winning debut album, ‘New Era’.
While his follow-up album ‘No Bad Songs,’ received mixed reaction partly for its braggadocious title, the project has aged well and Kizz Daniel has been vindicated in his title choice.
The album delivered notable hit records while also showcasing Kizz Daniel’s brand of Afrobeats which excels on catchy melodies, and simple lyrics filled with rhythmic one-liners.
22. Fireboy – Apollo (2020)
Just one year after leaving listeners stunned with his debut album ‘Laughter, Tears, and Goosebumps’, Fireboy followed it up with ‘Apollo’ which would enjoy critical acclaim and matched Wande Coal’s Headies record for 5 awards in one night.
The album displayed a maturing side to the openhearted young lover boy listeners was introduced to in ‘LTG’.
While the album didn’t deliver a notable hit song, it’s brilliant and cohesive in its thematic and sonic exploration.
Asake delivered a resounding sophomore album in ‘Work of Art’ that measures up with his record-breaking debut album ‘Mr. Money With The Vibe’.
While ‘Work of Art’ has enjoyed impressive success and has delivered chart-topping singles that have extended his electrifying run, the album would have to stand the test of time before it can be regarded as one of the greatest sophomores in Afrobeats.