- OLAMIDE: Baddo’s name will top any list of rappers put out this year across Nigerian blogs and music platforms as he is easily the man of the year with consistent hits like Lagos Boys, Shakititi bobo, Melo Melo, two albums, 2Kings with Phyno and his 5th solo project in 5years Eyan Mayweather, a successful UK concert, almost every song he featured in became a hit, provided platforms for Lil Kesh, Vitkoh and Adekunle Gold to shine. Olamide was involved in the ‘Made in Black’ tour with Phyno, bagged endorsement deals with Surebet, was one of the leading acts at the Lagos Gubernatorial elections. Ended the year on a sad note with the loss of his father but still bagged awards like the ‘Future Awards Africa Prize in Entertainment’ and AFRIMA ‘Best Male West African Artist’ plaques, while unleashing the ‘Beast Mode’ in the second edition of his Olamide Live in Concert event.
- PHYNO: Phyno’s stock continued to rise in 2015 as he toured a lot this year, released his joint album ‘2 Kings’ with fellow rapper Olamide, put up a successful debut edition of the PhynoFest concert in November, shut down London with the YBNL crew, dropped the hit single ‘Connect’, released visuals for ‘Oringo’ and ‘Nnunu’, had some of the finest guest verses this year with Falz’s ‘Karishika’, Humblesmith’s ‘Osinachi’, Reminisce’s ‘Local Rappers’, King Kong remix to mention a few, he also inked an endorsement deal with Naira Bet and Airtel whilst losing out to Cassper Nyovest in the ‘Best HipHop Act’ category at the MAMAs.
- FALZ: Falz was indeed a bad guy this year, he dropped his sophomore project which is arguably the hiphop album of the year with ‘Stories that touch’ parading hit songs like ‘Karishika’, ‘Soft Work’ and ‘Soldier’ in the same year Olamide dropped his album. He got some endorsement deals also with online brand Cheki, featured on the Jennifer drama series and floated his ‘Ello Bae’ wears.
- ICE PRINCE: 2015 wasn’t exactly that sort of ‘I owned the year’ type for Ice Prince, but the rapper still managed to do so much this year to earn a spot this high up. Ice Prince dropped his ‘Trash Can EP’ this year which had the singles ‘Marry you’ and ‘Elegushi’, it saw him do a lot of singing but was collectively good music. He dropped some of the hottest videos this year like ‘Boss’ and ‘Feelings’, Ice was caught on camera with rap god, Jay Z, became the first African rapper to have his video on TIDAL, stopped by at the famous ‘Breakfast Club’ on Power 105.1 for an interview with the likes of Chamalagne, it was also a year that saw him elevated into Chocolate City Music Vice-president and he continued to rock shows worldwide.
- LIL KESH: A whole lot of ‘Hip-hop heads’ have issues with Lil Kesh being termed a rapper but the debate is not one for this list, Olamide’s protégé, Lil Kesh who is one of the new school leaders also had one of his finest years owning one of the biggest singles this year in ‘Gbese’, also dropped ‘Efejoku’, ‘is it because I love you’, guest versed on over 10 songs including major hits like ‘Ladi’, Jimmy Jatt’s ‘Dan ya mo’ and he also copped himself a Range rover toy this year.
- REMINISCE: ‘Baba Hafusa Sha L’ Alaga’, Indeed Reminisce was a Chairman of sorts this year. The Alaga Ibile kicked off the year on a fast note with the release of his 3rd album ‘Baba Hafusa’ album in April which had hit songs like Local Rappers, where he teamed up with fellow indigenous emcees in Phyno and Olamide which sparked some major debates across quarters. He also had songs like Tesojue, Alagbara and Skilashi, the album topped the ITunes World Music Chart for seven days straight and also appeared on the Billboard World Music Album Charts, the Orijin ambassador also dropped further singles like ‘Kpomo remix’, ‘Poison’, ‘Gboriduro’.
- ILLBLISS: Illy has one of my best songs of the year in Chukwu Agozi gozi, the song and video is like a spiritual medicine for me. Illy with the support of Clarence Peters dropped some of the dopest videos around, this year saw the release of his third studio album ‘#Powerful’ which is widely regarded as one of the best albums this year and he continues to position himself as not just an artiste but an all-round businessman.
- VECTOR: At some point in his career, Vector was heading to become rap’s messiah or the new face of the game who will be able to break forth into the major leagues, then his issues with his former label, YSG popped up and derailed his career a little. In 2015 though, Vec did put in work, this year saw the birth of the ‘King Kong’, which had some groundbreaking remixes and videos put out, the King Kong snap back also featured this year portraying the brand Vector as a businessman through his clothing line, he got signed by cognac brand Hennessy and headlined their freestyles and music event, he featured on the Sprite sponsored ‘Rhythm Freestyle Fury Challenge’ where he set the record for over two hours of freestyle live on air, then dropped the single and video for ‘8’, which showed a different side of the artist as a versatile musician.
- NAETO C: From almost being forgotten to releasing a mixtape and an album in the course of 5 months, sometime in August he dropped the Day 1 project, this project saw a bit of the old Naeto and is widely regarded as one of the best works put out this year, towards the latter stages of the year, he later released a proper album titled ‘Festival’ which although didn’t get much love from critics is a good body of work to add to his discography. Naeto is back.
- A-Q: Mr. Gilbert probably doesn’t get the deserved love from the industry but he makes my list for 2015, easily one of the hardest working cats in the game, dropped his Son of John 2 tape this year which hit a landmark height selling for N50 across all platforms and doing decent numbers for an indie, he also released covers for ‘Wish me Well’ and ‘Classic Man’ and was the only rapper to single handedly organize a rap concert, the ‘Son of John Concert’ which featured the likes of Jesse Jagz, Weird MC, Godwon and many more, say what you want about this cocky rapper but history definitely won’t forget him.
Ehis Combs Ohunyon is a music lover and writer, follow on twitter @ehiscombs