Top Boy

Top Boy

“If I’m being honest, the album already beats some of my expectations,” Nigerian DJ SPINALL tells Apple Music of Top Boy, his sixth full-length album. From having “Power” mixed by hip-hop luminary Dr. Dre to discovering an exciting new talent such as Kemuel, from scoring a runaway hit with “Palazzo” to performing for stadium-sized crowds, the DJ and producer, born Oluseye Desmond Sodamola, has reached new heights predicated on a clear-eyed realism: “I’m my biggest critic, but I’m my biggest fan, too.” One strength of DJ-led albums is the unlikely collaborations across styles and genres, an aspect of his work which SPINALL takes seriously: “I don’t dilly-dally with collaborations. It’s the music that guides and directs me into what to do next.” This is an even more delicate affair in contemporary African pop, which he says changes every three months. As for what genre his music falls into, SPINALL is less definitive: “I don’t know what I’m making sometimes. It’s the ability to bring everything that I feel inside of me into the records that makes them special.” This applies as much to South African amapiano and Nigerian interpretations of it as it does to midtempo African American R&B when bedded in with African drum syncopations, or a dembow backbeat that recalls Caribbean dancehall and Latin American reggaetón. Below, DJ SPINALL talks us through key tracks from Top Boy. “Cruise” (feat. Azanti and Zaiam) “I think both Azanti and Zaiam are amazing when it comes to the writing and singing—I don’t know anybody who sounds like them right now. They have a flavour that is so smooth. If I had my way, I’d turn them into a boy band, because of how great their vocal texture sounds. You could hardly differentiate who’s taking which verse, and that’s one of the best qualities to create a boy band.” Everyday (feat. Minz) “Minz has so much soul and depth. He’s a very gentle dude, very creative and super hard-working. ‘Everyday’ is about the current state of political affairs in Nigeria. Every time there’s an election, there’s always a politician coming to say they’re going to save Nigeria. We’ve had this since independence in 1960. That’s why I don’t believe in any political candidate from Nigeria [at the moment], because I just feel like everybody’s a goddamn liar.” “Give Me Love” (feat. Niniola) “The song talks about how unapologetically someone wants their love, as if to say, ‘Don’t tell me stories, don’t give me BS, just give me love.’ There are so many layers of Niniola, but I’ll say the one that forever strikes me and leaves me amazed would be the fact that whatever she says doesn’t sound like what you think she said, until you translate the lyrics. She’s someone who is also very loving and always willing to share: very open and very gifted.” “Cloud 9” (feat. Adekunle Gold) “Adekunle Gold is a very diverse, multi-talented dude. His vocal dexterity also is very, very commendable. The whole working [together] experience was so smooth and so beautiful. We have a history of friendship together from Industry Night in Nigeria back in the day. He used to design the artwork for the event, a platform [where] I used to DJ. Shout out to the singer-songwriter Dyo, who did the background vocals of the song.” “Oshey” (feat. BNXN fka Buju and Stefflon Don) “Steff brought sonic diversity to ‘Oshey’ and she took the record from 100 to 200. She’s a fantastic rapper, singer, songwriter. She’s also a producer. BNXN is an incredible artist. He is so passionate about music and so humble at doing it. I’m talking about someone who has already achieved substantial amounts of success, and they still have that hunger in them to want to do more and do better.” “Top Mama” (feat. Reekado Banks, Phyno and Ntosh Gazi) “This was my first attempt at producing an amapiano sound. Ntosh Gazi relieved me of my duties on this record. He’s a super-cool guy and so stylish. After the record was made, I sent the entire production to Caltonic SA, a producer from South Africa who added crazy loud drums. Reekado Banks has a very dedicated working method, and I respect it a lot. He’s very hard-working. Phyno also is someone who I have had a great relationship with over the years, and it’s crazy but this is our first song together.” “Honest” (feat. Tay Iwar, Tamera and TSB) “TSB is a producer and also an artist in the UK who has produced so many hits for so many talents. He’s a super-amazing dude, too, aside from his talent. Tamara is definitely on her way. I’ve listened to a lot of her unreleased records and they’re insane, bro. If you were following Tay Iwar, you can easily associate him with the ‘alternative’ music scene in Nigeria, but really he’s more than alternative. He is a true musician, producer and artist. This guy is limitless.” “Palazzo” (feat. Asake) “Asake’s work ethic is super inspirational. He is willing to give it everything he has and he will not stop until he gets the best vocals out. People always wonder why I address artists as brothers; it is because there’s a mutual respect. It’s something that I cannot explain, but it might be because of the experience of working with someone who respects you as much as you respect them. And the best part is how positive-minded he was through the whole experience.” “Bunda (feat. Kemuel & Olamide) “Olamide is a true friend and a true brother who is so supportive. On this album, I have him and I also have all of the artists that he’s introduced me to, including Fireboy and Asake. So that is really, really special. This is testament to his genius as an artist and also how just a simple belief can amount to something great.” “Sere (Remix)” (feat. Fireboy DML and 6LACK) “Who to put on ‘Sere (Remix)’ was one of the hardest decisions that I had to make, because the original was way too good. I love Fireboy so much. 6LACK coming on this record also opened the record to his fanbase. He is someone who is vested in music, not just for Afro, not just for R&B, not just for rap. He is a true artist.” “Power (Remember Who You Are)” (feat. Summer Walker, DJ Snake & Äyanna) “I think that the beauty of what we did with our record, I don’t think people will comprehend it any time completely. It wasn’t hard getting the clearance to use the Nina Simone record [‘Sinnerman’]. Shout out to Liberty. Shout out to Jimmy Iovine. The record also was mixed and mastered by Dr. Dre himself. Shout out to everybody at Interscope Records.” “Power (Remember Who You Are) [Nasty C Remix]” “Nasty C is one of the true sons of Africa. He is a sick lyricist who is able to reach all generations of music listeners. Shout out to the skaters too. This is the first time in history that the skaters’ community will have an official song.”


Other Versions

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada