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Here is a brief history of how 'The EP' became popular in Nigerian music


In music, the album has always been a measure for artistry. When a career hits the twilight stages, a discography is usually the measure of a legacy.

Central to a discography that deserves a legacy is the number of quality albums and bodies of work an artist has released as against impact.

While a career with albums, but without hits can have a legacy, one with hits but without sufficient albums is fickle.

For these reasons, an album is treated with utmost importance in music. One could argue that the material nature of a discography to legacy is why Davido, who is entering the earliest of his veteran years is releasing a second album in nine months when there was a seven-year period between his debut and his sophomore albums.

The importance of an album then makes failure unacceptable at any point - especially with debut and sophomore albums. Thus, major labels and artists devised a tactic to introduce artists and endear them to an audience with a body of work that isn't as laid-back as a mixtape, as monotonous as a single or of as serious a connotation as an album. They were called EPs.

The tactic was also about finances - an EP is relatively easier to produce and promote. If it succeeds, a record company and an artist stand to make a lot of money. Artists could also tour and make money off their EPs and some songs released on those EPs could then go on to make albums.

The Nigerian EP format

An EP is an acronym for 'Extended Play.' These days, this writer calls the EP an 'abridged album.' Typically, an EP contains between four to six different songs and has a maximum run time of 25 minutes.

Until the 2010s, EPs were not really commonplace in Nigeria and neither was the culture of releasing singles on CDs. Nigeria never really had a structure and singles were either released for radio or Alaba playlists. The onus of an artist's physical creative release has always been placed on albums.

But through the years, certain formats have taken what is now known as the ‘EP format.’ Juju and Fuji albums usually had just four to six tracks, but they could not be considered EPs because they were made on 75 rpm vinyls and had 45 minutes toone hour of run time. A typical EP is widely perceived to have a maximum run time of 25 minutes.

Culture curator Ayomide Tayo also notes that, “In the 70’s and 80’s, a lot of Nigerian folk and alternative acts released a lot of EPs either directly by calling them ‘EP’ or impliedly. I remember that Sunny Okosun once released an EP.”

In the early 90’s, Trybesmen released an EP that had their two debut singles, ‘Gbedu Fever’ and ‘Shake Bodi.’ In 2004, 2Shotz released his debut album Pirated Copy on Trybes Records and it had just nine songs.

These days, it could be called an EP because it has a total run time of 28 minutes, but 2Shotz called it an album at the time. Those were days when albums carried great importance to the perception of an artist, damn the cost of production.

Around this time, Styl-Plus released an EP that had ‘Olufunmi’ and ‘Runaway,’ but many don’t realize that it was an EP.

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