Words by:- Obinna “Fazillion” Ifechi-Fred
The Nigerian contemporary music industry is evolving at a breathtaking pace, faster than it ever has since the inception of the first generation of young, urban artistes that dominated the scene in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
over the last 5 years, the industry has witnessed groundbreaking changes, most of which could best be attributed to the rapidly growing availability of the internet in most Nigerian urban centres, the rise of multiple online music retail outlets and streaming technology as well as the boom in social media promotional tools, most notably Instagram which has all but eliminated the massive chasm that existed between artistes and distribution outlets before and expanded the communication links between the artistes and the music consuming populace in every demographic.
The Contemporary music scene- Afropop, Hip-hop, Dancehall, R&B and the burgeoning Alte scene- in Nigeria has so far been one of the biggest global beneficiaries and has taken advantage of the digital renaissance to bridge the gap between the Africans in diaspora and the music scene back home, thus opening the floodgates for a marriage of diverse musical sounds and the emergence of a new generation of artistes who are fearlessly taking the reins of their career progression and promoting their music digitally to the whole world without necessarily requiring the backing of a powerhouse label structure.
As a result, the number of emerging and new creatives in the country has tripled over the past few years and has led to a healthy saturation of the music scene with a seemingly endless variety of musical talent, sonic derivatives and visual aesthetics.
On that account, we at NS have decided to end the year by profiling some of the musical leaders across various genres whom we believe have the potential, the music and the right momentum to elevate themselves from the most known unknowns to household names in the country and beyond. Here is a list of 17 promising Nigerian acts to watch next year.
Real Name:- Temilade Openiyi
Record Label:- Independent
Genre:- Alternative Pop/Soul
Musical Influences:- Asa, Adele, Frank Ocean, Lauryn Hill & SZA.
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- The Collectiv3 – Kiss The Fire Featuring Tems 
Associated Acts:- The Collectiv3, Show Dem Camp, Rebel Gang, Lady Donli
Notable Guest Appearances:- LadiPoe – Falling Featuring Tems, Lady Donli – Good Time Featuring Tems
Biggest Record Yet:- Try Me
Over the past 2 years, new generation Alternative pop princess Tems had been quietly making a name for herself and honing her creative skills by the virtues of her collaborative efforts with artistes such as The Collectiv3, Show Dem Camp and LadiPoe. she also spent countless hours in the studio developing her music production capabilities. After sufficient practice and notable improvements, she singlehandedly wrote, performed and produced her groundbreaking debut single Mr Rebel, a song which was released to rave reviews last year and won over her first set of fans-including us-. This year, she began on the best possible note by releasing the sensational fan favourite Try Me, which amassed over 70,000 streams across all platforms in one week and has currently surpassed a Million views on all platforms. The success of the track led to Tems grabbing the attention of various industry tastemakers, curators and gatekeepers, most of who are unanimous in their endorsement of her astronomical musical qualities.
With two nominations under her belt at the 2019 Headies for Best Female Vocal Performance and Best Alternative track both for debut single Mr Rebel, It would certainly come as a national shock if Try Me does not win a few awards next year. With a mesmeric voice, enchanting looks and burgeoning production skill-set, not to mention strong industry connections, It’s safe to say that the young rebel is only just getting warmed up.
Real Name:- Moshood Adeola
Record Label:- Dr Dolor Entertainment
Musical Influences:- Daddy Showkey, Wizkid, Kizz Daniel & Davido.
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- Ozana [November 10 2019]
Associated Acts:- Teni, Broda Shaggi, Dr Dolor Entertainment.
Notable Guest Appearances:- NIL
Biggest Record Yet:- Ozana
Whenever a young artiste makes his debut on the scene with a complete body of work, then it’s obvious he means business, as most new acts lack the confidence or material to introduce themselves with a full-length studio project. That, however, is not the case with Dr Dolor Entertainment act Hotkid who made his full debut on NS last month with his project titled Honorable. The EP spanned the nominal hit track Ozana, which is fast becoming a fan favourite and shows what the red-haired star from Ebute Metta is capable of conjuring.
Equuiped with a unique vocal delivery, mesmeric voice and the energy of a well-established record company structure behind him, as well as a more experienced, award-winning labelmate in Teni Makanaki, Hotkid is certainly in the best possible position to elevate his career to the next level and contend for the title of “Best newcomer” in most of the next year’s major award shows in Nigeria.
He is an artiste to keep an eye–and ear–out for.
Real Name:- Donald Ofik
Record Label:- Plugg Records
Genre:- Alternative Pop/Dancehall
Musical Influences:- Craig Davids, Jay Z, Naeto C, Timaya, Video Games & 90’s Nollywood Movies.
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:– Karashika Featuring BOJ & Teezee [March 9 2015]
Associated Acts:- DRB, Odunsi, Santi, Falz, July Drama, Wani, Sarz.
Notable Guest Appearances:- Strafitti – Kuronbe Featuring Zlatan, Prettyboy D-O & Ice Prince, Lord Vino – 504 Featuring Prettyboy D-O
Biggest Record Yet:- Dey Go Hear Wehh
Among the new generation of experimental and alternative Nigerian artistes, Prettyboy D-O is undoubtedly one of the most unique songwriters and energetic stage performers. Whilst studying at a University in New York, D-O began developing his sound and in 2013 eventually released his first singles titled Bance-Featuring the late DJ Olu and Gbese both of which were delivered under the name King D-O. a few years later, the Afro-fusion artiste rebranded his sonic and visual identity, changed his name to Prettyboy D-O and delivered his nominal hit track, The D-Tunes-produced Tinkoko, which won him his first set of fans and put him firmly on the radar.
D-O Has shown a lot of Musical growth and Maturity , Having followed his Music since 2013, and posted it on here consistently, we can confidently say he is one Artiste to be watched – Nigeriansounds [May 4th 2015].
His Ycee-assisted single Your Level was released after he signed with Plugg Records in 2016 and saw him embark on a full-frontal assault on the music industry delivering a series of collaborations, guest appearances and notable stage performances that culminated in the release of his debut project Everything Pretty, which arrived as a confluence of his numerous performing skills and musical influences, ranging from Hip-Hop, R&B, Afro-pop and Dancehall which he combined spectacularly to showcase his dynamism and also won him a rapidly expanding fanbase.
He is currently in the studio putting finishing touches to his anticipated debut album Pretty World and recently hosted a highly successful second edition of his Pretty World concerts on December 19th. It’s pretty obvious [pun intended] that Prettyboy D-O is one artiste who is firmly on his way to the top and should be followed very closely by the NS faithful
Government Name:- Nicholas Ihua-Maduenyi
Record Label:- Independent
Musical Influences:- WSTRN, Lotto Boyz, Skepta, M.I Abaga, Drake, Yxng Bane.
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- Lolu Foresythe And Partners – Jungle [Remix] Featuring PsychoYP [Feb 17 2018]
Associated Acts:- Apex Village, Ayuu, Fasina, Denzel Oaks, Marv OTM, Zilla Oaks, Kuddi Is Dead, Terri, BOJ.
Notable Guest Appearances:- Dapo Tuburna – Penthouse Featuring Ycee & PsychoYP, Alpha – Ocean Boy [Remix] Featuring Blaqbonez, Dremo & PsychoYP
Biggest Record Yet:- Be Like You
If Lagos is the Mecca of the contemporary Alternative music scene, then Abuja is certainly it’s Medina. The city has contributed a significant quota of creatives-producers, artistes, video directors and executives-to the scene and has produced some of the most talented and dominant artistes of this era including Tay Iwar, Rubunu, Sute, Lady Donli, Davina Oriakhi, and Efe Oraka to name a few. These artistes have bridged the gap between themselves and their counterparts in Lagos from whom many have earned respect and even engaged in collaborative efforts, performed and toured together.
Enter Apex Village, an Abuja based hip-hop collective that comprises of PsychoYP, Zilla Oaks, Ayüü, Kuddi is Dead, Marv OTM, AarTheUnruly and Pablo Herbs and the AV group. They came together in late 2017 as a result of their mutual love for the contemporary American Trap-rap vibe and eventually released their breakout project Welcome To The Ville in March 2019. The mixtape was an 8-track glimpse into their world, and most importantly introduced the world to the standout performer in the crew PsychoYP, who’s flair for dropping lyrical gems, unique fashion sensibilities and youthful looks won him the attention of a bulk of their fanbase and set him on the path to greatness.
Back in 2016, PsychoYP had previously released 2 eponymous Ep’s as one half of the duo This Is What You Wanted which was formed with his labelmate Kuddi is Dead, and followed it up with his debut solo EP Lost In The Sauce, the first project that showcased the complete spectrum of his musical capabilities as a solo artiste. However, it wasn’t until 2017 that YP got a full shot of fame when he dropped his sophomore solo project YPSZN. The project which was sonically cohesive, lyrically buoyant and aggressively promoted won him over the respect of some of his better-established peers in the industry, quadrupled his fan-base and crossed his music over into the contemporary urban music scene in Lagos.
YPSZN 2 was released in November and features mainstream guest appearances from the likes of BOJ, Terri, LadiPoe, Skales and Blaqbonez. The project received rave reviews as one of the top Hip-Hop projects of the year and gave him his first taste of mainstream commercial success. PsychoYP is a rapper that embodies the new school of experimental, fearless and energetic Nigerian hip-hop artistes and is certainly one of the young acts in the game to keep an eye on.
Government Name(s):- Blessing Akiode Mariam – Candy Bleakz
Adekunle Marshall – Lemon
Akande Olashile Juwonlo – Ijay
Akorede Ayantunji – Gbafun
Record Label:- Chocolate City
Genre:- Alternative Rap/Street Rap/Street-pop
Musical Influences:- Olamide, Da Grin, MI Abaga, Migos, Cardi B, Don L37.
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- Street Billionaires – Snooker [April 6 2017]
Associated Acts:- M.I Abaga, Blaqbonez, Loose Kaynon
Notable Guest Appearances:- NIL
Biggest Record Yet:- Yoruba Ni Mi
In August 2016, we received an E-Mail from a certain female rap artiste who went by the monicker Candy Bleakz, the content of which was largely ignored as a result of the unprofessionalism of the presentation. However, a week later while routinely reviewing our refused songs, I decided to listen to it and immediately I did, I realised that the artiste was special. Even though the track titled Fake Love, was poorly mixed and mastered, I could hear her vocals which stood out to me and compelled me to post the track.
A few months later, in April 2017 she returned to my radar, not as a solo artiste but this time as 1/4th of the Alternative Yoruba rap collective Street Billionaires-Which also comprised of Lemon, Gbafun & Ijay-on a street rap track titled Snooker, that announced them to the world as a collective and began to win them fans, as well as recognition from various online music promotion outlets. That same year they delivered a cover of Bad and Boujee, which was originally performed by chart-topping American trio The Migos, and quickly followed it up with their 2018 nominal hit single Owo Mi Da. The aforementioned single caught the attention of Chocolate City head honcho M.I Abaga, who promptly offered them a lucrative record deal, signed them to his label reinvigorated and rebranded the quartet then sent them off on various Radio and TV promo tours.
This year, they released their biggest track yet Yoruba Ni Mi, a culturally vibrant rap song that was inspired by the need to celebrate and reflect the way of life of the Western Region of Nigeria. The song has since been spreading like butter on hot toast and has won them a legion of teeming fans who pack out their recent shows in Lagos. Candy Bleakz, on the other hand, has released solo collaborations with artistes like Idowest, Zlatan and Naira Marley, all of who respect her unique delivery, comedic rap style and provocative rap content, which also points to a promising solo career for the first lady of the crew should she decide to pursue one.
Last October, they released their debut EP titled Street Born, which also spanned the nominal hit single Aprapache. Street Billionaires have proven themselves and snagged a major label deal, all in the space of three years and with the continuous backing of the Chocolate City behemoth behind them, they are undoubtedly one of the new artistes to watch out for.
Good Girl LA
Real Name:- Euphemia Ekumah
Record Label:– LA Confidential
Genre:- Alternative Pop
Musical Influences:- Britney Spears, CeCe Winans, Michael Bolton, Michael Jackson and Beyoncé
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- Tiwadara – Hypnotized Featuring Goodgirl LA [June 17 2018]
Associated Acts:- Tiwadara, AQ, Boogey & Alpha
Notable Guest Appearances:- A-Q – Blessed Forever Featuring GoodGirl LA, Boogey – Happily Never After Featuring GoodGirl LA.
Biggest Record Yet:- Bless Me
Of all the artistes profiled on this list, Goodgirl LA could be said to be among the least recognizable to the commercial music audience. Nonetheless, because she has the least mainstream guest appearances but also because she had previously released only 4 singles in as many years. However, when it comes to sheer musical talent, star quality and performing capabilities, the Afro-fusion and soul diva is undoubtedly one of the strongest entries.
Having officially commenced her musical journey in 2015, the soulful singer could be said to have one of the most outstanding music pedigrees on this list as she is one of the rare contemporary urban talents in the business who acquired a degree in music from the prestigious MUSON school of music. From the beginning of 2018 She began to appear as a featured guest on songs mostly with rappers, like Boogey (Happily Never After), Tiwadara ( Hypnotized), A-Q (Blessed Forever) and Alpha Ojini (Calm Down). This gave her her first dose of exposure to the Hip-hop listening audience and won her a few fans.
She went on to release her first breakout single Faraway in 2018 and followed it up with the smash hit Bless Me, a mellow, heartwarming ballad which was released in January 2019 and has racked up over a million combined views and streams across all platforms. The song did wonders for her career, won her a nomination at the 2019 Headies for Best Female Vocal Performance and catapulted her straight into the consciousness of mainstream music fans across the country.
In August, she released her debut body of work, an 8-Track extended play project titled LA Confidential which showcased the full scope of her stellar musical abilities and trended on the Nigerian I-Tunes album charts for 3 months. With her captivating looks, signature hairstyle and a spectacularly powerful voice, GoodGirl LA is on a mission to make her mark in the contemporary music scene, one hit at a time.
Real Name:- Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba
Record Label:- Bankz Nation
Genre:- Street Rap/Yoruba Rap
Musical Influences:- Olamide, Da Grin, Sinzu, Reminisce, Lord Of Ajasa, Seriki.
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- Celeb Ibile – Lakademouslakan Featuring Mohbad [August 12 2019]
Associated Acts:- Zinoleesky, Lil Frosh, Small Doctor, Baddy Oosha, Leke Lee, Bella Shmurda.
Notable Guest Appearances:- Leke Lee – Mountain Of Fire Featuring Mohbad, Mr Bee – E Get Why Featuring Mohbad & Small Doctor
Biggest Record Yet:- Balan Zia Gar [Remix] Featuring Small Doctor
One of the amazing things brought about by the rapid technological renaissance currently sweeping through the Nigerian contemporary music industry today is the ease with which artistes could make an entrance into the business-especially the rap game-. Gone are the days when Radios and DJ’s were solely responsible for spotting and breaking new talent. The Internet has served as the primary doorway for new acts breaking into the contemporary rap scene and has accounted for facilitating the introduction of a majority of the currently reigning rap artistes to their earliest fanbase from Erigga to Show Dem Camp.
Enter Mohbad, another new generation rap sensation from the streets of Lagos, who delivers his lyrics with a masterful combination of the Yoruba and Pidgin English languages. He has utilized the aforementioned blueprint that had previously worked out for his better-known contemporaries like Picazo, Davolee, Yomi Blaze, TROD and Limerick – all of who attracted lucrative major label deals by showcasing their lyrical capabilities on short Instagram and Facebook freestyles, which subsequently went viral and attracted the attention of the industry big wigs and label executives.
Although he had been honing his lyrical abilities since his teenage years, it was early this year that the 24 year old rapper began dropping numerous freestyles that were performed over popular instrumentals on his social media, most notably Instagram. He is also reported to have been adjudged the winner in several rap competitions which he had undertaken both online and on the streets which increased his notoriety as a vicious freestyle king who had the ability to swim in the deep end. His freestyles attracted the attention of budding record label imprint Bankz Nation (also home to promising acts Diamond Jimma and Bella Shmurda) who offered the artiste-fondly referred to as Imole by his cult-like fanbase-a lucrative label deal.
2019 has been a career-defining year for the rapper, who’s meteoric rise, energetic style and vocal flexibility has been compared to that of Zlatan, and it is equally rumoured the streets are showing him the same dose of love that the ZANKU originator encountered while he made his ascent into mainstream consciousness. This year saw him deliver a slew of strong singles and work with an array of established music acts, most notably Small Doctor-who appeared as a featured guest on the remix of his underground street smash Balan-Zia-Gar.
The Yoruba Hip-hop sub-scene is one of the most dynamic, vibrant and engaging spheres of the contemporary music scene. Since the foundations laid by Lord Of Ajasa in the early 2000’s to the iconic-but shortlived-career of the late Da Grin, up until the mainstream explosion of Olamide, the scene has over the last decade produced the highest number of successful rap artistes in Nigeria. Examples include Reminisce, Jahbless, CDQ, Seriki, Lil Kesh, Chinko Ekun and most recently global stars like Naira Marley and Zlatan. Lately, the scene has also produced emerging acts like Picazo, Lil Frosh, Oladips and Idowest, Mz Kiss and Candy Bleakz.
2020 is going to be a great year for the music industry and judging by his impact so far, I believe Mohbad will be one of the many beneficiaries judging by his progression.
Real Name:- NIL
Record Label:- Davido Music World
Genre:- Street Rap/Yoruba Rap
Musical Influences:- Davido, Olamide, Lil Kesh, Chinko Ekun, Reminisce.
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- Khidian – Selense Featuring Lil Frosh
Associated Acts:- Davido, 30 Billion Gang, Zinoleesky, Mohbad, Idowest.
Notable Guest Appearances:- Ice K – Apple Featuring Mz Kiss, Lil Frosh, Dollarsyno & Zinoleesky, Jhybo – Small Work, Big Money Featuring Lil Frosh & Chinko Ekun
Biggest Record Yet:- Davido
Last October, before Afro-pop superstar Davido announced that he had signed up a young blonde-haired rapper named Lil Frosh to his record label DMW, most mainstream music fans were oblivious to the existence of the young lyricist from the streets of Agege. However, to most critical observers of the music scene and trend spotters like myself, he had long since been an open secret. Late last year, the witty and colourful teenage rap star with an eclectic fashion sense and a knack for coining street slangs like Firi Yahoo, Eruku Makanaki and Sonto Polio had already become a viral sensation and had been recognized for his comic delivery, raunchy innuendos and lyrics inspired by the underworld of financial crime colloquially referred to as 419 or Yahoo Yahoo.
After receiving accolades for his Instagram freestyles from the likes of Timaya, Olamide, CDQ and Reminisce,he went on to deliver a slew of underground hit tracks including the standout Firi Yahoo. Others include P.I.A.B Featuring Zinoleesky, Carry Ur Baka, Kagadaffi Featuring Zlatan and most recently Davido, all of which put to rest any doubtful speculations about his ability to craft commercially viable records. The latter mentioned track, which was released in September and named after his current label boss captured the attention of music listeners in the country and caught the attention of OBO who signed him to his rapidly expanding label roster.
The artiste who is also fondly referred to as Eruku Makanaki by his teeming fanbase reminds me of Lil Kesh and his ascendancy in the music business from a viral street rapper to a recording artiste mirrors Kesh’s journey after he got discovered and signed to Olamides YBNL in 2014.
Will Frosh be as successful as Kesh? only time will tell. Nevertheless, going by the successes currently being experienced by his erstwhile labelmates Mayorkun, Peruzzi, Dremo and Idowest, It’s safe to say Lil Frosh is on the right track and history is on his side.
His first single on DMW is titled Fifty and has been moving up various charts across the country since it was released earlier this month.
Real Name:- Azeez Oniyide
Record Label:- Independent
Influences:- 9ice, Seriki, Reminisce, Q.Dot Alagbe, Oritse Femi, Lil Frosh.
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- Ice K – Apple Featuring Mz Kiss, Lil Frosh, Dollarsyno & Zinoleesky [July 13 2019]
Associated Acts:- Lil Frosh, Mohbad, Dablixx, Papisnoop, Baddy Oosha, Small Doctor.
Notable Guest Appearances:- Ice K – Apple Featuring Mz Kiss, Lil Frosh, Dollarsyno & Zinoleesky, Patolee – Answer, Eko – Make Cash Featuring Lil Frosh, Mohbad, Dablixx & Zinoleesky.
Biggest Record Yet:- Joromi
You should be forgiven if you had never previously heard of Zinoleesky before you read this article and that is because of his inconspicuous nature, shy demeanour and willingness to take the back seat while his more charismatic buddies Mohbad and Lil Frosh enjoy mainstream successes but make no mistake, the singer with a velvety voice from Agege is certainly determined to join them at the op and reap the rewards of his hard labour next year.
The 19-Year old singer had been ever-present fixture in every single viral freestyle by Lil Frosh and shortly after, began making his own videos which followed the same trend as Frosh. In March, he released a cover of Fvck You, which caught the attention of the original performer Kizz Daniel who reposted it on his account and immediately followed Zinoleesky.
The artiste, who is one of my personal favourite entries on the list has a style that is reminiscent of 9ice, Q.Dot Alagbe, Brymo and Isolate Arafada but still remains unique in his own capacity. His voice is a melodic combination of Ajisari/Ajiwere melodies, traditional Yoruba musical influences and socio-conscious and messages inspired by real-life occurrences and the everyday struggle on the streets. He is also a renowned chorus/hook writer and has performed outstandingly in that capacity on tracks like Make Cash by Eko and Apple by Ice-K of Artquake.
With strong tracks of his own like My Story, Popo, Joromi, Money featuring Zlatan, Zino, has reportedly turned down a few record deal offers from established labels in order to evaluate his situation properly and make the best possible decision. I believe that with the right backing and improved working conditions and sonic fortification, he is adequately qualified to make the transition from an unsigned, raw talent to a well-defined and viable musical act.
Real Name:- Ikuforiji Abdulrahman Olaitan
Record Label:- Independent
Influences:- 2Baba Idibia, Davido, Fireboy DML,
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- D’Marino – Standard Procedure Featuring Oxlade [August 31 2015]
Associated Acts:- Davido, Fireboy DML, Blaqbonez, Joeboy, Juls & Spax
Notable Guest Appearances:- Blaqbonez – Mamiwota Featuring Oxlade, Juls – Angelina Featuring Falz & Oxlade
Biggest Record Yet:- Shugar
There is a widely held but well-founded notion that traditional R&B vocalists and Soul singers in Nigeria will encounter the strongest obstacles while trying to break into the world of mainstream music. There is also another notion that they along with traditional Dancehall musicians have the shortest lifespans at the very top.
This has, however, not stopped the country from producing some of the finest male R&B singers on the continent from the likes of Paul Play Dairo, Slam, Djinee, Timi Dakolo, Jeremiah Gyang, Age Beeka, Styl Plus, Capital Femi and most recently, Funbi, Praiz, Johnny Drille, Adekunle Gold, Wurld and Fireboy DML.
Oxlade is another young music talent who is following a similar path and is unfazed by the preconceived notions reputed to affect singers of his ilk in the industry. Having started out like most contemporary artistes plying his trade in the church, around 2015, he started recording officially and after making his first appearance on NS as a featured artiste with Standard Procedure by D.Marino, he released his debut solo single Wolede, which was then followed by a number of low profile collaborations, song covers and guest appearances. His status as an undergraduate of History at the Lagos State University affected his dedication to the music almost discouraged him from continuing his pursuit of music superstardom; However, after a few words of encouragement from Davido-who was rumoured to have almost signed him to DMW-and a collaboration with Blaqbonez in 2018 titled Mamiwota, Oxlade regained his love for making music and returned to a position of reckoning among the new generation musicians.
That same year, he released Sing, a career-defining duet with YBNL golden boy Fireboy DML, who has since exploded and released a masterpiece of an album-Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps. Afterwards, it was followed by his first mainstream single Shugar, which serves as his biggest track till date and is still winning him new fans-especially ladies-at an electrifying rate. Oxlade has previously stated that his career goal was to become the biggest face of Afro-pop music in history and in order to achieve that, he is gearing to follow in the footsteps of his friend Fireboy with who he has been compared numerous times. I daresay of the multitude of young new artistes trying to make it in today’s music scene, Oxlade is surely one you should have on your radar.
Real Name:- NIL
Record Label:- 1789 Music
Musical Influences:- Wizkid, D’Banj, Wande Coal,
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- Balanciego (Oct 7 2018)
Associated Acts:- Sarz, DJ Neptune, D’Banj, Show Dem Camp.
Biggest Record Yet:- Balanciego
Not much information about Nigerian Afropop newcomer Flash is available in he public domain, most followers of the contemporary music scene first came across his musical prowess when he appeared as a featured artist on Get Up, the first ever solo track by Nigerian super producer Sarz which was released in October 2016 and became one of the biggest organic hit songs of that year.
For the remainder of the year, the song continued to receive airplay and make its way into various charts, however, most people had no idea what Flash looked like, as Sarz did not release an official music video for the song until the following Christmas. When the video was released it replicated the success of the track and has currently been viewed over 2 million times on Youtube. For all the success of his debut track and the corresponding video, to the fans, it felt like Flash was never going to release a solo debut single as he kept up the momentum for Get Up for another year without delivering any follow up songs or appearing as a featured guest.
Flash broke his silence and returned in 2018 with his only song till date Balanciego, which has since grown into a fan favourite but is yet to receive an official video treatment.
Today he returns with yet another Sarz produced single titled Balanciego, which once again reinforces his position as one of the hottest young artistes. the track is fresh and in my opinion Flash has all it takes to become one of the leading names in the business – Nigeriansounds – [Oct 7 2018]
Since then, nothing has been heard from Flash on the solo front, but the past two years have been his busiest as he appeared on two singles Tropicana by Show Dem Camp in 2018 and Ojoro with DJ Neptune and D’Banj earlier this year and on both songs, he lived up to the glowing reputation that NS and various other media platforms have formed about his performance capabilities.
For the entirety of this year, Sarz was fully focused on transforming another highly talented act Wurld from a fringe alternative music artiste to a major player in the industry and he managed to achieve that with the release of the fantastic EP I Love Girls With Trobul, which was released this year to critical acclaim. With Sarz seemingly concluded with the initial phase of the “Wurld project”, I would expect that he will begin to dedicate his resources to giving Flash and his brand the same treatment. Flash has impressed on every single performance he has released and Sarz has all the right tools to take his career to entirely new heights a la Jahbless, Reminisce, Wizkid, Chidinma, Niniola and Wurld, all of who have been transformed by his incredible musicianship.
Real Name:- Emmanuel Princewill
Record Label:- Universal Music Group
Musical Influences:- XXXTentacion, Tyler The Creator, Ice Prince, Kida Kudz, Milli.
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- King Of The Wolves EP [November 19 2019]
Affiliations:- Rema, TMXO, Altims Mavin, Tomi Owo.
Notable Guest Appearances:- Tomi Owo – Number One Featuring Alpha P
Biggest Record Yet:- Paloma
Even the most ardent observer of the Nigerian music scene was unfamiliar with the 17-year old artiste known as Alpha P, until November 12th 2019, when a cross-section of Nigerian music journalists-we didn’t get an invite though-were invited for a private meeting at ATV Lagos, Oniru. The purpose of the meeting was to unveil the newest artiste acquisition by Universal Music Group Alpha P, who had been signed by the label just a few days earlier.
Shortly afterwards, the news broke, that the young Benin city born and raised artiste was formerly a member of the teenage duo RnA, alongside Headies 2019 breakout artiste of the year Rema, who was signed to Mavin/Jonzing World Records earlier this year and finished the year on the globally renowned annual Christmas playlist of former US President and cultural icon Barrack Obama. Immediately comparison between the two artistes followed and fans began to point out similarities in their musical styles, hairstyles, fashion senses and cute youthful looks.
The same week he got signed to UMG, Alpha P released his debut body of work, King Of The Wolves, a 5-track project that helped showcase his musical dexterity and helped assuage comparisons with his former bandmate. The EP also received a glowing endorsement from Nigerian-American singer and star of the TV series Power, Rotimi.
Our official analysis of Alpha P is simple, He has what it takes to meet Rema at the top. He sings and raps with purpose and conviction, His sound is fearless and ambitious and he has developed a mastery of words that kids his age can only dream of. If two young teenagers understood each other musically and were astute enough to come together to form a group at a very young age, then similarities between their musical styles and inspirations should be expected and in this case, forgone. More attention should be paid to their development and transition from teenage hopefuls to global sensations. Since the inception of the contemporary music scene, It has been observed in some quarters that international labels are not as adept at marketing and promoting urban African artistes at the moment, but with the successes currently being experienced by Davido and Burna Boy-notably his Grammy nomination-, they just might have finally found that long evasive formula. To that regard, Alpha P is the only artiste on this list with an international record label deal and if he and his management team make the right decisions, he just might be the next beneficiary of the global Afro-pop renaissance.
Record Label:- Independent
Genre:- Alternative Pop/Afro-pop
Musical Influences:- Beyonce, Rihanna, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Fela Kuti.
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- Mystro – My Way Featuring Tomi Agape [Feb 16 2018]
Associated Acts:- Juls, Amaarae, Santi, Show Dem Camp, LadiPoe
Notable Guest Appearances:- Santi – Rapid Fire Featuring Amaarae, Tomi Agape & Shane Eagle, Juls – Black Girl Magic Featuring Tomi Agape & Santi
Biggest Record Yet:- In the Night Featuring Nonso Amadi
The first time I caught wind of the artiste known as Tomi Agape was back in the winter of 2016 when I was invited by Mr Eazi to attend his first-ever headline show in the United Kingdom 69 With Eazi, which was held at the prestigious Hippodrome Casino, Leicester Square, London. She was one of the few opening acts and her performance was one of the highlights of the night for me. Her commanding stage presence was matched by her electrifying performance which made a very strong positive impression the NS team.
The year after, she released her debut track La La La, which Featured LadiPoe and was released in conjunction with her new creative partners The Plug which is being run by label heads Bizzle Osikoya and Asa Asika who decided that she was commercially viable enough to step into the big league. Since then she has lent her vocals to chart-topping collaborations, most notably Rapid Fire by Santi, After Six by Juls, and My Way by Mystro. with the release of each single her stock increased until she delivered her second solo single In The Night, a sultry, sexy and sassy Dancehall-tinged track that was collaboratively crafted with Nonso Amadi and serves as her biggest single till date.
With the Nigerian music scene crying out for another female superstar in the same mould as Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage, Di’Ja, Teni and Simi, Tomi Agape has the perfect combination of good looks, stellar musical abilities and substantial backing to follow suit. She is currently in the studio putting finishing touches to her yet-to-be-titled EP, which she promises will make a very powerful impact on the game and earn her some more mainstream exposure.
Her latest single Full Moon was released in October to glowing reviews.
DJ Abba aka DJ AB
Real Name:- Haruna Abdullahi
Record Label:- Yaran Northside Records
Genre:- Hausa Rap
Musical Influences:- Terry Tha Rapman, Eedris Abdulkareem, Morell, Tupac Shakur,
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- Haka [October 7 2015]
Associated Acts:- ClassiQ, Kheengz, Magnito, BOC Madaki, Yung 6ix, Deezell, Badman Binladin.
Notable Guest Appearances:- Morell – An Kawo Wuta [ Remix ] Featuring BOC Madaki, DJ Abba, Kiid Pro, Percy Young, Ozee, Lil B, Martino Elcasino & Dalahdawa, Usman – Abun Kallo Featuring DJ AB, Ozee & Magnito
Biggest Record Yet:- Kumatu
Of all the three major regions in Nigeria, The Northern part is unarguably the most underrepresented on the national music scene. In the late 90’s artistes like Zaaki Azzay, Jini and Eedris Abdulkareem represented for the North and even dished out some of their lyrics in traditional Hausa language, but for the first decade- circa 99-’09, it was considered unfashionable and uncool by the mainstream music listeners to deliver lyrics and perform music in Hausa language. This slowly began to change at the dawn of the decade when hometown hero Ice Prince dropped his groundbreaking single Aboki and posed with a Baban Riga (traditional Hausa cloth) on the cover of the track and also wore the outfit in the music video. This singular act boosted the confidence of the younger generation and led to a surge in the number of rappers who perform primarily in Hausa. With Kadunas finest Morell leading the charge, artistes like ClassiQ, Kheengz, B.O.C Madaki, Bonetrees and to a lesser extent Magnito followed suit and announced to Lagos that “Aboki don dey get swag o“.
In the past 3 years, DJ AB has been one of the strongest and brightest prospects from the region. His lyrical capabilities, viral freestyles and consistent work ethic have helped him cultivate a very strong cult-like following similar to Naira Marley’s Marlian frenzy that is currently enveloping the mainstream youth culture in Nigeria. Over the past 4 years, he has appeared on NS with a slew of impressive tracks like Wabab, Totally, Haka, Gan Gan, and Kin San Ni. This year, he bagged his first mainstream collaborations by releasing Yi Rawa Featuring Yung 6ix and most recently Dai Dai Featuring Magnito, which shows that his career is gradually progressing in the right direction.
Everything DJ Abba has achieved in his career thus far, he has done by promoting himself through his independent record imprint Yaran Northside Inc and while he doesn’t look like he needs the assistance of any kind, the success of his aforementioned collaborations suggest that the Hausa lyricist can certainly make do with some more mainstream exposure by way of appearing on more collaborations and sourcing stronger beats with well-established music producers. If he does this, there is no doubt he will certainly break into the national scene in the next few years.
Real Name:- NIL
Record Label:- One World Global
Genre:- Street Rap/Yoruba Rap
Musical Influences:- Olamide
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- Vision 2020 Featuring Olamide [Sept 13 2019]
Associated Acts:- Olamide, Zlatan, Mohbad, Lil Frosh, Diamond Jimma & CDQ.
Notable Guest Appearances:- Mohbad – Adura Featuring Bella Shmurda, Papisnoop – If To Say Featuring Bella Shmurda.
Biggest Record Yet:- Vision 2020 Featuring Olamide
Bella Shmurda is another promising Afropop potential from the streets of Lagos, who is another product of the prestigious Lagos State University. He is fondly known to his fans as Olamides First Son, due to his love and appreciation for the YBNL CEO after whom he patterned his style and musical presentation. In March 2019, he released his breakout hit track Vision 2020 which was widely received and also reached the ears of his mentor Olamide who graciously requested to appear on a remix of the track with the young singer.
The logistics were promptly handled and by September, Bella had released an official remix to the track, which was produced by I.D Cabasa, who also served as a mentor to a young Baddo and has since surpassed a million views on Youtube, thus making him the only artiste on this list with a platinum plaque off his debut track. Whilst still being managed by One World Global, Bella Shmurda is working really hard to consolidate his newfound fame by releasing a handful of new songs including Only You, One Touch Featuring Zlatan and most recently Upgrade.
Last year, 95% of industry watchers and gatekeepers missed Naira Marley and failed to predict that his Marlian movement, as well as his brand of Lamba music would sweep the entire nation in such a frenzy, no thanks to EFCC. Bella Shmurda for me feels the same way as he is yet to feature on the radar of many prominent blogs but is steadily racking up a respectable fanbase.
With a prophetically titled debut single, it’s obvious Bella Shmurda is ready to push his sound to new heights in the new year and he possesses the right ingredients to become one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new era and we will be keeping a sharp eye on him as he advances up the totem pole.
Real Name:- Tombra Asikpi
Record Label:- Trap House Entertainment
Genre:- Hip-Hop/Street Rap
Musical Influences:- Jadakiss, Styles P, DMX, Jay Z,Erigga, Sinzu, Ghetto P.
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- Ether [Freestyle] [May 5th 2015]
Associated Acts:- Ycee, Erigga, Tentik, Slimkelz, Sinzu & Vector
Notable Guest Appearances:- Vector – The Purge Featuring Payper & Vader The Wildcard, 100 Crowns – Passport Featuring Tentik, Payper & Blaqbonez
Biggest Record Yet:- As E Dey Go Featuring Ycee
Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria has produced two of the finest contemporary musicians of this generation in Dancehall star Timaya and global R&B superstar Timi Dakolo however when it comes down to the art of Hip-hop music, most Nigerian hip-hop fans had never previously heard of any rapper from Bayelsa State untill the emergence of talented wordsmith Payper Corleone.
Payper is unarguably the most consistent artiste on this list and also the one with the highest number of projects released. Since he made his debut appearance on NS back in 2015, the artiste who also runs his own independent record company Trap House Gang has released a slew of impressive EP’s and mixtapes from the stable of his label imprint. The projects include Bars (2014), The Godfather Mixtape (2015), Everythings A Target (2016), Everyone’s A Target (2017) Bars 2 (2017), Winter’s Here (2018) and a joint EP with fellow rapper Enigma titled Loyalty, Love, Respect (2018).
These projects racked up combined views in the hundreds of thousands, and won him several accolades in his home state as well as exposed him to a new set of listeners on a national scale. His relentless hustle began to yield dividends over the past 2 years and have helped him secure collaborations with some of his better-known peers like Yung 6ix, Ycee, Terry Tha Rapman, Blaqbonez and Sossick.
2019 was particularly pivotal to his career as he released his seminal body of work The Fly Gangsta From The 90’s which catapulted his name firmly in national hip-hop conversations as the next best rapper from the South, and earned him his first award nomination at the 2019 Headies for Best Rap Single for his track Sacrifice which featured Alpha Ojini.
The rapper, who also has the edge of a battle MC has also called out rappers like Cassper Nyovest and AKA from South Africa -with One Shot-and also recently went against Chocolate City’s golden boy Blaqbonez with a series of diss tracks in a saga in which most spectators adjudged him the winner.
Having done everything necessary to make it in the game, Payper has finally arrived t the “Gates of Lagos” and is certainly determined to announce himself in an authentic fashion that no other rapper from his state has ever managed on a national level. His brand of believable street raps laced with Mafioso innuendos and raw street lyrics is unique in the Nigerian hip-hop space and cannot be compared to anything except Sauce Kid and Ghetto P’s introduction of street rap to the scene in the mid-2000s.
The scene is set for Paypers next move and while he is expected to release a yet unnamed Sinzu-assisted single next year, his recent controversial collaboration with Vector is still making its rounds among hip-hop purists across the continent.
Payper is undoubtedly the biggest Hip-hop export from his state and is poised to follow in the footsteps of Egberi Papa and Mr Dakolo to establish himself as a household name and 2020 is already looking like a big year for the Trap House Gang leader.
Real Name:- Nuno Zigi
Record Label:- Penthauze Music
Genre:- Street Rap/Igbo Rap
Musical Influences:- Phyno, Mr Raw Nwanne, Ransome, Blueface, Zoro.
First Appearance On Nigeriansounds:- 8th Mood [November 1 2018]
Associated Acts:- Phyno, Rhatti, Cheque, DJ J Masta,
Notable Guest Appearances:- Penthauze Records – Nyem Space Featuring Rhatti, Nuno, Phyno and Superboi Cheque, Phyno – Fuwa Sewa [Remix] Featuring Nuno & Rhatti
Biggest Record Yet:- 8th Mood
Just like the Yoruba rap scene, the Igbo dimension is a gift that keeps giving. The Eastern region of the country has consistently churned out sensation rap artiste, some of who have broken beyond regional barriers and crossed over into the mainstream and have achieved continental superstardom. Mr Raw Nwanne was the forerunner of the scene, followed by the late MC Loph. Slowdogg, Ruffcoin Nwa Aba, Bosalin, Quincy, Bosalin and Hype MC are mainstays in the east and have also acquired a substantial fanbase in Lagos. Phyno and Zoro are the 2 strongest artistes in the genre and can be considered to be continental superstars.
Phyno, who is the leading Igbo rapper in Nigeria has done amazingly well in the space of 6 years and had previously established a record company Penthauze Records under which he built his career independently. After dropping 3 widely successful albums on under the imprint, numerous music videos and achieving the status of a multi-platinum recording artiste, he announced the addition of two young Igbo rappers Nuno and Rhatti to his record label after listening to their numerous online freestyles which they posted to Youtube and their social media pages.
Even though I think Rhatti is very talented and might be the more versatile of the two, Nuno, is the most striking and lyrically inclined. His first and only official single 8th Mood, which was released immediately after he signed is a raw and unadulterated rap masterpiece that is currently receiving airplay across the eastern region of Nigeria and on some Lagos stations. He has also appeared on two major records a posse track with his entire label roster titled Nyem Space and another on the remix of Phynos hit single Fuwa Sewa and he had the standout verses on both songs.
Admittedly he is the artiste on this list with the least amount of material released so far into the public space, but he is also one of the most lyrically gifted and has also been signed to a major label deal. If there was ever a perfect environment to develop into an Igbo rap juggernaut, it is certainly under the tutelage and guidance of the greatest Igbo rapper on the planet.
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