2021 was an amazing year for Nigerian music. From cracking into the billboard charts, topping charts in other countries to collaborations with some of the world’s biggest stars. It was a year that put Africa, not just Nigeria, in the spotlight. “Afrobeat to the world.” Gone are the days where people took pride in not listening to Nigerian Music. Right now, if you aren’t, then I’m afraid you’re the dead guy.
With a new year ahead of us, it is expected that new acts would come up and existing ones would take a leap as we aim to become a mainstay in the global music scene. Here are 10 artistes (in no particular order) you should watch out for this year.
I do not think any Nigerian music act ended the year better than Zinoleesky did. Gone far, Blessings and Don’t call me. Zino is on a roll and I expect this run to continue in 2022. With street music getting much-needed recognition, there’s no limit to what Zinoleesky can achieve. Signed under Naira Marley’s Marlian Records, the 26-year-old has shown since the release of his EP Chrome, that he is going to be a mainstay in this industry. He says ordinary things do not move him again, so we’re expecting more extraordinary things this year.
Buju arguably owned 2021. From chart-topping collaborations like being on Wizkid’s Made in Lagos Deluxe album to dropping his EP. It was a very fantastic year. Buju’s now a big boy and with that new status comes greater responsibility. With collaborations with Olamide and JAE5 already in the offing, expect a bigger and better year for Buju.
Lojay was relatively unknown until a video of his reaction to hearing Wizkid feature on his song went viral. That song was LV N ATTN which was also the name of his EP with Sarz. The biggest song on that EP however was Monalisa. From the moment I heard that song I knew it was a certified banger and 7 months down the line, it has proven a mainstay. As of the 1st of January 2022, this song was number 1 in Ghana. In Nigeria, it was a definite contender for song of the year. The issue now is, can Monalisa be topped? We would just have to find out. No way Lojay drops a madness of an EP one year and leaves us hanging the next.
You can’t tell me you didn’t hear or say “My baby bad, my baby good” at any point towards the end of last year. From being an internet sensation in 2020, Fave has grown in leaps and bounds, featuring on Olamide’sUY Scuti album and releasing the chart-topping single Baby Riddim. While everyone is on that Baby Riddim wave, Fave has released 4 amazing songs prior in Dal, M.O.M.M.S, N.B.U, and beautifully.
With her debut EP- Riddim 5 out this Thursday, Fave doesn’t look like she’ll be stopping anytime soon so best believe she’s here to stay.
Victony was on the rise early last year until he got involved in that fatal accident in April. The 19-year-old survived that and hasn’t let that event get to him as he’s back making music. His feature on Mayorkun’s Holy Father was nothing short of amazing and it gives us a hint of what to expect next year. With his appearances at Davido and Wizkid’s shows at the end of last year, and a snippet of a track with Burna Boy, collaborations are brewing and best believe, we’re here for it.
I cannot start listing all of the records Ckay broke last year with Love Nwantiti, we could sleep here. In summary, Love Nwantiti is the biggest African song ever. I do not think he’s ever going to top these records but trust him to continue to give us good music. His Boyfriend EP which dropped last year is a solid body of work and I expect him to build on from that. CKay isn’t a newcomer in the music industry, he’s been here for a while so even with all eyes on him right now, I expect him to do just fine.
Also signed to Naira Marley’s Marlian Records, Mohbad is another one that should catch the eye this year. He has been making music since 2016 but just recently got his breakthrough. A somewhat poular name among the hardcore street guys, Mohbad has worked with the likes of Naira Marley, Lil Kesh, Olamide, Bella Shmurda and Small Doctor. He got into mainstream prominence however late 2020 with KPK and released his EP almost immediately. 2021 offered more from him as we got one of the songs of the year in Feel Good and another recently released bop; Backside. As I said earlier, street music is peaking, expect Mohbad to be at the forefront.
An embodiment of the Gen-Z movement, Ayra Starr has become somewhat of a household name. From dropping her debut self-titled EP to dropping her first album in the space of a year, her growth and talent is evident. Remember the bloody Samaritan dance wave last year, that’s how big she has gotten. With the way Don Jazzy and Mavin records handle its talents, expect more from the 19-year-old star.
First things first, The Ajebo hustlers duo aren’t brothers. (Yes, I also thought they were). With stage names Knowledge and Piego, the duo grew up in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, met in 2010 and formed the group Ajebo Hustlers around 2014. They got into mainstream prominence with Barawo which went on to have a remix with Davido. Last year they dropped their debut album Kpos Lifestyle Vol. 1, a brilliant 10 track album that had Pronto with Omah Lay and further propelled them into the Nigerian music scene. They ended the year with Loyalty (freestyle), a song that is on everyone’s lips, and got a Wizkid seal of approval too. With a collaboration with UK group NSG cooking, get ready to see a lot more of the talented duo this year.
From Don Jazzy hype to D’Prince hype, Ruger is a big coup for Jonzing world and his rollout process and branding (the eye patch, dyed hair, etc) is something record labels and music enthusiasts should look at. Shortly after his unveiling, he dropped a 5 track EP: Pandemic which had songs like Abu Dhabi, Ruger, and Bounce. Like fine wine, Bounce aged and became a chart-topping hit. Another EP followed towards the end of last year, The Second wave which had another hit which is a chart-topper in Dior. Ruger’s stock is on the rise and with 2 EP’s already, we could be getting an album this year, who knows.