Year in, year out, the burgeoning and competitive Nigerian music industry ushers into the limelight a new class of superstars who through dexterous display of their talents, coupled with pop appeal, distinguish themselves from a very long list of emerging recording acts.
These fast-rising talents grab the attention of fans, media houses, and the consuming ecosystem at large, becoming almost overnight sensations.
In 2023, the cycle repeats itself and the lineup is jarringly dynamic. Ranked in no particular order of preference, here are eight of the best Afrobeats revelations of the year.
Bloody Civilian, born Emoseh Khamofu is sleeker than the average emerging Afrobeats artist. The Def Jam signee’s music largely represents a defiance against the ills of society, especially regarding the archaic practice of gender marginalization. The singer’s cutting-edge debut, ‘Anger Management’ deployed her eclectic sound across the radar of many listeners who have hailed her valiant sonic explorations, especially when putting into consideration that a bulk load of the project ranging from the production to the mixing to the songwriting was spearheaded by Khamoru herself.
Abuja-bred rapper, Odumodu Blvck is the man of the moment. ‘Big Kala’ as he is fondly called is fast becoming a force to reckon with in the Nigerian music industry. After signing a joint record deal with Native Records/ Def Jam in 2022, things began to look up for the rapper who previously spent years in the underground hip-hop scenes. Shortly after his signing, the Headies rookie of the year winner began gaining ground through sleeper hits such as ‘Picanto’ (featuring Zlatan). However, his breakthrough came in 2023 through the smash hit ‘Declan Rice’. Declan Rice afforded Odumodu blvck the well-deserved attention, an attention that has made leeway for a growing cult following. Currently, he has been poised by many to lead a hip-hop resurgence in Nigeria shortly.
One of this year’s most interesting breakouts is Shallipopi. Only a few saw the Street pop crooner coming when he released ‘Elon Musk,‘ a lively and catchy bop that has quickly become one of the most popular street anthems of the year. Shallipopi has carved a peculiar style that blends Amapiano elements with neologisms. With strong co-signs from the ”Big 3” of Afrobeats, Shallipopi’s breakout year is off to a great start.
Dotti The Deity
Fast-rising singer and one time Mtn Y’ello Star winner, Dotti The Deity is having quite a year. First he released a brilliant and riveting debut project ‘For You Knew Me‘ in May, then his 2022 single ‘Forever Sweet’ resurfaced on the timeline and quickly became the conjugal anthem of the year. The latter has so far enjoyed an unprecedented run as many music lovers have found the sonorous melodies and captivating groove of the upbeat ballad to be comforting and nostalgic. The song has subsequently latched many to the singer’s camp.
Loopy Entertainment Group signee, Olivetheboy is a superstar on the rise without a doubt. The up and coming crooner came into the limelight via his viral tik tok propelled hit, ‘Goodsin’. Olivetheboy’s songwriting is remarkable, and it provides the recording act with watering prospect.
Qing Madi (pronounced King Madi) already scored a subtle hit in 2022 when she released ‘See Finish’. However, fans began to take note of Madi’s genius earlier on in the year through the enthralling Afro-pop anthem ‘Ole’ which enlisted a stellar verse from popular singer and songwriter BnxnfkaBuju.
For a good part of his career, Spyro has been the boy next door, expectant for an opening in the music Industry. The singer has paid his dues and is now yielding the fruit of his hardwork. In 2023, Spyro’s breakthrough came when he released the smash hit ‘Who’s Your Guy’. While the original version was still gaining momentum, doing great numbers, Spyro recruited Legendary Afrobeats singer, Tiwa Savage into the mix, and the reach became even wider. So far, both the original and remix version has been able to amass over thirty million streams across all credits.
Oladapo is one of the many talented singers who is bringing back a resurgence of R&B into the Afrobeats tapestry. The ‘If At All’ crooner’s sophomore EP ‘Incase I Never Love Again’ is spreading like wildfire. Oladapo’s music ultimately explores deep storytelling about love and heartbreak. The singer’s relatable thematic expressions merged with his emotive sonic feel have earned him a spot as one of the brightest musical revelations of the year.