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2021 Top 10: Nigerian Artistes

Chart topping, making trends, churning out hits continuously are emblems our beloved Nigerian artistes. Check out our Top 10 list for 2021!

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Without an iota of doubt, this year being 2021 has been one of the best for the Nigerian music industry, not just for the top dogs or the breakout artistes or even the newly introduced acts but for a mantra the industry and musicians who either reside here or take abode on the international scene have been trying to push for years now, finally come to being accepted across boarders; the mantra? “Afrobeat to the world”.

While many Nigerian acts were busy making sure the whole word listened and danced to the heavy bass drums and guitar strings that majorly produced the genre known as Afrobeat, others stayed in their lane, mastering and honing their craft, waiting for the right moment to strike, which they did at the green light.

Truth be told, scores of Nigerian artistes abound, who made their mark on the music scene this year—locally, continentally and globally—but the difficult task of streamlining them to just Top 10 in terms of ranking had to be done and that we at Wavyvibrations have done with hopes that you (the reader) would agree or at least relate to the list. Without further ado, let’s jump straight to the ranking.

10: Ayra Starr

Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe known as Ayra Starr caught the Nigerian music industry by storm, coming like a thief in the night, stealing all the shine for herself (not literally but you catch my drift). When she was introduced by Mavin Head, Don Jazzy, a day prior to her fantastic eponymous EP, no one outside her crew knew who she was and what she is capable of but fast-forward 10 months later, you would hardly go a day without hearing her notorious “Bloody Samaritan” single off of her “19 & Dangerous” debut LP.

9: Oxlade

Oxlade’s been making waves for about 3 years now. He is just controlling the tides better, choosing when to serenade us, pop up on our screens or just leave us guessing as to what’s next. Apart from his falsetto vocals, one thing that makes Oxlade a highclass sought after vocalist is his ability to bring words to life, no matter the topic and that he did majestically in 2021.

A feature-packed year as usual saw Oxlade collaborating with many top dogs including M.I (“All My Life”), Sarkodie (“Non Living Things”), Juls (“Melly Melly”), Rexxie (“Frenemies”), Ice Prince (“Kolo”), CKay (“Mezebu”) amongst others. That is not all as Oxlade released his second EP, “Eclipse”, containing the fans favorite “Ojuju”.

8: LadiPoe

Oladipo Eso, known by his rap moniker – LadiPoe, is proof that staying in your lane, reinventing your style, adapating to latest trends and putting the right songs out at the right moments will yield positive results. The Afrobeat to the world mantra did not force LadiPoe (a rap veteran) to switch lanes, rather sticking to what he believes to be fit for him has seen him reap bountifully in 2021.

Immediately “Feeling” dropped, everyone (both old and new fans/listeners) was moved by how fluid he adapted the lyrics to the soft tempo melody of the song and in no due time, the single began topping various charts, staying at No. 1 for weeks. He went on to drop the lead single—”Running”—to his debut EP (“Providence”) some two weeks ago. Once again, it topped charts within and outside the country.

“Providence” did an amazing 5.3M streams across DSPs in just 24 hours of being released! LadiPoe deserves to be awarded for the “Lyricist on the Roll” at this year’s Headies or any equivalent award show. LadiPoe, who addresses himself as the ‘Leader of the Revival (LOTR)’ surely has cracked the code to the Nigerian rap sector of the music industry and he is not willing to let go anytime soon.

7: Niniola

Afro-House pioneer, the Nigerian Amapiano lord,( yes I said “lord”), Niniola Apata, simply called Niniola was way ahead of the Amapiano curve the Nigerian music industry has come to be fond of. The vocally gifted singer-songwriter had and still is having a massive year musically, providing us jam after jam, from “Too Sweet”, to making a killing of Juls’ instrumentals on “Love Me” to making the forecious single, “I Did It (Bum Bum)” praising the jiggly behind of women, Nini does not know how to miss.

Yes, Niniola is known to cause disaster on a beat, once she says her “Nini de o” (“Nini has arrived” when translated to English) sound tag, expect nothing but mesmerising vocals and sweating profusely from dancing vigorously but she did something very different from her niche sound, making one of the best sung and produced R&B projects in Nigeria in “6th Heaven” EP which was released in March. Niniola is surely full of wonders no doubt.

6: Bella Shmurda

Dagbana Republik front man, Bella Shmurda, is beloved for so many reasons on the streethop sector of the Nigerian music industry which making hit records on a continuous basis played a role in. Bella Shmurda started the year high off “Cash App”, street anthem by day, club tune by night and he never let go of that momentum, not even for a minute.

Even though controversies creep in every now and then, Bella Shmurda stays positive through it all, churning out bangers on bangers on bangers; “Rush”, “Party Next Door” and “World” are perfect testimonies to that. Shmurda released his sophomore EP, “High Tension 2.0”, the sequel to last year’s debut and needles to say, we know what the “Dagbana Orisa” singer achieved with that; he even had background vocals credit for Wizkid on “Anoti” on “Made In Lagos (Deluxe)”. What a breakout year, 24-year-old Okokomaiko-bred Bella Shmurda is having!

5: Tems

Only 3 years in the game but Tems (born Temilade Openiyi) already moves like a veteran, wowing fans, listeners and new audience as each day passes by. Major thanks to her feature on “Essence”, Tems have grown to become a global phenom, working with American R&B crooner Brent Faiyaz and even the 6 God himself, Drake, something that might have seemed far-fetched or a long term goal for the fast-rising R&B/pop singer; she even received props from Chris Brown, Diddy, Rihanna , Pitchfork and Billboard through cosigns and reviews all in just one calendar year.

Tems put the icing on the already tantalising cake of a year by releasing her second EP in two years, titling it – “If Orange Was A Place”; just recently, Tems made history by having the most monthly listeners on Spotify with over 7M listeners, making her the first African female to acheive the feat. She is also the currently most streamed Nigerian artiste on the platform with over 236 million plays, impressive more when you consider the few number of songs Tems has put out. An astonishing milestone!

4: Olamide

Olamide Baddo is one artiste we can always bank on year in, year out. His stainless record of consistency is just ridiculous at this point in his career. Olamide is a music beast, a hungry one at that, ready to devour whatever song he lays his vocals on.

Completely switching from a rapper to a full-blown pop star after 10 years of being a professional artiste is a scary thought but Olamide’s transitioning is so flawless, intentional with every ounce of energy. A very commendable feat undoubtedly. He solidified this by releasing his 12th studio-album—”UY Scuti”— containing the hits “Rock” , “Jailer” and “Julie” which are still charting till date since the album’s June 18th release.

3: Adekunle Gold

Since rebranding his sound into Afropop, R&B star, Adekunle Kosoko or Adekunle Gold as generally known, has become one of the best artites Nigeria has ever seen. Not like he wasn’t before anyway but since 2020 which saw him tone down the Afrobeat Highlife production he is notorious for to a more refined Afrobeat R&B sound, Adekunke Gold stellar ascension to laying claims to being one of the greats was indeed stamped in the sand of time, rock solid, unshakable.

One formula that worked for the “Sinner” singer this year is knowing when to release singles and put out appropriate visuals to match the singles’ theme. The sensual “Sinner”, the introspective “It Is What It Is” and club oriented, positive vibe “High” all show that. Artiste of the year? For sure, Adekunle Gold is a strong contender. Remember “AG baby is still your baby”.

2: Davido

Who do you know trends and top charts across the world without releasing a solo single under a particular calendar year? Davido! OBO! Baddest! David Adeleke is a certified serial hit maker, be it with his own personal records or helping other acts (new and old alike) attain their first No. 1 on their country’s respective charts. He deserves every form of credit for doing that at an incredible rate. Just this year alone, Davido has appeared on over 30 songs including “Ke Star” (Focalistic, South Africa), “High” (Adekunle Gold, Nigeria), “Who’s True” (Tion Wayne, England), “Unforgiving” (Yung Bleu, USA), “Je’Mapelle (Darkovibes, Ghana) etc. showing his range on each track.

Davido’s motto of “we rise by lifting others” really went up a notch this year. Charting in over 15 countries just by being a featured act is one impressively outstanding accomplishment not everybody can brag of. Kudos to Davido.

1: Buju

Sh’eti ri bo se je nsin / Daniel benson, e ma jo bi Michael Jackson / Oh yeah, sheti ri boshe je nsin / E wo mi Daniel Benson / Ti n ba k’orin ema jo bi Michael Jackson and the boy is not joking“, Buju affirms on “Daniel Benson” and to the God honest truth, he kept his words, lyric-for-lyric, making hits all year round, serving as the go-to guy for a chart topping single.

Being released from his former label, Spaceship Records, may or may not have been pivotal to Buju’s unexpected rise to stardom but one thing that departure granted Buju is the creative freedom to work with anybody that comes knocking on his doors (so far they offer the right price). From being one of the acts to watch out for in 2021 to becoming a grand testimony in just 11 months, Buju really surpassed every expectation that was set for him.

A plethora of features including “Bling” (Blaqbonez), “Alubarika” (Zlatan), “Your Body” (Basketmouth), “Confident” (Savage), “Cold Outside” (Timaya), “Mood” (Wizkid), “Feeling” (LadiPoe), “Bad From Early” (Darkoo) and a host of his own singles—”Testimony”, “Outside”, “Never Stopped”—coupled with the release of his debut EP, “Sorry I’m Late” all come to prove one fact, that is, Buju is unquestionably the artiste of the year on the Nigerian music scene.

Special Recognition: Burna Boy and Wizkid for continuing to conquer the African and international music market relentlessly. Also for them being the forerunners of the Afrobeat to the world mantra, making music everyone can relate to.

Honourable Mention: Fireboy DML, Rema, Blaqbonez, Joeboy and Tiwa Savage.

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Ckay features Blxckie on new track “By Your Side”

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2021 breakthrough artiste, CKay, is not letting his foot off the pedal yet, putting out two new singles, one of which is titled “By Your Side” featuring South African vocalist and rapper, Blxckie.

“By Your Side” production starts slow with CKay gliding his smooth R&B-toned vocals on the well paced drumbeat intertwined with violin sound, singing to his love interest about how she makes him loose himself anytime he is around her and how she is always on his mind.

Gradually the instrumentation gains pace, giving room for a more lively mood and of course, dancing, as the most sought after Amapiano sound is blended with the production; Blxckie woukd eventually come on, singing a little, before spitting some bars in his native mother tongue.

“By Your Side” is produced by Tumisho. Listen:

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JAY-Z adds “Free Mind” by Tems, “Mood” by Wizkid and “Feeling” by LadiPoe & Buju to his 2021 playlist

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American legendary rapper and business mogul, JAY-Z, adds 3 Nigerian songs to his playlist curated on Tidal, a streaming platform owned majorly by him. The 3 songs are: Free Mind, Mood and Feeling.

Free Mind is sung by Tems, taken from her 2020 released EP – “For Broken Ears”, the third track to be precise; although no solo song by Buju made it to the JAY-Z playlist titled “Block Vibes”, he would however be the most featured Nigerian act on the playlist as he lands two songs, thanks to the mega features from Wizkid—Mood—and arguably one Nigeria’s song of the year in Feeling by LadiPoe.

You can view the full playlist curated by JAY-Z in the picture below:

JAY-Z “Block Vibes” playlist featuring Wizkid, LadiPoe, Buju and Tems.

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Wizkid is Africa’s Apple Music Artist of the Year award recipient for 2021

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Wizkid (sobriquet Big Wiz or StarBoy) receives the honour as Apple Music Artist of the Year (Africa) for 2021. The annual award held by the premier streaming platform praises individual artites for having a stellar year on its music platform both through streams and culturally.

On Wizkid winning, an excerpt from Apple Music reads: ” In October 2020, he released “Made in Lagos,” his critically acclaimed and most commercially successful album, which included his hit song “Essence,” a track that gained 125 million plays on Apple Music and over 2.8 million Shazams. This past year, he’s been the most streamed African artist on the continent on Apple Music and ranked on the Daily Top 100 charts in 60 countries, in addition to his monthly plays on Apple Music growing by more than 250 percent outside of Africa.”

“Thank you to Apple Music for this award”, Wizkid said, continuing, “It’s a blessing to get to do what I do, and I’m proud to be representing for Africa.”, Ayodeji “Wizkid” Balogun says in thank you speech. The Apple Music Award, the third annual series will air on Apple Music and Apple TV starting Tuesday, December 7, 2021.

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