The music industry of Nigeria has been steadily growing in recent years. With help of social media, the industry has expanded its reach nationwide and internationally. Several Nigerian artists have also garnered international acclaim, including in the bigger music scene in the west.
With western artists and record labels paying close attention to the Nigerian music scene, it is likely to see more artists expanding their reach in the global music market. In this article, NaijaLoaded looks at some of the biggest Nigerian artists today and some rising talents to watch out for in the coming years.
Five of the best Nigerian artists out there
With careers spanning over decades, several Nigerian artists have made their marks both in continental and international music scenes. Their rise to prominence has ushered in an era in the Nigerian music industry that can compete globally.
These artists have paved the way for younger musicians and their careers have become blueprints for many to follow. To name a few of their artists:
One of the biggest artists in Nigeria, singer/songwriter Wizkid started his career when he was just 11 years old. Hailing from Lagos, Wizkid released a collaborative album with the Glorious Five in 2001. The group consisted of Wizkid, then called by his real name Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, and his church friends. The album was called Lil Prinz.
Wizkid was signed in 2009 by Empire States Entertainment and has seen significant career growth throughout the years. He has released four studio albums, one EP, and fifty-three singles. His latest album, Made In Lagos, received critical international acclaim. His song Essence, which is a single from the album was the first Nigerian song to chart on Billboard Hot 100.
He has also made momentous collaborations with prominent western artists. In 2016, he collaborated with Canadian hip-hop artist, Drak, on his hit ‘One Dance’. It reached number one in many countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and more. More recently in 2020, Widkid was also featured in Beyonce’s visual album called Black Is King. One of the songs in the album, called Brown Skin Girl, featured Wizkid along with Saint Jhn and Blue Ivy. It received a Grammy award in 2021.
Burna Boy, born Damini Ogulu, has been active in the music industry since 2011. The success of his 2012 single ‘Like to Party”, and his debut L.I.F.E. facilitated his rise in the Nigerian music scene.
Burna Boy has released five studio albums with one more on the way called Love, Damini, to be released in July 2022. He is signed with Atlantic Records in the United States and with Warner Music Group internationally.
Over the next few years, he collaborated with international artists such as Fall Out boy and Lilly Allen. Burnaboy has received several continental and international acclaim. The most recent of which is a Grammy award for ‘Best Global Music Album’ for his studio album ‘Twice as Tall’.
Singer-songwriter and record producer Davido rose to fame with the release of his second single ‘Dami Duro.’ Born David Adejeki Adeleke in Atlanta, Georgia, Davido relocated to Lagos when he decided to pursue music full-time.
Davido blends traditional African elements with mainstream pop beats, earning him a record deal with Sony Music with his unique musical productions. He has been hailed as the King of modern-day Afrobeats and was included in the Top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine.
As recently as March 2022, Davide makes history as the first African singer to be featured in a FIFA World Cup soundtrack with the song ‘Hayya Hayya’, which he performs with Trinidad Cardona and AISHA.
Born Tiwatope Savage, Tiwa Savage is a British-Nigerian singer and songwriter. She began her music career as a background vocalist for artists such as Mary J. Blige and George Michael at age sixteen.
She has released two EPs and three studio albums. She sings both in English and Yoruba. Her music is a blend of R&B, hip-hop, pop, and Afrobeats. She has received several international acclaims including becoming the first female Nigerian artist to receive a nomination for BET awards. She has also won Best African Act of 2018 in MTV’s Europe Music Awards.
Nigerian rapper and singer Olamide started his career in 2010 with the release of his hit single ‘Eni Duro’. His debut album, released a year later featured several prominent Nigerian artists including Wizkid.
He has released a total of nine studio albums with another one on the way. His fruitful career has earned him nominations and awards from several Nigerian awarding bodies like Nigeria Entertainment Awards and City People Entertainment Award.
Three rising stars to watch out for
Following in the footsteps of several highly-acclaimed Nigerian artists, many rising artists in Nigeria’s music industry have made music that competes globally.
Young artists, while honing their musical talents, have also taken advantage of the digital space to reach a broader audience with their unique sounds. Among those quickly becoming household names in the Nigerian music scene are:
Lojay, born Leksn Osifeso Jr, is one of the rising artists in the Nigerian Music scene. He started his career in 2016 while still in school. It was not until 2019, however, with the release of his debut single, Ariel that his music career rose in popularity.
With his second single, Ogogoro saw another huge success. it featured Afro-fusion sounds which set him apart from several other rising artists. His latest release, an EP called ‘LV N ATTN’, short for love and attention, was made with record producer Sarz. It includes six tracks, with its lead single, Tongogo, becoming an instant hit. The titular single, LV N ATTN also featured well-known musician Wizkid.
With his quick rise to fame, Lojay has been performing in several events across Africa and Europe. He has also already received continental acclaim with his nomination for the Most Promising African Artist category in AFRIMA awards.
Antony Victor, known professionally as Victony, is a singer-songwriter and rapper born in 2001. His debut EP, Saturn, was released after signing with the Nigerian record label Mainland Blockparty & Jungle Records.
His latest song, ‘Broken’, released in 2021 became an instant hit, securing him a spot as one of the rising artists to watch out for.
Afro-pop singer and songwriter AV, born Adindu Victor, officially began his music career in 2018. His debut single ‘BIG THUG BOYS’ garnered a continental success, with the song landing the number one spot across all streaming platforms in Africa. His music is unique and blends groovy Afrobeat with vibe trap and Dancehall, greatly appealing to a younger audience.
Rising with the help of social media, Fave gained popularity after posting videos of herself making music in her room. Her song, NBU, became a viral hit that made her an internet sensation.
Her online popularity helped her to get attention in the local industry. In 2021, she was featured in two songs off of famous musician Olamide’s album UY Scuti. She has also landed several other features and collaborations since. She has also released a single, allied Beautifully, which also reached popularity.
Professionally known as Zamorra, he is a 23-year-old rising Afro-pop artist. He began his musical career in 2015 but it was an online trend in 2018 that he saw a rise in popularity. Through the viral trend on Twitter, referred to as ‘importanter’, Zamorra made a freestyle video in line with it.
Due to popular demand, he released a full version of the song, aptly titled ‘Importanter’, which saw a great positive response from the online masses. His innovative nature has piqued the interest of the industry which now sees him as another rising talent that will only continue to grow in the industry.
The exciting rise of Nigerian artists in the international music industry
In recent years, several Nigerian artists have received attention from the international music industry. It has allowed them to compete in a wider, more global music market.
Artists like Wizkid, Burna Boy, and Davido have even collaborated with the biggest western artists out there. Some of their music has also been featured in blockbuster films, which sees a growth in the international reception of African music.
New and upcoming artists such as Fave, Zamorra, and many others have also made use of the global access brought by the digital revolution to reach a wider audience with their music.
With all this growth in the African music industry, with Naija music taking front and centre, it is exciting to see how much further the reach of Nigerian artists can grow and how Afrobeats will take the main stage in global music markets in the years to come.