2017 was arguably the biggest year yet on the Nigerian music scene as the ever-growing industry witnessed the churning out of internationally-acclaimed smash hit after mega smash hit, stellar collaborations across continental borders, and – of course – the garnering of international accolades by some of the biggest names in the Nigerian music industry.
We’re barely a couple of weeks into 2018 and the new year already looks like it’s going to be an even bigger one than its predecessor, if the song releases, music news headlines, and hints and announcements by the artistes themselves are anything to go by – and we bet they are.
Looking forward to the phenomenal year that 2018 promises to be for the Nigerian music industry and its many heavyweights, we bring you – in this editorial – our opinion on the top 10 artistes that you should keep your eyes on this year.
Our compilation is based not just on the track records these industry frontrunners have set, but on our perceptions and their revelations of what they have in store for their massive fanbases this year.
These are the top 10 artistes we think you should look out for in 2018.
We could think of no better person to give the coveted top spot on our list. The sensational MOBO 2017 Best International Act – who raked in an unbelievable number of major continental and international awards – had a spectacular 2017, with big time international collaborations (most notably with the internationally acclaimed Canadian rapper, Drake, on his scorcher, ‘Come Closer’), the successful commissioning of his long-awaited EP, ‘Sounds From The Other Side’, and a historic sold-out London Royal Albert Hall Show.
2018 already looks like the superstar’s year to do even bigger things as Wizkid, who has recently announced that his fans should anticipate an album (which we can already tell will be fire) from him this year, is scheduled to share the stage with the likes of Beyoncé at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival – one of the biggest music festivals in the world – in California come April.
It’s not in dispute. We all have our eyes fixed on Wizkid this year.
Davido killed it in 2017, in absolutely every regard. The MTV EMA 2017 Best African Act, who practically ruled our airwaves and virtually every major playlist with his bangers, ‘Fall’, ‘FIA’ and the most watched music video on YouTube last year, ‘If’ (the Remix of which international R&B veteran, R-Kelly, just had to jump on), ended his 2017 on an unprecedented high with the huge success of his 30 Billion Lagos Concert which, according to the superstar, raked in half a whopping billion naira.
The DMW boss, who has recently acquired a 2018 Bentley Bentayga to kick off the year, definitely has his eyes on the prize more than ever in 2018. Already continuing his streak of wins by carting home three major Soundcity MVP Awards (Song of the Year and Video of the Year for his mega smash hit, ‘If’, and – the biggest of the night – African Artiste of the Year) last night, there’s obviously no stopping Davido this year.
3. Maleek Berry
It was a bit of a shocker when Maleek Berry led the list of Africans nominated for last year’s MOBO awards – alongside his long time collaborator, Wizkid – with two nods (one for Best Male and the other for Best African Act). Considering the huge success that his debut EP, ‘Last Daze of Summer’, and eponymous first album were, it wasn’t difficult to see why the critically-acclaimed producer-turned-recording artiste was getting such international recognition.
Maleek has already kicked off his 2018 in spectacular fashion with the release of his sophomore EP, ‘First Daze of Winter’, and it’s the quintessential masterpiece. It’s therefore no surprise that the ‘Kontrol’ hit-maker walked away with the Best Pop and Best New Artiste awards at the just concluded Soundcity MVP Awards. Knowing just how frequently the British-born superstar churns out hits, Maleek definitely has our attention this year.
2017 might have been predominatly Wizkid and Davido’s year by a long shot, but Alhaji Tekno had a remarkable year as well. Not only did the BET-nominated recording artiste and ace producer commission mega hits such as ‘Yawa’, ‘Go’ and ‘Be’, he also produced Davido’s phenomenal ‘If’ and rounded up 2017 with his scorcher, ‘Mama’, featuring Wizkid, thus working considerably intimately with both superstars.
2018 looks super promising for the self-proclaimed Slim Daddy, as we anticipate more hits and collaborations from Tekno, both as an artiste and as a producer.
We still can’t get enough of those smooth dance moves, by the way. We know you can’t either.
When X3M Music’s Simi won the coveted Songwriter of the Year award at last year’s AFRIMA ceremony for her hit single, ‘Smile’, nobody could dispute the fact that she deserved the honour. The songstress, who stayed on top of her game throughout last year with the release of her eponymous debut album, ‘Simisola’, exceeded all our expectations, as virtually every song on the album was a masterpiece.
It sure seems like 2018 will be fantastic for Simi, who has no doubt taken Nigerian alternative music mainstream, thanks to her refusal to do more “commercial” music. If the fact that she has kept us all spellbound since the release of her game-changer, ‘Tiff’, in 2014 is anything to go by, then we’re pretty sure the best is yet to come for Simi.
From the MAMA 2016 Song of the Year, ‘My Woman, My Everything’ with Afropop veteran, Wande Coal, to the Headies 2016 Best Reggae Song, ‘No Kissing Baby’ with Ghana’s Sarkodie, to ‘This Kind Luv’ with Starboy Entertainment boss, Wizkid, to his most recent banger, ‘Love You Die’ featuring Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz, Nigeria’s undisputed Reggae-Dancehall rave of the moment, Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie, better known by his stage name Patoranking, has consistently dished out great songs – not just on his brilliant collaborations with continental industry giants, but also all by himself.
Judging by his antecedents since his widely acclaimed debut album, ‘God Over Everything’ dropped, we’re certain the ‘Girlie ‘O’’ and ‘Daniella Whine’ hit-maker, Patoranking, must have a trick or two up his sleeve this year. Just like the rest of his numerous diehard fans, we can’t wait to watch them unfold as 2018 progresses.
With his long, steady string of mega hits, the multi-award-winning YBNL Nation Boss, Olamide Baddo, definitely deserves a spot on this Top 10 list. The super talented Hip-Hop artiste who has cooked up more street bangers than anyone else in recent times came through last year with arguably the biggest street anthem of 2017, ‘Wo!!’, off his critically-acclaimed most recent body of work, ‘Lagos Nawa!’
If there’s anything ardent fans of the ‘Bobo’ hit-maker know, it’s that Olamide always delivers. Just when you’re convinced he’s released a chart-topper that can’t possibly be outdone, he proves you wrong. While we all look forward to OLIC5 – the fifth edition of Olamide Live In Concert – there’s definitely a couple of street bangers that are about to hit the steets this year, and we’re positive Baddo will have a lot to do with their release.
8. Tiwa Savage
There’a a reason Mavin Records first lady, Tiwa Savage, won the AFRIMA 2017 Best Female (West Africa) and, most recently, emerged the Soundcity MVP Awards Best Female as well. It’s not simply because the ‘Kele Kele Love’ songstress is pretty or has an amazing voice. No, the lady apparently also works very hard! How else do you explain staying relevant for so long in a music industry as dynamic as Nigeria’s, releasing trending hits such as 2017’s ‘All Over’ and ‘Ma Lo’ and getting due recognition for your efforts?
If Mama Jamil has stayed on music headlines as long as she has – and for all the right reasons – we reckon keeping an eye out for her in 2018 is only logical.
9. Mr Eazi
This list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t include the pioneer of Banku music, Starboy Entertainment signed Afrobeats superstar, Mr Eazi. The ‘Leg Over’ hit-maker burst onto the African music scene relatively recently with his unique style of Afrobeat, and has since earned himself an impressive fanbase, particularly across Nigeria and Ghana, with hits such as ‘Sample You’, ‘Skin Tight’, ‘Ohema’ and his latest offering, ‘Pour Me Water’.
Even though the multi-award winning artiste hasn’t given us much of an idea what his plans for 2018 are, we bet there’s a couple of bangers somewhere in the pipeline waiting to be unleashed any moment from now.
As you would imagine, we had quite some difficulty deciding who to give this last spot to. We however finally decided to go with the sexy, sultry songstress, Niniola, who – despite the rather daunting dominance of the female artistes before her – has managed to carve her own special niche for herself, especially with the release of her simply impressive debut album, ‘This is Me’.
The Afro-House ‘Maradona’ singer, who emerged third runner-up on the sixth edition of Project Fame West Africa in 2013 took the industry by storm with the release of her critically-acclaimed chart-topping debut single, ‘Ibadi’, and continued with the sporadic release of subsequent hits such as ‘Shabba’ and the much more recent ‘Sicker’. One listen to her Sarz-produced latest offering, ‘Saro’ – her first of 2018 and the third official single from ‘This is Me’ – was sufficient to confirm what we already knew – our dear Niniola has so much more to offer this year.
That wraps up our list of the top 10 artistes we think you should look out for this year. Think we left anyone out (Kiss Daniel, Phyno, Adekunle Gold, Lil Kesh, Zoro)? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.