The emergence of more sub-genres is telling about the impending boom of the Nigerian music industry. Amongst these unsung phenomena is Afro-EDM, as it is popularly known. A handful of Nigerian talents are taking an early bet on local electronic music to complement Afrobeats’ effort in projecting Nigerian music.
Nigeria’s electronic community is helmed by the likes of D3an, CALIX, Sigag Lauren, Maze x Mxtreme who, over the years, have taken the reins to acquaint the sound with a wider audience. Afro-EDM leans into the immersion of Nigerian culture and foreign electronic music. “The main influence behind the melodies in ‘Jaiye Omo’ is Fuji-inspired; specifically Barrister Sikiru Ayinde,” Martinses says of the record which also embodies vivid EDM elements.
The conception of Nocturne Music is also a notable step in Nigeria’s EDM scene. Nocturne is a community of Nigerian EDM artists and also an avenue through which they can distribute their music. In October 2020, Nocturne released Sounds of Nocturne Vol 1, its first compilation of electronic songs by a lineup of Nigerian artists. The ensuing rise of Afro-EDM in Nigeria has also seen the creation of EDM-themed events like Eko Electric, Element House etc. “It’s one thing for people to stream the music but buying tickets, attending our events and staying till the end is next level”, says Maze x Mxtreme.
Interestingly, the past year has seen a considerable number of EDM-inspired releases by Nigerian artists and we thought you should check out some of our favorites.
Martinses & Lady Donli (feat. Aunty Jerry, Idris Lawal) – “Jaiye Omo”
July 9th, 2021
“Jaiye Omo” is the Yoruba interpretation of “living one’s best life”. The record embodies the core of Afro-EDM which is characterized by the infusion of local lyricism and basic electronic instrumental. According to Martinses, “the song is about enjoying your life including your vices and letting the darkness in,” which wouldn’t be a bad idea when the darkness sounds as inviting as Aunty Jerry, Lady Donli and Idris Lawal. The record was predominantly sung in Yoruba, with an all Toronto-based lineup of artists.
LADIPOE – “Jaiye (Aluna & Sigag Lauren Remix)”
December 16th, 2020
The Aluna and Sigag Lauren-assisted remix follows the partnership between Mavin and RED to fight AIDS and COVID-19. According to Aluna, “being part of a project like this is incredible because it gives me the opportunity to showcase that dance music is Black, which is something I’ve been discussing in the Dance community.”
Maze x Mxtreme – “Foreva”
September 2nd, 2021
In their first single of 2021, leading EDM duo Maze x Mxtreme serves a fizzy instrumentation, bare of lyricism or vocals. According to them, “the record has a base that could be used to express some intense emotion and we wanted to squeeze out as much of that emotion as we could”.
Apartment VII & Rhoseus – “I’m So Screwed”
October 8th, 2020
Apartment VII and Rhoseus bond over a tale of doom as the singer recounts the throes of exploring an uncharted territory. “I’m so Screwed” is the opening number off Sounds of Nocturne Vol 1, a compilation of electronic songs by Nigerian artists. The record shines with lyrical innuendo about the reality of Nigeria’s EDM community as the singer ruminates on “killing myself on something that might never pay off” while “everybody’s got a fucking job”.
Jamie Black – “Lagos”
October 8th, 2020
Jamie Black serves an interesting view of one of Africa’s most populous cities with this tribute. “Lagos”, also off the Nigerian EDM compilation Sounds of Nocturne Vol, passes as a guide for the oblivious looking to acquaint themselves with happenings of the metropolitan. Black narrates the controversial yet true Lagos story from lyrics like “my people hustle lataro di ewuro”, hinting on Lagosians’ enterprise from dusk to dawn – to “they party all night long” hinting on their brash hedonism nonetheless. According to the singer, “despite the adversity we experience as a country, Lagos is still a place to be and there are those living it up with the different culture, people, activities and how it comes alive at night. I made the song for people to know that Lagos is still a happening place”.
D3an & Telesy – “By My Side”
October 8th, 2020
D3an and Telesy teamed up to make a record doused in melancholic subtlety. The song’s instrumental shuffles between contrasting emotions as it progresses from Telesy yearning for a lover’s company to the bouncy hook where he quizzes “will you stay by my side?”. “By My Side” pictures an event of suspected unrequited love and how the singer seeks closure with a question on whether his lover would willingly retaliate his romantic gestures towards them.
DyselX (feat. Zaxo) – Love X
July 8th, 2021
Opening with “a silver lining is all in the timing” over a mellow instrumental, Zaxo, with assist from DyselX, addresses the highs and lows of loving. He wheeled between unrequitedness, hurt, healing and assurance that “it gets better”. “I came across a vocal sample by Zaxo, and when I heard the lyrics, I was in love with it. It felt like a broken-hearted person was expressing their anger in lyrical form,” says DysleX.
Beyo JR & Calix (feat. Maka) – “Body on Body”
June 23rd, 2021
The record interpolates “Be My Man” by Asa and it sees the singer relieve an experience with a flame who’d given her “a night to remember” before going ahead to lead her on. Maka is accepting of the situation and in the same breath, open about moving on however, as she belts in pidgin English “no be only you sabi do iyanga” which could also mean “you don’t have the monopoly of being haughty. I can be too”.