Update: Check out our favorite Nigerian tracks of 2021!
We’re halfway through 2021 and what an interesting run it has been for the music industry thus far. From the vivid adoption of South Africa’s Amapiano to the emergence of new names like Ruger, Ayra Starr, Lojay and meteoric rise of Buju, the Nigerian music scene is having a year unlike any other. The first half of 2021 has seen artists like Rema put their best foot forward, netting three #1 records and Ladipoe keeping pace amidst releases from heavyweights like Olamide and Burna Boy. We’re thrilled with the music being churned out by Nigerian artists and thought to update you on our favourite so far.
Ladipoe – Feelings (feat. Buju)
June 15, 2021
Following his stellar run that was crowned with a Best Collaboration win at the Headies in 2020, Ladipoe extends his reign with the Buju-assisted “Feelings”. The record, which immediately became a people’s favourite, evokes a yearning for a good time amidst life’s stresses. “I wrote a poem called How I’m Feeling Now because in these times, it’s hard to be grateful. The scars on my face are not as deep as the ones inside but still, I like the way I’m feeling,” says the rapper.
Olamide – Rock
May 4, 2021
Bearing elements of Afropop and Highlife, “Rock” presumes the dawn of an era where Olamide ditches hardcore rap for a relatively mellow serenade. “The song is saying my lady doesn’t have to do too much to impress me — I love you already,” Olamidé says. “It’s expressing what a guy would sing to a girl to give her confidence. I’m telling the women out there that, if a man truly loves you, you don’t have to go overboard to please him.”
Rema – Soundgasm
June 11, 2021
Following the Don Jazzy-produced “Bounce”, the Jae5-helmed “Dimension” and with his debut album in view, Rema wets thirst with a risqué ballad dubbed “Soundgasm”. According to the singer, “Soundgasm is derived from the combination of two words which are ‘sound’ and ‘orgasm’. It’s literally Sex translated into sound frequency. It’s a record that disposes of spiritual vibrations and creates euphoria through the ears.”
Ibejii – Gonto
June 18, 2021
Hailed for its Afro-orchestral elements, “Gonto” seizes the casual insensitivity of a government and the eventual rebellion of a new generation as witnessed in the past year ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement in America to the protest against police brutality in Nigeria. This record furthers the British/Nigerian artist’s affinity for lacing storytelling into relevant discourse plaguing the masses, outliers or marginalised groups.
Naira Marley & Busiswa – Coming
June 26, 2021
Naira Marley taps Busiswa for “Coming”, a provocative number that has been trailed with controversy. The record propagates the musical romance between Nigerian and South Africa as Marley and Busiswa exchange vocals over a high-spirited production with striking elements of Amapiano orchestrated by Rexxie, one of our producers to watch out for.
Joeboy – Show Me
June 1, 2021
Upon release of the singer’s debut album, “Show Me” didn’t enjoy enough rave like critically acclaimed records such as Door until the influx of UGCs across short-form video platforms. Here, Joeboy, whose love language includes physical touch and words of affirmation, charges his lover to show all of it and more.
Johnny Drille – Bad Dancer
February 19, 2021
Again, this record shows the range in the sonic palette of Nigerian music which transcends Afrobeats. It’s melodies and lyricism evokes a hopeless romantic’s daydream. It doesn’t get better than Drille writing, producing and engineering the record himself. “Bad Dancer” is a whole serenade by a Nigerian-based artist that gets the world swooning in the vein of John Legend or Ed Sheeran.
Ruger – Bounce
May 12, 2021
Following a lineup of releases such as Ruger and One Shirt featuring label mate, Rema and boss D’Prince, Ruger strikes gold with “Bounce”, off his debut project dubbed “Pandemic”. Since its release in March, like a slow burn, “Bounce” had hovered at Top 5 on the charts before clinching the #1 position in the last week of June, despite the buzz of giant records like “Feelings”, “Rock” etc. The Afro-dancehall number stamps the singer’s place as one of Nigeria’s leading new generation talents.
Sarz & Lojay – Tonongo
April 30, 2021
Sarz, through a collaborative project that boasts of banging records like “Tonongo” and “Monalisa”, introduces Lojay to the fore. The singer recounts his experience of an infatuation he’d developed for a stripper with now-popular lyrics like “you win the ass cheek Ballon d’Or”. “Tonongo is about expressing the depth of emotion that lies beyond the surface. I enjoy the duality of the song. It ended up making itself and that’s the beauty of it,” says Lojay.
Find some of these tracks in our One Dance playlist on Spotify and Deezer.