Update: Check out our favorite Nigerian tracks of 2021!
The previous quarter saw a couple interesting turn of events in Nigerian music as Justin Bieber teams with Wizkid and Tems on “Essence”, Drake enlists Tems on his latest album, and Ckay scores a Billboard Hot 100 entry with his two-year old single, “Love Nwantiti”that has since become a global smash. In a record year, Nigerian music has scored two Billboard Hot 100 entries. This is telling that the world is warming up to Afrobeats, as it’s popularly called, if these feats are something to go by.
From high-profile collaborations that we didn’t know we deserved between Tiwa Savage & Brandy to the brewing resurgence of local R&B heralded by seasoned photographer Lex Ash, check out some of our best songs that came out the third quarter of 2021.
Burna Boy – Want It All (feat. Polo G)
October 1, 2021
Burna Boy gets in his feelings and bonds with Polo G to unpack generational trauma in “Want It All”. Both artists relive their experiences despite living in and growing up in differing worlds and circumstances. The record is underpinned with emotive storytelling of Burna Boy’s growth from the “whole time I was grinding, trying to achieve” to now sporting “every Louis V collection from Virgil” and not believing he really became the first solo Nigerian artist to win a Grammy.
Tiwa Savage – Somebody’s Son (feat. Brandy)
October 12, 2021
Savage, in her Afrobeats-meets-R&B wayfare, enlists her idol Brandy to deliver an introspective number that now resonates with many. Here, the singers weave a pop culture commentary into sonic sentiment about healing, finding love, not settling for less and the world is singing along. According to Savage, “it’s a female anthem and it’s saying that even though I’ve been hurt so many times, I’m still holding out and believing that I’ll someday find true love”. “Somebody’s Son” is visibly the nucleus of Savage’s recent project, Water & Garri which also features Nas, Amaarae, and Tay Iwar among others.
Joeboy – Alcohol
September 29, 2021
Drawing the curtain on his debut album that was released in February, “Alcohol” ushers in a new era for Joeboy as he breaks his lover-boy streak to get more personal. The singer is in a different mindspace where he yearns to live free as he shoves off negatives with alcohol in hand. The Tempoe-produced record evidently reflects the mood of many and, according to the singer, “this one is from a place of complete self awareness.” Presently, “Alcohol” sits at #7 on the Shazam Global Weekly Chart.
Ayra Starr – Bloody Samaritan
August 31, 2021
Proving her breakout is no fluke, Ayra Starr scores major points with “Bloody Samaritan”, the lead single off her debut album 19 & Dangerous. The London-produced record is hinged by percussive drums and mesmerising horns that has aided its ascent to become a searing summer anthem. According to the singer, “I love this track because I was unapologetic and assertive on it – something people my age often struggle to be. I want my fans to feel that way when they listen to it – liberated of societal standards and expectations.”
Fireboy DML – Peru
August 6, 2021
In his first single of the year, Fireboy proves his mettle as a bona fide hitmaker in contemporary Nigerian music. The Shizzi-produced number sees Fireboy coast from seeking the feminine attention to gloating about his superstar status and worldwide acclaim. The record is likened to a younger Wande Coal, who Fireboy openly idolizes. “Peru” has gone on to become a pop smash, spurring a deluge of UGC from creators, covers from artists etc.
Ria Sean – Underwater
September 16, 2021
“Underwater” is housed in Ria Sean’s debut project following her signing to Aristocrat/Island Records. The record sees Sean lustingly yearn for the masculine grip. With vocals dipped in sensuality and lyrics in subtlety, Sean breathes life into the Dunnie-produced instrumentals.
Tems – Crazy Tings
September 10, 2021
In the lead single off her sophomore project, If Orange Was a Place, Tems declares that “crazy things are happening”; indeed! The Guilty Beatz-produced record sees Tems entangled in a seemingly toxic relationship and hankering for some space as she sings “all you do is lie and lie and lie”. Following high profile collaborations with Drake, Wizkid and signing to RCA records, “Crazy Things” is Tems leveling up and calling the shots.
Lex Ash – Truth
September 17, 2021
Taking the reins of R&B in contemporary Nigerian music, Ash chronicles an experience of finding love in “Truth”. The tranquil of this record, backed with the singer’s mesmerising falsetto and fervent lyricism, lives up to the call for resurgence of local R&B. Ash is a revered photographer in the music scene whose vision transcends the scope of his photo lenses as it climaxes with the release of a six-track EP that houses “Truth”.
YCee – Intentionally
October 7, 2021
“Intentionally” is one of the standout tracks in Ycee’s comeback project after his hiatus. Here, Ycee promises total devotion to a romantic interest as he schemes with lines like “I know it’s been long since you found someone that’s gon love you”. Love Drunk, his latest project follows the braggadocious confidence of “Nu Riddim” and sweltering union with Patoranking on “Aunty Lovina”.
Adekunle Gold – High (feat. Davido)
September 3, 2021
Adekunle Gold heightens his Afropop clout with assistance from Davido. Here, the singer croons about simply having a good time, spending money, popping bottles and getting high over a light-hearted beat produced by Pheelz. This, according to the singer, is an inkling of what to expect of his forthcoming project which he hints is an upgrade from its prequel.