Music is more than just a sound wave. Every enthusiastic musician’s dream is to become big and bigger by playing on the international scene unhindered.
Music is also one of the most popular things Nigeria is well known for in the world. As they say, change is the only constant thing in life, and it extends to music because dance steps are bound to change once the rhythm changes to balance the equation.
Nigerian music has really evolved from the norm to an influential industry with global recognition and a wider audience.
Being a game changer is not just about making good music, album sales, or sold-out concerts, but most importantly how impactful your craft as an Artiste affects the lives of the audience positively which resonates in the message your song passes, particularly how your absence is felt when you’re no longer in the scene which includes projects that will stand the test of time, and your supersonic lyrical abilities living on from generation to generation.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti
Fela’s impact on African music is so legendary that, you cannot talk about Nigerian music without first talking about the Pan Africanist and legendary Afrobeat King who paved the way for the new generation artists of today. Great Fela is one legend whose legacy will echo till eternity from generation to generation. He was the Nostradamus of our time, a man who saw tomorrow and documented it in his music with how he keenly captured the spirit of the moment, and what it will metamorphose to in the future, and the evidence is on display for everybody to see. To sum it up, the pioneer of Afrobeat is one messenger you cannot ignore his messages.
Fela’s name will echo till eternity because of his generational influence on the musicians and the younger demography. He made his mark through music by standing up for human rights, against bad governance and injustice which was what he believed in. In 2021, Great Fela was nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He lives on
2face is not called 2Baba for no reason, the music Icon is regarded as the king of Afropop because of his outstanding impact in placing African music on the world map which earned him a spot in the music hall of Fame as an African Legend. 2face emerged in a time that Nigerian music had little or no influence on the international scene, and championed the Afrobeat movement with his classic songs which drew the attention of the world to Nigerian music after which international collaborations followed. His evergreen song “African Queen” off his debut album “Face 2 Face” became the game-changer that gave Afro-pop the accrued recognition it has today.
The song went further to unlock doors that changed the face of Nigerian music when the lead single “African Queen“ was used as a soundtrack on the movie “Phat Girls”, a Hollywood film. 2face is versatile with the way he continues to reinvent himself, and his ability to switch to any genre makes him exceptionally different.
2Baba remains one of the oldest Afropop musicians who is still consistent and relevant in a very competitive industry where new generation artists are taking the lead, whereas some he started with have fallen off the radar.
However, 2face is revered as one of the artists that exposed Nigerian artistry to the world and drew international collaborations that today; international acts are impressed and often get excited to work with Nigerian musicians to get a feel of Nigerian vibes. To sum it up, 2face is an epitome of longevity and influence which glares in his uncommon achievements that set the pace for new generation artists to follow.
D’banj and Donjazzy
Anyone who is conversant with the Nigerian music industry in early 2000 is well aware that, the defunct music duo of Don Jazzy and D’banj are agents of transformation. It is an established fact that the duo redefined the entertainment industry with how they showcased Nigerian music to the international community.
The journey started when the half duo of Don Jazzy who is a music Producer met with the singer D’banj in the UK. They held the Nigerian music scene spellbound with their transient reigns which gave birth to catchy hit songs, and albums that will stand the test of time which kept their audience in tune and further popularized and launched Nigerian music to the global market.
The tremendous successes and profound achievements of the duo became obvious when D’banj’s “Mr Endowed” went extremely viral which drew the attention of the top American rapper ‘Snoop Dogg’ to feature on the remix which became a worldwide hit, and one of the most popular Nigerian songs that stood tall on the international scene based on popular demand.
Another D’banj’s monster hit “Oliver Twist” produced by Donjazzy became the game-changer of the decade which penetrated like black smoke signaled the domination of Nigerian music globally and made Afrobeat the new cool. D’banj got affiliated with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music, and he jumped on the remix of “Scape Goat” and a couple of other international collaborations.
D’banj was a hotcake and one of the most sought after entertainer by leading brands as their brand ambassador, and also one of the top-selling Nigerian Artistes in the UK who in his prime recorded sold out shows both home and away during the days of his annual “Koko Concert” due to his energetic performance.
He has played on world stages as a Guest Artist with top international heavyweights like Kanye West, Jay_Z, Rihanna, and Kelly Rowland just to name a few.
He has capped several awards to his name locally and internationally which includes, Best Newcomer Award at the 2006 Channel O Music Video Awards for his song “Tongolo”, D’banj in 2005 won the Most Promising Male Artist award at the Kora Awards, Best African Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2007, MTV Africa Music Awards Listener’s Choice for “Why Me” 2008, Artist of the Year at the MTV Africa Music Awards in 2009, Best International Act: Africa at the 2011 BET Awards, Best-selling African Artist at the 2014 World Music Awards and Evolution award at the 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards and MOBO awards.
The accomplishments of D’banj portray him as a mentor and role model for the new school artists who leverage on his achievements by following his footprints.
Don Jazzy on his part has proficiently remained consistent as one of the most relevant Music Producers whose credence continues to lift upcoming Acts to prominence to give them a level playing ground.
Peter and Paul are no doubt the best music duo in Africa who modernized Nigerian music. The master strategists had the best-selling albums and top-charting songs which targeted the international market. In fact, these guys are the most successful music duo who unleashed the new era that Nigerian entertainment long craved with their classic songs, reverberating dance moves, charisma, tenacity, and electrifying stage performances which influenced and changed the world view about Nigerian music.
They set a record that no music duo in Nigeria or Africa has been able to match or break which grew and took Nigerian music miles ahead. Their notable breakthrough came in 2003 when they released their invigorating album “Get Squared” which to date is invincible. PSquare steadily gave music lovers nonstop back to back to back hits that lit up everywhere that they got nicknamed Kings of a hit.
PSquare in December 2011 signed a record deal with Akon’s Konvict Music, and in May 2012 signed a record distribution deal with Universal Music Group.
In the last album they worked on together before they disbanded to pursue their solo careers due to family squabbles, in their single “Personally”, they acknowledged the late King of Pop Michael Jackson which attracted his brother Jermaine Jackson to feature in their song “Zombie” which was housed in the “Double Trouble” album.
Nigerian music recorded another win on the international scene when they collaborated with Akon, Rick Ross, and T.I. The previously defunct duo are back together as PSquare and we look forward to something fantastic from them as they never disappoint.
Yemi Alade is one African female act that sees music as a way of expressing herself who also stands as a bridge connecting African music to the world. Mama Africa came to the limelight after she won the 2009 edition of “Peak Talent TV show” which launched her career and established her stay in the mainstream Nigerian music industry. The visual of her breakthrough song ‘’Johnny’’ became the first and most viewed video on YouTube with over 120 million views, a milestone that no African female act has been able to reach.
In one of her interviews, she said
“Music’s role is to break down these barriers, that it serves as a kind of bridge between Africa and the rest of the world”.
Yemi who is a promoter of women empowerment in one of her Goodwill ambassadorial messages said that,
“Music’s role is to break down these barriers, that it serves as “a kind of bridge between Africa and the rest of the world”, at least for her generation of artists. It also is a way of educating and reaching as many people as possible, as well as enabling women to rise up. “Men and women are treated differently in Africa, just like everywhere else. You have to do 10 times more as a woman to succeed. You have to make yourself heard, fight to be taken seriously, especially here,”
“Music and the messages it conveys can help women realize that they have a voice, that other lives are possible, that they can overcome these obstacles and, above all, that they are not alone in this battle”.
Her scintillating stage performance with her African costumes portrays the Africanness in her with how she idolizes Africa with her art. She’s an integral part of Nigerian music who is well known on the international stage. She widened her international coverage when she made a guest appearance on Beyonce’s “The Lion King” album.
The prolific and consistent Yemi has four albums namely, ‘King Of Queens’ (2014), ‘Mama Africa’ (2016), ‘Black Magic’ (2017), and ‘Woman of Steel’ (2019), and awards to her name and in 2016 won the Best Female at the MTV Africa Music Awards. Yemi is among the best female musicians in Nigeria, and one of the most loved African female Acts, and a true representation of female voices in Africa.
Tiwa Savage is unarguably the most consistent, influential, and leading African female Act in the world, and the first to be signed to Jay_Z’s Roc Nation. The future has been bright starting from her days in the British X-Factor Talent Hunt Show, and later kicking off her career by first becoming a backup singer for international musicians like Mary J Blige, Kelly Clarkson, George Michael, and Whitney Houston was the beginning of her turning point in the entertainment world. In 2018, Tiwa became the first African female musician to win the award for the MTV Europe Music “Best African Act”.
Since her rise to fame, it has been hit upon hits upon hits, bagging endorsement deals, and international collaborations. She’s not called African Diva for nothing because, she has successfully carved a niche for herself in a male-dominated and highly competitive industry, and her impacts in promoting African music made her number one female songstress in Africa.
Davido is also known as OBO has distinguished himself as the best of his kind. He has made immeasurable progress with how his songs have transmitted Nigerian music and Afrobeat globally. Davido’s “Fall” remains the biggest Nigerian song in the US, the most-streamed song on digital platforms, and the first and longest Afropop song to stay on the world billboard chart which has given Afrobeat a phenomenal place on the international stage.
Ever since his emergence in 2012 and worldwide international recognition, back to back hits like “Dami Duro”, “Gobe”, “Skelewu”, “The Sound”, “Aye”, “If”, “Fall”, “Fia”, “Assurance”, “Fans Mi”, “Blow My Mind”, “The Money”, “Jowo” and a host of others, and international collaborations with Akon, R.Kelly, Tinashe, Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj, Popcaan, Chris Brown, Trey Songz just to name a few have also followed.
Davido is well known for promoting Nigerian music, and his generosity and influence in making other music stars showcase their talent to the world through his, ‘we rise by lifting others’ initiative which has onboarded a lot of industry hopefuls to superstars. He keeps getting accolades more than he deserves for his contributions in turning the tide and taking Nigerian music to the doorsteps of the global audience. Davido who is called the Afrobeats breakout star has opened up Americans from different backgrounds to Nigerian culture to have a sense of belonging.
The Grammy Award-winning and self-acclaimed African Giant are the most hardworking, successful, and influential artists in Africa. Burna Boy is proof that the essence of our identity, culture, and heritage is embedded in the originality of the music that we present to the world.
The world is heavily keying into Afrobeat today because of how Burna Boy has championed the recent wave with his magnificent “African Giant” and “Twice As Tall” albums which drastically turned Nigerian music into becoming Nigeria’s largest export to the world. Burna Boy who rose to stardom in 2012 with his breakthrough song “Like To Party” continues to impress which earned him a back to back Grammy Awards nominations.
Nigerian artists today are buckling up on their projects both lyrics-wise because Burna Boy has set a standard worthy of emulation through his artistic mastery that speaks volumes. Burna has collaborated with a lot of international artists like Damian Marley, Angelique Kidjo, Future, Diddy, Lilly Allen, Jorja Smith, Stormzy, Chris Martin, Jeremih and also got featured by Rita Ora, Jidenna, Dj Snake, Beyonce, Sia, Dave, Sam Smith, and Justin Bieber and a host of others.
He keeps making us proud with his relentless and ceaseless efforts in taking Nigerian music to the pinnacle of the world.
Big Wiz is the king of new school music in Nigeria and Africa as a whole even though he’s not new in the game. His rise to fame has been a blessing to Nigerian and African music with how he has successfully secured an undaunted spot on the world map. He has become a big force to reckon with that he is highly recognized and celebrated internationally.
Wizkid joined the train of a handful of international artists to sell out the O2 Arena in under 12 minutes, and also became the first African musician to have song-certified platinum in the US.
Starboy Wizzy has for decades now and since the release of “Ojuelegba” been standing at the forefront of Nigerian music worldwide elevation, the remix of “Ojuelegba” featuring Drake and Skepta further popularized and gave Afrobeat a well-balanced reception. Drake later collaborated with Wizkid on his song “One Dance” which boosted Wizkid’s international recognition as the song made it to the Guinness book of world records which made Wizkid the first Nigerian Afrobeat music to be on the world’s most recognized record book.
Wizkid also got the credit for co-writing the song. “Come Closer” featuring Drake is another world-class hit from Wizkid that gave Nigerian music and Afrobeat international certification. He became a Grammy Award winner after the visual of Beyonce’s “Brown Skin Girl” song that he was featured in won the Best Video. Wizzy bagged four Soul Train nominations for his summertime song, “Essence” which has remained untouchable on the world billboard chart.
Big Wiz is not just a force to reckon with, but one of the biggest music exports out of Africa and the most decorated Nigerian/African Artist.