By Taiwo Okanlawon
New young and talented artistes made their debuts in the Nigerian music industry in 2019, making the year an impressive one. For some, it was a take-off year, while others saw it as a year to consolidate their gains.
These new crops of talents are leveraging on the use of streaming services and social media.
Artistes like Rema, Lyta, Fireboy, Joeboy, have found their feet in the industry, 2020 might just be a year of no limit for them and some other rising stars.
As we head into a new decade, here is a list of Nigerian artistes to look out for in 2020 in all genres in no particular order.
Afropop singer, Divine Ikubor, popularly known as Rema, has not slowed down since he hit the industry with a banger single, ‘Dumebi’. The popular song went on to top several music charts in Africa.
Rema who is signed to Don Jazz’s Mavin record label became more popular when his song, ‘Iron Man’ appeared on Barack Obama’s 2019 summer playlist.
The youngster was crowned as the Next-Rated Act at the last Headies Award.
After releasing two EPs, titled Freestyle EP and Bad Commando, and appearing on the cover pages of international tabloids, one can say Rema is a force to reckon with in the Nigerian music industry and a superstar already.
Joseph Akinfenwa Donus Joeboy has proved to music lovers that he is a bag of talents with a melodious voice easy to listen to.
Leveraging on Banku Music under exclusive license to emPawa Africa Limited, Joeboy grabbed fans’ attention after emPawa filmed his music video for ‘Baby’ which got 16 million Youtube plays and stayed at the top 10 of Apple Music’s charts in Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya for weeks.
The 22-year-old singer went on to drop another hit single, ‘Beginning’, which is one of the best songs of 2019 with massive airplay.
With the aforementioned singles and his latest EP titled ‘Love & Light’, the newcomer artiste has managed to become one of the most talked-about names in the Nigerian music industry.
Oxlade is a young singer who hustled his way from being a ‘star’ in Surulere – a Lagos suburb – to performing at Wizkid’s Starboy Fest, a sold-out show at the O2 Arena in London.
Oxlade turned out to be well accepted by fans after several songs, some of which include ‘Mamiwota’ by Blaqbonez, ‘Causing Trouble’ by DJ Tunez, his biggest hit so far titled ‘Shugar’, amongst others.
He is a promising independent artiste and 2020 will be a big year for him.
Buzzing Nigerian-American based artiste, Sadiq Onifade, widely known as WurlD practically stole the airwaves in 2019 after teaming up with award-winning producer Sarz On The Beats, for an entrancing new 8-song EP, I Love Girls With Trobul.
The project was on the first spot of Nigeria’s iTunes charts and with highly-addictive jams like “Trobul” and “Ego”
WurlD has been in the industry for a while but his efforts in 2019 have had massive impacts on his career after he dropped his first EP, Love Is Contagious in March 2019.
A popular track in the 9-song EPEP, “Contagious,” sees the blue-haired WurlD blending elements of Nigerian juju music with pop and R&B, making for a captivating and energetic fusion.
He bagged the Headies’ Male Vocalist of 2019 award and that took him on a huge leap as it exposed him the more to the global industry.
After the award, the artiste who is signed to Universal Music Nigeria has been featured by several top artistes, the latest being Davido in ‘Sweet In The Middle’, a song of Davido’s ‘A Good Time’ album.
Afropop singer and songwriter, Lawal Raheem, also known as Lyta, has had his low and high times after he quit his record label, YBNL, owned by the famous indigenous rapper, Olamide.
The 20-year-old Kwara State indigene was well received by music lovers after he featured former boss, Olamide, in a song, ‘Time’.
Lyta has displayed his flexibility and innovation to the Afrobeat sound in his songs, including Self Made, Monalisa, featuring DMW act, Davido, and worked with Jaywon on the remix of Aje.
Lyta wraps up 2019 with a brand new song “Worry” that is currently enjoying massive airplay. He’s certainly a must-watch act!
YBNL singer, Adedamola Adefolahan professionally known as Fireboy DML, took the industry by the storm in 2019 after he had a breakthrough with his popular track, ‘Jealous’, a song about love and the complicated feelings.
The talented vocalist and composer who described his genre of music as Afro-Life is certainly here to stay after he went on to penetrate the hearts of fans with his debut album, ‘Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps.’
On the album, the Obafemi Awolowo University’s graduate proved his distinctiveness as he displays a diverse approach to the Afrobeat sound, with a lyricism perfectly blended with his sharp voice.
Fireboy DML is on a mission to become the next superstar!
Odunsi – The Engine
The Lagos-born Bowofoluwa Olufisayo Odunsi is a foremost singer and Alté Movement personality who dropped out of a Ghanaian university in 2015 and ended up in a recording studio in Accra.
The Warner Music-signed performer stole the heart of Nigerians with his ‘Rare’ album in 2018 featuring artistes like Santi (formerly Ozzy B), Zamir and the rest of the Alté guys. On the syrupy track “Star Signs,” featuring the Afrobeats star Runtown, Odunsi fuses classic highlife melodies with auto-tuned verses about falling in love.
Most recently, Odunsi collaborated with the British singer Raye on the pop song “Tipsy,” catapulting him to the international stage.
With a successful 2019, we can only hope for an Alternative 2020 from this young act.
Fast-rising talented Nigerian vocalist and songwriter, Oniyide Azeez popularly known as Zinoleesky is another newcomer with impressive vibes, who has a unique power of making listeners fall for his records and him particularly in few seconds.
Zinoleesky became a social media sensation with his unique voice and freestyles on Instagram with hi counterpart, Lil Frosh which hauled them an organic growth.
His fame increased after getting an Instagram repost of his cover to Fvck You by the song’s original singer Kizz Daniel.
Zinoleesky relentlessly and successfully convinced countless listeners to become his fans in 2019 with impressive tracks and collaborations.
The “Who Knows” crooner, was said to have turned down AMW/DMW offering before he was signed to Marlian Records of controversial singer, Naira Marley in December 2019.
The fast-rising indigenous rapper, Lil Frosh teamed up with Zinoleesky and built himself musically by uploading freestyle videos on Instagram then successfully earned a lot of attention.
Lil Frosh raps in the Yoruba language with clear and smooth flows, coming up with well-cooked punchlines. His fame rose after he had a collaboration with Nigerian street sensation, Small Doctor on a track tagged “Firi Yahoo”.
Now armed with a Davido co-sign DMW/AMW, 2020 seems to be the year the youngster from Agege transition from being an upcoming act to a hitmaker.
Exceptional songwriter and a recording artiste, Charles Chibueze Chukwu also known as Crayon is the new face of Afrobeats that brings street experiences with a blend of pop, Latin and Caribbean rhythms.
Crayon is signed to an imprint of Mavin Records; Blowtime Entertainment, owned by producer, Baby Fresh. He released his 6 tracks EP “Cray Cray” in the middle of the year and his hit track “So Fine” made massive waves across the country.
Crayon may not have been given the chances and attention given to Rema, his fellow label mate but he has proven to have a unique melody in his music even better than that of Rema.
Crayon will be a star to watch out for come 2020.
Moshood Adeola Adisa widely known by his stage name as Hotkid is a fast-rising Nigerian hip hop rapper, Afro beats singer, songwriter, stage performer and recording artiste currently signed to Dr. Dolor Entertainment.
Hotkid was discovered by Dr. Dolor, the DDE boss in a viral Instagram video where he got thrilled by his rapping skills.
With no doubt, he has shown the industry the versatility of his talent with his debut single “Ozana” and his “Honourable” EP which predicts how Hotkid will be in 2020.
Zainab Donli whose stage name is Lady Donli draws her sound from cross-cultural influences and eras harmonizes soulful vocals, with deep Pan-African themes, genre-hopping, and a desire to provide escapism.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, raised in Abuja and now surfling between London and Lagos, Donli is a proud member of Nigeria’s ‘Alte community. Her influences include Brenda Fassie, Erykah Badu, Angelique Kidjo, Asa, and many more.
In 2019, She penetrated the hearts of music lovers with her debut album, Enjoy Your Life, featuring Tomi Thomas, Tems, BenjiFlow, SOMADINA, Amaarae, Solis, the Cavemen, and R&B/Pop sibling duo, Vanjess, there’s enough diversity of delivery, and dynamism of melody.
Donli fired up after she shares the remix of her infectious song “Cash” featuring Afropop singer, Davido, where OBO opens the remix with an energetic verse about his flashy lifestyle and a shared love of cash. He also sprinkles the song with several animated ad-libs throughout.
Last year was a good starting point for Donli, just imagine what will happen in 2020.
Bella Shmurda is a Nigerian singer and songwriter who rose to fame after YBNL boss, Olamide featured him on his hit single ‘Vision 2020’.
Having made an impression with his viral “Vision 2020”, before he went on to release collaborations with Zlatan and Mohbad.
The Lagos State University’s graduate recently disclosed that he is dishing out an EP titled ‘High Tension’ following a successful run in 2019. He’s one act to look out for in 2020.
Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba popularly known as Mohbad is a sensational artiste who came into limelight after winning the BaddyOsha Who Dey Challenge last year.
After getting his fans, he’s been utilizing the buzz around him by bringing what’s trending into music, he has done that with songs like “Neon“, “See My Bouncer” and “Balan Ziaga“.
2020 will probably be a great year for Mohbad after the controversial singer, Naira Marley signed him to Marlian Records in December 2019.
Born in the heart of Lagos Nigeria, Wale Turner- real name Turner Omowaleola – grew up listening to some of the biggest names like Wiz Khalifa, Chris Brown, Ozuna from (Puerto Rico), Olamide (Nigeria) mo-hits, and of course the one and only Ayinde Barrister, King Sunny Ade.
After years of sharing videos of his freestyle on social media, Turner is psyched by the release of the video for ‘No’, which was shot by Director Q, since then he has not stopped.
Turner claims to have a lot to offer while citing his multilingual ability and versatility as what sets him apart from the crowd. His latest banger Bosi featuring YBNL boss, Olamide is still enjoying massive airplay.
Wale Turner is known for hits back to back and we are hoping that 2020 is going to be a ground-breaking year for him.
Fast-rising Afropop artiste Komolafe Oluwadamilare better known as Flykid is blessed with spirit-lifting songs.
Flykid has been described as persevere, a resolute, dedicated, focused and hardworking artiste that doesn’t stop until his dreams are achieved.
His consistency and drive paved way for him. A unique feature that has seen him rise to the top to feature top artistes such as Oladips and Davolee.
2019 has been a good year for him, so definitely in 2020 the industry will be shifting back to the motivation Inspired song and Flykid will sure carve a niche for himself.
Canada based Afro-soul singer and songwriter, Ayola whose real name is Abdullah Abubakre and hails from Osun state, and came into the music arena with loads of experimental AfroSoul and Afro-pop songs to be released.
The passionate singer who holds a bachelor’s in biochemistry from the Ahmadu Bello University and masters in pharmaceutics, University College London respectively first released his official debut single titled ‘Bola’ September 2019, an uptempo Afrosoul song inspired by an Instagram post of a lady venting her rage on men’s promiscuity.
He went on to wrap up the year with another “1974″ a Naija-folk song, where the singer is telling different betrayal stories.
Ayola said he aims to create a music space where fans can immerse themselves in a different musical experience. With the success of the previous song, we believe 2020 will be an amazing year for the newcomer with effervescent, mischievous pop-centered sounds.
Some artistes are well known with popular styles while some are highly talented with styles only appreciated by a special class of people. One of the artistes who belong to the latter category is Ogungbemi Olabode Stephen popularly known as Bode Blaq.
This alternative/hip- hop musician who has stuck to his style and has continued to put out fresh alternative sounds, not minding the dictates of the industry.
Bode Blaq, who hails from Ekiti State, is also a self-taught visual artist that stands out with his deep voice and alternative style of music from other musicians. Some hit singles credited to him include popular Levitate, Kpa, Balu and Owo Mi Da featuring Q Dot.
Bodeblaq with his alternative approach is taking the right steps towards providing music that surpasses the fence of stereotypes.
Afrobeat singer, Famuagun Timilehin popularly known as Ceeboi got the industry’s attention with the release of a catchy Afro tune titled “Super Woman“, a song that celebrates the fine qualities of an African woman.
Produced by his label mate and usual collaborator, KrizBeatz, the song reflects an exciting side of Ceeboi’s artistry, which promises to win the heart of lovers of African music in Nigeria and beyond.
This talented delivers his sound with infectious harmonies and rhythm, relatable lines that are sure to evoke sing-alongs, just as the Nigerian audience love their pop music.
The singer also has a debut EP, ‘protégé’, on which he featured artistes such as Sean Tizzle, Yung6ix, Rayvanny, Dremo, and Spyro.
Furthering his cause to become a mainstay in the industry, Ceeboi went on to collaborate with Skales to remix ‘African Woman’ which is still enjoying massive airplay till now.
Ceeboi is showing a great sign of readiness to put his music on the map to become the future of the music industry in Nigeria and Africa at large.
Adeleke Adenike better known as Denike, is one of the favourites to watch out for in 2020 following the huge success of her first single “Ejika”
This melodious singer signed to Sleek Jamz Records shows her versatility in her songs and she’s not slowing down any time soon.
After she won the hearts of music lovers with ‘Ejika‘, went on to releases her second single titled “Away”. With the song and the pattern of her music, she has convinced her audience that she has the power and what it takes to become the future of Nigeria’s Music Industry.
Other artistes are Tomi Thomas, Tems, Bella Alubo, Buju, BenjiFlow, etc.