2017 was a year that bore a lot of musical gifts for Nigeria. The happenings in the Nigerian musicscape were a strong predictor of what the music industry would produce in 2018. Two of our favorite moments were the Mo’hits reunion and when probably the biggest rivals (and artists) in Africa, Davido and Wizkid, performed together on stage. Davido shifted gears with his Fia song, one whose flames won’t be diminishing anytime soon. The music superstar recently confirmed that two of his songs, If and Fall have attained platinum and diamond status respectively.
In addition to our old favorites, we witnessed some really talented artists burst into the scene. From Afro-fusion artists to Urban-afro maestros, Nigerian music is experiencing a new wave of artists that are not afraid to sing outside the box.
Here are the new crop of Nigerian music artists we expect to have an explosive 2018:
The self proclaimed Urban-Afro act is signed to newly formed music label, Bamz Entertainment. His hit song I No Like Skul received a lot of critical acclaim last year. His musical style and chill delivery have earned him comparisons to fusion artist, Runtown. A guitarist and rapper, Wilfresh’s smooth vocals and immersive story-telling ability make him a stand out we are really excited about. Not surprisingly, Wilfresh’s musical influences include Asa and Brymo, which explains his soulful sound. We really hope that 2018 is the year that Wilfresh blows up.
One of the Apata girls rocking the music industry, Teni the Entertainer (sister to Project Fame’s Niniola) is as good as they come. It appears that entertaining is in the genes of the Apata family. Her strong vocals and soulful vibes have set her as a great musician in her own right. Her songs Fargin and Pareke have garnered her a lot of attention and praise for their relevance and originality. Teni started putting out comical covers of songs on her Instagram account and her career took off from there. Now signed to Dr. Dolor Entertainment, Teni also recently wrote a song Like Dat for Davido. Teni, with her tomboy-ishness and eccentricity, brings a fresh and charming perspective to the Nigerian music industry.
A recent cover on Guardian Life Today and a feature in Complex magazine last year, have all but sealed Lady Donli’s rising star status. The neo-soul/alternative jazz singer is bringing something entirely different to the table. An American-Nigerian currently based in the UK, LD draws from her exposure to many cultures to produce music that is as beautiful as it is diverse. Although her style leans towards the neo-soul spectrum, she is capable of switching from one genre to another effortlessly. LD says her aim is to reinvent music by creating her own unique sound, something she is accomplishing brilliantly.
Jiggy, a song off MI’s recent album/mixtape featuring Terry Apala has garnered a lot of positive reviews, thanks, in no small part, to Terry’s contribution. According to Terry, his genre of music is called Apala Hip Hop, which is a blend of the Yoruba music style ‘apala’ and hip-hop. This unique fusion brings a new take to an almost forgotten style of music while making it urban and relatable to today’s generation. While there are a host of artists combining their local, ethnic sounds with modern music, Terry Apala is outstanding because of the relevance and authenticity he brings. He has said he draws a lot of inspiration from the late, great Apala artist, Haruna Ishola. Terry Apala has shown that he is capable of delivering on any type of song without comprising his authenticity, a skill that will serve him well throughout what we hope will be a long and illustrious career.
ODUNSI THE ENGINE
It’s no easy feat for a musician to be competent at producing as well as they are at singing. Odunsi, however, is in a class of his own. His expertise at fusing different genres to create entirely new and unique music has earned him raving reviews and praise as a musical genius. Odunsi has carved a niche for himself by creating a musical genre he calls Afro-fusion – a blend of traditional African beats and foreign genres such as RnB, Electronic Dance Music (EDM), Reggae and Soul music.
His first EP, Time of Our Lives‘(T.O.O.L) released in August 2016, established Odunsi as one of the artists at the front lines of the new sounds coming out of Africa. His works are usually included in a lot of ‘fresh out of Africa’ listings across various platforms including Apple Music, MTV base and SoundCloud. His song, Situationship was featured in Spotify’s United States’ Top 5 most viral tracks.
There are huge expectations for the uber-talented producer and singer. Having already laid the groundwork for what could be a phenomenal career, it is now left to Odunsi to follow up on his impressive start. A lot of music enthusiasts can’t wait for him to release new projects in 2018, as they might just give a direction for the Neo-Afro movement that seems to gaining momentum across the world.