Here’s a little something to help you get over the hump. Nigerian pop music or “Afrobeats” does not really any introduction these days so let’s get right into it. We recently went on a trip to Nigeria and these are the top 10 songs as heard in the clubs, house parties and market stalls! You can stream the playlist or download it. Enjoy!
10. BURNA BOY [Run My Race] – Around this time last year Burna Boy was riding high on his smash hits “Like to Party” and “Tonight” , and we predicted he’d be the next thing to come out of Nigeria. His rise (internationally) has not been quite as meteoric as we expected but he has since carved out his spot as a marquee local artist thanks in no small part to his dynamic in-house beatmaker extraordinatire LeriQ. Surprisingly, the slow almost haunting “Run My Race” gets heavier rotation in the club than the ol-skool dancehall-tinged “Yawa Dey”.
9. P-SQUARE [Personally] – Surprised this song was still getting heavy rotation so many months after it had spread like wildfire across the world aided by the MJ inspired, Clarence-Peters directed music video. “Personally”seems has the same staying power as P-Square, one of the most popular groups in Nigeria and Africa in general.
8. J MARTINS ft DJ ARAFAT [Touching Body] – Barely five years ago, Coupe Decale music from Cote D’Ivoire spread like wildfire across the African continent and diaspora. DJ Arafat was at the helm of that movement as a producer and recording artist. Fast forward to 2013 and his biggest hit is a feature on Nigerian pop artist’s single. To his credit, J Martin’s has always managed to pull off natural collaborations from a pan-African pastiche and the sensual basslined “Touching Body” is no exception.
7. TIMAYA [Ukwu] – The follow up to the monster hit “Malo Nogede”, the dancefloor-filling “Ukwu” takes a page from the South African House sound courtesy of Johanesburg-based Nigerian producer Masterkraft. Timaya might start running out of body parts to sing about. Prior to “Ukwu”(waist), he already had a big hit with a song called “Bum Bum”.
6. KCEE [Limpopo] – Although he’s not new to the scene, this is the song that catapulted KCEE from relative obscurity to super stardom. The sublime “Limpopo” starts out like another David Guetta-esque ode to nightlife but once the percussion and claps kick in, there is no doubt this is pure Afrobeats business.
5. FLAVA [Shake] – After releasing arguably one the biggest cross-continental hits in recent memory (2011’s “Nwa Baby (Ashawo)”, Flava could have drifted into. Everything he touches turns to gold. Almost every song on the album is a hit. “Shake” just happens to be the most popular one in December. Flava has redefined the meaning of “selling out”. Both his albums have literally sold out it in all the markets of eastern Nigeria.
4. MAFIKIZOLO [Khona] – A South African house track so massive that it has muscled its way that it onto this all-Nigerian list. “Khona” has even spawned a bunch of Nigerian versions: the official remix with May D, an Igbo version (comedically capitalizing on some linguistic coincidences), a Pidgin version and a Yoruba version.
3. KCEE [Pull Over] – This playful song about picking up a girl from the point of view of a traffic cop stopping a car was inescapable this December. “Pull Over”features Wizkid on the hook and DelB on the beat again.
2. WIZKID [Caro] – Afrobeats international superstar Wizkid always picks the best beats to flex his melodic prowess on. The last two years has belonged to Wizkid and this song is just the icing on the cake. Props to the Legendury Beats brothers for providing this lush soundscape. One can only hope that they release the “Caro” instrumental at some point.
1. DAVIDO [Skelewu] – Produced by Shizzy, this is the biggest song in Nigeria bar none! Blasting out of every club, taxi and market stall. Nothing else need to be said just listen to it! By the way it seems there’s a few thousand “Skewelu” dance videos out there. In case you are into that sort of thing, the best ones are by Lipstick Bandits and LA N6.
WIZKID [On Top of Your Matter] – It was hard to keep this one out of the top 10. Wizkid still with his uncanny ear for richly layered production. The best way to describe the DelB produced beat for “On Top of Your Matter” is “Digital Highlife”. (This sounds like an idea for a future compilation or new West African genre)
OREZZI [Rihana] – Addictive dancehall-tinged ode to the main Bajan badgyal or the girls that look like her.
WANDE COAL [Rotate] – Crazy catchy song by a top artist whose star seems to be slowly fading. Sounds like its the superproducer Don Jazzy (“Oliver Twist”) on the bouncy beat.