BY ROTIMI AGBANA
The Nigerian music industry has probably never experienced the amount of buzz it experienced in 2018. Of course, it would be almost impossible to fully recount them all for obvious reasons. In terms of recognition, global penetration, and quality of music, 2018 superseded previous years, which is why it may go down as one of the most memorable years in the Nigerian music industry. Below is Showtime’s list of artistes that ruled the music waves in 2018 based on their impact, hit songs, feats, mainstream success and global recognition.
Unarguably, 2018 was an amazing year for the Starboy, as he fondly calls himself. During the year Wizkid ripped up stages worldwide, dropped hit songs, made amazing musical collaborations with notable local and international music acts, sealed major deals, debuted on the fashion runway as a celebrity model, all which made him a continuous topping for discussion all through the year. Sometime in May, the ‘Soco’ crooner sold out the 20,000 capacity O2 Arena in one of his most iconic achievements and also performed at the Reading Festival, UK. Not only did he break grounds in the music sphere, his influence spread outside the music circles, as he also impacted immensely on pop culture. From walking the Dolce and Gabbana runway alongside international celebrity model, Naomi Campbell, featuring as an ambassador for the Super Eagles World Cup jersey branded by Nike, to having an official ‘Wizkid Day’ declared in his honour by the Governor of Minnesota, United States, among many other notable achievements. His 2018 hit songs which ruled the music waves like a whirlwind include, ‘Soco’, ‘Fake Love’, ‘Fever’, ‘Gucci Snake’, featuring street music artiste, Slim Case, and ‘Bad Energy’, featuring Skepta.
Wizkid, Davido, Olamide, Maleek Berry, Mayorkun, Simi, Toby Grey, Reekado Banks , Kiss Daniel, Falz, Niniola , Soti, Tekno and Adekunle Gold
When Burna Boy’s 13-track ‘Outside’ album hit the number three spot on Billboard Reggae Album Chart within a week of its release, it became obvious that he was one Nigerian artiste who would top charts during the year. Though 2017 was a bit scandalous for the ‘Gbona’ singer who unfortunately got enmeshed in a messy robbery attack/physical assault scandal, an experience which almost ruined his reputation, giving him negative publicity, he miraculously fought his way back to positive limelight with the release of his ‘Outside’ album early in the year.
In what seemed like a deliberate action aimed at wowing his fans and lovers of goos music beyond expectation, he began shooting the visuals of each song, beginning with his favourite hit, ‘Heaven’s Gate’, featuring Lily Allen. But a few months later ‘Ye’ turned out to become the one song that would define Burna’s year, as the song immediately floored ‘Heaven’s Gate’ as soon as he dropped its visuals. To put an icing on the cake, he embarked on a ‘Life on the outside’ tour, which eventually put his songs more on international music charts by reason of the massive acceptance and recognition they received. Afterwards, impressive collaborations, features and more hits in ‘Gbona’ and ‘On The Low’ continued to put him more on the front burners of the Nigerian music scene. Take it or not, 2018 was definitely the best of years for the Don Gorgon, as he fondly calls himself.
Though his brand of music may not be the toast of many, a few who appreciate and enjoy alternative urban music know that Adekunle Gold is a Nigerian musician in a class of his own. From his brand of music to his artistry, he has been able to distinguish himself as a unique musician of high classic taste. He kicked off the year with the release of two singles, ‘Ire’ and ‘Delilah’, following it up with his sophomore album, ‘About 30’; after which he took a bold step of taking his craft to the prestigious Indigo at the O2 Arena where he thrilled an excited audience in his usual fashion. Besides impressive stage performances at events he was booked for and ruling the music waves with his hit songs, he ended the year with the second edition of his concert, ‘Adekunle Gold Live in Lagos’, a three-day concert where his former label boss, Olamide and Asa and shared the stage with him.
Undoubtedly, the release of Falz’s controversial song, ‘This is Nigeria’ video improved his mainstream domination this year as he delivered one out of many moments that shaped pop culture in 2018. The song which satirizes the socio-political situation in the nation created a buzz around his name like never before, with the video hitting over a whooping one million YouTube views in less than two days. His most recent song, ‘Sweet Boy’ is still making much buzz on radio and TV stations even as it has since become a social media sensation where fans have turned it into a slang using the hash tag ‘Sweet Boys’ Association’. Prior to this, he won another AMVCA award, an addition to his many musical feats. Though he failed to stage the second edition of his ‘The Falz Experience Concert’ which he debuted in December 2017, Falz was able to hold sway in 2018 with his notable achievements so far.
Tiwatope Savage- Balogun, aka Tiwa Savage but fondly referred to as Mummy Jam Jam by close friends and family had a spectacular 2018. From the release of good singles, to dropping beautiful videos to each of them, jumping on notable collaborations, created notable buzz around town, Tiwa was able to court media/public attention with every single move she made during the year. Like she intentionally threw caution to the wind, her activities outside the music mainstream never went without attention. While the rumours surrounding her relationship with Wizkid was one that kept the media busy, she made reasonable impact with her hits, ‘Tiwa’s Vibe’, ‘Lova Lova’, ‘Diet’ and her remix with international singer, Omarion, ‘Get It Now’.
To crown the eventful year, she staged her concert at the O2 Arena before a sold-out audience, floored Davido, others to win the award for ‘Best African Act’ at the MTV EMAs in November, and shared the stage with the likes of Beyonce and Jay Z at the Global Citizen Festival in South Africa. What more would she have needed to rule the music scene in 2018 than debuting as a video vixen in the video of Wizkid’s hit song, ‘Fever’.
Duncan Mighty, Port Harcourt first son, as he is fondly called was a musical force to reckon with during his heydays but his music career suddenly suffered a huge setback, causing him to disappear from the music scene for a long time.
However, luck smiled on him when he bounced back to stardom after recording ‘Fake Love’ with Wizkid. Like other artistes were waiting for his comeback, he went on a collaboration spree with Tiwa Savage on ‘Lova Lova’, Reekado Banks on ‘Bio Bio’, Ceeza Milli on ‘Sabi’, Davido on ‘Aza’, DJ Exclusive on ‘Gimme Love’, and B-Red on ‘Uju’. From not being in the limelight during the first half of the year to ending it as one of the most featured musicians is one of the memorable moments that the ‘Duncan Mighty’ wave delivered in 2018.
Though he had been ruling the music scene since he signed on to G-Worldwide, his exit from the label was a plus for the Woju crooner. It would not be out of place to say he was the most featured artiste in 2018. In 2018 alone he was featured on CDQ’s ‘Gbayi’, Harrysong’s ‘Selense’, Omawumi’s ‘Me Ke’, Ben Pol’s ‘Zai’, DJ Big N’s ‘My Dear’, Seyi Shay’s ‘Surrenda’, DJ Neptune’s ‘Wait’, DJ Spinall’s ‘Baba’, Becca’s ‘Gina’, Demmie Vee’s ‘You go Wait’, DJ Enimoney’s ‘Send Her Money’, Major Lazer’s ‘Loyal’, among others worthy of note. On his personal songs, he featured Wizkid on ‘For You’, Davido on ‘One Ticket’ Tanzania’s Diamondz Platinum on ‘Tere’, Wretch 32 on ‘Bad’, South Africa’s top rated rapper, Nasty C on ‘Ghetto’, Demmie Vee and DJ Exclusive on ‘Somebody Dey’, Diplo on ‘Ikwe’, Phillkeyz on ‘Nesesari’, and Ghanaian top notch rapper/singer, Sarkodie, on ‘Kojo’.
Why won’t he make this list when all the songs he was featured on received massive radio and TV airplay all through the year, even as they also enjoyed continuous nationwide airplay in clubs and fun spots? He ended the year with the release of his much anticipated sophomore album titled ‘No Bad Songz’, to a wide acceptance from his fans and lovers of good music. Music pundits and critics have argued that if not for sentiments and subjective reasoning/judgment, Kizz Daniel should be crowned Nigerian artiste of the year based on his musical impact and achievements in 2018.
As always, since he made his mark on the Nigerian music scene, he has never failed to make meaningful impacts on the music space with hit songs which usually go viral in less than a day of its release. In 2018 he wasn’t left out as he dished out songs like ‘Science Student’ ‘Kana’, ‘Motigbana’, ‘Ronaldo’, ‘Bugle’, ‘Owo Shayo’, among several collaborations and features. The YBNL crooner usually finds a subtle way of holding the music space to ransom with his songs which always have a viral dance step attached to them. Like never seen before, his song, ‘Science Student’, made so much wave with the viral ‘Shaku Shaku’ dance steps which got celebrities learning it by all means. While still riding on the crest of ‘Science Student’ and the ‘Shaku Shaku’ wave, he dropped ‘Motigbana’ and another dance craze was birthed. Like he wasn’t satisfied with his musical achievement so far in the year, he released another hit, ‘Poverty’, with a smashing video to graphically communicate the lyrical message enshrined in the song.
Show me a more disciplined, technically accomplished, tactful and talented Nigerian artiste on the global music space than Mr. Eazi then I would rest my argument that he has established himself as one of the youngest and most skilled Nigerian artistes who knows his salt. With every well calculated move, he swept through the music scene in 2018 like whirlwind, holding sway like no other fast-rising artiste ever recorded. Besides admitting that he is romantically involved with Temi Otedola, Femi Otedola’s daughter, he robbed shoulders with Davido, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage and others on this list with brilliant production on his songs ‘Surrender’, ‘Poverty’, ‘Pour me water’, ‘Suffer Head’, ‘London Town’, ‘Dabebi’, ‘Chicken Curry’, ‘Overload’, ‘Akwaaba’, ‘Soft’, ‘Open and Close’, among a number of local/international collaborations which have since continued enjoying airplay and topping billboard charts locally and internationally.
Even with only four singles to his 2018 discography, Davido still claimed bragging rights with the Starboy, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Olamide, Falz and others. In his usual fashion, he kicked off the year with his hit, ‘Assurance’, following it up with ‘Flora my flawa’ and subsequently ‘Nwa Baby’. Though the acceptance that greeted ‘Flora my flawa’ wasn’t as expected (because it was forgotten no sooner than it was released), ‘Nwa baby’ quickly came to the rescue while ‘Assurance’ continued to rule the airwaves. From winning the award for Best African Act at the BET to a collaboration spree with Duncan Mighty and Perruzi on ‘Aza’, Kizz Daniel on ‘One Ticket’, DJ Ecool on ‘Ada’, Mayorkun on ‘Bobo’, Larry Gaga on ‘Doe’, D’Prince on ‘Gucci Gang’, Peruzzi on ‘Twisted’, Dremo on ‘Kpa’, Chidokeyz on ‘With You’, DMW on ‘Aje’, ‘Mind’, among many other international and local collaborations, he rocked the music space. To wrap up the year, he dropped ‘Wonder Woman’, just after being heavily criticized for his verse on Kizz Daniel’s ‘One Ticket’, and rounded off the year with his ground breaking ‘City of David Concert’.
Davido sold out concerts in cities Nigerians never knew existed like Suriname and Mayotte, rocked the stage at the Wireless Festival and Jay-Z’s ‘Made in America’ concert, had a successful tour of the United States.
With the release of ‘Bum Bum’, Yemi Alade begun 2018 on a bright mode and she did not disappoint along the line as she maintained the momentum with which she started out with when she released ‘Oh My Gosh’ and ‘How I feel’. Though she cannot boast of a discography or awards as rich as Tiwa or Simi’s, with the little to her credit, she was able to secure a comfortable place among artistes who ruled the music scene in 2018.