Ten Nigerian Artistes To Watch In 2019
It is safe to say that 2018 was a very remarkable year in the Nigerian music scene as it saw the emergence of new talent and the rise to global recognition of existing artistes like Burna Boy, Wizkid and Davido among others.
The OG’s have made their mark and are still thriving but our focus right now in on the new voices that got our attention in 2018 and have shown no sign of slowing down in 2019. These artists have unique sounds and special methods of delivery during performances. A lot of them have amassed relatively large fanbases due to social media and their online presence which gave followers a glimpse into their lives and their creative process.
Here is our list of the ones to watch out for in 2019;
Teni the entertainer
Teniola Apata popularly known as Teni the entertainer or Teni Makanaki is a singer, songwriter, drummer and rapper.
Teni’s entry into the music scene started in 2016 with covers, freestyles and comedy that quickly garnered likes from Instagram followers. By the time she released her first commercial freestyle, Boluwatife, Teni had stamped her name among fast-rising stars in the music industry.
2018 proved to be a defining year for the artiste whose clothing consists of du-rag, loose clothing, bubbly personality and shades which are in contrast to her thrilling voice.
As if that was not enough, the focus on her clothing in the popular podcast Loose Talk by Osagie Alonge got the attention of people who did not otherwise know her.
With the release of Fargin, Askamaya, Case and an appearance in The Fader magazine, Teni has shown to the world what it means to maintain originality and consistency.
To put it succinctly in the words of The Guardian Nigeria contributor Joey Akan,
“Teni represents… growth in our music industry. Her emergence ensures that our music industry conveyor belt keeps spinning. It mandates that our culture stays alive and truly ahead.
“Her emergence feels like a reward to everyone who consumes and cares about Nigerian art.”
She went on to win the Rookie Of The Year Award in The Headies, 2018, an award which was very much deserved besed on the amazing year she had.
Teni Makanaki is on a roll and we’re excited to see what the future holds for her.
Odunsi (The Engine)
Bowofoluwa Odunsi better known as Odunsi (The Engine), is an English-born Nigerian singer, songwriter and record producer.
Odunsi has been active in the music scene since as far back as 2015 but at this point, he was more of a producer and he produced for the like’s of “Boogey”, “Blackmagic”, “Adomaa”, “King Zamir” and many more.
After awareness for himself and his music started to grow in 2016 due to the release of “Happy Hour” featuring Sony music recording artist Okuntakinte, he got recognized by MOBO which dubbed him an artist to watch. Later that year, he released “Situationship” featuring AYLO and got featured on Spotify United States’ Top 10 viral tracks at number 5 and a solo performance at Nativeland 2016, alongside Skepta, Maleek Berry, J Hus and more.
Odunsi is an artist in every sense of the word. Not just a musical artiste but an artist because he is all about expression, from his sense of style to his genre of music and even the cover art for his songs, you can tell that he is just trying to tell his truth and all his asks is that we pay attention.
He is greatly affiliated with the Lagos Alternative (Alte) scene as it seems that is the only setting where young artists can freely express themselves through fashion, art or music without fear of getting a side eye or being judged.
2018 was a very active year for Odunsi as it saw the release of his first studio album titled “rare.” Which featured artists like Davido, Santi, Runtown, Nasty C and more, his debut on the runway at Lagos Fashion Week where he walked for Orange Culture, his first sold-out show which had performances from Olu Maintain, Mr Eazi, Santi, SDC among others, he equally performed at major shows and concerts like The BBK homecoming concert in April which featured the likes of Skepta, nasty C, Naomi Campbell, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Davido and many more.
Odunsi is definitely on the come up and we can’t wait to see what he has planned for 2019.
Wavy The Creator
Jennifer Ejoke known by the vast majority as Wavy The Creator is a singer, songwriter, filmmaker and photographer who has been away from the country for a majority of her life but she’s back now and she’s definitely making up for lost time.
Most people originally knew Wavy as Olamide’s personal photographer under the name Wavy Film because she captured him and his crew for a period of time and gave fans a glimpse into his life but she has since made the leap into Music, a transition which she described in an interview with Guardian Life as “easier and swifter than I thought”.
Her androgynous style and unique sound are a few of the reasons why she has quickly become a fan favourite and people can’t seem to get enough of her.
Last year was quite eventful for the artiste as it saw her gain the attention of both domestic and international media agencies including NativeMag and Vogue, she released visuals for her much anticipated single “Stay” and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, she opened for Skepta’s BBK crew, which consists of British M.C. J Hus and afrobeat stars Wizkid and Davido, for their homecoming concert among other achievements.
We are eager to see what the future holds for her as she has hinted joint and solo projects so it’s safe to say 2019 is going to be quite wavy.
The artiste formally known as King D-O is a rapper, singer and songwriter who shuffles between Lagos and the United States. The name change from King D-O to Prettyboy D-O was due to the artiste’s transition from rapping to singing.
The artiste broke into the Nigerian music scene with his hit track “Tinko ko” which he says took him a year to write and after that he went from freestyling on YouTube tracks to working with a producer like July Drama (producer of “Peter Piper” and “Footwork”).
Growing up, prettyboy was very much exposed to music especially rap music and Jay-Z was a big influence on him but he didn’t dabble into music until he moved to New York for college.
The artiste had an exciting 2018 as he released his first album titled “Everything Pretty” which featured artistes like Falz, Santi and Sugarbana, he made his runway debut at Lagos Fashion Week, he headlined his very own concert “Pretty World” which featured performances from Kida Kudz and Wani, he modelled for Influence Gallery’s (I.N) F/W ’17 collection designed by Ifeanyi Nwune, he performed at the Nativeland 2018 concert along with Skepta, Wizkid, SDC and a host of others and he also performed at Burna Boy’s sold out show “Burna Live”.
Prettyboy is constantly pushing himself and we can’t wait to see what he does next.
Santi also known as Ozzy B was born Osayaba Ize-Iyamu. He is an alternative singer, rapper, song writer and filmmaker who combines different genres of music to produce his unique sound. At a young age he developed a passion for music after listening to his dad’s old records and he went into music professionally at the age of 16 and he dropped a mixtape in July 2011, which was well received and was highly rated as one of the best mixtapes ever in Nigeria.
In 2013 he released a 13 track EP called “Birth Of Santi” which till date is a reference for the emergence of new generation Nigerian music.
Santi’s personal style and method of expression are unique to him. Whether he’s out filming with his camcorder or in the studio making music, one thing is for certain and that is the fact that he is always creating and there’s never a shortage of inspiration for him.
2018 was quite the year for Santi as he kicked it off by covering the January issue of Guardian Life alongside Odunsi, Lady Donli and Maka, he released the visuals for his much-anticipated song “Freaky” which premiered on The Fader, he performed alongside industry movers and shakers like Wizkid, Davido, Not3s and a host others at the BBK homecoming concert, he featured on multiple singles and albums including Odunsi’s album “rare.”, releasing his music on Drake’s platform “OVO SOUND”, he ended the year by performing at the Nativeland concert where the crowd went wild as he performed his latest single “Rapid Fire”.
Santi recently announced via his twitter account that his album would be out early 2019 and fans could not contain their excitement as they’ve been patiently waiting for another Santi Joint.
Tobechukwu Victor Okoh better known as Peruzzi is a Nigerian singer and songwriter signed to Davido’s DMW record label alongside Dremo, Mayorkun, Sina Rambo and more.
Peruzzi has always had an affinity for making music and this prompted his father to get him a piano at the young age of 7 and he’s been following his dreams ever since.
His big break came in November 2017 when he got signed by Davido after one impromptu meet up in the club, in the words of Peruzzi because “he liked my vibe”. DMW boss Davido has a reputation for always spotting promising acts and was definitely not wrong about Peruzzi because since he got signed, he has released hit singles and featured on tracks with bigwigs in the Nigerian music industry like 2 baba, Ice prince, Davido among others and every time he delivered excellently well causing most of his songs and features to become chart toppers.
The artiste had a remarkable 2018 filled with hits, he released his first E.P titled “Heartwork” which peaked at Number one upon release featured the likes of Burna Boy, Davido, Mayorkun, Popcaan and other artistes, he performed at Davido’s sold out show alongside his DMW family, he was nominated for the award “best new artist” at the Soundcity MVP awards, he was equally nominated for the Headies 2018 rookie of the year, and the singer described the recognition as “a big deal”, he had a little bad publicity when a lady shared a video of him while he was asleep in a compromising position which caused him to trend on Twitter but he handled the issue and issued a tweet that read “Na spoil we spoil, we no dey thief” which was his was of urging fans not to crucify him as we all make mistakes.
Nonetheless, Peruzzi has proven himself to be an artiste to be reckoned with and we’re excited to see what 2019 holds for him.
Mars and Barzini
Mars (real name Ezechukwu Emmanuel Amarachi) and Barzini (real name Nwobodo David) are Nigerian musicians, composers and performers. They came into limelight when they released ‘Oluwa Nagode’ an Afro single in 2016. They met while schooling in the University of Nigeria and hit it off instantly.
Following the breakout success of Oluwa Nagode, they proceeded to collaborate further. The video for Oluwa Nagode was shot in Lagos by Mex Films and it trended heavily upon its release on online platforms and TV stations like MTV Base and Soundcity. The video also made its way to Trace naija’s “Bout To Blow” playlist shortly after its release. It also got attention and exposure from worldstarhiphop.com.
In December 2016, the duo organized and hosted the “Mars and barzini Live in Concert” experience in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. It was attended by over 3,000 people. They went on to release a tune titled “Colours” and it amassed 100,000 downloads on notjustOk.com within one week of its release.
The music video to Colours was shot in Dubai, UAE, and was self-directed by Mars and Barzini. Upon its release, MTV Base described it as “mesmerizing” and SoundCity spotlighted Mars and Barzini among artistes to watch out for. Their music, Afrogroove, is a blend of Afrobeats, Hip Hop and Trap. This sound was birthed due to the fact that they were raised in the golden age of the internet and were greatly influenced by the blend of cultures brought about by the internet age. Their music can be described as music for the 90’s baby by the 90’s baby. Mars and Barzini consider Jay-Z and Kanye West as their biggest musical influences.
Mars and Barzini regardless of their musical exploits still fit into the ‘Igbo boy’ stereotype as they’re both serial entrepreneurs who have launched several start ups which include Ship Clothing, Taker’s food delivery service, and other soon to be announced ventures.
In 2018, they performed in venues across the country and most notably was at the Bud x Chi Modu event where they serenaded the crowd after the Q & A session with the world famous photographer of icons like 2 Pac, Notorious B.I.G, Diddy among others. They went on to sell out their first major show in Lagos “The Legend Of Mars And Barzini” and it was a huge success which featured other fast rising artistes like Blaqbonez, Bobson, Jinmi Abduls and more.
The duo are definitely moving fast and we expect nothing but consistency and hits from them in 2019.
Buju originally named Daniel Benson, is a fast-rising 21-year-old Nigerian Afro-Fusion singer and who draws inspiration to create music ranging from his personal experiences, his environment or the experiences of his friends.
His ability to tell stories effortlessly in his music whilst including vivid melodies and harmony is something that has made his music a ‘must-listen’ as it’s unexplainably enjoyable.
His discography ranges from these singles ‘A Day in Lagos’, ‘Call You’, ‘Catch A Vibe’, ‘Cool Kids’ and the latest ‘Wahala’, all released in the year 2018.
Buju lit up stages all 2018 in multiple locations and his track ‘A day in Lagos’ was a fan favourite as it was very relatable especially for Lagosians as he spoke about the hassles during the day and highlighted the glamourous Nighlife scene.
His music is very descriptive as he tries to take listeners on a Journey for however long the song lasts. When you plug in your headphones, close your eyes and listen, you almost feel like you’re in the setting or situation he’s describing.
Another amazing skill the artiste possesses is his ability to freestyle on any beat and effortlessly deliver solid vocals. Videos of Buju hopping on random beats and doing justice to them went viral and his fanbase grew because seeing him in his element is truly a sight to behold.
Buju ( Beauty Underneath Just Understood) is most definitely an artiste to watch in the years to come as he is believed to have ‘just what the world needs to listen to’ and it is evident in his music.
Adedayo Agbi is a singer, songwriter and performing artist based in Lagos, Nigeria. His musical style has traces on contemporary music and he is well known for his electric live performances.
He has always had an interest in music but he decided to pursue it professionally while he was in the university and had to find a way to balance both aspects of his life.
The artiste told Guardian Life via phone call that he “makes music for the youth, not just the Nigerian youth but for everyone in that age bracket” this is because his music talks a lot about the problems of young adults and truly anyone in this category that listens to his music often finds it very relatable.
Dedayo spent a majority of 2018 locked away working on his upcoming project “Too Young For Drama” on which he says he has put in immense effort and tried to sum up his experiences, the ups and downs and he is eager to release it as fans have been clamouring for new music but he insists it’s not quite ready. One thing is for certain and that’s the fact that we can expect nothing short of great melodies, amazing vocals and originality.
Apart from having an amazing sound, the artiste also has an incredible sense of style which fans find to be quite alluring. He is a part of the music, fashion and art collective known as Urban Trybe so it’s no surprise that he is always on top of his game.
Dedayo has shown that he’s an artiste with a range so we can only wait and see what he has in store for us in 2019.
Akumefule Chukwu-Emeka, popularly known as BlaqBonez is a Nigerian rapper, popular for winning Terry Tha Rapman Zombie Competition.
Blaqbonez won the Tosinadeda’s Radio Palmwine’s, in 2015 alone, emerged 1st runner-up in Vector’s king kong competition, won the Rhythmfm Freestyle Fury and became RhythmFm’s artiste of the month, became the Hennessy Vs class captain, part of the Soundcity blast cypher, also released his much talked about mixtape CTAT “Cssette Tapes and Tvs” grossing over 60,000 engagements in streams and downloads, which is his third mixtape, following hip-hop in blaq and the “unfinished EP”.
The artiste has alter egos named Rasaki and President Emeka, which he uses to rap in English and Yoruba. He also made the list of 5 rappers on the hip-hop radar in 2016 by Talkglitz and also Ten rappers to watch out for in Africa by opinion polls.
Blaq has been active in the Nigerian music scene since 2011 and he has released a project every single year since then, constantly proving himself to be a rapper worthy of note. He refuses to compare himself with any rapper out there stating “I don’t see myself as better than the next guy when I listen to any rapper, I try to understand what the person has and what I can learn from that person”.
He released his latest album “Boy Boy Blaq” and he said in an interview with Pulse that “the love for the album has been organic.” Tracks like “Consent”, “Mamiwota” and “Accommodate” have fast become fan favourites as they connected deeply with the message in the songs especially Consent which was inspired by a need for men to have a better more profound respect for women, not just online but in real life.
2018 was a very active year for the artiste as it saw him further rise and solidify his status as a rapper with content, his album was highlighted by Soundcity as album of the year alongside Burna Boy’s “YE” and M.I’s “Rendevouz” among others.
BlaqBonez is constantly proving himself and we can’t wait to see what he has planned for the new year.
All these artistes have made remarkable strides in music and have shown that they have the potential to do great things and rise to the occasion when the time comes and we strongly believe that time is now.