2020 has undoubtedly been a turbulent year. The COVID-19 pandemic roared and the Nigerian music industry was not exempted from the ‘wrath’ of the virus. Concerts were put on hold and entertainers could not perform as they would have normally done. However, some artistes still had a great year by releasing albums, getting awards and more recognition.In no particular order, Saturday Beats takes a look at 10 Nigerian artistes who made waves in 2020
Aside from the success of Burna Boy’s ‘Twice as Tall’ album released in August 2020, his 2021 Grammy award nomination (World Music category) seems to cement his place as a premium African entertainer.With the release of ‘Twice as Tall’, the singer made his highest-ever appearance on the Rolling Stone’s ‘Top 500 Artists’ chart. The Afro-fusion artiste also seems to have caught the eye of a former President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, who listed ‘Be Honest’, a song by Jorja Smith featuring Burna as part of his ‘2020 Summer Playlist’.The ‘Ye’ singer also clinched the ‘Best International Act’ at this year’s Music of Black Origin Awards.
After taking a break from social media in the course of the year, pop star, Davido, released his fourth album ‘A Better Time’ in November 2020. The album is undoubtedly a fan favourite as many of the songs on it have become hits.‘Fem’, one of the singles that preceded the album, already has 15 million views on YouTube as of the time of filing this report. Prior to that, international RnB singer, Trey Songz, had featured him on his hit song, ‘Sleepless Nights’. The self-acclaimed ‘omo baba olowo’ also made Obama’s summer playlist for his appearance on the song, ‘Know Your Worth (remix)’ by Khalid and Disclosure.
Popular singer, Ayodeji Balogun, aka Wizkid, has continued to maintain his relevance in the music industry. His latest album, ‘Made in Lagos’, attracted rave reviews across the world and is one of the most streamed bodies of works on major digital streaming platforms.‘Star Boy’, as he is fondly called by his fans, also won the ‘Best African Act’ award at the 2020 edition of the Music of Black Origin award. Puma also recruited him as the face of their ‘suede classics’ collection for Fall/Winter 2020.Wizkid also made Obama’s 2020 summer playlist with ‘Smile’, his collaborative single with US singer, H.E.R.
‘Armed’ with a melodious vocal range, sex appeal and a devoted fan base, Tiwa Savage continues to maintain her winning formula.This year, the self-proclaimed ‘African bad girl’, released her third album titled ‘Celia’, which she dedicated to her mother. With hit songs like ‘Koroba’ and ‘Ole’, Savage’s ‘Celia’ was adjudged among the Top Ten albums of 2020 by Time Magazine.
Though for a significant part of the year, Simi has been nursing her baby, Deja, the singer still soared in 2020, thanks to her hugely popular song, ‘Duduke’ dedicated to her then unborn child, the song resonated with millions of fans across the country and Africa. The music video has over 27 million views on YouTube as of the time of filing this report.‘Duduke’ is also one of the top 10 most popular Nigerian songs on TikTok in 2020. Married to Adekunle Gold, Simi also released an Extended Play album, ‘Restless II’ this year.
Controversial and lewd singer, Naira Marley, continued to churn out hit songs in 2020. Songs like ‘As e dey go’ ‘Opotoyi 2’ and ‘Aye’ were enjoyed by several people and got massive airplay.This year, Marley also devoted time to new artistes signed to his record label, Marlian Music. One of them, Zinoleesky’s song, ‘Mapariwo’, is one of the notable tunes of 2020.
No doubt, Mayorkun’s ‘Betty Butter’ featuring Davido, is one of the most popular songs of 2020.The song’s music video has 5.2m views on YouTube and the number keeps rising by the day.‘Geng’, another of his groovy tunes, is also a fan favourite. He was also featured on several other hit tracks such as ‘MJ remix’ (by Bad Boy Timz), ‘If No Be You’ (Jamo Pyper) and ‘What Type of Dance is This’ (DJ Kaywise, Naira Marley and Zlatan)Mayorkun has also been nominated in three categories for this year’s Headies Awards― Best Street-Hop, Artiste of the Year and Headies Viewer’s Choice.
If one is thinking of an artiste who has grown in terms of talent, creativity and songwriting, one needs not look further than Fireboy. Containing songs such as ‘Champion’, ‘Tattoo’ and ‘Airplane Mode’, his ‘Apollo’ album further shows the depth of his showmanship.Alongside Burna Boy and Rema, he was enlisted for the official soundtrack of FIFA 21 video game. The singer also worked with artistes such as Reminisce, Lil Kesh , DJ Cuppy and Peruzzi.
New kid on the block, Stanley Didia, aka Omah Lay, was in the news recently when he was locked up after a performance in Uganda. The singer, along with other artistes and the show’s organisers, were accused of engaging in acts capable of spreading COVID-19. Thankfully, the singer has been released and he can go back to doing what he knows how to do best.However, his brief incarceration does not take away from the fact that the singer is one of the biggest musical revelations of 2020. With songs such as ‘Bad Influence’, ‘Damn’, ‘You’, ‘Godly’ and ‘Lolo’, Omah Lay topped music charts and gained prominence. The talented act signed a recording contract with American record label, Warner Music Group. He also released two EPs, ‘Get Layd’ and ‘What Have We Done’ this year. He was featured on Olamide’s ‘Carpe Diem’ album on the song ‘Infinity’ as well.
Bella Shmurda is another fast-rising singer that was one of the most talked about artistes of 2020. His song ‘Cash App’ featuring Zlatan and Lincoln already has 1.6 million views on YouTube.The talented singer’s EP, High Tension, was also a success with hit tracks such as ‘Dangbana’, ‘Omnipotent’ and ‘Liquor’.A testament to the recognition he is getting, he was featured on Olamide’s ‘Carpe Diem’ album and Davido’s ‘A Better Time’