For many Nigerian musicians, 2019 proved to be a most successful and unforgettable year which left them smiling to the bank.
By Alexander Thandi Ubani
The Nigerian music industry has become the pride of Africa recording an unprecedented streak of successes while showcasing talented stars making the continent proud. These group of exceptional musicians released spell-binding songs that left ears wowing in awe.
This year alone, Nigerian musicians posted the continent on the global stage with electrifying songs that got international superstars gyrating to its rhythm. These Nigerian stars brought us accolades and solidified our status as the giant of Africa.
My top three list of male musicians who ruled 2019.
Afeez Fashola aka Naira Marley.
In 2019, although Olamide aka Badoo tried to run the street as he has always done in the past years, Naira Marley came out hotter and better with jams and dance steps that kept the youths nodding endlessly in happiness. His songs were the medicine to cure the frustration brought on the masses by government's aimless policies which condemned people to utter suffering. Buoyed by the government's effort to incarcerate him over alleged fraud, the musician who was relatively unknown just some years back, catapulted himself to the top and became the 'street king of 2019'.
His songs were acclaimed successes garnering millions of views on YouTube and other social media platforms. He became the first Nigerian musician to get over 40,000 comments
in a matter of hours. His song 'Soapy' was a street banger that magneted a large chunk of our youths to his brand. Quite disturbing are his kind of songs, but youths seem hypnotized that they cannot get enough of it. Many radio and television stations do not consider playing his songs, but he has continued to rise like an angry wave.
His dance steps are practiced and danced by the young and old alike. It is like people have been infected with the 'Naira Marley virus'. Without any doubt, the rapper was one of Nigeria's most successful musicians of 2019. His smash hit song, 'Am I a yahoo boy?' Featuring Zlatan Ibile lived up to the hype because it was loved by the street. However, the song was blacklisted by radio stations because of its controversial lyrics. Singles like 'PXta', 'Mafo' and 'Bad Influence' made him a god among his followers who love to call themselves 'Marlians'.
Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu aka Burna Boy
2019 became the year Burna Boy broke new grounds. This multi-talented Nigerian musician solidified himself as the king of Afrobeat in 2019. Majorly underrated over the years and left to play second fiddle to megastars of the industry like Davido and Wizkid, his 'chi' remembered the promise he made to him over the years and lifted him above his peers this year. With hit after hit that went global, Burna Boy made himself a lone star that illuminated the night sky. His songs are not only meaningful, but also electrifying, spell-binding and historically edifying so much so that international artistes can't get enough of it. He is the supernal singer of our time.
In 2019, he won the BET Award for Best International Act; The Headies Award for Artiste of the Year; MTV Europe Music Award for Best African Act; The Future Awards Africa Nigeria Prize for Young Person of the Year; The Future Awards Africa Nigeria Prize for Music; The Headies Award for Song of the Year; and the Headies Award for Best Collabo.
His fourth studio album 'African Giant' has become an incredible success for the Nigerian entertainer. The album churned out hit songs after hit songs. In fact, the album is a mega hit - I mean all the songs are worth dying for. No wonder the album got him a nomination in the Best World Music Album category at the upcoming 62nd Grammy Awards.
His song 'Ja Ara E' was featured on Beyonce's Lion King album also nominated for grammy.
Omoniyi Temidayo aka Zlatan Ibile
Omoniyi Temidayo aka Zlatan Ibile has written his name in the sand of time as the prince of indigenous rap song. The musician started last year with a banger hit song 'Zanku (Leg work)' which got the streets buzzing with his signature leg work. He consolidated on the success in 2019 with other hit songs like 'Yeye Boyfriend', 'Bolanle', 'Gbeku' and others which kept his loyal followers gyrating to his tunes.
His collaboration with other artistes like Burna Boy, Davido and Naira Marley capped a beautiful 2019 leading to the release of his album 'Zanku to the world' which consists of 17 tracks.
I will not end this review without mentioning another veteran of the music industry, Kizz Daniel. The musician also enjoyed a successful year with hit songs like - 'Pak n Go', 'Fvck You' and others. His song, 'Fvck You' got mad reviews which led to viral responses from celebrities who couldn't but jump to the beat.
Also, accolades must be given to Fireboy DML for his hit songs - 'Jealous', 'Scatter', 'What If I Say'. His album titled: "Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps" was a sweet success. Without a doubt, he is destined to take the industry by storm.
Another musician who enjoyed a successful year is Rema. His hit songs - 'Dumebi', 'Lady' and 'Corny' made fans fall in love with the young artiste. He is a talent for the future.
In summary, 2019 proved to be a most successful year for many old and new musicians in the industry. Hopefully, 2020 will turn out more exceptional for many other musicians who didn't enjoy the kind of success they had hoped for.
Alexander Thandi Ubani is a music lover.
He writes from Lagos.