Music is a universal language and with the end of 2018, it is clear that Nigerian music is speeding to the top of the global music chain.
The signs are everywhere- sold-out shows in major cities in the world, massive sampling of Afro-inspired music by international artists and viral collaborations with Nigerian artists.
As we bask in the euphoria that this development brought, it is important to acknowledge the artists who have drawn the world’s attention our way this year.
While most Nigerian artistes have put in their best, five very talented legends-in-the-making stood out.
Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade and Burna Boy are Nigerian names on the lips of the world as the year ended.
With over 63 songs and 382, 673, 941 YouTube views between them, these artistes have achieved reputable feats individually to earn them this place.
From international tours to record-breaking singles and unprecedented awards, they have crafted a thick extra layer of respect for Nigerian music and thickened the influence of Afrobeat-fusion.
Ayodeji ‘Wizkid’ Balogun started the year softly as he had quite an eventful 2017. This was until February when his song ‘Daddy Yo’ was featured in John Boyega’s film, ‘Pacific Rim’.
Explaining the song choice, Boyega wrote on his Instagram @johnboyega, “One of the most exciting things about producing Pacific Rim Uprising was the opportunity to influence the creative choices.
“So I put @wizkidayo song “Daddy Yo” in the movie. Jaegers need afrobeats too!”
As the world waited for the movie premiere, Wizkid embarked on a social tour, linking up with international A-listers and curating business deals. All the while, he kept promoting his music and releasing new hits.
With ‘Ojuelegba’, ‘One Dance’ and ‘Ma Lo’ still topping charts, he released the hot ‘Soco’ and the groovy ‘Nowo’. The former spread so fast that international artists could not stop jamming to it.
In June, Chris Brown released a viral video of himself jamming to ‘Soco’. Later that month, the song played in the background of Wizkid’s runway walk for Dolce and Gabbana in Milan, Italy.
Walking alongside supermodel, Naomi Campbell and Tinie Tempah, he became the first African artistes to walk for the global brand which increased his spectrum of influence.
This also reignited talks on his acclaimed performance at his sold-out O2 Arena show in London. Held in May, the event saw Wizkid perform to 20,000 Afro pop fans.
As he kept hitting milestones, it became clear to sportswear brand, Nike that Wizkid and the music he represented have a ready audience and influence that can sell out anything in seconds.
Fast-forward to September and his Nike-Star boy jersey sold out globally in one day. His pop-up shows around the world had queues that were startling and of course, Nigerian music was there to keep buyers company.
The 28-year-old continued his global tour and even had Oct. 6 set aside as ‘Wizkid Day’ in Minnesota, United States as an honour by the Governor and people.
Later that month, Wizkid broke the internet with the video release for ‘Fever’ featuring on-screen romance between him and Tiwa Savage.
The video earned one million views in one day, a first for any Nigerian music artist. But it wasn’t just him, Tiwa Savage had brought her own influence and the story caught public attention.
Away from the controversial video, Tiwa Savage shook 2018 in her own right having sold out her own headline London Concert ‘The Savage Tour’ at Indigo O2 in August.
Crowned ‘The Queen of Afrobeats’ by fans worldwide, her tour had her perform in Nairobi, London, Ghana, Dubai, South Africa, Zambia to mention a few.
To solidify her influence in the growing admiration for Afrobeats, Tiwa savage became the first woman to win the MTV EMA ‘Best African Act’ award in November.
The fashionable music star has been featured in Vogue magazine three times in 2018. The first time, the influence of her fashion sense was recognised.
Next, she revealed her ability to thrive in a male dominated industry. It was this same vibe she brought to the Global Citizen stage shared with Wizkid, D’banj and Beyoncé.
The show, held in December, saw Tiwa Savage bring her A-game to thrill the thousands of fun seekers gathered in South Africa for the tourism event.
Speaking of energy during musical performances, Davido is not one to flutter and again, in 2018, he has shown the importance of having the right squad.
The ‘Assurance’ singer broke the internet several times this year and was able to maintain optimum influence despite releasing few solo singles. The bulk of his works were with the DMW clan and he delivered.
In May, the singer broke boundaries when he performed to a crowd of 10,000 people in Suriname, a small South American country who knew his songs’ lyrics.
Davido, who was featured alongside Drake, J Cole and Migos in July at the Wireless Festival, London, sang his hit songs alongside label mate Mayorkun and received roaring responses from the crowd.
While posting videos of the event on his Instagram handle @davidoofficial, he wrote, “Everyone’s emotions were so HIGH at this point! They were trying to cut our time short!
“The Crowd wasn’t having it! We weren’t having it! And my God wasn’t having it!! FIA Wireless 2018!!
“WAAAAY UP!!!Wow The response from the crowd is unbelievable. Nigerian Artist are doing it Big. Putting Africa on the map!!,” he said.
Recently, American rappers, Trevor Smith Jr. aka Busta Rhymes and Prayah hinted a possible remix of Davido’s hit single ‘Fall’ with Busta Rhymes performing the song.
In October, Davido’s hit single “IF” emerged number one on the New York ‘Shazam’ chart for songs that listeners in the United States city have searched for its identity.
Shazam is a popular app used by millions of music lovers around the globe each month to identify a song that is playing at each moment.
The song ‘If’ had gone diamond in February while ‘Fall’, both 2017 hit tracks, went platinum respectively.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), this means ‘If’ has been sold or streamed one million times and ‘Fall’ has reached ten million record sales.
To wrap up the year, Davido released a touching video for ‘Wonder Woman’ appreciating leading women of Nigerian origin around the world.
This video hit one million views in 24 hours almost at the time ‘Fall’ hit 100 million views on YouTube edging out Yemi Alade’s ‘Johnny’ currently at 98 million.
Fondly referred to as ‘Mama Africa’, Yemi Alade has been on a Europe tour all year, releasing new music intermittently and a lot of dance videos.
Her Afrocentric style, upbeat songs, dance challenges and use of multiple languages have helped her create a class of her own, building her own global influence.
Yemi Alade performed at the Essence Street Style event alongside Teyana Taylor and was featured in Salif Keita’s ‘Diawata’.
Her tour took her round Amsterdam, Montreal, Sacramento, Toronto, New York among others to perform sold out shows along with the ‘Over sabi’ band.
In April, she sold out the 800 capacity O2 Islington Academy arena in London, becoming the first female Afrobeats artist to headline an event at the venue.
This was few weeks away from Burna Boy’s concert in London which provided one of 2018 memorable moments which earned him a ‘sold-out’ recognition from the organizers.
Shortly after, his billboard plastered all across Times Square, New York as YouTube’s ‘artist on the rise’.
The Afro-fusion artist kicked off the year with the raving album,’Outside’ in the latter part of January, which would go on to debut at the No. 3 spot on the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart.
‘Ye’, till date, remains the hottest and most memorable track of the album and Nigerians on Twitter pleaded for it to become the national anthem.
The song sparked the ‘My Ye is different to your Ye’ challenge after American rapper, Kanye West released an album of the same name.
Kanye West was also seen dancing to the song during his visit to Uganda. ‘Ye’ is the one song Nigerians look out to see Burna Boy continuously perform.
To sum up the influence of Nigerian music in recent times, acclaimed radio personality and music enthusiast Osato Edokpayi said “The industry has grown and it is fanstatic.
“You can’t fault that Nigerian pop culture right now is practically African pop culture. I listen to a lot of African radio and I am in awe of how well they speak of Nigerian artists.
“A lot of young Nigerians have a sense of pride in being Nigerian and in speaking indegenious languages in songs,” he said.