Arguably, and for the Nigerian music landscape, Beyonce’s Lion King album featuring Afrobeats heavyweights was an exciting peak of 2019. It was also the year of the Burna Boy eclipse – hello Grammy – and several album releases from mainstays. But it didn’t mean we didn’t notice a handful of new artistes blowing up the scene with crowd-pleasing singles, breakout talents who enjoyed massive radio play and diversifying the soundscape.
Here are the newcomers whose songs we could’t help but bump to this year, and if your playlist doesn’t have any of these names, what have you been listening to???
Since signing to Mavin Global’s new imprint Jonzing World, Rema’s rise to fame in 2019 has been stratospheric. With ubiquitous hit song Dumebi, the 19-year-old singer-rapper wormed his way into the hearts of teen girls and a restless swathe of Gen-Zers, releasing three projects –Rema, Rema Freestyle, Bad Commando – with vast amounts of versatility and artistic shapeshifting. At the 13th Headies, Rema was ordained Next Rated and performed wearing a black ski-mask. This aesthetic, that also comprises of him holding a teddy bear, has cemented his signature look especially on Instagram., and it’s a picture of quiet rebellion.
2. Fireboy DML
Fireboy DML’s breakout single Jealous is one of the defining sounds of 2019, and made the cut on his late-year debut album Laughters, Tears & Goosebumps. Signed to Olamide’s powerhouse label YNBL, Fireboy is arguably one of the label’s best and dynamic recruits, a songwriting genius with a signature catchy sound.
Tems’ discography may be limited, but it exists as an emotional tableau of her life’s experiences. Born as Temilade Openi, Tems writes and produces her music, which fits into alternative RnB and neo-soul genres. Her 2018 single Mr Rebel, she describes in an interview, is a twisted love song but it is the aggressive spunk of breakthrough 2019 single Try Me that gave Tems the much-needed recognition. We will be looking out for Tems next year.
Joeboy first captured our hearts with his breakout hit Baby, and then replicated its success and critical mass on the Killertunez-produced follow-up Beginning. Not an easy feat, especially from a new artiste who has managed to gain momentum in a relatively short time. The 22-year-old singer has also become a poster child for the huge potential that Mr Eazi’s emPawa initiative can bring to new African artistes.
His debut EP Love and Light offers glimpses of what Joeboy could churn out if it were a lengthy project.