Picture the most dramatic, scary, unpredictable horror film you have ever seen where you thought the world as we know it was coming to an end, then multiply that by one million, that sums up the year 2020.
But despite the World War III teasers, nationwide protests, global pandemic, and months of lockdown, some uber-talented Nigerian artistes were able to rise above the various obstacles in their way and put out amazing music that helped listeners to zone out for a while and almost forget about the madness happening around them.
For the third year in a row, we will be spotlighting 10 outstanding new artists who have found their voice and audience in 2020 and have shown that they are ready to own the new year.
Here Ae The Ones To Watch In 2021:
1. Omah Lay
Stanley Omah Didiya popularly known as Omah Lay can easily be described as the breakout star of 2020 as he was able to grab the attention of Nigerians everywhere with his exceptional 5 track EP titled “Get Layd”.
The 23-year-old artiste first gained prominence in 2020 after his debut single ‘You’ went viral. Starting off as a producer and songwriter in Port Harcourt, Omah Lay worked behind the scenes on other people’s songs but only made up his mind to take up singing when he realized he wasn’t getting enough credit for the songs he helped create for others.
Omah Lay had earlier dabbled in music as a teenager, rapping in the streets of Marine Base in Port Harcourt under the alias Lil King but he got bored and learnt how to produce music.
After the success of his debut EP which raked in hundreds of millions of streams, he dropped another 5 track body of work titled “What Have We Done” which cemented the fact that Omah Lay was not a one-hit-wonder.
2. Bella Shmurda
As far as chart-toppers and hits are concerned, Akinbiyi Abiola Ahmed aka Bella Shmurda was definitely responsible for some of the biggest songs in the country this year.
Making his debut in 2019 with his highly successful track “Vision 2020” which eventually got a remix with Olamide, the artiste has continued to rise in his ranks and grow his listenership exponentially.
His 7 track EP titled “High Tension” was equally well received and further helped to fan the flames of his career along with notable features with A-listers like Davido.
Fine boy Bella as he fondly calls himself was also notably recognised for his song “Dangbana orisa” and listed as one of the artistes with the “Most streamed new song” in the world on audiomack in the second week of September followed by international colleagues like Lil Durk and 6ix9ine. Looking forward to seeing what the new year holds for Bella Shmurda.
3. Bad Boy Timz
Whenever you heard the words “Gbese Lekan kan” you already knew it was none other than Olorunyomi Oloruntimilehin better known as Bad Boy Timz. Before 2020, Timz had made several attempts to break into the Nigerian music industry with his Zlatan assisted track “Hustle” and his viral Twitter freestyle which would eventually earn him the support of his family but it wasn’t until he released his hit song “Micheal Jackson” that his career officially took off.
He would later go on to release multiple remixes of the song, one with Mayorkun and another with Teni and ultimately land an appearance on Olamide’s album where he shone on the 10th track titled “Loading”. Bad Boy Timz has shown a lot of promise and it seems he’s just getting started.
4. Psycho YP
Nicholas ‘Psycho YP’ Ihua- Maduenyi is the Abuja born and bred new school rapper with the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria behind him.
His ever-growing underground hip-hop fan base of new age music lovers has made him a prominent player in the Nigerian music scene because they love and support his music aggressively.
Starting out making music as a means of self-expression in high school, Psycho YP has grown as an artiste since then and repeatedly proven himself to be a vital part of Nigeria’s growing trap music scene.
He surrounds himself with like minds and understands the strength of a collective unit with a similar goal and that is exactly what his crew “Apex Village” is.
Psycho YP is definitely special and with the way music is beginning to cross borders and defy boundaries, he just might be on his way to global acclaim.
Chike-Ezekpeazu Osebuka professionally known as Chike is a singer, songwriter and actor commonly known for his participation in talent competitions like MTN project fame and The Voice Nigeria.
His talent, creativity and captivating vocals made him a fan favourite throughout his completions and moved Patoranking to call him a star and promise to make him a superstar while he was on The Voice.
However, it wasn’t until Chike released his 14 track album titled “Boo of the Booless” that he achieved huge mainstream success as the album became the most listened to and number 1 album on 19 February 2020.
Chike’s talent is unquestionable and he has a unique way of making listeners feel different emotions through his music so one can only imagine what he has planned for the new year.
6. Ajebo Hustlers
Ajebo Hustlers is a music group made up of two artistes, George Dandeson aka Knowledge, and singer Isaiah Precious aka Piego.
They are true Port Harcourt boys and their musical style consists of a mix of Afrobeat and highlife music genres.
In 2015, the duo released a remix to “Bole And Fish” which was their first official song together but their big break didn’t come until 2020 when their song “Barawo” became one of the prominent anthems of the #EndSARS movement. The popularity of their song earned them a feature with Davido. The artistes have been on the scene for a while but it looks like their time has finally come.
Chukwuka Ekeani aka Ckay is a producer and recording artiste currently signed to Warner Music South Africa. He’s been actively involved in the music-making process for a better part of his life as he started producing and writing music at age 13.
Ckay made his production debut with “Third Mainland Bridge” which featured MI & Moti Cakes on the TICBN vol. 1 album.
Over the years he’s been a recurring character in the Nigerian music scene, collaborating with top artistes across the board but 2020 has been a year of personal wins for him with his song “Love Nwantiti” getting over 70 million streams and his deal with Warner Music among other things.
He has evidently evolved over the years and it’s safe to assume he’ll keep the same energy in 2021.
DMW Princess Abdulsalam Suliyat Modasola better known as Liya is a singer and songwriter with proficiency in Afropop.
She rose to prominence after Davido signed her to his label making her the first female artiste on the team but it was her talent and delivery on her debut song ‘Melo’ that really got people hooked.
Before signing with her current label, she had put out a number of singles on which she showed her range as an artiste. Liya has just shown the world the tip of the iceberg and it’s clear that there is still a lot more to come from her.
9. Jinmi Abduls
Folarin Oluwafeyijinmi Abdulsalami is a singer, songwriter and producer popularly known as Jinmi Abduls. He is also a multi-instrumentalist and sound engineer.
He released his first song at the age of eleven and it was produced by his elder brother Versebeats.
Jinmi Abduls has since grown as an artiste and positioned himself as a unique voice in the midst of his colleagues. His debut EP “Jolag” was critically acclaimed and showed off Jinmi’s range as an artiste as well as his immense potential.
In 2018, in anticipation of his sophomore E.P., Jinmi Abduls released the single “Blessings”. The success of the single attracted the attention of music management company, The Plug, and in May 2019 he signed a management deal with the company.
He describes himself as “a very special musician” and he has proven himself to be special indeed.
Laime Bennibor aka Laime is a new generation artiste with a unique and compelling sound. Currently signed under his own co-founded label, Buzz Gang Entertainment, he has been able to build a substantial fanbase of hardcore fans who adore him and his music.
His 5 track EP “From Laime With Love” which was released in 2019 was a testament to the talent and versatility that Laime had as an artiste. In 2020 he got the internet buzzing after he released his Buju and Bad Boy Timz assisted track “Oga Boss”.
Laime isn’t confined to a box and his creativity is crystal clear in his music so it’s safe to say 2021 is about to be one for the books.