Music is always evolving, especially in Nigeria. A good artist must have a thorough grasp of the intricacies of a given industry. The 2Babas and the D’banjs were the big names in terms of pop artists at the beginning of the decade. However, there was an unexpected flood of fresh artists.
Since then, some people have remained while others have departed and have been stuck in a kind of purgatory until they reappear on the scene. This demonstrates that there is fierce competition in the music industry, especially in Nigeria, which is the largest in Africa and one of the most rapidly growing in the world.
There are too many artists for any of them to ignore the struggle. The actions they took during their period of dominance are visible to the people who stayed. These individuals are The Greats, whose contributions helped to define their era, particularly this period. Which artists have defined these years in their pursuit of success and its intermediate stages?
The criteria considered for this list includes:
CULTURAL IMPACT: This takes into account the extent to which an artist influenced their field and popular culture. How much the artist improved their genre overall and what impact they had inside it.
QUALITY: The songs are the center of it all. How effective were they? How many albums and songs from the artist’s discography are considered classics, decent, mediocre, or bad? Talent, stage presence, and all else in between.
POPULARITY: The popularity of an artist’s songs, the extent of their fan base, and their social media following are just a few examples of this. Another significant factor is how well-known a musician is outside of the music industry.
LONGEVITY: There is a compelling argument to be made that this is one of the most important indicators of an artist’s excellence.
In order to contribute our voice and celebrate these Nigerian music Greats throughout the past ten years, we present our list of the top 45 Nigerian artists of the decade, chosen by our team here at Naijatastic.com.
The master of Afro Highlife has developed into the best contemporary performer to emerge from the region. Flavour has won the hearts of music fans all over the world with his musical brilliance and a well-toned body. His enormous brand, especially in the South East of Nigeria, where his face can be seen on major roads smiling and encouraging you to buy a beer or anything, serves as a testament to his entire influence.
2. TIWA SAVAGE
Tiwa Savage joined Mavin Records in 2012 and therefore later released three albums that solidified her spot among the greatest artists of all time. Since then, she has signed a contract with Universal Music Group after leaving Mavin Records.
The 14-year seasoned singer from Bayelsa has reached the pinnacle of Dancehall dominance. By bringing his natural Afropop sensibilities to Dancehall, Timaya ushered in a new era. When packed and promoted to other countries, Timaya’s OG status is evident in his ongoing efforts to advance. Additionally, he launched DM Records Limited and promoted artists like Patoranking and King Perryy to a wider audience.
4. YEMI ALADE
The talented artist has aided in the development of a musical genre that lies between Afrobeats and Afro Pop. She has worked tirelessly as an artist, rising from being the winner of the 2009 Peak Talent Show to being one of Africa’s top artists, releasing singles and albums that have catapulted her to superstar status and success. Her sound, in fact, is a mirror of her personality. With 110 million YouTube views, her song Johnny could be the most popular Nigerian song and video in the past ten years.
Oliver Twist was a reward for D’banj’s work in the domestic music industry (consistently releasing excellent singles and albums; rising to the top of Mo’ Hits). He obtained a Jesus Piece and a GOOD Music deal with Kanye West outside of the country. D’banj, who goes by the stage name “The Entertainer,” has more influence than other artists thanks to his charisma and upbeat voice.
It is impossible to overstate the legend’s impact because he has continued to receive praise both within and outside of the continent. As a true artist, he has spent the last ten years putting out three albums, two of which—2012’s Away and Beyond and 2014’s The Ascension—received both commercial and critical praise. He changed his name to “2Baba” in 2014, undoubtedly reflecting his legendary status.
The head of YBNL once produced street superstars like Eni Duro and Anifowose as a strong rapper. Olamide has since altered his sound, sounding more like a singer. This has undoubtedly contributed to his increasing impact. Olamide, whose efforts have carved out an entryway for music that stays grounded to its roots, is responsible for the success of artists like Lil Kesh, Naira Marley, and Zlatan in the street-hop industry. Olamide has also had at least two hits per year for the most of the past ten years.
The Okoye brothers were probably one of the biggest artists on the continent when they were at the height of their abilities. With their Michael Jackson-inspired aesthetics—flashy clothing, breakdancing, and a sound that would influence musicians almost a decade beyond their peak—they shook the world while selling out stadiums. The twins are currently solo artists. It is unnecessary to question their overall contribution to the development of Afro Pop, nevertheless. They’ve done legendary things.
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He entered the scene with the catchy song “Dami Duro,” which boasted about his connections to affluence. Seven years later, with two albums under his groove, Wizkid and Davido are leading the African Afrobeats movement. However, Davido receives special praise for having an unwaveringly African-focused artistic vision.
Since his debut in 2011, around the time of Holla At Your Boy, The Starboy has become one of Africa’s most popular artists. Since then, he has released three tends to work: the timeless Superstar, the avant-garde Sounds From the Other Side, and Ayo, an album with the same name that includes songs like Jaiye Jaiye and Ojuelegba.
However, it’s possible that Wizkid’s international success during the past ten years has had the biggest impact on the Nigerian music scene. He is renowned for having twice sold out the 02 Arena, and ever since he collaborated with Drake on “One Dance,” he has given African artists more opportunities.
11. JESSE JAGZ
Jesse Jagz, an outstanding rapper and producer, has set the bar for music in the country. His lyrics are incredibly introspective and frequently drawn from his favorite weed, marijuana. The majority of his music is self-produced, and his production is mostly experimental. The first of Jesse Jagz’s four albums, “Jag of All Tradez,” was released in 2010. His most recent film, Odysseus, was out in 2017.
12. LIL KESH
For a while, the teeny-voiced rapper ruled the streets. His upbeat melody is influenced by classic Yoruba music. Young And Getting It (YAGI), his 2016 album, is one of the most enjoyable albums of the era it was released in. This is more evidence that, when his chosen genre is taken into account, his brilliance was without a doubt the driving force behind the epic Olamide Headies rage.
13. ORITSE FEMI
The musician, who is renowned for his mesmerizing voice, saw a career renaissance with “Double Wahala,” which received a D’banj remix. Oritse Femi’s career has been inconsistent, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is unquestionably an old hand in the industry.
14. MALEEK BERRY
Maleek Berry, who was once well-known as a producer, has spent the better part of the years making up for that lapse with strong songs and EPs. The “Kontrol” vocalist, a very versatile artist, was able to incorporate all of his creative talents into music, whether it was created by him or not. This trait has made the UK-based singer very sought-after; he is well-known for his many collaborations with Wizkid and American musician Goldlink.
15. TERRY G
Once renowned, he has come to be understood in the last years of the decade that proclaims his sad absence. Creativity, a crucial component of survival, was at the heart of his loud, brazen music. Even though Terry G’s peak years weren’t as long as fans would have liked, he nevertheless produced some timeless classics (and even recorded some), and his legacy should be acknowledged.
The DMW star has developed a strong reputation based on flash and sass. His dreadlocks are attractive, but his music, which is characterized by pop vocals and corny lyricism, is more so. The Mayor of Lagos, his 2018 album that helped him become a local and, dare I say, global pop sensation, was a commentary on this tried-and-true genre.
Simisola, her second album, was released by X3M Music and is unquestionably a classic. The album, which included classic songs like “Remind Me,” “Aimasiko,” and “Original Baby,” displayed her smart writing and clever sense of humor. She has now established herself as one of the industry’s frontier performers.
At one point in his career, Vector was an A-List rapper with the popularity of a pop artist. His lyricism, which combines more conventional rapping styles with regional slang, contributes to some of his reputation. Consequently, Vector is well-liked. However, critics are far more difficult to entice.
Since State of Surprise (released in 2010) was mid, and it is sort of his best work, people wonder if Vector has any other work that is deserving. With his ten-track album Vibes Before Teslim, which builds on the momentum of his victory over M.I. Abaga, Vector seems to have responded.
The daughter of Apata once experimented with soul music. In fact, she co-wrote the song “Start All Over” with folk musician Johnny Drille. But things have changed since then. Niniola is a product of the Afro House genre, which is characterized by beat-heavy music and explicit lyrics. Niniola has been successful in carving out a place for herself in the music industry; her song “Maradona” is famous for having been featured on a Beyoncé song.
The vocal diva from Delta has a distinguished career. Her placing second in the 2007 West African Idol served as the foundation for this. Due to Omawumi’s unrivaled singing prowess, she has propelled herself to iconic status with three albums, two of which—”Wonder Woman” and “Lasso of Truth”—are regarded as classics.
The pair reached their pinnacle in the first half of the decade. A demographic of listeners who were seduced by the ease of the moment and immediately fell in love with love-related media responded well to their Afro Pop and R & B style, soaked with all the energy it could manage.
22. REEKADO BANKS
The amazing kid discovered by Don Jazzy quickly developed into a self-sufficient man. He continued to make bold moves after receiving the highly coveted #NextRated Award at the Headies in 2015, producing strong singles including “Oluwa Ni” and “Easy (Jeje)”. Reekado Banks’ debut album, “Spotlight,” was released in 2016. His Afropop-influenced music has received accolades for its beauty and the quality of his composition.
Three years into the decade, the former Chocolate City performer gave up his pop impulses. The Brymo of “Oleku” and “Ara” made way for more philosophical music, which Mikkyme Joses’ production and the skillful songwriting of Brymo sound tracked. While not the majority, Brymo’s followers will go to any lengths for an artist whose music has raised him to a god-like reputation, somewhat akin to Beyoncé. This alliance has fueled his ascent: his albums top charts and his performances are sold-out.
24. SEAN TIZZLE
The brilliance of Sean Tizzle’s debut album is not widely known. That is probably a result of his lack of star power and propensity to explore when he was looking for a signature sound. But “The Journey” is one of the best albums of the decade, and Sean Tizzle generated the buzz with a number of standout hits.
Sean is undoubtedly talented, but it’s puzzling why he’s become even less well-known over the past ten years when everyone expected him to soar, especially after that infamous #NextRated victory over Burna Boy in a category.
25. NAETO C
Naeto C immediately gained fans thanks to his American-style rapping and flow. He released hits like “10 over 10” and “Tony Montana” during his prime that confirmed his reputation as a great guy. Naeto C already had success rapping with easy ease, which supported the numerous boasts featured in his songs, before M.I made it cool for a rapper to aspire to major hits.
The singer changed her look after winning the MTN project fame and adopted a contemporary street persona while maintaining the delicacy of her initial presentation. This has sustained her throughout her career, which has mainly been uneven; however, with an EP with Flavour, she appears keen to regain her position.
He co-hosted the 2019 Headies award, which demonstrated his expanding prominence. He played the lead in Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys a few years back. Reminisce has quickly established himself as an authority figure within the music industry, no doubt thanks to his demanding approach and voice. This has worked better in elevating him to the status of a crucial rapper for the decade’s ethos. Reminisce’s song “Local Rappers,” a protest against elitism with Olamide and Phyno, has remained one of the more significant cultural moments of the decade.
28. KIZZ DANIEL
He has quickly risen to the top of the list of contemporary hitmakers. After the success of his hit song “Woju,” Kizz launched his debut album, New Era, which gave his brand-new career some perspective. However, Kizz Daniel’s talent is fully fulfilled in No Bad Songz, as his vocal prowess carries 20 songs.
29. ADEKUNLE GOLD
A breath of fresh air came from the Kosoko son. He made his breakthrough with the song “Sade,” which showcased his love of romance. But both the concept and sound of his music have changed since then. While all of his earlier releases were romantic in nature, he has developed into a more well-rounded musician with songs that are philosophical.
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The decade’s most complete entertainment package may have been Folarin Falana. Falz is an actor, comedian, and musician who consistently pushes the limits of entertainment. His awareness, which is most clearly shown in his music, is what distinguishes him as a particular type of uniqueness. Heavy Fela influences can be heard in Falz’s 2018 album Moral Instruction, which won Album of the Year at the Headies. Falz raps about the Nigerian reality and has a message for everyone.
The former frontman for Eric Manny experienced his fair share of label issues. However, Runtown stood up and began to move, demonstrating his incredible talent, which had been known to us since “Gallardo” years earlier. One of the best love songs of the decade is undoubtedly “Mad Over You.”
Over the years, the Afro Dancehall artist’s standing in the industry has constantly increased. From his stint with K-Solo to Timaya and subsequently Foston Muzik, Patoranking’s career has progressed both domestically and internationally. Having a great reputation has helped him collaborate with more artists, which has so far resulted in a number of singles that have reached the top of the charts and his two albums, Wilmer, which was released in 2019 and God Over Everything in 2016, respectively.
33. SEUN KUTI
The Afrobeat master has kept up the momentum, producing current artwork with his band Egypt 80. (inherited from his father Fela). The song “Black Times” from 2018 is one of his best, since it was protestant and conscious, fiery and energetic, as Seun is known for being.
34. ICE PRINCE
Ice Prince created commercially successful rap by imitating his mentor M.I. Abaga. He quickly rose to prominence as The Drip’s face, a style icon whose musical taste it would influence. The COLD EP, his most recent endeavor this decade, is an innovative release, a genre in which Ice Prince has previously explored.
35. DUNCAN MIGHTY
The veteran of PH City’s moves during the decade can be divided into two periods. The first one happened around “Ahamefuna (Legacy)” in 2010. The second was in 2018, when his duet with Wizkid on “Fake Love” sent blast wave through the country. Almost eight years apart, what joins these moments together is Duncan Mighty’s artistry and hard work.
36. MR. EAZI
The Banku Music honcho came into the game with a nomadic hat that signaled his intention of crossing over. Today, Mr. Eazi has established himself as an industry legend whose commercial savvy is only surpassed by his musical prowess. Joeboy and J Derobie have benefited from his mentoring as a result of his work with the emPawa initiative.
Phyno hasn’t looked back since his album-sealing hit on iLLBliss’ “Anam Achi Kwanu,” releasing three albums and a collaboration with Olamide. If one wasn’t previously convinced, all these things have made Phyno arguably the best rapper to emerge from the South East.
The Afropop musician has subtly influenced the sound of his genre by opening doors for artists like Davido, for whom he has also produced (“If”). Tekno has constantly released hit songs since 2015 (“Duro”), the majority of which have only one word. “Pana,” “Diana,” and most recently “Skeletun” are a few of these.
The diva with the dreadlocks has made a name for herself. Her deeply personal and introspective music is the sole source of her popularity. She has performed in prestigious places, and people all over the world have fallen in love with her music, which veers from Soul to R & B. She has three albums out this decade, the most recent of which is Lucid.
The Kukere singer introduced an Afro Pop style that prominently incorporated African rhythms and dance moves. He was the go-to guy for the sexually-inciting during his years of dominance. His second album, “Desire,” received backing from a bevy of singles, and that year (2013), he took home the “Artiste of the Year” honor at the Headies.
41. DON JAZZY
The Don Dorobucci, who founded Mo’Hits and Mavin Records, has influenced culture. Stars like Tiwa Savage, Dr. Sid, Wande Coal, and D’Banj have all been associated with these labels during the past ten years. Talk about a breakthrough, Don Jazzy recently ordered the opening of two Mavin offices in Lagos.
42. BANKY W
The head of Empire Mates Empire, Banky, is arguably the best R & B performer of the decade. His talent is evident in the critically lauded productions he has produced, most notably 2013’s R&BW. Mr. W. once gave in to fan pressure and said that perhaps he still had an album in him. However, his ‘discovery’ and signing of young sensation Wizkid, who later became one of his largest investments, is his greatest contribution to the industry.
43. BURNA BOY
The self-described African Giant reached his commercial pinnacle around the end of the decade, but his accomplishments are still defining for a generation. Burna Boy is the leader of the Afrobeats movement (“African Giant”) and is also bringing diasporan music (“Outside”) back to his native country. He received a Grammy nomination in 2019 for the song African Giant, which was released before the nominations were announced.
44. M.I Abaga
The Short Black Boy’s popularity can be traced to the fact that he created rap music that was both technically proficient and appealing to Nigerian tastes. The self-analytical album “Yung Denzl,” which was released in 2018, is the icing on the cake of MI’s excellent projects from the past decade. Additionally, M.I has witnessed the rise of musical talents like Koker, Dice Ailes, and more recently, Blaqbonez through his substantial work at Chocolate City.
45. WANDE COAL
Without a doubt, The Black Diamond is a legend. He has influenced artists like Wizkid, Davido, Fireboy DML, and Oxlade with his vocal-driven type of Afro R&B. His albums continually achieve strong sales, which extends his commercial reach significantly.