We cannot overemphasise the damage the coronavirus pandemic has done this 2020. There is no industry it did not lay hands on. No individual resident on earth it did not make nervous. It made and marred. But, it also gave people the opportunity to make changes in their lives. Work and life styles were changed – mostly for the better.

At least, many decisions have been made virtually – up till now. Many individuals and firms adapted to the forced necessary changes and the Nigerian Music Industry did not ‘lose guard’ too. Indeed, Nigerian Afrobeats was already poised for its global breakthrough in 2020 and it happened.

We have probably had more albums this year than any other year in recent times. We have had Nigerian music artistes becoming more recognised global figures. Indeed, we could not be more proud than an industry that saw opportunities from the pandemic phenomenon and made judicious use of those opportunities. This is why we have listed 10 individuals who we regard as the most influential people in Nigerian music.

Are your faves on the list? See below:

Omah Lay

Having spent time trying to break through into the Nigerian music market – from just being another Port Harcourt singer, Stanley Omah Didia, popularly known as Omah Lay, finally entered into the hearts of fans of Nigerian music with his soul-reaching songs and peculiarity.

Omah Lay’s greatest gift is his type of songwriting that merges echoes of Fireboy‘s creative chirography with Wizkid‘s vibes.

The 23-year-old is currently one of the richest and most influential artistes in Nigeria, with an estimated net worth of $400,000 dollars. Thanks to the content he dishes out to the world. And, producing two EPs, Get Layd and What Have We Done in, relatively, no time is it for us.

Davido

Conversations on Davido being the greatest African artiste may not stop soon. His album, A Good Time, released November 2019 drew attention across the world, also drew in numbers. But, it got better this year.

Davido has built an international career on songs about love and lust that have collectively amassed more than a billion streams. His latest album, A Better Time is filled with them.

The vocalist/producer blends traditional African elements with global mainstream pop for a sound that’s equal parts intriguing and infectious. As far as global artiste goes, Davido has reached a certain stage and is still climbing that ladder.

Wizkid

First off, Wizkid is the ‘no stress’ musician who poses like someone who would rather not be compared to someone else. ‘The guy just wants to sing and enjoy life”.

In 2017, the New York Times described Wizkid as the budding star taking afrobeats to the world. The Singer/songwriter, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, is, indeed, one of Nigeria’s biggest R&B crossover acts, having worked with DrakeSkeptaChris Brown, and a host of others.

In 2019, he joined Beyoncé and Saint Jhn for The Lion King: The Gift track Brown Skin Girl and released his own single, Joro. The EP Soundman, Vol.1 was issued by Balogun’s Starboy Entertainment imprint in 2019. Following his involvement in the successful protests to scrap Nigeria’s controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Wizkid’s fourth album, Made in Lagos, arrived in October 2020.

And after…

Olamide

‘Local’ needs to be redefined for a singer like Olamide, who is definitely not the one to push to cross geographical boundaries but reaches the ears of people abroad in more ways than imaginable.

Although he released Carpe Diem this year as a way of drawing away from talk that his songs are too razz, Olamide’s discography actually resonates more with the streets. Say, his songs cut across all strata and you will hardly find a bad song with this one.

And, even when he insists on staying within the Nigerian borders, he has led artistes in his YBNL label to the world and does not look like he is backing down anytime soon.

Tiwa Savage

Say ‘hurray!’ for Tiwa Savage. Say it now. Reason?

Just when you think the acclaimed Afrobeats queen is retiring, she comes with another one. Celia is the one big thing she gave us this year – an album of sleekly insinuating Afrobeats grooves that carry love songs and understated but purposeful messages of empowerment. Why not? She can, she has the ability to, she has the know-how and she is a Jill (Jack’s twinnie) of the Nigerian Music Industry.

The album, Celia, featured on Times Magazine and you already know that Tiwa Savage sings and people sit to listen.

Well, we all know Tiwa Savage is going to be here with us for a while. Especially when she coughs and conversations begin from different angles, about different issues.

Burna Boy

‘You sabi sing Burna!’ How much have you heard that statement?

Burna Boy embodies an artiste who will use music to fight for social causes, to soothe minds and to teach. No wonder he usually associates with legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the one who left us earlier than we can take the pain.

Burna Boy, 29, likes to speak out his mind, and causes positive change. He may not be the right one in the room at the point, but he, indeed, causes national conversations.

The two-time Grammy award nominee (fans already hope he gets it this second time) released his fourth studio album African Giant in July 2019, and it won Album of the Year at the 2019 All Africa Music Awards. It was also nominated for Best World Music Album at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.

He was awarded the African Artiste of the year at the 2020 VGMA’s. Also in 2020, his album Twice as Tall was nominated for the same category in the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

Yemi Alade

Where in Africa has Yemi not left her footprints? Tell us, we will wait. Before then, UN says, “Having risen to the top of a male-dominated industry, Nigerian singer-songwriter Yemi Alade was today appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).”

Yemi was signed to help shine a spotlight on the disproportionate impact of the health and socio-economic crisis on the poorest and most vulnerable people, who are often women, especially in developing nations.

Indeed, Yemi has stayed longer than anyone imagined. It is still a male-dominated music industry but she has not shown signs of backing down. And, when she released her fifth studio album Empress November 17, 2020, the world knew the 31-year-old’s superstar status is a big deal.

Adekunle Gold

You can never forget Orente. But guess what, Adekunle has released superstar kind of music since Orente.

Adekunle Gold is an award-winning singer, songwriter and graphic designer. His music, ‘urban highlife’ has transcended the shores of Nigeria and entered hearts across the world. He is known to set radio waves on fire anytime he drops anything.

In 2018, Adekunle Gold was a featured collaborator on the hit single Original Gangster with SESS and Reminisce and released the self-penned hit “IRE” (a year later the track was remixed and re-released twice, by DJs Pheelz and El Mukukua). His album, About 30, was released to international fanfare and featured guest spots by Dya on Down with You, Seun Kuti on Mr Foolish, and Flavour N’bania on Yoyo.

The set peaked at number nine on the World Music Albums chart. Gold wasted no time. He toured the nation, then the continent, and issued a handful of charting singles through 2019, including Kelegbe Megbe, Before You Wake Up, Adiza, and Promise. In early 2020, he released the streaming hit Jore featuring Kizz Daniel and later released Afro Pop Vol. 1, which has stayed on drawing numbers from across the world.

DJ Cuppy

DJ Cuppy is now a fan favourite, courtesy of the fact that she kept releasing hit after hit and fans could not afford to dislike her.

Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola, daughter of Femi Otedola, ventured into the music scene as a DJ and ‘diversified’. Why not? Her songs speak for her.

On April 19, 2019, she collaborated with Kwesi Arthur for her fifth single Abena. On August 16, 2019, she released Gelato, her sixth single featuring Zlatan – a song which now has over a million streams on YouTube alone.

In 2020, Cuppy was inducted into the Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 class. On May 28, 2020, she became the host of ‘Africa Now Radio’ on Apple Music Beats 1. On July 16, 2020, she released Jollof On The Jet, her seventh single featuring Rema & Rayvanny.

On August 24, 2020, She unveiled her debut album Original Copy, which has over 6 million streams on Audio Mack as at December 10, 2020.

Rema

Rema is one you will call the future of Nigerian music. As the older ones retire, these are the ones who will take over. If you have not loved him yet, check out his music and 2020 was another great year for Rema.

So many hit songs and EPs to his name including Rema (2019), Rema Freestyle (2019), Bad Commando (2019), Rema Remix (2020).

His latest single, Peace of Mind actually gives peace of mind. You should listen to this one and watch out for Rema.

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