Here are the 10 hottest Nigerian artists of 2021 [Pulse Picks]

Did Burna Boy deserve to be on this list?

Top 10 Nigerian artists of 2021. (TBD)

It’s been a great year for Nigerian music. Afrobeats took on greater horizons and Nigerian music won both critically and commercially. We’ve also been thrilled by an expansive range of music.

More importantly, strategy is now beginning to help Nigerian artists make inroads into the foreign market.

Customarily, #PulsePicks is our year-end medium to celebrate excellence across different aspects of Nigeria. The fourth installment on the music segment #PulsePicks follows this criteria;

  1. Commercial success
  2. Impact within desired demographic
  3. Body of work as an added advantage.
  4. Year in review: Works must be released between November 30, 2020 and November 30, 2021.
  5. We only judge the impact and success of releases in/within Nigeria alone.

Honorable mentions

Zinoleesky

LadiPoe

Naira Marley

Tems

The list;

10.) Mohbad

Album: LIGHT EP

Singles: ‘KPK,’ ‘Feel Good,’

While Mohbad basically only released two smash hits as singles during the year in review, and theunit of Naira Marley’s ‘Coming and ‘Koleyewon’ might be bigger than the unit of ‘KPK’ and ‘Feel Good,’ ‘KPK’ is the biggest of all four tracks. Mohbad also released Light EP, an actual rap project, filled with rhythm and poetry.

As for LadiPoe, his EP was good, but it didn’t have album cuts like ‘Sorry,’ a sleeper hit like the street anthem ‘Omokomo’ or a hit like the street anthem, ‘Ponmo.’

9.) Lojay

Album: LV N ATTN

Singles: ‘Tonongo’ and ‘Monalisa’

First off, his EP is one of the top bodies of work this year. Secondly, Monalisa is the song of the year to many. The songs on his EP were not just properly received, it’s been Nigeria’s surprise package of 2021.

8.) Ayra Starr

Singles: ‘Away,’ ‘DTR,’ ‘Bloody Samaritan’

Ayra Starr might be a one-year old in the Nigerian music industry, but she has produced at a beautiful level over the past 10 months. She has released two impressive bodies of work and backed them with singles like ‘Away,’ ‘DTR’ and ‘Bloody Samaritan.’

Despite the success of ‘Bloody Samaritan,’ many will still feel like ‘Fashion Killa’ and ‘Beggie Beggie’ would have been better singles and rightly so.

Moreover, ‘19 and Dangerous’ is Pulse Nigeria’s album of the year.

7.) Joeboy

Singles: ‘Show Me,’ ‘Door,’ ‘Alcohol’

Let’s be honest, Joeboy’s album might have performed amazingly well on digital platforms, but it wasn’t a groundbreaker offline. Nonetheless, the album was successful enough to warrant some respect and acclaim. Songs from it might have been the biggest hits of the year, but they also did well.

When it’s all said and done, ‘Alcohol’ also has a genuine claim to song of the year conversations.

6.) Ruger

Singles: ‘One Shirt,’ ‘Ruger,’ ‘Bounce,’ ‘Dior’

For many, Ruger’s performance would have sailed under the radar this year. However, when you break the units down to parts, you would realize that he’s had quite the amazing year. While ‘One Shirt’ didn’t really do much and ‘Ruger’ had mixed reception from the larger market, ‘Abu Dhabi’ and ‘Bounce’ were major successes from ‘Pandemic EP.’

His sophomore project has also produced ‘Dior.’ For some, ‘Bounce’ is the song of the year.

5.) Adekunle Gold

Album: None

Singles: ‘It Is What It Is,’ ‘Sinner,’ ‘High’

While Adekunle Gold’s success all year might not be as pronounced, his first two singles of the year have found their way into the hearts and minds of many - especially ‘Sinner.’

‘High’ has just taken the country by storm. The success of his singles at different points of the year land him on this list.

4.) Davido

Album: None

Singles: ‘Jowo,’ ‘The Best,’ ‘La La’ featuring Ckay, ‘Ke Star (Remix),’ ‘High’ by Adekunle Gold and ‘Champion Sound’

Davido’s success this year has also sailed under the radar. While A Better Time was released last year - just 17 days outside the year in review - its success really took place during the year in review. Songs like ‘Jowo,’ ‘The Best’ and ‘La La’ did not have sustained success, but at the time those songs got music videos, they did have an impact on the mainstream.

More importantly, Davido had monster features with ‘Ke Star (Remix)’ and ‘High.’ The Nigerian success of ‘Ke Star’ was because of Davido’s co-sign - simple.

3.) Wizkid

Singles: ‘Ginger,’ ‘Essence’

Wizkid released Made In Lagos on October 30, 2021, just one month outside the year in review. But its impact really began in January 2021. While the buzz of ‘Ginger’ was short lived and not exactly groundbreaking, it did something for its time. Equally, ‘Essence’ might not be as big a Nigerian hit as ‘Bounce,’ ‘Monalisa’ or ‘High,’ but it was still big enough to do things.

More importantly, imagine what could have happened if Wizkid had been diligent enough to shoot videos for ‘Anoti’ and ‘Mood’? Those songs would have gone nuclear. Without videos, they are still mega records - especially ‘Mood.’

2.) Buju

Singles: ‘Outside,’ ‘Testimony,’ ‘Feeling,’ ‘Cold Outside,’ ‘Confident,’ ‘Alubarika,’ ‘Never Stopped,' 'Mood'

Purely on the strength of his comeback story and the virality of his success in 2021, Buju is Nigeria’s MVP of 2021 - well, just behind the overused Amapiano log drums. Just look at the success of Buju’s features. Just look at it…

While Buju has volume, only 'Feeling' really has a bonafide claim to being a genuinely nuclear record. The rest were digital hits, niche hits or bubbling under hits that many like, but can't seem to go nuclear. As good as his EP was, it was also an acquired taste.

1.) Omah Lay

Album: TBD

Singles: ‘Godly,’ ‘Pronto,’ ‘Forever’ with Gyakie, ‘Understand,’ 'Infinity' by Olamide

Omah Lay released his sophomore EP, What Have We Done just 11 days outside the year in review. This means that the success of that EP and especially its lead single, ‘Godly,’ came during the year in review. Three singles from that era, which became some of the biggest songs of 2021 are ‘Godly,’ ‘Highway’ and ‘KPK.’

When Turntable Charts made its list of the top 10 Nigerian songs of 2021 as at August/September 2021, 'Godly' sat pretty at the top of that list. The list combined data from streaming platforms, airplay and social media.

Then there was 'Infinity' by Olamide: although released outside the year in review, the chunk of its numbers and impact happened during the year in review. The slow-mo challenge and all of that cute stuff happened in December 2020. Then in January, it went nuclear on airplay and reception.

He then featured on Ajebo Hustlers’ ‘Pronto,’ while he was the major propellant, for the crossover success of Gyakie’s ‘Forever.’ While his latest single looks like an overall horrible idea, ‘Understand’ is one of the big songs of 2021.

JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!

Unblock notifications in browser settings.

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: eyewitness@pulse.ng

Recommended articles

Pulse List: Top 12 Nigerian albums dropping in Q2 and Q3 2022

Pulse List: Top 12 Nigerian albums dropping in Q2 and Q3 2022

Ireti Doyle slams Niyi Akinmolayan over tweet tackling 'Influencer Actors'

Ireti Doyle slams Niyi Akinmolayan over tweet tackling 'Influencer Actors'

Orezi confirms new collaboration with Wizkid

Orezi confirms new collaboration with Wizkid

Pete Davidson bids farewell to 'SNL' with final appearance

Pete Davidson bids farewell to 'SNL' with final appearance

Progress takes home N100m Prize after winning Nigerian Idol Season 7

Progress takes home N100m Prize after winning Nigerian Idol Season 7

Broda Shaggi wins best actor in a comedy at AMVCA 2022

Broda Shaggi wins best actor in a comedy at AMVCA 2022

I spent N30 million of my money, producers couldn't afford me -  Caroline Danjuma on RHOL

I spent N30 million of my money, producers couldn't afford me - Caroline Danjuma on RHOL

'Be careful who you have your child with, you may be digging your grave' - BBNaija's Tega

'Be careful who you have your child with, you may be digging your grave' - BBNaija's Tega

2022 Headies Award nomination list set for release on May 24

2022 Headies Award nomination list set for release on May 24