Going by word on the street, “Soco” is the 2018 song of the year; or maybe “Fake Love”, even though my friend thinks “Assurance” deserves a mention.
While we would have to wait months for the eventual holder of title to be determined, it is already an established fact that the sound template of this year’s top song would be strikingly different from that of last year – “IF”, which is primarily composed of the pon pon sound.
In fact, none of the suggested songs for this year’s song of the year title shares sound semblance with IF. What this implies is that there has been a sharp evolution of the pop sound since last year. This year’s trendy sounds have been: shaku shaku and what is known as vibe.
Shaku shaku seeped into the walls of the Nigerian entertainment structure towards the tail end of last year, as a trendy sound inspired by South African Afro-House music. The “new” sound of that time increasingly produced the buzzing songs in the streets - songs like “Legbegbe” and Shepeteri”.
The popularity of the sound was fueled by the viral nature of the associated dance which later became a trend that crossed over to the mainstream through the participation of top artists like Olamide, D’banj and Tiwa Savage. Olamide’s early 2018 hit song; “Science Student” became the first of many shaku shaku songs by big name artists. DJ Enimoney’s “Codeine Diet” (on which Tiwa Savage and Reminisce featured), D’banj’s “Issa Banger” and many more followed.
The effect of the ubiquity of the sound is that it heightened the interest in shaku shaku dance. The dance became such a deal that different classes of it were established – the Island, mainland, reserve shaku shaku and more. As the vanguards of the movement, Slimcase and Mr. Real profited the most from this trend, featuring on a mass of mainstream songs as demand for their music rose in a rush. And in no time, shaku shaku became the soundtrack of Nigerian entertainment.
After long months of intense shaku shaku rave, it was time for a new music experience and the creative bond between Wizkid and Killertunes produced the option of “vibe”, which has been welcomed as a constitutive product of Afrobeats. Generally, the music is referenced by the genre name; however Wizkid often refers to his art as “a vibe”, perhaps for the sake of simplicity or to excuse himself from genre-limiting classifications.
The “vibe” music is basically relaxed, uncomplicated pop music, with most of its Afrobeat identity held in its production.
Since “Manya”, the association between Wizkid and Killertunes had shown promise, a promise which manifested on “Nowo” and then again on “Fake Love.” The success story of the latter inspired new trends, especially the trend of Duncan Mighty features.
The singer’s input on the chart-topping song seems to have a feel of newness that appeals to the mainstream audience, and thus making a verse from the Port-Harcourt singer a hot pop property. Killertunes’ production also became a wish for every Nigerian pop artist after “Fake Love”. The likes of Mayorkun and Olamide have pursued their individual wishes to fulfillment in the form of “Posh”, and “Motigbana”, and “Logba Logba” respectively.
This trend has made Killertunes’ signature introduction - “shabalistika” - popular music slang and the producer’s profile has since shot up. Now, people speak of his chances at the Headies, as a mere formality. The trend of vibe music which he displayed his specialty in, picked up from there and continued in the form of “Tiwa’s Vibe”, “Jogodo”, “Motigbana” and the other songs on the playlist of Olamide’s released materials this year.
Another significant contributor to this trend is singer/producer, Philkeyz who caught the attention of the public with his ingenious production work on “No Do.” This year, he produced the highly anticipated Kizz Daniel, Wizkid collaboration titled “For You”; and later released “Mr. Melody.” Both songs fit into this trend of vibe music.
It is this music of vibe which is normally a specialty of Burna Boy and a common term used by new school alternative artists that has become the in-thing in the Nigerian pop scene. The dominance of this sound is evident on the list of nominees released by the Nigerian Entertainment Awards (NEA) nominees for producers of the year.
The likes of Killertunes, Philkeyz, Spellz were listed for their contributions to the evolution of the nation’s pop sound this year; unlike the previous year which saw the likes of “Kiddominant” and “Young Jonn” get deserved acknowledgement for their effort in commercializing the pon pon sound.
While there are still signs of sounds like shaku shaku (which is, particularly, helped by the anticipated release of “Gucci Snake”); however the rave pop sound that dominates the airwaves and party scenes is the vibe, from artistes like Wizkid, Duncan Mighty and co. And the relevance of the sound would be prolonged with the coming release of projects like “Made In Lagos” and “No Bad Songz”; which are expected to hold the beautiful sound as their primary component.
Written by Oluwatobi Ibironke
Oluwatobi Ibironke is a writer with interest in music and sociopolitical topics. His can be reached via his Twitter handle: @ibironketweets