2018 has seen Nigerian music, dominantly the Afrobeats/Afropop genre, grow increasingly popular across the world.
For all the good that the year 2018 brought along for the big names, it is inevitable that the next tier of talents bubbling under across subgenres like the ‘Alte’ scene would also benefit from the attention, which we have seen in the success stories enjoyed by the likes of Mayorkun, Simi and Brymo who are taking a shot at the A-list throne.
The criteria for this list is based on the foothold they made into the scene in the year ending, the buzz they garnered, having more than one song or feature that made substantial mainstream appeal, affiliations and industry moves that pushes them pretty close to cracking the mainstream in the coming year. [Names like Odunsi have been exempted from the list because of their inclusions in previous years].
Here are the 10 artists that you really should watch out for in 2019
In 2017, Teni showed signs of one to watch out for and after winning the Headies award for ‘Rookie of the Year’ at the 2018 edition of the awards, she has seen her career continue on its meteoric rise.
Teni carves a distinct path with her comical videos, infectious vocals and bubbly character and singles like ‘Askamaya’, ‘Fake Jersey’ and ‘Case’ brings her brillaince to the forefront. The singer has also ensured that she stayed relevant all year long and 2019 may just be the year when she fully elevates her status on the scene, especially if she drops a body of work.
It feels weird adding the name of an artist who boasts of multiple studio projects to his name on this list, but the game is the game and 2018 can arguably be termed as the year when Blaqbonez officially carved his name on the industry walls.
Signing with ''100 Crowns’’, getting co-signed by veteran rapper M.I Abaga, releasing his debut studio effort, ‘’Bad Boy Blaq’’ which was executively produced by M.I, going on school tours and the closest to having a mainstream hit in songs like ‘Play’ and ‘Mamiwota.’
Blaqbonez buzzed this year and with the visuals from his album expected early in 2019 and a remix project also in the works, it is only right that we see more of the Bad Boy in the new year.
If the world needed any confirmation that the Mavin artist, Johnny Drille, is a rising force in soulful pop, then his strides this year confirmed it. The success of his debut headline concert in October, tagged ''Johnny’s Room Live’’ where he delivered a super intense and intimate performance before a packed out crowd was an evidence.
2019 will make it his second year under Don Jazzy’s tutelage and it is anticipated that the singer who dropped ‘Halleluyah’ with Simi this year, is long overdue for a body of work [in whatever form] and will heed the call of his fans by blessing them with that defining project.
Olatunji Oladotun Alade, aka Dotman, has steadily built a loyal fan base from when he released the hit single, ‘Akube’ in 2016.
But he has somehow not been able to bear the full weight of expectations that comes after such a huge record. However, this year has seen him again garner presence with songs like ‘Iyawo’ and ‘Pepesu’ with DJ Tunez.
But his biggest effort came in the form of ‘Omoge’ off DJ Spinall’s ‘’Iyanu’’ album. ‘Omoge’ is a testament that Dotman still has plenty to offer and there is no better time than 2019 for him to further push through the industry doors.
All it took for this talented young artist to ‘blow’ was his impressive verse on the Starboy orchestrated monster single, ‘Soco.’
Terri who is related to another accomplished singer, Tekno, was signed by Wizkid after he shared a video of one of his recordings on Instagram, tagging the pop star.
With his solo debut, ‘Bia’ enjoying relative mainstream success and constantly touted as the next big thing by Wizkid, 2019 seems set to be a bigger year for him.
One of the artists who enjoyed an incredible run in 2018 is DMW’s Peruzzi.
The singer who was also nominated for the Headies 2018 ‘Rookie of the Year’ award started the year with impressive showings on records like ‘Mind’ and ‘Aje’, then he rubbed his magic on the hit song, ‘Amaka’ with 2face and other collaborations with Davido.
Peruzzi was one of the most featured acts this year and his verses captured a pure talent with plenty of star potential that you can’t help but root for him to ‘blow’ come 2019.
Donli has probably been on several lists like this in the past year, but it is fair to say that from baby steps in 2017, she has succeeded in increasing her pace, even if not yet converting it to giant ones.
She featured on a number of top projects this year including that of Terry Tha Rapman and Mr Eazi, released a number of laudable singles, but her biggest move this year was the intimate tour she had through the SOFAR platform that saw her performing in London, Canada and the US.
The multi-talented singer/producer started the year with the release of his debut project, ‘’Sugar’’. He followed it up later in the year with the release of his single ‘Immediately’ featuring Wizkid.
A video of Kanye West dancing to Mystro’s collaboration with Wizkid during his visit to Uganda earned him a fair share of the spotlight. He also teamed up with Tiwa Savage on the song, ‘Gawu’, who he shared the stage with at her UK headline concert and featured on DJ Consequence’s ‘Do Like This.’
Mystro has got the potential to make that crossover into the mainstream and if he continues on this run, then 2019 may be the year when the industry opens its doors to his abilities.
The artist also known as Zlatan Ibile has that eccentric look and presence that endears his art of followers of ‘Ibile’ music.
Zlatan is credited as the pioneer of the new trending street dance move, ‘Zanku’ immediately following it up with the release of the ‘Zanku Anthem’ teaching us how to do the 'Legwork.' He also rendered an impressive verse on the breakout single, ‘Able God’ and featured DMW boss Davido on his own single, ‘Osanle.’
With more listeners leaning towards music from the streets, Zlatan has a good chance to make an impression in the coming year, especially if he keeps creating new slangs like 'Gbe Body E.'
This very talented rapper first popped on the radar in 2015 when he delivered an impressive verse on Blaqbonez’s ‘South Africa must go.’
Oladips was fresh and he packed a punch with his bars. Fast forward a year later and he got signed unto Reminisce’s Edge Records, killed his verse on the single, ‘Feego’ and his development has gone full circle in the last two years.
Early in 2018, Oladips scored his first major commercial hit in ‘Lalakukulala’ and followed it up with ‘O Sure’ assisted by Olamide. If you think for a minute that the rapper has lost his lyrical fierceness, his verse on Seriki’s ‘Emi’ serves as a reminder of how gifted he is and with a body of work expected in 2019, you really can’t afford to sleep on the ‘Omo Iya Aje.’
Honourable mentions: Victor AD, Picazo Rhap, Barry Jhay