There’s something going on in Nigeria. From Lagos, cradle of Afrobeat and home to Fela Kuti’s nightclub The Shrine, a new sound is breaking out. The beats can be hard and thunderous, but the hooks effervesce and pop like champagne bubbles. It takes the best of Afropop’s past and brings it into our smart phone-driven present by combining it with hip hop, dancehall, and contemporary dance music. Lately, every track coming out of Las Gidi seems to turn a page and announce the arrival of a new era.
From Kanye West protege D’Banj to their first lady of hip hop Sasha P, this generation of Naija super stars has something — you know, besides fistfuls of MTV BASE Africa awards. And artists from the US to Jamaica want to get them on the phone. To catch up to this movement fast, here’s a list of the ten artists you really need to know now.
Now signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music, D’Banj is the favorite to bring Nigeria’s new music to the world.
The vocalist, songwriter, and harmonica player has made a remix video with Snoop Dogg and scored an underground hit in the UK with his “Oliver Twist” single.
He has fans all over the world, a reality TV show, and even his own breakfast cereal, but if you want to know why they really call him “Koko Master” read our backstage interview with the charming entertainer.
R&B/hip hop duo P-Square is made up of twins who are kind of a big deal.
The award-winning brother act recently signed with Akon’s Konvict Muzik record label along with 2Face and Wizkid.
we’ll get to those two in a moment.
First, check these two out in the video for their “Chop My Money” single, featuring Akon.
Also signed to Konvict Muzik 2Face Idibia is one of the most bankable artists in Africa, with more awards to his name than we even want to get into here.
He’s also the lead vocalist in R. Kelly’s pan-African supergroup One8.
And with that trembling reggae-inspired vocal style and his way with a mushy R&B tune, it’s not much of a mystery how this heartthrob got to the top of business.
This twenty two year old vocalist is yet another signing to Konvict. Though WizKid started as a gospel act, he has since moved into the mainstream with one of the freshest styles in the industry. His “Don’t Dull” takes Afropop fully into the future, while his latest, “Azonto,” couldn’t be more on-trend. But “Tease Me” is no joke either:
5. Ice Prince
Everybody Loves Ice Prince is the aptly named 2011 debut album from this rising star. The album is lovable alright but it’s his single “Oleku” featuring Brymo that put him on the map with an international audience. In other international news, he been collaborating with Jamaican reggae artist Gyptian on a remix for Ice Prince’s track “Magician.” He is, indeed, “Superstar” material:
6. Sasha P
We’ve been talking a lot about the guys, but you can’t go on for too long about Nigerian music before you have to pay respect to First Lady of Hip Hop, Sasha P. Her flow is as tight as her fabulous style, while her lyrics and attitude demand respect. And the respect comes from all corners. Check out “Put It Down,” her track with Mozmbique’s own Dama Do Bling.
Sasha P’s “Making Money” because she knows you “Don’t Stop”:
7. Banky W.
With 2010′s anthemic “Lagos Party,” Banky W. wrote the motto for the city’s fun-loving club scene: “Ain’t no party like a Lagos party.”
Though born in the US, he came to Nigeria when his parents returned while he was still a child.
Today he is an activist as well as purveyor of smooth R&B.
This year he helped mobilize youth for the Occupy Nigeria movement to protest the loss of the country’s fuel subsidy.
That’s star power.
8. Tiwa Savage
Sweetheart of the scene and a stone cold bombshell, Tiwa Savage has enchanted Nigeria, but her pop princess stylings could fit in anywhere. On songs like “Make Up” and “Kele Kele Love” she strikes a balance between swooning romance and strong independence. On “Love Me” though, she brings it all together and adds a bright burst of African flavor.
MTV Africa Music Award winner Mo’Cheddah is one of the new wave of Afropop’s finest representatives.
More recently, she rolled out “See Me.”
It’s meaner and more massive than anything she’s done before.
Watch for more awards.