We are delighted to showcase some of the hottest Nigerian musicians who have kept it at a 100 in spite of the outlook of things in 2020. Through hard work, the musicians listed here have had an immense impact on the Nigerian pop culture through their music, collaboration and other intangible factors.
The thrill about this particular list is that we have some newcomers taking up as much space, sitting pretty high on the rankings with senior colleagues. They have been able to wield a much bigger influence on the music culture in Nigeria in 2020 than the usual big names.
Another interesting highlight of this list would be having Mayorkun squaring up against his boss Davido and also earning a higher position than him in the ranking of hottest Nigerian musicians of 2020.
Let’s dive into the list.
Spaceship Entertainment boss and Atlantic Records artist Burna Boy has maintained his hot form consistently for three years now. He has dropped Grammy worthy albums three years in a row bagging two nominations in the process. While music and entertainment were generally impacted by the pandemic Burna Boy maintained his work ethic at a high level. He dropped hits, bagged a Grammy nomination for ‘Twice As Tall’ and made some outstanding collaborations with international brands during the year. ‘Twice As Tall’ is the highest-charting Nigerian album on the Billboard Hot 2020 Albums Chart, UK Album Chart etc.
Born and raised in Port Harcourt, Stanley Omah Didia, rose from a relatively unknown background to become one of the most sought after Nigerian musicians this year. Omah Lay braved the pandemic and lockdown that followed to become one of Nigeria’s most-streamed artists this year. His debut extended play ‘Get Layd‘ was not only well-received but rated as one of the best projects released by a Nigerian music star in the past 12 months. His fame was not limited to the borders of Nigeria, so far was the debut Apple Music Africa Rising Artist, Audiomack Up Now Artist, etc. He also bagged the 14th Headies Award ‘Next Rated’ nomination, ‘Best Breakthrough’ at the forthcoming MTV MAMA 2021. This and many more make Omah Lay one of the hottest Nigerian musicians this calendar year.
This would be the first time Mayorkun would be featured in the list of the hottest Nigerian musicians and also becoming a worthy contender for artist of the year. The DMW singer has been nothing but fantastic this year. He has dropped back to back hits with no miss, ‘Geng‘, ‘Of Lagos‘, ‘Betty Butter‘ and the most recent ‘Your Body‘. His effort as a guest artist on every song he was featured was exceptionally good. In about four years he is now a formidable contender for the artist of the year alongside his boss Davido. The sweet thing is if it was solely between both of them, Mayorkun would win it. With this form, we can easily say Mayorkun has moved into the league of A-list artists.
For the past few years, Olamide has maintained the tradition of putting out an album every year. However, last year Baddo skipped a beat and didn’t put out an album. Past forward to 2020, the rapper and singer put out two projects, the ‘999’ EP and ‘Carpe Diem‘ album. The extended play wasn’t memorable hence Olamide found his way back to the top with ‘Carpe Diem’. The album bangs hard with hits like ‘Infinity‘, ‘Triumphant‘, ‘Loading‘ etc. Olamide’s numbers have gone up on music streaming platforms because his latest album has a great replay value. He has also groomed Fireboy DML into one of the hottest acts in the past 16 months.
Adedamola Adefolahan known as Fireboy DML is shaping up to be one of the best proteges under Olamide. He is still holding us spellbound with his musical talent leading us into new depths of his multilayered artistry. Fireboy dropped a hit album LTG towards the end of last year which means he had hit songs on the album spilling into 2020. While we were still feasting on LTG, he dropped his sophomore ‘Apollo’ to rave reviews. This year Fireboy DML took his dominance beyond Nigeria as he bagged deals with EA Sports FIFA 21, Empire, MOBO Awards nomination etc. He is easily 5 most-streamed Nigerian artists in the past 12 months across several platforms.
People might think Jonzing World flagship artist Divine Ikubor better known as Rema had a quiet year but that’s not really the case. Rema has maintained his star power right from 2019 into 2020. One index to know how much in-demand an artist is, is how often people look them up on the search engines. This year the ‘Dumebi’ hitmaker made the list of the most searches in Nigeria. He is the second most searched person on Google Nigeria, his songs ‘Ginger Me’ and ‘Woman’ were some of the top 10 most searched songs in Nigeria. He performed on American television network show Jimmy Kimmel Live. He won an Afrimma award as ‘Best Male West Africa’, got nominated twice at the MOBO Awards, and made the EA Sports FIFA 21 official soundtrack. Some of these achievements may fly under the radar without notice.
Bella Shmurda’s hit song ‘Vision 2020’ did age well a lot better than all those promises in the government MDGs. The year turned out massive for the LASU student who checked a lot of milestones in his career. At the moment, fine boy Bella has one of the hottest street anthems ‘Cash App‘, some crazy collaborations etc. We may have wrongly assumed Bella Shmurda would take a chill pill after dropping his ‘High Tension’ EP in the first quarter of this year but then he goes ‘hotter hotter’. During this season of festivity, Bella Shmurda is killing shows back to back in Naija and beyond.
The mother of one is the only female artist on our list, and that is very easy to explain. Simi has the biggest song ‘Duduke‘, by a female Nigerian music star this year. Rightfully, Simi could easily excuse herself and take a hiatus as an expectant mother and subsequently a nursing mum but she kept it going regardless. She gave us one of the biggest records this year while unveiling her pregnancy to fans. She was delivered of a beautiful baby girl and several months later dropped an EP effortlessly. Oh, let’s not forget how she assisted Ladipoe to get the biggest song of his career yet ‘Know You’. For maternal reasons, Simi would be rocking stages and killing shows back to back. We can’t exactly wait to see her back on stage again.
This sort of list would not be complete without the Starboy featuring. It has been a great year for Ayodeji Balogun especially for the successful release of his fourth studio album ‘Made In Lagos‘. Without wasting time, the body of work topped charts across Nigeria and beyond. The collaborations were quite strategic especially targeted at breaking further into the European and US markets and let’s say that worked out reasonably well. Only recently, former US Barack Obama named a track from the ‘Made In Lagos‘ album ‘Essence’ as his favourite song of 2020. Obama also listed ‘Smile‘ in his annual summer playlist which once again gives visibility to the artist and his work. He won the ‘Best International Act’ award at the MOBOs.
The promise to remain dominant in the Nigerian music industry by Davido continued in 2020. The singer had a lot going on with him this year that he in fact decided to take a break from social media for several months. He came back stronger with a hit lead single ‘Fem’, adjudged the number 1 song during the October End Sars protest across Nigeria. He later dished out a 17-track album ‘A Better Time‘ with a stellar lineup of international collaborators. The album has some bangers like ‘The Best‘, ‘Holy Ground‘, ‘Jowo‘, ‘La La’ etc. The ABT became the fastest album to gross 100 million streams on the platform.