Last year was a breakthrough season for most up and coming acts. The soundscape saw, heard and maintained a pulse on new artists who emerged from nowhere. No doubt, these artists have had to rely heavily on marketing tactics to stay on the minds of listeners albeit their songwriting prowess and potency of their songs in varying periods made their tracks stick like glue.
It’s a new year however. For some artists who experienced a bit of stardom in 2020, the expectations have notched up higher. Music listeners want more hits. They want these songs to relate as much as possible and they also demand more sweet, candy-like songs that fits into various moods.
We’ve listed ten artists who’ve shown much promise, penetrated the music space in 2020 and are also brimming with consistency.
1. Omah Lay
During peak Covid period, Omah Lay provided the capsule that simmered down the effect of that gloomy period. “Bad Influence” was a staple hit, the breezy “Ye Ye Ye” supplied energy for some sensual runs and the twinkling “Damn” encapsulated the bittersweet feelings of love.
He climaxed that dominance with the 5-track EP, What Have We Done. Most listeners will however want this brilliant run of capturing feelings and emotions, that seem like their own, into songs to continue. And who knows, we might get a full length album this year.
2. Bella Shmurda
Bella Shmurda wasn’t even in the list of artists who could erupt into mainstream prominence at the start of 2020. But one move changed everything into his favour. The release of his EP, High Vibration where he exhibited his usual swagger, catapulted him into conversations early on in the year.
As the year grew on, heavyweights would be in need of Bella Shmurda’s input. He would dish out an euphoric flow on Olamide’s Triumphant, one of the standout on Carpe Diem. And further shew forth his bravado on Davido’s Fade. Amidst this heavy period of releases, there was still some energy for Bella Shmurda to dish out a year-ending hit, Cash App.
Still without a debut album, Bella Shmurda is reaching to the vast ends of the streets and also gaining recognition amongst the classy category of people.
Vibrant is the word to describe Zinoleesky’s sound. The hunger he exuded in 2019 hasn’t waned one bit. In 2020 it took on a new form, concocting a heartfelt story in Caro. And when Ma Pariwo followed months after, it became that song you’ll hear in transit and see people groove to on Insta Stories.
A debut album should therefore be in the works and also more captivating anthems.
What clearly drew attention to Jamopyper’s craft was his effortless ability to dish out catchy hooks. This was evident in his performance on Of Lala where his delivery was the stellar one.
If anyone doubted that delivery or touted him to be a one-hit type artist, he replicated the same success on his debut single, If No Be You which was the number one single in the country at some point.
Of course, there will be eyes and listeners on him if he can continue dishing out danceable rhythms this year. Definitely he will also be sought for by some artists for collaborations.
Mohbad was known in some neighborhoods with his lamba-infused music. But that attention notched up higher the moment he signed to Marlian Music. This year, he continued kneading singles, exploring themes of fame, romance and wealth. One of such, Komajesun was a viral hit during 2020’s gloomy period, conversing with Naira Marley about the restlessness of their partners when it comes to the sexual turf.
That song was created by Rexxie and they would recombine for another viral tune, Ko Por Ke.
And with the release of his debut project, Light, Mohbad is brimming with optimism into the new year.
While WhoIsAkin continues to dwell in the euphoria of his mystery, there’s no denying his EP, Full Moon Weekends was a novel release where the artist conjured rich and soft melodic invocations that encouraged reflection.
Fans will therefore be in wanting of more releases that speaks to their experiences of falling in and out of love as WhoIsAkin clearly depicted in most tracks on his EP.
YusufKanbai on collaborations is a luxury used to full effect. His input on these features is glazed with delightful poetic rhymes as we heard on Gbetan with DJ Latitude and Ejoya’s Selense.
That delightfulness spirals into his 2-track EP, Hear Me Out where he oozes swagger over melodic beats. Much is expected from YusufKanbai to translate this blistering form into some mainstream prominence.
Not everyone can dwell their afrobeats sounds on the usual, always-heard-of themes of love and money. Victony on his EP, Saturn thus sets a discordant path for himself, weaving in trap elements into the genre.
While the EP seeped into the category of slept-on projects we had last year, there’s no doubt Victony might continue on his experimental journey in sneaking in diverse sounds into the genre.
With one official single out, Liya will have eyes on her not because of her music at first, but the backing she has from one of Nigeria’s music powerbrokers – Davido.
Her last single, Melo shows her glossy, soothing vocal melodies as her strength. With that she’s enveloped in confidence over her craft: “I’ve got the sound, I’ll make you come alive.”
It therefore remains to be seen if she can command attention and saunter into charts this year.
When Focused dropped, I’m sure a horde of listeners gave the song repeated listens and went ahead to look at who is this cool kid Psycho YP featured.
Who is Azanti? The kid who littered the collaborative EP, YP & Azanti with those sugary verses and hooks.
Still been groomed by Psycho YP, the soundscape will like to hear more of those songwriting excellence in 2021.
This article was written by Olabode Otolorin; connect on Instagram with him here