The future of Afrobeats arguably lies in the hands of Nigerian artists.
Juxtaposing alongside the world’s most followed musical genres, Afrobeats is well in its prime. Maintaining context, it’s a great time to be associated with the African continent, as both American and European audiences, stars and record labels jostle for a piece of the continent’s vibrant and enthralling musical genre.
Modern African music antecedents: Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Chief Osita Osadebe and more, beyond reasonable doubt prospered in laying the solid foundation that inspired many all-time-greats. From mid to late 2000’s pioneers such as 2Face Idibia, P Square, Dbanj, and 9ice to more contemporary acts like Wizkid, Davido, and Burna Boy, that list could well continue.
Today, Wizkid, Davido, and Burna Boy are major trailblazers, taking the bubbly Afrobeats’ global appeal stateside and beyond, to new meridians. They all continue to navigate previously uncharted waters with enviable success.
Whether they’ve been aided by the internet and social media or not, they’ve led the way for the next generation of Afrobeats stars. And, like it or not, just like every other star, they cannot maintain this profound run forever.
Even if they attempt to, the dynamics of popular demand will not allow, as culture might shift, commercial viability may decrease, or they may even lose interest in the art and decide to pursue other things.
One way or the other, they will eventually have to pass the torch to a new crop of artists, who will advance or at minimum, maintain the genre’s current palatable standards.
Good news is that it appears there are many of them; some already established and some just up and coming, whom we all agree could take the game to another all-time-high.
After careful consideration, we’ve come up with a list of 10 artists who could potentially become the future of Afrobeats, the next vanguards of contemporary African music.
Despite their varying levels of success and length of career, these guys have attained some notoriety and commercial success.
There’s still a lot to do, but they’ve shown one way or the other that they have what it takes to cement their places among Afrobeats all-time-greats.
Tems — Temilade Openiyi
Tems’ big break came in 2018/19 after single “Try Me” became a big hit. A couple of EPs; “For Broken Ears” (2020) and “If Orange Was A Place” (2021), and several high profile international collaborations has seen her bag Grammy nominations despite her relatively young career. Her freewheeling delivery and emotional rawness, coupled with those signature long braids has made her one of Afrobeats’ potential icons.
CKay — Chukwuka Ekweani
When the Recording Industry Association of America launched the Billboard Afrobeats Chart, CKay’s 2019 smash hit “Love Nwantiti” immediately debuted at number 1 and stayed there for long. The record and several others have made CKay a big hitter, who not only writes songs but can produce them as well.
Rema – Divine Ikubor
Rema became a global sensation when he was endorsed by the coolest president to ever sit in the white house, Barrack Obama. At only 19, Rema’s song “Iron Man” made it to the former POTUS’ 2019 summer playlist. Since then, he’s made the stateside leap with relative ease, and featured one of the world’s most notorious pop singers, Chris Brown on his debut album Rave & Roses.
Fireboy DML — Adedamola Adefolahan
Fireboy DML is one of the more established acts in this list. With all that he’s already achieved, he’s arguably the closest to that point of no return. Yes, because legendary status is irreversible. Hit maker, trailblazer of his era, champion, iconic, there’s already a lot to idolise about the boy from YBNL Records act who gave the “Peru.”
Joeboy — Joseph Akinwale Akinfenwa-Donus
Joeboy broke into the scene around the same time as Fireboy DML. Both artists went head-to-head for almost everything then, but their careers have taken respective shapes now, with their uniqueness evident for all to see. When Joeboy released “Alcohol (Sip)” in 2021, it was an instant global hit, inspiring millions of TikTok content creators. At some point, it was the most shazzamed song in the world. That was off the back of two successful studio projects, “Love & Light” and “Somewhere Between Beauty & Magic.”
Ayra Starr — Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe
In early 2022, Apple’s music recognition platform, Shazam listed Ayra Starr as one of the artists to watch out for in 2022. She’d owned the previous year after debuting her first full length project 19 & Dangerous. 19 & Dangerous was packed with viral records “Bloody Samaritan,” “Beggie Beggie (ft CKay)” and more. Will she be able to sustain that remarkable ascension? Doubt Ayra Starr at your own peril.
Buju BNXN – Daniel Benson
Fortune and timing can make an artist a ‘wonder,’ but three things typically sit in the middle of sustained excellence: talent, hard work, and consistency. Buju’s already proven to be loaded, as far as talent goes. Now that he’s added a bit more ruthlessness and consistency to his craft, the sky might as well be his steppingstone.
Omah Lay — Stanley Omah Didia
Omah Lay is already a fan favourite off the back of two hit-packed EPs; “What Have We Done” and “Get Layd.” Lay was a rapper before he began producing records, writing songs, and performing them. As a budding singer, “Hello Brother” earned him massive popularity in 2019. Since then he’s worked with many top international artists and made his stateside debut with “Attention” featuring Justin Bieber, the first single off his debut studio album “Boy Alone.”
Zinoleeskey — Oniyide Azeez
Zineleeskey has been a revelation, thanks to Marlian Music founder Naira Marley who offered him a record deal a few years ago. “Kilofeshe,” off his 2020 debut EP “Chrome” quickly became a street anthem, and established him as one for the future. Since then, Zinoleesky has lived up to the high expectations, releasing several hit singles and winning over fans during features, with his sick verses.
Victony — Victor Anthony
Victony is one of the most sensational singers of his time. With a wide vocal range capable of taking on any artist in a singing competition, Victony can pitch almost wherever he wants in fascinating easiness. After surviving a near-death motor accident in early 2021, perhaps he’s set for greatness, speaking of which he’s been off to a great restart with the release of his 7-track sophomore EP “Outlaw.”
This list could well go on, as there are numerous Nigerian artists immensely blessed with talent out there, although we painfully could only pick 10. Which artists do you think should have made this list?
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