Audio
Kizz Daniel in "Eko" (Youtube)

The 9 Best Afropop Songs About Lagos

Featuring city odes from Kizz Daniel, Wizkid, Teni, Maleek Berry, M.I Abaga, Brymo and more.

The best afropop songs about Lagos, Nigeria's most populous city, are as much about the city as a whole as they are about select areas of special importance to individual artists.

Read on for our selection of The 9 Best Afropop Songs About Lagos. Listed in no particular order.


Kizz Daniel 'Eko' (2019)

A wise-talking disc jockey, early morning starts, crowded bus garages, road rage, street fights, gambling, itinerant tailors, child hawkers, open-air cooking, menial laborers, open markets and child hawkers combine in Kizz Daniel's portrayal of Lagos as a city of endless hustle and indomitable spirit. Producer Phil Keys offers a steady kick and rattling drums over which Kizz Daniel convinces of his gift for melodies and neat song construction.

Demmie Vee 'Surulere' (2019)

"How market today?" goes the opening lyrics of Demmie Vee's "Surulere," an otherwise polite question whose answer, "everything perfect," is less a true state of affairs and more a show of steely resolve. It is a felt and fitting lyric and philosophy in the face of hardship and helplessness. To survive the struggle, perseverance and patience are needed. This is also roughly what the word "Surulere" means in Yoruba. The group singing at the end of the video further emphasises a communal spirit of shared ambitions.

Wikzid 'Ojuelegba' (2015)

A song of thanksgiving for one's lot, humble beginnings, an early passion for making music and the success it has brought, "Ojuelegba" toes closely to a faithful formula for odes to cities. Wizkid's singular brilliance with melodies is given weight by tales of his personal struggle ("I dey hustle to chop") and memorable detailing ("me and Siri, for Mo Dog studio"), all of which is given heft by the message of gratitude ("I can't explain") as if too much to bare.

M.I Abaga 'Lekki' feat. Odunsi, Falz, Ajebutter 22 (2018)

The spoken word intro and outro on "Lekki" is authentic to the resolve of a "woman of the night" and acts as a counterweight to the dominance of male voices in the song. MI, Falz, Ajebutter 22 and Odunsi's verses in "Lekki" are by turns clever, empathetic and patronising. The track's plinking marimba adds playfulness to lyrics about female prostitution and any real authority is emphasised, once again, by the "night worker" unfazed by danger from men.

Dr SID 'Surulere' feat. Don Jazzy (2014)

"Surulere" is a song about triumphing over odds and a joyous rebuttal of one's naysayers. "Enemies them want me to bow out / but my rivers of blessing will never dry out" sings Dr Sid, whose smart writing maintains the same rhyme pattern throughout the verses while Don Jazzy carries the big chorus in his endearing baritone over his own boisterous busy beat.

Brymo 'Eko' (2015)

Staccato drumming and stridulating sound effects accompany Brymo's guttural singing on the charged hook for "Eko." The song's opening lines—"I go go Lagos / go get money / go change my life"—tell the eternal story of the city as a land of self-realisation.

Teni Askamaya (2018) 

On "Askamaya," Teni cleverly retools a hook by Sir Shina Peters into an ode to the city's strippers and night workers, especially those at the eponymous Askamaya club in Lagos. Anita Baker, Shina Peters and Arnold Schwarzenegger contribute to a potpourri of cultural references in a song that celebrates a specific way of life.

Maleek Berry 'Eko Miami' (2017)

Maleek Berry's portrayal of Lagos is that of excess ("turn up tonight / so we no go remember") depicted in detail by guest Geko. The song's title compound word twins the image of Lagos and Miami as free-living beach-cities.

CaZe 'Lagos City' (2017)

English, Pidgin and Yoruba make for a noteworthy mix in the audio for "Lagos City." The single offers a tale of city pride told in the idiom of American trap, twined with Nigerian idiosyncrasies ("Gidi, gidi / gotta go and geddi, geddi"), and rapped over the viscous blend and bounce of producer Sarz' beat.

Interview
Image courtesy of Jay Trigga.

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For 21-year-old Zambian hip-hop artist Jack Lumbeta Kafukwilwa also known as Jay Trigga, the need to showcase Africa to the world through music has been his greatest motivation. "I would define my sound as afro-fusion as it is a mix. I am quite versatile so finding a word to define my sound is tricky because I do trap music as well. In clear terms, my sound is chill, youthful and futuristic," Jay Trigga tells me over our virtual conversation from China where he is currently studying a masters degree in business management.

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