Image via Khaid/Listen Up.
12 Nigerian Artists to Watch in 2023
We highlight Nigeria’s best emerging talents set to make their mark this year.
Nigeria is in many ways at the forefront of the global African music movement. The country has given birth to Africa’s biggest stars, and continues to do so year on end. However, this isn’t limited to the globally-known, such as international artists like Burna Boy and Wizkid. Every big artist starts from somewhere, and every established act once had their breakout moment.
Every year Nigeria churns out a handful of potential stars in the early phases of their journey to stardom, who make their mark with singles and projects that establish them as talents to watch. From greenhorns making their official debuts to budding talents attempting to establish their first hit single runs, we’ve highlighted a number of emerging Nigerian acts with amazing potential that wield a solid chance of breaking out this year.
Check out our list of 12 Nigerian artists to watch in 2023 below.
Sulaimon Abiola, better known asKhaid made his debut in January 2022 at only 17-years-old. He had a hit straight out of the gate with his debut single “With You.” Khaid was announced as a Neville Records' signing on January 20, 2022. He released “With You” eight days after the announcement, and the song went on to become one of the country's top hits. Currently “With You” has over 3.7 million views on YouTube and 5.6 million streams on Spotify. The afrobeats and afro-fusion act is definitely an artist to watch, and we’re looking forward to more from him in 2023.
Odumodublvck is a boisterous Nigerian rapper known for two main things — his audacious, aggressive lyrics and style, and his fusion of afrobeats, grime, and drill. The outcome is his very own personal blend of hip-hop. In 2022 he signed a record deal with NATIVE Records, in partnership with Def Jam Recordings. Odumodu raps mostly in Nigerian Pidgin English, telling stories about his community and everyday experiences in a witty, vivid fashion. His latest release is “Picanto,” a punchline-heavy afro hip-hop cut featuring Zlatan and Ecko Miles.
Bloody Civilian is an Abuja-based producer who just began her journey as a recording artist. She was selected to contribute music production to the soundtrack of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, discovering she would be a key part of Marvel’s latest blockbuster ever before she had released her debut single. She was signed by Def Jam CEO Tunji Balogun, the same name responsible for signing Tems, SZA and Kendrick. She released her debut single “How To Kill A Man” in October 2022, a satirical tutorial to women on how to reclaim their agency, wrapped in an afropop package.
Greatman Takitis a singer, songwriter, and gospel artist from Kwara state, Nigeria and yes, Greatman Takit is actually his real name. He stepped out in earnest in 2020, after breaking out from renowned Nigerian gospel choir The Gratitude to be a solo act. Since then he has established himself as one of the leading faces of Nigeria’s afro-gospel movement. He’s responsible for “Commando,” a colorful and infectious afro-gospel tune made in collaboration with Ko’rale.
Emerging afro-fusion artist David Dekor, better known as Pawzz released his debut EP titled Prezz Play this month. The 5-track EP is an exuberant display of vocal dexterity, floaty melodies, and positive energy. On “Body Language,” Pawzz expresses desire and longing, issuing a sensuous fusion of afro and R&B, while on “Koma” we see Pawzz live out his afropop star potential with confidence and charisma. Pawzz is a Port Harcourt city native, the same city that birthed Burna Boy and Omah Lay, and if Prezz Play is anything to go by, we trust that Pawzz is well on the way to matching up to the legacy of his predecessors.
Boy Spyce is a singer, songwriter, and performer, and a native of Benin city in Edo state. The 21 year-old signed to Mavin Records in 2022 after having the underground buzzing with a number of freestyle videos. He dropped his self-titled debut EP the same year, a 5-track offering of solo songs by the talented vocalist. “Nobody” is an age-appropriate love song, a midtempo afrobeats cut that sees Spyce candidly express his affections to the apple of his eye.
Somadina is a highly-talented vocalist who made her initial debut in 2018 with her singles “IHY” and “Lay Low” and began to build a following, particularly among Nigeria’s alternative music scene. The 22-year old considers herself a genre-fluid artist, with her discography laced with pop, rock, R&B, and alternative sounds. Her latest release is “an EP that feels like an album” titled Heart of The Heavenly Undeniable. The 11-track EP is an alchemy of sounds that features alté scene heavyweights Zamir, The Cavemen, and Odunsi the Engine, and was released under Warner Music Africa.
Agada Blessed Obotu, known as Berri-Tiga is an afropop singer and native of Benue State, Nigeria. He made his debut in 2021 with afrobeats number “Fire” before rising to national attention in 2022 as a result of his hit collaboration with Carter Efe “Machala,” an ode to pop superstar Wizkid which topped Apple Music’s Nigeria Top 100 chart shortly after release. His latest release is titled “God”, an upbeat tune that sees Berri sing praises to his Maker for his many victories over a highlife-inspired afropop instrumental.
Kémi Lopez is a Nigerian R&B and soul singer and songwriter from Maiduguri, Nigeria. Kémi's sound embodies a blend of contemporary R&B, alternative R&B, indie soul and afro-soul. Her unique vocal texture and delivery coupled with her ability to fluidly switch between English and Yoruba gives the young singer a distinct edge. Her latest release is titled “Love,” a sultry R&B ballad that narrates the story of a woman thinking out loud about her ideal love over an intimate and emotive R&B soundscape.
Also joining the class of newcomers in Nigeria’s music scene isKold AF, a singer and songwriter who deals in afro-fusion with a distinct style and sound. In December 2022 she dropped a 2-track EP titled Kold SZN, a brief but impressive offering that’s just a taste of what’s to come from the talented vocalist and performer.
L0la is a 21-year old Nigerian singer and songwriter, based in London. She’s a bit of a mystery, with limited info about herself available aside her very many Instagram photos, but one thing we do know about her is that she’s well embedded in Nigeria’s alté scene. She’s featured on songs with the likes of Cruel Santino, and on Somadina’s EP along with the likes of Zamir and Odunsi The Engine. L0la has already began to grace live events in the UK and Europe, and she has an EP out, her debut project titled Love, L0la. Her latest release is “Conceited,” an alternative rock fusion that reveals L0la in her element.
Bayanni is a Nigerian singer and songwriter, and a new signing announced by Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records in August 2022. Joining the host of talented young artists on the label such as Johnny Drille, Ladipoe, Rema, Ayra Starr, Magixx and Boy Spyce, he was introduced with the release of his self-titled debut EP Bayanni, featuring four solo singles. One of his standout tunes so far is “Ta Ta Ta,” a vibrant afrobeats single laced with sexual innuendo.
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