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Photo: Hugo Glendinning & Gavin Rodgers.

The 10 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month

Featuring Rema, Niniola x Femi Kuti, Tony Allen, 2Baba, Olamide, Burna Boy, Fireboy DML and more

Here are the best tracks that came out of the buzzing Nigerian scene in February.

Follow our NAIJA HITS playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.


2Baba 'Warriors'

2Baba dropped his much-anticipated album titled Warriors. The album is a follow-up to the artist's last project Ascension which was released in 2014. Warriors features music heavyweights including Burna Boy, Olamide, Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, AJ, Peruzzi, Syemca and HI Idibia. In his latest offering, 2Baba gives fans a little bit of everything—Afrobeats, Afropop and even reggae.

Niniola x Femi Kuti 'Fantasy'

Nigerian singer and songwriter Niniola shares her latest single "Fantasy," featuring the legendary Femi Kuti. On "Fantasy," the singer delivers her usual crisp vocals atop a pulsating beat and smooth saxophone riffs from Kuti. It's an infectious song through and through, and the two make for a memorable duo.

Tony Allen x Hugh Masekela 'Slow Bones'

Nigerian afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen and South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela began recording together in 2010. Though they'd known each other since the 1970s, through their friendship & work with Fela, it took forty years—and a coinciding tour schedule that saw them both in the UK at the same time—for Allen and Masekela to make it to a London studio together. It was there that, along with producer Nick Gold, they recorded the "kind of South African-Nigerian swing-jazz stew" that will make up their upcoming album, Rejoice, as Allen describes it.

Zlatan 'Life'

Zlatan gets pensive on his latest track "Life." The song is a departure from the Zanku (Leg Work) singer's usual dance-worthy style. Instead, the slow-paced anthem sees him reflecting on his rise, and making it as an artist against all odds. "My life changed in one day," sings the artist on the hook.

Burna Boy 'Odogwu'

Burna Boy came through with latest single, "Odogwu," a smooth afro-highlife concoction produced by Kel P. Following the celebrated release of African Giant—which came with nominations at both the Grammys & BRIT Awards and a trophy for Best International Act at the BET Awards—the Nigerian star will be embarking on a long run of shows that will take him across North America and Europe in the Twice As Tall tour.

Rema x Rvssian 'Beamer (Bad Boys)'

Buzzing Nigerian artist Rema shares his first single and music video of the year "Beamer (Bad Boys)." The track is the first single since the release of his 2019 EP Bad Commando. Produced by Rvssianm, the song features a sultry, drum-heavy beat and a catchy hook in which a chorus of female voices sing of their love for "bad boys." The steely music video features several love interests and flashy cars as Rema moves through the city on an undisclosed mission. The video features crisp, scenic shots directed by Fxrbes.

Fireboy DML 'Vibration'

Rising Nigerian artist Fireboy DML, shares the music video for his latest single, "Vibration," from his debut album, Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps. The song features eclectic production with a Latin flair from Deeptunes. The unique visuals, see the artist in several striking settings including a ballroom filled with skillful dancers doing the foxtrot and mambo, as well as outdoors where he's surrounded by snow and a group of ballerinas. Later on in the video, the artist delivers his own dance moves in a disco-lit room.

Zinoleesky x Naira Marley 'Caro'

Zinoleesky dropped his debut track "Caro" under his new record label, Marlian Records. He teams up with Naira Marley on the fun and upbeat ode to women and love while also dropping the accompanying visuals too. In "Caro", the duo seamlessly feeds off of each other's energy as they rap about beautiful women, money and love. Produced by Rexxie, the track is a classic uptempo Afrobeat number with a pretty laid-back rhythm that makes the track itself an easy listen.

Lady Donli 'Corner' 

Nigerian singer Lady Donli, returns with a new song and music video "Corner," a standout from her 2019 album Enjoy Your Life, featuring VanJess and The Cavemen. The smooth, highlife-tinged song, contains a bold message that address several of the issues currently facing Nigerian women, including the recent #SexForGrades scandal, which exposed lecturers at various universities who were sexually assaulting their female students. The video, directed by Shaun Kalu, does the same, as it opens with a group of women leading a protest in Nigeria's capital. Later the video shows them taking part in several subversive activities to defeat male perpetrators.

Olamide '999'

Olamide dropped his first official body of work for this year—an EP titled 999. The nine-track EP is the follow-up to his 2018 collaborative album YBNL Mafia Family and features several talents including Phyno, JayBoi, Sosa-E, Rhatti, Snow, Cheque, Milly and Jackmillz.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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