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The 11 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month

Featuring Tekno, Zlatan, Lady Donli, Tems, Rema, Odunsi and more.

Here's our selection for the best to come out of Nigeria in August.

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


Tekno & Zlatan 'Agege'

Aided by Zlatan, it's originator, Tekno subsumes the zanku wave into his proven song=making and new preference to talk-sing on "Agege," as he's also done on "Don't Jealous Me" from Beyoncé's The Lion King: The Gift.

Dj Big N 'Ogologoma' ft. Rema

DJ BIg N enlists the boy wonder of Nigerian pop, Rema, who squeezes musicality out of a clunky word whose refrain, in the hook, is simple and effective in "Ogologoma."

Odunsi 'Wetin Dey'

Odunsi injects new life in an enduring pidgin phrase in the audio for "Wetin Dey" and turns up the nostalgia in the video which is either a send up or homage to Nigerian pop music videos of the 1990s.

Jidenna "Vaporiza"

"Sou Sou" and "Zodi," Jidenna's pair of promo singles for his sophomore album 85 To Africa capture his double heritage of rap and afropop, especially in one lasting phrase about going to "Afropunk in Jozi." More enchanting is "Vapourizer," on which marching drums give way to a delightful highlife mix of chirpy horns, searching snare drums, leisurely bass and patient sun-clappers made even better by Jidenna's charming singing about his charmed love.

Tems 'Try Me'

"Wanna lock me away I'm winning / you wanna add to my pain I'm shining" belts Tems on "Try Me," a feminist ballad that is equally powerful as a stance against any oppression whether physical, mental or existential.

AYLØ 'xozhu'

AYLO's killer falsetto is used to devastating effect on "xozhu" from his third EP dnt'dlt. Drawing from Drake's ambient trap ballads, the mercurial singer-producer-rapper is even more subterranean, his annunciations have bite and his singing is both tortured and controlled. The last 40 seconds of the song are a show of vocal virtuosity that makes AYLO a singular artist.

Nonso Amadi 'Better' ft. Simi

The Mr Eazi feature is one reason why "Go Outside" is the lead single off Nonso Amadi's Free EP but just as good is "Better" with Simi, a soothing avowal to improve as a lover. The soft percussion and ambient piano dissolves, in the last third, into a highlife arrangement whose tempo is suited to the Sade-esque soundscape from which both singers readily draw.

Lady Donli 'Corner' feat. VanJess & the Cavemen

Verses about defiance and resolve distract from the song's focus: a tale of an unfaithful lover that cleverly layers soulful harmonising over a rich highlife arrangement. Rather than a throwback, "Corner" is a brilliant re-tooling of highlife by Lady Donli whose debut album, Enjoy Your Life, is full of other such mercurial turns.

Bez Idakula 'Far Away'

Taken from his new album The Light, "Faraway" is a song about yearning for closeness with a lover, in mind if not in body. The song's connecting tissue of American soul and afropop is captured in its lyric: "hope say I dey make a little bit of sense," as in the seamless combination of genres which blends an electric guitar with heaving conga drums and back-up vocals typical on Fela's afrobeat.

Brymo 'Take Me Back To November'

"Take Me Back To November" is a plaintive call to relive a memorable past "when love was sweet and free" and "when our hearts were free from disaster" by Brymo the soulful pianist turned bluesman on his 5 track EP titled A.A.A, which he has also adopted as a moniker of sorts.

Toby Grey 'Medicine'

A rallying call to the "single and searching," "Medicine" is the standout song off Toby Grey's debut EP Love In Lagos. The "soco beat"—now a staple of Nigerian pop—is improved by Grey's fine balance of rRnB and afropop diction.


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


Interview

Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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The 7 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month (July)

Featuring Olamide, Lady Donli, Omah Lay, Adekunle Gold, Falz and more.