The 10 Best Nigerian Songs of 2016
Here are the 10 best Nigerian songs of the year featuring Ycee, Tekno, Davido, Patoranking and many more.
Davido "Gbage Oshi"
Davido is a shrewd business man. He reportedly bought "Aye" off Runtown and would have added "Gallardo."
Recent reports that he bought "Gbagbe Oshi" from General Pype hasn't discouraged naysayers from trying to make Davido out as a talentless git. Yet he's still at the pinnacle of African pop today.
The beat here is muscular and the delivery rapid-fire, a cadence that suits Davido well.
The Son of Mercy EP is meant to herald a new phase for Davido now that he's signed with Sony, renamed his HKN Gang to Davido World Music and is exchanging phone numbers with Usher. 2017 is his to give away.
Lil Kesh "Ibile"
The simple thought of a Lil Kesh and Young John song makes me happy. "Ibile" is also co-produced by Pheelz who, along with Kesh and John, is signed to Olamide’s YBNL.
The proudly Nigerian project that Olamide and Phyno are spearheading is confidently furthered by Kesh. "Ibile," in Yoruba, roughly translates to native, local or heritage. “You can chop your Chinese, ogbeni I want iyan” he says less confrontational than either "Colonial Mentality" or "Lady" by Fela, both here distilled into a four minute pop song.
Kesh’s set during the YBNL London concert in November was way more live than his mentor’s, who had two hype men who pranced about while he did precious little. Kesh worked the crowd, his dance moves were slick (he invented Shoki, didn't he?) and his now many hits, once they came on, sent the crowd into a rapture. All this and he didn't perform his more recent songs "Kojo" and "Bend Down Select." They keep coming.
Kesh has either left or is leaving YBNL just when he's becoming very bankable. "Ibile" remix with Reminisce (Olamide before there was Olamide) hasn't made the cut because it is only piggybacking off the real work already done by the original.
Terry Apala "Champagne Shower"
Terry Apala’s rough-edged voice and manner of singing I would have said is juju if his name wasn't the same as Akpala, which is another sub-genre of Yoruba music whose originators and purveyors are featured in a documentary called Faaji Agba.
Not only do Akpala and booming beats fit together, in "Champagne Shower" they're a complete flush. Terry Apala's adapted the gruff vocals, ad-libs and inflections of Akpala to the hard bounce and flow pattern of trap.
Of the Faaji Agba collective, Fatai Rolling Dollar appears to have been the wildest, but even he would marvel at the excess in the video for "Champagne Shower."
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See, Koker had to switch hustles from juju to pop, as he's confessed on "Kolewerk," “she said I sang a Fuji song Kolewerk, ati werk/ Choc Boys come through ati werk,” and he appears to be happy with the move.
"Do Something," his first single on Chocolate City, had all the fast rhythm and exuberance of juju, as does the video and his live sets which all point to one progenitor, Sir Shina Peters, but also Bright Chimezie to an extent.
Koker is still molting it appears. "Do Something" harked back to the Shinamania of the mid 1990s, but with production that has had over twenty years to develop. In the end , it only enriches the gene pool of afrobeats.
Kiss Daniel "Mama"
Kiss Daniel proudly labels himself as a songwriter, which should be obvious considering his occupation. It needs to be emphasised: his album New Era is up there with Wizkid’s Ayo.
There is a neat symmetry to his songwriting that even looks good on the page, and I doubt it's down to fonts. His raspy voice give his voice a maturity beyond his age and he has a great ear for melody. Plus, all of these beats by Young John are supremely dope.
His success this early in his career has been spectacular. I'd worry that he'd struggle to sustain it if Wizkid hadn't moved on to bigger milestones. He's sorted.
Sabo Kpade is an Associate Writer with Spread The Word. His short story Chibok was shortlisted for the London Short Story Prize 2015. His first play, Have Mercy on Liverpool Street was longlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award. He lives in London.