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.

Choosing one’s top ten prized fruits from the good harvest of 2016 is no small task, but I'm under orders from the editor and being employed does have its appeal.

More to the point, it’s been a bountiful year for Nigerian pop or Afrobeats or afrobeats or Afro-pop or, less confusedly, pop.

It's been interesting watching how albums released this year are denoted on Apple Music or Spotify, which have since become the all-conquering overlords who unified the different and disparate musical tribes as streaming sites, charts and soon will be everything that is to do with music.

The confusion might be Spotify or Apple's, but it's also emblematic of the state of Nigerian pop which has also rapidly blossomed.

The ten songs here are as subjective as they are objective, in the same way public reception is as important as personal tastes, and good music is as convincing as bad music. Enjoy.

Ycee "Omo Alhaji"

“Who's your daddy?” in Nigerian parlance could double as preamble to an actual pick-up line and as a status identifier.

It suited the pervy older man that Banky W characterised on "Jasi." It doesn't suit Ycee, a young man, but when he's rap-singing the line in the hook and verses for "Omo Alhaji," this hybrid delivery—American-accented rap and the indigenous preference of afrobeat fans—wins you over.

The references might be essentially Nigerian, but E. Kelly’s beat is undoubtedly Ghanaian in its use of hi-hats. This blend of in-dance and in-sound is a sure winner. No doubt, the track's a big reason why Ycee was such an attractive proposition for a deal with Sony.

Download on iTunes / Amazon

Patoranking "No Kissing Baby" feat. Sarkodie

Patoranking is the real deal. His afrobeats cred is not up for debate. But how much of a true dancehall artist he is was confirmed for me when a Brixton roadman I know bigged him up.

His blend of patois and pidgin is seamless, requiring close attention to unpick. Ghanaian star Sarkodie is a mad-fluent spitter whose verse here is faultless in cadence, as always, even when delivered in Twi.

"No Kissing Baby" was produced by GospelOnDeBeatz, who uses a syncopated hi-hat that is uniquely Ghanaian (see our previous song choice), but is being borrowed by an increasing number of Nigerian producers.

The songs's music video, released in June on YouTube, has already broken ten million views. The number has been steadily growing since then, which must mean that it's still being watched by returnees with unsatiated appetites.

Download on iTunes / Amazon

Tekno "Pana"

Tekno 2.0 ("Dance" being version 1.0) started in earnest with "Duro," which made the rounds on SoundCloud and YouTube before its not-as-exciting video dropped and gave the song a wider audience, making it a sure-fire hit. So it must have made sense to capitalise on the success of "Duro" with another song in the same tempo.

"Pana" is a slow soother, much like "Duro" and "Diana." The lyrics don't add up to much except memorable rhymes on account of their clunkiness (fajaba, lagbaja, gwagwalada). Priorities, man.

Put it this way, if Tekno was allowed to headline his and Dbanj’s recently cancelled London concert, after the furore between D'banj and the promoters, most ticket holders would have happily made the trip to O2 in the winter cold, prepared to skip past Tekno’s unsubstantial catalogue, only for the one moment when he decides to play "Pana."

Download on iTunes / Amazon

Olamide "Who You Epp?"

Until just over ten years ago, Nigerian rappers proudly flaunted both true and false African-American accents and colloquialisms. Now, afrobeats has grown into a confident genre that would rather make its Nigerian-isms fashionable (confirm = confam, paper = pepper and, here, help = epp).

This is a chief attribute of the indigenous rap wave (hopefully it's more than that) which is to take pride and ownership in one's own culture, colloquialism and idiolect, doing away with imported and rooted ideas of propriety—“I don't know how to knot tie.”

Shizzi is said to have made the beat in 15 minutes and Olamide, as always, raps as if he's shrugging someone off, a style that is effective here as he tells off, presumably, a one time associate who has returned to his fray now that he's made.

Download on iTunes / Amazon

Reekado Banks "Problem"

Reekado Banks is the one artist possibly able to fill in the crevasse left behind by D'banj’s departure from Mo Hits.

Reconstituting into Mavins with the addition of Korede Bello, Di'ja and Tiwa Savage, Don Jazzy produced Banks' first single, "Chop Am," in 2014. But production duties for his array of artists have since been delegated to his lieutenant Babyfresh, who crafted "Problem"

Rekaado Banks' debut album is a pot of gems from which "Problem" sparkles. His singing, never an octave high, shows an improved confidence on account of being mannered and unshowy. Neither has Babyfresh’s tag “this gbedu is a problem” ever been as apt or his beat making as mature.

Download on iTunes / Amazon

Next Page
Adamawa State Governor Bindow and the 21 freed girls (c) Adam Dobby

Isha Sesay’s Bold New Book Forces Us to Remember the Chibok Girls, Even If Social Media Has Forgotten

In 'Beneath the Tamarind Tree' the Sierra-Leonean author offers "the first definitive account" of what took place on the ground following the girls' abduction.

Five years ago, 276 schoolgirls were abducted from their school in northern Nigeria by a group of Boko Haram militants. A global outcry ensued with social media and the international press proclaiming their devotion to the missing girls. #BringBackOurGirls became the digital rallying cry for the movement. Even the most famous of public figures—the likes of then First Lady Michelle Obama—stood behind it. This level of attention was unique, and frankly rare for a tragedy occurring in Africa, and it seemed that the help of the entire world was exactly what was needed to topple the threat of growing extremism in Northern Nigeria, and bring the girls home safely.

Then, the world moved on—with the exception of a few. Sierra Leonean-born journalist Isha Sesay, the host of CNN Africa at the time, was one of the foremost voices covering the events taking place in Chibok, following and reporting on every painstaking detail about the girls and their possible whereabouts, even earning the network a Peabody Award in 2014 for her coverage. Her commitment to their story didn't wane—even when it was clear that the news cycle had moved on. For Sesay, the threat of erasure was further motivation to continue following the girls' story. As new developments occurred, beginning in 2016, Sesay hit the ground. She traveled to Chibok and followed those who'd been freed, while continuing to advocate for the immediate release of the 112 girls who are still missing.

Keep reading... Show less

Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Watch the Trailer for Wale's New Studio Album 'Wow...That's Crazy'

He says this sixth studio album will be his last.

This year has been a phenomenal year for Nigerian artists both on the continent and those part of the diaspora. Nigerian-American rapper, Wale, recently took to social media to announce that he'll be dropping his sixth studio album Wow...That's Crazy on the October 11th. This new project comes after he released three singles this year including "Gemini (2 sides)", "BGM" and "On Chill", a track he worked on with Jeremih. While fans are excited by news of the upcoming project, Wale has indicated that this will be his last album.

Keep reading... Show less
Still from YouTube

Watch the Music Video for Stonebwoy and 'Ololo' Featuring Teni

A fire collaboration!

Ghanaian rapper Stonebwoy enlists Nigerian artist Teni the Entertainer for his latest single 'Ololo,' his latest since dropping "Tuff Seed" earlier this summer.

The duo shine as they exchange loving lyrics atop sultry, upbeat production by Prinx Pappi. Stonebwoy opens the track with a fiery verse about giving his all to a love interest, while Teni brings the her usual high-energy to the second verse as she delivers passionate lyrics directed at a lover. Their musical chemistry, making for a catchy jam-worthy track.

Keep reading... Show less

Seyi Shay & Teyana Taylor Connect For 'Gimme Love' Remix

An afrobeats-inspired take on R&B.

Seyi Shay comes through with the new remix of "Gimme Love" featuring none-other-than Teyana Taylor.

The new remix sees the Nigerian singer linking up with the GOOD Music star for an afrobeats-inspired take on R&B, as the two artists trade romantic verses over the Sarz-produced beat.

The new music video for "Gimme Love Remix," follows Seyi Shay and Teyana Taylor to Harlem, New York. They head to brownstone homes, bodegas and bars as they get courted by their 'love.' It was directed by Walu and produced by JM Films.

"Gimme Love" is the lead single from Seyi Shay's upcoming EP, which was executive produced by Sarz and Harmony Samuels, and is due in November.

Watch the video for "Gimme Love Remix" below. The single is available everywhere now.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox