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Zlatan x Tiwa Savage in "Shotan."

The 12 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month

Featuring Olamide, Wizkid, Zlatan, Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy, Mr Eazi and, yes, Beyoncé.

Here are our selections for the best to come out of Nigeria in July.

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


Olamide, Wizkid, Id Cabasa 'Totori'

Wizkid's side hustle as a hook-man on rap songs will make for an instructive playlist and another means of evaluating his genius song-making abilities. Check out "Totori," alongside Olamide and ID Cabasa, for proof of that, as well as "Fibadi" with Chidokeyz.

Zlatan, Tiwa Savage 'Shotan'

Zlatan's prodigious output ranges from the lackluster to the brilliant. "Shotan" features Tiwa Savage's proven songwriting and her star power is a deserved boost for Zlatan's assured but monotonous delivery that is often too reliant on impact.

NINIOLA 'BODA SODIQ'

Niniola's excitement on hearing Kel P's riotous house beat as seen in this video is, on its own, a delight. The titular "Boda Sodiq"—a particularly Yoruba corruption of "Brother Saadiq"—has sprang a surprise in bed that is so good it needs caution; "o nke, take it / but just don't break it."

Beyoncé, SAINt JHN, Wizkid "Brown Skin Girl" feat. Blue Ivy Carter

Perhaps done with pop album cycles, Beyoncé latest cultural statement will endure for years. Wizkid is at his most selfless and thoughtful, a side reserved for his studio albums. "Brown Skill Girl" could become a standard as has happened to "Brown Skin Lady" by Talib Kweli and Mos Def. Bankuli's presence is gold on "The Other Side" and elsewhere on the album as a co-curator .

Burna Boy "Omo"

Five of the 19 songs on African Giant are already successful singlea—and the rest have strong potential. M.anifest turns up for a discourse on British colonialism on "Another Story," Future proves to be a vocal twin on "Show & Tell," Serani's catchy hook on "Secrets" could easily be match by Jeremih who restricts himself to a fine verse, "Destiny" is lofty but avoids being twee,"Gum Body" combines Jorja Smith's smooth British R&B with Burna Boy's own mix of afropop and dancehall. Burna's a willing to please a lover on "Pull Up" and "Omo." The big track list aside, this is his most satisfying project yet.

Mr Eazi 'Supernova'

Mr Eazi's "Supernova" shares the same languid guitar, playful love overtures and soft percussive arrangements as 2018's "Pour Me Water" and 2017's "Leg Over " all of which were produced by E Kelly.

Lady Donli 'SUFFER SUFFER'

The "lyric" video for Lady Donli's "Suffer Suffer" may poke fun at alarmist Nollywood voice-overs and cheap music videos, but on the track itself, throbbing drums are what introduce her forward quest for a good life, "studio rat, account on flat / I pray to the lord that she guides my path."

Kida Kudz 'Moonwalk'

Kida Kudz continues to impress with how much musicality he teases out of his signature lisp, as heard in "Moon Walk," although the MJ baiting is a bit of a tired musical trope.

Iyanya 'Ijeoma' feat. Peruzzi

Iyanya's search for new relevance gets a helping hand from Peruzzi on "Ijeoma" whose fine pop writing—"you no be custom but na your body dey border me"—is offset by a problematic hook—"I be pastor, e no mean say i no see wetin you carry"—especially after the recent rape allegations against Pastor Fatoyibo, leading pastor of the Coza Nigerian mega-church.

Asa 'Good Thing'

"I'm too fly for this" sings Asa, taking the higher ground rather than lament over unrequited love on "Good Thing" on which treated vocals and electic guitar is joined by a thumping bass drum and Asa's affirmative rhetorical; "who will wait for you? / this plane is leaving without you".

Crayon 'Confidence'

Signed to Don Jazzy's Mavin Records, Crayon shows refined afropop sensibilities on his debut EP, Cray Cray. He is self affirming on "Confidence," a refreshing take on the "soco beat" and does well not to oversell the neediness on "So Fine" even when urged by a steady bass drum and a ceaseless melancholic guitar.

Terri 'Same You'

"Same You" by Terri is a surprise pleasure. Combined with twinkling piano, his raspy singing voice and songwriting has more charm than perhaps expected from the 26-year-old newcomer.


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


Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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