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Tobi Nwigwe "Ewu."

The 15 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month

Featuring Wizkid x Afro B, Simi, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Davido x Popcaan and more.

This month in Nigerian Afropop has been full projects: Rumination EP by Masterkraft, 229 Friday Vol 1 by Omaggz299, Osinachi by Humblesmith and Codename by Dremo.

There's also been a lot of socially-conscious songs released: "Cold" by TY Bello, "Child of the World" by Falz and "What Happened To The Love" by Emma Nyra—as well as a comeback single by Daddy Showkey titled "Position," once the biggest artist in the country and chief exponent of galala.

Read on for our selection of the best Nigerian songs pop songs for the month of July 2018.


Afro B & Wizkid "Drogba (Joanna)"

As if to court more fans from Francophone Africa, Wizkid brings his inimitable star quality to two big songs of the summer in Afro B's remix of "Drogba (Joanna)" and MHD's "Bella". The former is British-Ivorian and a leader in London's afrobeat movement while MHD, a wonderboy of French pop, is of Guinean and Senegalese descent.

Diles Ailes - "Enough"

Dice Ailes simmers from the big brag of "Otedola" and claims of wealth and refinement to a charming humility on "Enough," telling a love interest "I don't if it's enough for you / don't got money i got love for you / don't know if my love is enough for you." Sweetly sung in melodies that will stick in one's head after one listen.

Popcaan x Davido "Dun Rich"

Taken from Popcaan's new album, Forever, "Dun Rich" alongside Davido is posed to be a hit on account of each artist's stature in their home countries, where dancehall and afrobeats has taken root. Both combine well over the uncluttered dancehall beat exposing the strength in their singing voices as they court love interests with boasts and some charm.

Simi on "Hey Mama" & "Stainless"

Two excellent features by Simi are duets with male rappers who also sing, both of whom do a decent job against the delicate beauty in her voice. Dremo is quick to admit to being a "rapper wey dey sing song" on "Hey Mama" which has a Caribbean inflection synonymous with London's "afro-swing" movement, while "Stainless" is a soothing highlife affair.


Tiwa Savage on "Do Like This" and "Attracta"

Tiwa Savage's highlife credentials deserve more praise. "Eminado" was a highpoint exemplified in this month's pair of releases: "Do Like This" with producer turned artist Mystro and "Attracta" by Humblesmith off his new Osinachi album. The former has a more recent forbearer in "Soco" by Wizkid, borrowing its tight clutter of percussion, while the latter harks back to earlier forms of highlife defined by a call-and-response chorus and accented by restless horns.


Andre Wolff & Wavy The Creator & Ayuu - "PIAC"

Woozy trap and dembow percussion meld unobtrusively, leavened by a near-ceaseless, melancholic piano on "PIAC" by Andre Wolff with good help from Ayuu and Wavythecreator—two key figures in Nigeria's new wave movement.


Runtown & Fekky - "Unleash"

Producer Del B's patient, sun-dappled piano and agreeable staccato percussion convey the easygoing life pursued by both Fekky, a British-Nigerian rapper, and Runtown who complains of having "too many women in my life / i don't know what they really want from me / don't know if they love me or my money." The age-old dilemma of the successful and the company they keep.

Tobe Nwigwe & Tim Woods - "Ewu"

Nigerian-American rapper Tobi Nwigwe is impressively prodigious, dropping songs or "freestyles" every month complete with artfull- staged videos that feature tasteful choreography and costumes. For July, he's released "Ten Toes", "Tabernacle" and "Ewu", the last of which draws heavily from his Igbo heritage and his dealings with growing fame and attention from women "well I pray for them, they prey on me / we just all play a little different."


Fanzy Papaya & Yemi Alade - "Love Me"

New comer Fanzy Papaya gives a commanding vocal performance on "Love Me" holding his own against the well season Yemi Alade, herself a towering proponent of pop-highlife in Nigeria. Roving electric guitar pickings brings bags of melodies to a heavy percussion, the work of DJ Coublon, himself a champion live recorded instrumentation. Most impressive is Papaya's agile singing that may draw resemblances to Flavour but is no less impressive in its own right.


Reekado Banks & Duncan Mighty - "Bio Bio"

Duncan Mighty—the six-man of Nigerian pop music in 2018—continues his resurgence guesting on "Bio Bio" by Reekado Banks. The song's lead lyric and melody "Bio Bio" is a big borrow from "Eddie Quansa" by Peacocks International Guitar Band, better known as the theme song for New Masquerade, the indelible 1980s and '90s Nigerian sitcom.


Tomi Thomas - "Shaken"

Soothing and mild mannered grooves are the perfect ambient for the sweet falsetto in the hook for "Shaken" by Tomi Thomas, a refrain that induces longing, loss and lust but is also focused on trepidation for a lover "I pray that I may not be shaken , though my heart is breaking, shaking for your sake."


Timaya - "To U"

A thanksgiving song that will fit snugly in a club playlist (or is it vice versa?), "To U" is a victory lap of Timaya's music career. The video features his album covers, clips of himself and his kids playing in a living room, as well as a childhood clip of a young and pre-fame Timaya impressively singing to a camera. His musical gifts and success are matched with a continuing vitality that has put his days as a plantain hawker in the distant past.


ClassiQ "Gargajiya"


ClassiQ has imposed a pop song structure on the sprawling nature of Hausa folk music in the most impressive fashion. He gives his voice a stank befitting a seasoned griot, singing and rapping with great flair and many a side-flex "da mun taka, ba TP / yanzu mu chicks ke daurawa akan DP" (roughly translating to "we used to trek, cos we didn't have TP [slang for 'transport fair'] / now we're the one girl's put on their DP). The use of molo (xalam) and kalangu (hand held drums), the praising of friends and luminaries called kiraari, brings into modern Nigerian pop a musical tradition that is as ancient as it is widespread in west and central Africa.

Wurld - "Contagious"

Produced by Shizzi, the sturdy frame of propulsive, polyrhythmic percussion is egged on by horns and WurlD's affecting plea "Is this love? Or am I just a game you play? / are we sinners just the same?", even when his broader concern is for a type of utopia, "happy people live your life, you're contagious." A second, even more restless electric guitar, introduced in the last quarter, ramps up the crescendo to a satisfying finish. The tastefully-shot video is as rooted in Yoruba dance and spirituality, as the lyrics are earnest in seeking universal love. "Contagious" not only recalls the afrobeat-fusion of "Show You Off" (2016), but harks back to an earlier form if compared to Femi Kuti's "Bang Bang Bang" and its use of the electric guitar.


2Baba & Perruzi - "Amaka"


Sung with enough conviction as to seem gut-wrenching, 2Baba rues a broken relationship with the titular "Amaka" produced by Speroachbeats (who made "Assurance" for Davido) with ample support from newcomer Perruzi.

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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