The 13 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month

Featuring Rema, Burna Boy, Yemi Alade, Kizz Daniel, and more.

Read ahead for our selection of the best Nigerian songs of March.

For more Nigerian hits, follow our NAIJA HITS playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Yemi Alade 'Bounce'

"When de tin don hold body, you go dance" instructs Yemi Alade, who is the undoubted queen of dance and often indifferent to the current taste in Nigerian pop especially when her considerable international fanbase cuts across countries and languages. On "Bounce," she continues the success she's had with 2016's "Kofi Annan," blending its humour and lexicon with Nigerianisms.

Burna Boy 'Anybody'

Burna Boy continues to find new shades in his voice, even when channeling Fela, better than most afropop artists. The self-styled "African giant" has more to say on the matter when he sings "respect is reciprocal / even though una know say I special" in his richly gravelly voice.

Rema 'American Love' 

"She's so sad she don't talk too much / damn I like how your body drop" goes Rema on "American Love," a potent mix of lust and empathy over a booming trap beat ushered in by a melancholic guitar, continuous and often twinned with "yaps" and "yaws," two of the many melodic components that make the newcomer's Rema Freestyle EP a rich listening experience.

AYLØ 'Paris!'

Compassion and uncomfortable truths are a potent mix on AYLØ's first single of 2019. "We're all damaged baby / don't wanna add to it." As he tells it, "Paris!" is about a short lived yet memorable encounter with an unavailable woman. In the song's lyrics, the experience is abstracted from real life events; "I awoke in someone's arms on a terrace / finally happened / careless, cuz when she moves i'm a fool." This is sung in his enjoyable malleable voice, one which he hopefully keeps pushing.

Remy Baggins 'Let Me...?' & 'TENSION' feat. Funbi

Remy Baggins' undoubted natural vocal abilities still wear traces of his influences on Hentai, a debut EP which scores high on sensual slow soothers. In "Let Me..?," he's an eager lover waiting for the merest hint of consent to begin—"I won't do a thing until you left me / I just want to hear you say it out." On "TENSION," Baggins finds a willing accomplice in the silky-voiced Funbi while proving himself a writer who pays attention to detail: "traffic on the way / and traffic back home showing you pepper" ("show you pepper" is a Nigerianism loosely meaning "give you trouble").

GoldLink x Wizkid "No Lie" & GoldLink x Maleek Berry "Zulu Screams"

Two standout songs off the celebrated release of GoldLink's debut album, broadly titled Diaspora. Maleek Berry's hook tames the throbbing drums and prickly guitar on "Zulu Screams," whose riotously colourful video is directed by ace director Meji Alabi. Wizkid's impressive sideline as a dependable hook man, especially on rap songs, continues on the two-part suite of "No Lie,"

Idowest 'Ye Mama'

By far the most well executed song on Idowest's Mafia Culture, Vol. 1 EP is "Ye Mama." Over the song's viscous trap beat, Idowest compactly layers bars that end with three syllable rhymes. It is a confident project opener whose other highlights include the gqom heavy "A Day Money" and "Who," released last December.

Kizz Daniel 'Eko'

It is the immensely confident songwriter who will title his album, No Bad Songz, as Kizz Daniel did with his 2018 sophomore release which indeed did not have a single bad entry of song-making. He appears to have moved on from the impressive work since the release of the endlessly covered "Fvck You" and now "Eko," a deeply affecting ode to the bustle and spirit of Lagos city. Robust drumming finds balance in a satisfying bass and hook, the work of guitarist and producer Phil Keys with whom he made "Yeba".

Omawumi 'Tabansi' & 'Without You'

"Vocal powerhouse" is a description that accompanies Omawumi's name time and again. When combined with sensible songwriting the result is one to savour as on "Tabansi," the stand out single from her album, In Her Feelings. Wronged by an abusive lover, she insists "I'm stronger, I'll rise from this," a generosity of spirit conveyed with fragile yet strong singing that is vulnerable but not defenceless, a lament free of self pity. Elsewhere on the sonically cohesive project, a plinking piano and the later addition of drums and saxophone brings Fela's afrobeat closer to its jazz roots on "Away." Omawumi's muscular singing, without aiming to, strongly captures Fela's signature grunting while an electric guitar adds zest to the roots reggae and afro-R&B diction of "Mr Sinner Man."

Naira Marley 'Opotoyi (Marlians)'

Capitalising on increased notoriety since his release from detention by Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commision, Naira Marley rallies his fans to the dance floor on "Opotoyi" before lamenting his woes and other failures of judgement in people on "Why?". The latter is by now a customary and still efficient tack by the persecuted artist. What remains impressive is Marley's ability to tease musicality from his monotonous drawl.

Masterkraft 'Alujo'

Where many a producer use trap drums as an updating device for just about any genre (gqom in this case), the assuredly inventive Masterkraft opts for the drum rolls common to juju which, in theory is a clash of two heavily rhythmic beats, but instead makes for a rich alchemy.

Tiwa Savage, Kizz Daniel, Young John 'Ello Baby'

Tiwa Savage turns up on "Ello" with Kizz Daniel and producer Young John, who closely reimagines DJ Coublon's production on 2015's "Woju,"

Modenine & Teck-Zilla 'Sound Bwoy Killa' & 'Kaiser Flow'

Modenine raps with a snarl, a tool that adds real bite to his wordplay on"Sound Bwoy Killa" and "Kaiser Flow," as well as elsewhere on Esoteric Fellow, a joint album entirely produced by Teck-Zilla. [Read our rare interview with Modenine here]

For more Nigerian hits, follow our NAIJA HITS playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Asa's 'Lucid" album cover

Asa Releases Her Highly-Anticipated New Album, 'Lucid'

Listen to the celebrated Nigerian singer's first album in five years.

After a five year hiatus Asa, one of Nigeria's most celebrated artists, has released her fourth studio album Lucid.

The 14-track album, includes the previously released singles "Good Thing" and "The Beginning" which the singer dropped earlier this year to positive reviews.

The singer and songwriter took to social media to thank fans for their ongoing support over the weekend, writing "I have looked forward to sharing this with you for sometime now but I wanted it to be special, that much I owe you. For being with me from the beginning, thank you from my soul. I hope this makes you happy, brings you joy and somehow, you can find yourself in these songs."

She also shared a live studio performance of the album's first track "Murder in the USA,' check It out below.

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Illustration by Simone Martin-Newberry

A 15-Year-Old Nigerian Student Lends Her Voice to the Fight Against Boko Haram With Graphic Novel

Aisha Mustapha's graphic novel about her experiences under Boko Haram was published today for International Day of the Girl.

Aisha Mustapha, is a 15-year-old student from Nigeria, using her voice to tell her own story. The young writer recently penned a graphic novel about her experience fleeing Boko Haram, locating her family and trying to further her education. It's a heavy subject, obviously, but with her graphic novel, she offers a voice for young people directly affected by the crisis in Northern Nigeria.

The book was published today to mark the International Day of the Girl, a day established by the United Nations in 2011 to "highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights."

Aisha's talent for storytelling has previously been highlighted in Assembly, a by-girls-for-girls publication by the Malala Fund that brought Aisha's graphic novel to life, premiering it today in conjunction with International Day of the GIrl. Tess Thomas, Assembly's editor, elaborated on the purpose of the publication saying, "We believe in the power of girls' voices to generate change. Our publication provides girls with a platform so their opinions and experiences can inform decisions about their futures."

Aisha's words were illustrated by artist Simone Martin-Newberry, who had this to say about the process of creating the visuals for the graphic novel: "I was very moved by Aisha's story, and really wanted to treat it sensitively and do it justice with my illustrations. My aim was to capture the real emotions and actions of the story, but also keep my artwork bright and colorful and full of pattern, to help reflect Aisha's amazing youthful spirit."

Check out some excerpts from the piece below and head here to read it in full.
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Photo by Hamish Brown

In Conversation: Lemn Sissay On His New Book About Re-claiming the Ethiopian Heritage Stolen From Him by England’s Foster Care System

In 'My Name Is Why,' the 2019 PEN Pinter award winner passionately advocates for children in the institutional care system, and in turn tells a unique story of identity and the power in discovering one's heritage.

It took the author Lemn Sissay almost two decades to learn his real name. As an Ethiopian child growing up in England's care system, his cultural identity was systematically stripped from him at an early age. "For the first 18 years of my life I thought that my name was Norman," Sissay tells OkayAfrica. "I didn't meet a person of color until I was 10 years of age. I didn't know a person of color until I was 16. I didn't know I was Ethiopian until I was 16 years of age. They stole the memory of me from me. That is a land grab, you know? That is post-colonial, hallucinatory madness."

Sissay was not alone in this experience. As he notes in his powerful new memoir My Name Is Why, during the 1960s, tens of thousands of children in the UK were taken from their parents under dubious circumstances and put up for adoption. Sometimes, these placements were a matter of need, but other times, as was the case with Sissay, it was a result of the system preying on vulnerable parents. His case records, which he obtained in 2015 after a hardfought 30 year campaign, show that his mother was a victim of child "harvesting," in which young, single women were often forced into giving their children up for adoption before being sent back to their native countries. She tried to regain custody of young Sissay, but was unsuccessful.

Whether they end up in the foster system out of need or by mistake, Sissay says that most institutionalized children face the same fate of abuse under an inadequate and mismanaged system that fails to recognize their full humanity. For black children who are sent to white homes, it often means detachment from a culturally-sensitive environment. "There are too many brilliant people that I know who have been adopted by white parents for me to say that it just doesn't work," says Sissay. "But the problem is the amount of children that it doesn't work for."

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News Brief
(Screenshot from "Every Woman" video)

Check out Cameroonian Crooner Vagabon’s New Ode to Female Power

The singer dropped a video for new single "Every Woman" today, shot by fellow Cameroonian director Lino Asana.

Cameroonian-born singer-songwriter Laetitia Tamko, better known as her stage name Vagabon, has been spoiling us with delights as of late. First, the crooner teased us with two singles, "Flood" and "Water Me Down" from her forthcoming sophomore album, Vagabon, a work she wrote and produced herself. And today, she surprised us with a new single and video for "Every Woman"—a track Tamko claims is the "thesis of the album," as per a press statement reported by The Fader magazine

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