Niniola. Image courtesy of the artist.
The 13 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month
Featuring Niniola, Burna Boy, Falz, Odunsi x Davido, Tay Iwar and more.
September was packed with full project releases that included Language by MNEK, New North by ClassiQ, Lazy Genius by Ayo Jay, as well as those that were released at the tail end of August and included 1997 by Tay Iwar and Bad Boy Blaq by Blaqbonez added to which are the ton of singles from which we have picked 13 of the best.
Read on for our selection of the Best Nigerian Songs of September.
A musical match made in heaven. The duo of Niniola andSarzperfected Nigerian house music on "Maradona" and would seem to have repeated the same feat in "Bana," which is another winning combination of Nigerian pop sensibilities, Yoruba and welcomed raunchiness from the singer with a busily elegant house beat.
Chidinma x DJ Coublon "Nwoke"
Chidinma has found the perfect foil in DJ Coublon, whose use of live instrumentation and rich textures fits the celestial goodness in her voice. It's all made better by the restraint and flair not too common in her songwriting but used here to winning effect.
A delightful first single by the starlet of Starboys who first impressed in "Soco" and has made a bold statement though with stank and melodic cues from both Wizkid and Kiss Daniel, as well as the latter's use of recorded live instruments all of which is done crisply, if not imperceptibly.
Tay Iwar - "Space" & "Sugardaddy"
"Space" and "Sugar Daddy" are two of three songs that make up Tay Iwar's remarkably terse and yet satisfying 1997 EP, a long-anticipated follow-up to the much lauded Renecistia (2016). On "Space," both Santi and Preye turn out memorable verses, especially the latter whose description of herself as "gasoline and spice" is beautifully abstract. The slow swing and bounce on "Sugardaddy" makes for an infectious trap beat which, even without a significant change to it, accommodates Odunsi's perfectly snug hook in Yoruba. The star of the show is undoubtedly Iwar who, as well as producing all the songs, continues to charm with his silky voice and exemplary song making.
Burna Boy x Major Lazer "All My Life""
Ever mercurial, Burna Boydeploys his most effective musical instincts for synthesising genres and seamlessly blending patois and pidgin on "All My Life," in what is Major Lazer's most enthusiastic adoption of Afrobeats yet.
Falz "Sweet Boy"
A big bounce of a beat is the perfect serving for the ounces of charm in Falz' story telling and humor which lends himself easily to his campaign as the president of the "Sweet Boy Association" which, in typical theatrical flair, is said to have a manifesto.
Ray BLK "Empress"
A simple and patient guitar unobtrusively accompanies Ray BLK's message of self-respect and self-affirmation that may seem a little on the nose but is no less crucial and needed, or enjoyable.
Davido x Odunsi "Divine"
If you keep in mind that Davido's substantial hits in 2018 are unabashed love songs that leaned heavily on RnB, the outcome of a collaboration with Odunsi, who is himself resolutely RnB, would not be so hard to imagine. Attention-seeking piano plinks away but held sturdily by bass and snare drums. The bridging of top layer afropop with the underground vitality of "alte" establishes a new and exciting lattice work in Nigerian pop which, just a few years ago, was hard to fathom.
Timaya x Olamide "Bam Bam"
The work of ace producer Masterkraft, "Bam Bam" is a clever blending of dancehall and Igbo folk music in a manner few others have done. Timaya's hook may be a straight lift off from Sister Nancy's "Bam Bam" (1982) but the one drop guitar synonymous with reggae is insinuated with what sounds like a flute played on a piano while the percussion—heaving drums and clinking ogene or metal gong—is unmistakably Igbo in origin.
Ruby Gyang "Crushing"
Ruby Gyang's latest guise as a jazz singer reveals her majestic singing voice, especially when deployed with a pop songwriting structure and strong RnB flourishes. The succinct hook and flurry of falsetto makes a heart-rending song about longing even catchier. More please, more!
Wurld x Mutay "How Deep is Your Love"
Wurld's run of singles in 2018 have been nothing short of impressive in a list that includes "Trobul" and "Contagious," and is now followed by "How Deep Is Your Love". Produced by Mutay (of Legendary Beatz) who has relied on the lasting goodness of a dembow but softened with sun clappers, piano and guitar, Wurld sweetly agonises over a pertinent question and song title once famously posed by Dru Hill.
Yung L "Bam Bam"
On "Bam Bam", Yung L sustains the persona of a husky seducer and party chief in engaging fashion that recalls Banky W's "Jasi" and Skepta and Boy Better Know's "Too Many Man." What would otherwise be hideous drumming by a less astute producer, is made a polyrhythmic delight by Chopsticks whose collaborations with Yung L don't get nearly enough praise.