Music

Is Sugarboy Nigeria's Next Reggae-Dancehall King?

24-year-old Sugarboy, who describes himself as Africa’s “dancehall king,” has the daunting task of matching the continuing rise of Kiss Daniel.

Kiss Daniel's debut New Era, released back in May, has been a huge success peaking at number 8 on the Billboard World Album charts, propelled by monster singles “Woju," “Good Times,” and “Laye."


Only one artist was featured on the entire album. His name is Sugarboy, the 24-year-old Akwa Ibom native who has the daunting task of matching, and possibly eclipsing, the continuing rise of Kiss Daniel.

Comparisons between Sugarboy and Kiss Daniel are unavoidable given that they're label-mates at the start of their careers with everything to prove. Kiss Daniel’s New Era has done exceedingly well and its title isn't an overstatement. Along with Reekado Banks, Korede Bello and Tekno, Daniel and Sugarboy occupy the next stratum of afrobeats stars right after the Wizkid and Davido column.

“Napo” and “Ghetto Boys” are two of the songs on New Era that Sugarboy is on, but before these were “Molue” and “Raba,” both orphaned singles that showcase what Sugarboy says is the “musical synergy” he shares with Kiss Daniel.

We spoke over the phone and right before a studio session in Lagos where he was putting the finishing touches to a new single, “Legalize,” having just returned from the German leg of Kiss Daniel’s tour.

Subarboy’s enthusiasm for the music he's making and the reception it's receiving is palpable. His output, however, is not substantial.

His solo singles—“Hola Hola,” “Double,” and most recently “Legalize”—aren't enough to give a rounded sense of who he is as an artist. “Double” is about one’s hustle and the hope that it'll one day pay off, “Hola Hola” is a triumphalist tune about living the good life because, "this life, I cannot kill myself" and “Legalize” is a breezy dancehall track infused with a particular Nigerian ghetto parlance—“ekute no be race horse,” “ishu no be cocoyam.”

Sugarboy. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Is “Legalisze” a good song? Yes. Is he reinventing the dancehall-galala wheel? No. But he's changed a few nuts and bolts and has fitted it to his own musical vehicle, which is in an upward trajectory.

Sugarboy describes himself as Africa’s “dancehall king,” but what he's probably referring to is "galala" which is an interpretation of dancehall that has become a confident cousin, rather than a feeble nephew made popular by the likes of Daddy Showkey, Baba Fryo, African China and Danfo Drivers.

“Napo” and “Raba” are two very good songs but it's the former that points to a lineage I refrain from mentioning, not sure if he'd be pleased with it. Danfo Drivers were one of the biggest Nigerian pop acts in 2003 on the strength of their single “Danfo Drivers,” a made-up equivalent would be a go-getter anthem like Cassidy’s "I'm A Hustla" reaching the popularity level of Pharrell's "Happy".

Sugarboy jokingly refers to him and Daniel as “the new Danfo Drivers,” but Sugarboy’s aesthetic is clean and his reputation unsullied so far, while Danfo Drivers were far more convincing as hood stars who were even alleged to have once been armed robbers before turning to music.

But Sugarboy is of a different ilk and what's more, he's got everything going for him. The hope is that the comparison to Daniel and expectations to match or supersede him does not distract him from pursuing his own path.

In choosing to work with some of the same producers Daniel worked with on New Era—Beatburx and DJ Coublon in particular—the hope is that rather than retrace Daniel’s rise, what he's doing is building on the impressive work that G Worldwide Entertainment, as a new and independent label, has done so far.

News Brief
Photo: Single cover art courtesy of Emerald East

Rema Welcomes 2021 With New Single 'Bounce'

The Don Jazzy produced track reminds us of why the Nigerian singer-songwriter is topping charts.

Nigerian golden boy Rema took his time on deciding how to start of 2021—and we're glad he did.

The afropop hitmaker is out with his first project of the year, "Bounce", after stunning fans with word of an upcoming album, and the cooks in this kitchen have not disappointed.

Keeping it in the Mavin Records family, legendary producer Don Jazzy sprinkles his magic on the track, while undoubtedly motivating the young singer-songwriter to be his best self. And with this track being like nothing we've heard from Rema before, one could say Jazzy succeeded. "Bounce", fast-paced and fierce, is a love song dedicated to bewitchingly beautiful and blessed bottoms. The candid declaration and hip shaking beat are a force duo and we can't help but love it.

Of the single and collaboration with head honcho Don Jazzy, Rema says, "This record was inspired by the luscious and magnificent body of the African woman. Furthermore, I'm really excited about this tune because it's my first single with the legendary Don Jazzy."

Honestly, when you start the year off with a banger, you get to make songs about butts.

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