Arriving in Lagos last year for Gidi Culture Fest, we’re greeted by a life-size Burna Boy poster with the ‘African Giant’ a smiling, tacit reminder of the role musicians hold as modern-day ambassadors for their countries and regions.
With yearly foreign remittances (money sent back from the diaspora) now calculated as exceeding even the country’s petroleum revenues, evidence suggests that Nigeria’s premier export is indeed its people—its broadly talented, dynamic, expanding base of people. And as Africa’s central base for the music and film industries, Nigeria’s pace-setting status has seen a boom, in line with the continent’s rise in social connectivity and online presence.
In Lagos city, where the “steady risers” spring to headline acts quicker than almost anywhere else in the world, the recent success of Teni The Entertainer, Zlatan, Rema, Odunsi and Santi (to name but a few) serve to highlight the current temperature for new acts in the country. “Lagos is the hub,” Teni The Entertainer tells me on the night she headlines the Gidi Fest. Charting her rapid rise and also experiencing the climate that made it possible, it’s also becoming clear that many more are set to follow in her footsteps.
Here are 10 Nigerian artists to watch in 2020, and beyond.