Arriving in Lagos, Nigeria, last year for the Gidi Culture Fest, we were greeted by a life-size Burna Boy poster, 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, where the “steady risers” spring to headline acts quicker than almost anywhere else in the world, the recent success of musicians like Teni The Entertainer, Zlatan, Rema, Odunsi and Santi serve to highlight the current temperature for new artists in the country. On the night she headlines Gidi Culture Fest, Teni The Entertainer tells me, “Lagos is the hub.” Charting her rapid rise and 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 this year and beyond.