Featuring influences of folk and Afro-pop, the Nigerian music scene has evolved over the past few years and has come to represent some of the top names in African music. Nigeria has been known for its popular music and this past year the country boosted over $2 billion in revenue due to the rise in digital streaming. With the number of artists and genres they tap into, there is a mass potential growth for the future of music in Nigeria.
In our series 5 Artists You Should Know, we introduce you to local talent from regions all over the world. We’re excited to tell you more about these five rising artists in Nigeria: Lojay, YKB, Patoranking, Dami Oniru, and TY Bello.
Originally from Ikorodu, Lagos, Lojay is a dynamic singer-songwriter and performing artist who creates Afro-fusion music. Lojay’s name comes from the first letters of his full name: Lekan Osifeso Junior. Growing up he actively engaged with his community in musical ways, as he performed in a local rap group called Dkoy and participated in church where his mother is a pastor. In 2016, he launched his music career while still an undergraduate at the University of Portsmouth in the UK. After graduating, he released his debut EP that same year titled Midnight Vibes.
Lojay’s music ties to his strong loving relationships with his family and friends growing up in Ikorodu. He peaked at #8 on the Billboard U.S. Afrobeats song chart for his song “Monalisa” that features Chris Brown and Sarz. He has a distinctive voice and textured vocals that allow for him to convey stories well throughout his music. His newest solo EP, Gangster Romantic, featuring track “Moto,” was inspired by his past love and the new phase of his life. Topping the charts in Africa, it received love for his melodic vocal delivery and the complex instrumental verses. He was nominated for three awards at The Headies in 2022 for the following categories: Award for Next Rated, Best Afrobeats Single of the Year, and Viewer’s Choice.
Originally from Ketu, Lagos, YKB or Yusuf Oluwo is an eccentric singer-songwriter bringing fun energy to the African music scene. He boosts a unique combination of Afrobeat/Afro-pop paired with elements of Fuji and African nuances, along with his stylish persona. His fast paced industry milestones stems from his performances in exciting sets at Lagos block raves. He has grown to have a dedicated following which fueled his win on The One a music competition. In 2021, his single “Dey Your Dey” ft. Zlatan allowed him to reach new heights. He followed up with the EP, Before I Blow, which reflects on his emotional journey before he performed at his first major live show in Lagos. His song “Pressure” allows for emotional and heartfelt lyrics. He has been named on the Apple Music Africa Rising List May 2023 and an Imullar 2023 Artist to Watch.
YKB is on his way to become a big name and he knows how to captivate his audience. The Face agreed saying, “YKB could be next in the line of Afrobeats’ great provocateurs.”
Patoranking, or Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie, is one of Africa’s most influential artists. Born and raised in Satellite Town, Lagos, he launched his career as a street jam and carnival dancer. He rose to prominence in 2014 with his hit singles “Girlie O” and “Love You Die.” In 2016 he released his debut album God Over Everything, which debuted at No. 4 on Billboard Reggae Charts. He describes his music “as a mix of Caribbean and Nigerian Fuji,” citing Bob Marley and Buju Banton as some of his musical inspirations. He has collaborated with names such as Seyi Shay, Lil Kesh, Waje, Tiwa Savage, and WizzyPro. His newest release “Abobi” is a powerful piece that reflects on forms on violence in the world and the power of unity. He has been nominated in 2014 for the Headies for his collaboration with Tiwa Savage on “Girlie O,” received the 2016 AFRIMMA Award for Best Dancehall Artist, and won in 2016 for Best New Act MTVBase Awards.
Dami Oniru is a Nigerian singer and producer originally from Lagos, Nigeria, but has also resided in Atlanta, Georgia. Her name “Dami Oniru” was derived from a studio session where she randomly sang her name, and envisioned people singing it back and that lightbulb moment stuck. She is well known for standout hit “Iyako” and her debut EP Bri’s Lounge in 2019. This project was produced by her close friend Remy Baggins. She wanted this EP to experiment with different sounds and move away from the norms of R&B. In June of 2022, she performed one of the project’s tracks “Runnin” on Global Spin, the GRAMMY’s performance series. Her song “Soft Life” allows her vocals to shine with lyrics encouraging peace and happiness.
TY Bello, aka Toyin Sokefun-Bello, is a singer, songwriter, photographer and philanthropist. She was originally a member of gospel band Kush before she pursued her solo career. She has evolved as one of Nigeria’s foremost photographers and is a member of the collective Depth of Field. In 2011, she was honored by non-profit Communication for Change in a five part documentary film series. She is best known for her singles “Greenland,” “Ekundayo,” “This Man,” and “Funmise.” Her recent album features the track “That’s My Name” that inspires listeners to embrace loving relationships. She has received numerous awards and nominations for her creative work including a few from the 2008 Headies: Recording Artiste of The Year, Hip Hop World Revelation of The Year, Best Video Director, and Best Vocal Performance.