Some may have gained mild recognition in the years before, achieved a wide buzz in their local scene, or as the title suggests, emerged from total obscurity to nudge our musical compass. But synonymous with all, is their disruptive impact and fresh (sonic) offerings.
In no particular order, here are our seven best new artistes of 2018.
Teni’s journey from obscurity to celebrity is one that is quite familiar – thanks to social media.
In the last quarter of 2016, the singer became a viral sensation after one of her freestyles caught the attention of many. Bought over by the degree of her skill, spontaneity and charm, the video got rapid organic circulation across social media platforms.
Seeing how the internet reacted to the freestyle, which was a humorously-conscious musing about consent over the instrumental of Osadebe’s 1980 classic, Osondi Owendi, Teni released an official version dubbed, Fargin (a coinage from the English word, Virgin). Of course, fans gravitated towards it, and it has since been from one impressive record to another.
Confident, individualistic, bloomy and fluid are the words that best describe her art and persona. She’s defied the stereotypical music industry standard of how a female artiste should look as she unabashedly rocks her comfortable and colourful oversized tops, baggy pants and bold sneakers.
With no album or project of any sort, Teni has graciously worked her way to the top and become an unignorable force in the music sphere – credits to her 2018 smash hits, Askamaya and more recently, Case.
Armed with two independently produced projects in over four years of pursuing musical success, Blaqbonez had accumulated over 1,460 days of on-field experience; enough to help him achieve his dream of transcending the underground rap scene.
From battle rap to mainstream rap contests, the rapper had put himself through a series of lyrical tests which have helped him to not only sharpen his lyrical prowess but also create a marketable persona that would now become the bedrock of his meteoric social media spurge.
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His grit and consistency finally paid off in 2018 after hip-hop veteran, M.I Abaga announced him a member of the Chocolate City family. Now armed with the co-sign of one of Africa’s hip-hop greats and a support system, Blaqbonez has made a laudable first impression on the mainstream audience – thanks to his cohesive 2018 album, Bad Boy Blaq.
Blaqbonez checks all the boxes required to thrive in the digital era – an unmistakable musical dexterity, a self and social consciousness that shines throughout his music and a sense of humour, embellished with a laudable knowledge on creative marketing.
Odunsi The Engine
It is impossible to speak about the diversity that currently exists in the Nigerian music industry without according honours to singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Odunsi The Engine.
Odunsi made his way to mainstream discourse as part of the league of young defiant musicians whose sounds are unabashedly antonymous to what’s musically in-demand and popular (Afropop). Alte is how they are simply categorized; implying that they are an alternative to popular music.
Positioned as the effective leader of the nascent genre, Odunsi The Engine has been on a laudable roll; from landing a spot on Spotify’s Viral 50, featuring on Billboard’s playlist, serving inspiration for M.I Abaga’s 2018 projects; Rendezvous and Yung Denzl to dropping a star-studded debut album, Rare which accommodates the Davido aided single, Divine.
To crown his 2018 run, Odunsi has announced his first ever headline show in Lagos scheduled to hold on Christmas Eve. The singer is technically serving as the bridge that’ll propel the Nigerian Alte sound to the world stage.
This has been the year of the Davido-led DMW Records and much honours without a doubt goes to the label’s newest signee, Peruzzi whose influence shines brightly throughout the bulk of the label’s joint releases.
Much like a lot of talents, Peruzzi had been an underdog for the longest time until Davido discovered and offered him a record deal – just about the opportunity he needed to show the world what he’s made of.
In the past 365 days, Peruzzi has effectively explored the power of collaboration to earn himself a seat on the table of pop heavyweights. Some of his notable features include; the 2Baba aided smash, Amaka, DMW anthems, Mind and Aje as well as the Duncan Mighty featured, Aza.
Peruzzi has won his way to the hearts of many and one is no doubts that the coming year will see him ascend to greater heights.
Thanks to his breakout single, the phrase “Wetin we gain”, was one of the nation’s leading lingua of 2018. Victor AD hails from Southern Nigeria, a region where there is barely a functional platform for creatives, and this had, of course, caused the singer to toil for years without recording notable success.
Revealed by AD, Wetin We Gain came during a conversation with God that was borne out of frustration. It echoed his hunger for success. A cry that very well resonates in a country that is ranked poorest in the world.
In Nigeria, achieving success is the aspiration of many and this resonating factor made the record a soundtrack to the lives of everyday people, and ultimately earned the singer his desired mainstream success.
Mystro quite epitomizes the adjective, multi-talented. After spending years offering production services to industry heavy-hitters like Harry Songs, Chidinma, Iyanya, Kcee etcetera, In the first quarter of the year, Mystro attempted to place the spotlight on himself with the release of his debut solo album, Sugar.
Despite standing as one of 2018’s best projects, the album didn’t quite achieve mainstream success as one would expect; but on the flip side, it earned him the attention of pop heavyweights like Wizkid and Tiwa Savage.
In April, the singer revealed via Instagram that he had just received a call from Wizkid’s frequent collaborator, Mutay, and the Starboy was ready to bless him with a verse. That led to the release of his Wizkid-aided single, Immediately which has propelled the singer to the radar of pop music lovers.
Since then, it has been an upshoot for Mystro. Kanye has been captured rocking out to the song, he has landed two Tiwa Savage collabs and was granted an onstage moment at Tiwa’s historic, 02 Indigo concert.
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As revealed by Zlatan Ibile, formal education came first on his bucket list and music came third beneath his love for football. Life, however, had other plans. After failing to ace mathematics in his senior secondary certificate examinations back in 2011, Zlatan Ibile by virtue of association began to spend time in the studio – this marked the beginning of his eventual musical career.
Six years later (2017) the indigenous rapper had put in enough work to earn him a collaboration with arguably Nigeria’s most successful indigenous rapper. October 2017 saw the release of his Olamide-aided track, My Body which became an instant hit. The catchy single organically warmed its way into the hearts of many including Davido who made a number of videos dancing and miming the record.
With an Olamide support and an eventual Davido co-sign, Zlatan promised to take 2018 and boy has he done it. The rapper has landed a number of successful street anthems including, the prayer-esque Chinko Ekun single, Able God and his currently buzzing single, Zanku which serves as the soundtrack to the viral Leg Work dance routine.
Amidst that plethora of street-hop artistes there is, Zlatan has made a mark and set himself apart.
Ajebo Hustlers Gang
To regard them hottest urban musical group in southern Nigeria isn’t quite an overstatement. Ajebo Hustlers Gang comprise rapper, Knowledge and singer, Piego – a pair of privileged kids who decided to live outside the bounds of their comfortable upbringings to experience life for themselves. The result of their adventure is what is documented in their music.
Sonically, the two are a breath of fresh air as they astutely fuse hip-hop, highlife and soul influences delivered in their mystic Port Harcourt lingua.
In the past 365 days, the two have recorded phenomenal success, as they scored collaborations with rapper Yung6ix, Terry Apala and singer Jaywon. 2018 also saw the release of their brilliant debut LP, Ideas In My Voicenote which accommodates their smash hit, Sophisticated Iyawo.
They also wrapped up their impressive 2018 run with their first headline show at the 1000 capacity Arena Centre in Port Harcourt dubbed ALIKE (Ajebohustlers Live In Koncert Encore).
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