All in all, the MTVBase Top 20 Naija Artistes of 2019 list was pretty much spot on. The round table members made great points in justifying the ranking of each act and supported their arguments with facts.
At the end of 2019, MTVBase held the fifth edition of its annual Naija Top 20 Artistes of the year roundtable. As with previous editions, the roundtable brought together a diverse collection of industry experts to discuss and determine the 20 biggest acts of the year in review. For 2019, the criteria considered in making up the list are: impact, accolades, style, influence and collaborations, and it was hosted by MTVBase Host and VJ, Ehiz.
For as much objectivity as such an exercise could muster, the industry experts selected by the MTVBase team were: Mavin’s DJ Big N, Soundcity’s Awazi, Cool FM’s N6, hypeman Shody, Universal Music’s Akinizzle, Soundcity’s Moet Abebe and MTVBase’s Alex Hughes. So, five men and two women who cut across radio, labels, media and events. Fair enough.
Working from the bottom up, the team of experts moderated by host, Ehiz, set about the business of the day. These are the major highlights and what I think about the list, the selection processes, the expert panel and how they went about making the selections:
Great hosting: Ehiz did a great job of keeping the conversations in line with the purpose of the roundtable. He checked the panel members where needed and also played devil’s advocate tactfully. Nothing much to say here. The guy knows the work.
The panelists: While I understand that there aren’t that many women to pick from in the industry to be on this panel, I still wish there were more than two women on the panel. It is no secret that female representation in Nigerian entertainment is very poor and in some ways, the MTVBase round table was a reminder of that. That said, MTVBase still deserves their accolades for being as inclusive as the market allowed.
Yemi Alade snubbed: This was the first point of contention – does Yemi Alade deserve to be on the list? As the experts were able to show, Yemi Alade has a decent international following (especially in East Africa) but she hasn’t been able to replicate that back in Naija. Plus, despite the fact that she dropped an album (and featured on Beyonce’s Lion King project), she didn’t have any standout singles. Despite all of this, I still would put her on the list over Rudeboy who has been quiet outside of one or two hit songs in 2019. In my opinion, placing Rudeboy on the final list over Yemi Alade was a miss.
Teni vs Patoranking: This was the next bone of contention. Did Teni have a better year than Patoranking? I would personally say yes and the panelists had quite a debate on it before settling for Teni over Patoranking. As they should have.
Teni vs Peruzzi: Once again, this debate was had and I was surprised that quite a few of the panelists were trying to prove that Peruzzi had a better year than Teni. Without doing a lot of thinking, it’s not hard to realise that that is a ridiculous notion. Teni was many degrees hotter than Peruzzi in 2019 because she toured, won more endorsements, sold out a headline show, got international nominations and had one of the biggest songs of the year. Peruzzi’s three hit songs pales drastically in comparison.
Kizz Daniel’s Year: The past two years have been quite rocky for Kizz so when N6 made a point about his label struggles and having to change his name all while trying to push his independent label, it made a lot of sense. In the midst of all of that he still managed to release about four hit songs and hop on two or three hist collabs as well. He also had a headline show and his position on the MTVBase Top 20 Naija artiste of 2019 fits.
Tiwa Savage vs Rema: This was an interesting moment when the top 10 part of the list was being debated. Perhaps it is also a testament to Rema’s rise and talent. In the space of just 9 months he has risen to the mainstream and is already generating some buzz on the international front. But Tiwa Savage is also the queen of Nigerian music and in 2019 she further cemented that slot with an international record deal, hit singles and collaborations and massive cultural impact. In the end, great pick/debate ending with an agreeable decision.
Zlatan vs Naira Marley vs Wizkid: This was very interesting because this is not typically a conversation you’d find Wizkid in but in another great call by the panelists, Zlatan was correctly ranked above Naira marley who was also placed above Wizkid. By all measures of the criteria, both Zlatan and Naira Marley had a bigger year than Wizkid. Big, big year for those two.
Davido & Burnaboy dominated 2019: The top 2 artistes of 2019 according to the MTVBase roundtable was the least debated of all the names on the list. And I agree with it because the year they both had in 2019 was visibly better compared to any other acts on this list. Burna Boy had the most fantastic 2019, no doubt about that. Same goes for the second hottest Nigerian artiste of 2019, Davido. Another spot on selection by the round table experts. See the full list below:
- Burna Boy
- Naira Marley
- Tiwa Savage
- Fireboy DML
- Kizz Daniel
All in all, the MTVBase Top 20 Naija Artistes of 2019 list was pretty much spot on. The round table members made great points in justifying the ranking of each act and supported their arguments with facts. I still think Yemi Alade should have made it to the list above Rudeboy and Skiibi, but that’s my only gripe.
2020 is only just starting and I can’t wait to see how the year will turn out for the artists on this list. Will they be able to push the envelope and find themselves at new heights? Time will tell.
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