From Lagos to London to Los Angeles, a new style is taking dance clubs and music charts by storm. Chances are, you’re already familiar with the sound, even if you haven’t heard the name.

Afrobeats, a music genre from Nigeria, is shaking up the global music industry. Growing since the early 90s, the genre really took off in the international music scene with Drake’s 2016 hit “One Dance,” featuring Nigerian artist Wizkid. Other US artists, including Ciara and Major Lazer, have incorporated Afrobeats sounds and featured African artists in their music.

The success of Afrobeats continues to grow and it looks like the style is here to stay. So we’ve put together a guide of everything you need to know.

The Sound

Afrobeats gets its distinct sound from a couple of different influences. The style is anchored in West African music styles, particularly highlife music. American jazz and funk are also added to the mix, creating a hybrid sound from across continents.

You’ll know when you’re listening to Afrobeats from complex rhythms, heavy percussion, repeating vocals, and Pidgin English. It’s no wonder this music is taking-off internationally — the upbeat, fun, and energetic melodies get people dancing in clubs around the world.

“This is music that has come a long and joyous way in a very short time,” says Nigerian-American author Teju Cole. “Dance to it—note its persistent tone of joy—then come back and listen to it.”

Don’t confuse Afrobeats with Afrobeat, the style pioneered by Fela Kuti. Afrobeat is a highly political, non-commercial music style, making it really different from Afrobeats!

The Artists

There are plenty of artists creating hip-shaking hits, so it’d be hard to list every artist out there. If you’re just getting into Afrobeats, there are a few acclaimed artists to start with, and plenty more to discover from there!

Wizkid became internationally known with “One Dance,” but his success as an artist goes far beyond that hit. His 2011 debut album Superstar earned him immediate recognition, with several singles coming from that album. His rise in popularity was clear in 2014 when he became the first Nigerian musician to get over a million followers on Twitter. To date, he is one of the most recognizable Afrobeats artists, earning him the nickname “Star Boy.”

Tiwa Savage is one of Nigeria’s leading female Afrobeats singers. As a female singer, she struggled to gain popularity in the male-dominated music scene. Despite the obstacles she faces, she’s become one of the most prominent Afrobeats artists today. She even won Best African Act at the 2018 MTV Europe Music Awards!

Davido quickly rose to popularity in 2011 with his debut album Omo Baba Owolo, continuing his success with his second album, The Baddest. He won Best International Act at the BET Awards in both 2018 and 2014, and was the first African artist to receive his award in person on the BET stage.

Other popular artists include Burna Boy, Mr. Eazi, Tekno, and 2baba. You can find all of these artists and more on Quartz’s Afrobeats playlist on Spotify.

Combating Piracy

Despite growing popularity, many artists struggle to achieve financial success from their music. Piracy — selling illegal copies of an artist’s work — is one of the biggest challenges African artists face. Piracy makes it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to make money from selling their music.

Many artists rely on live performances, endorsements, and digital streaming to make money. Some artists are also profiting from ringback tones — for a small monthly fee, you can pick a song for someone to listen to while they call you, instead of hearing a traditional ring. With streaming services widely unavailable, ringback tones have generated over US$100 million in Nigeria’s music market.

The Future of Afrobeats

Recently, Sony Music and Universal Music Group opened offices in Lagos, hoping to sign local artists and further their success. These labels are also tackling piracy, which will secure better legal ownership and rights over music.

Afrobeats artists paved their own way to international success. Now that major music labels have taken notice, these artists have nowhere to go but up.

Top 10 Best Afrobeat Singers In Nigeria Now

When you talk about Afrobeat singers in Nigeria, the list won’t be complete without mentioning the likes of Davido, Wizkid, African bad girl – Tiwa Savage, and a whole lot of others.

In Africa, Nigeria has the largest entertainment industry with its Afrobeat singers leading the way.

Nigeria has set the standard and trend of African pop culture as a whole.
It has become one of the reasons for Afrobeats to become one of the best music genres in the world with home artists that have become so popular both in the local and international music scenes.

While Ghana may likely be the home of Afrobeats, Nigerians have made the genre popular.
In the West African Nation, Afrobeats is far ahead of any other form of music.
The city of Excellence, Lagos has been one of the cities producing Afrobeat music stars for years in the music scenes.

Nigerian Afrobeat singers have been a source of inspiration for other artists throughout Nigeria, Africa, and the continent as a whole.
Talking about Afrobeats singers as a whole in Nigeria the list will be endless, artists making global waves like Burna Boy, Yemi Alade, wizkid e.t.c.

But in this article, we will just be picking out 10 of the best Afrobeat singers in Nigeria.

1. Wizkid:

Starboy Entertainment boss, Wizkid Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun

Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun popularly known as Wizkid is a singer and songwriter from Nigeria. He was born on 16th July 1990 and he is one of the best Afrobeat singers. From the age of 11, he began recording his music.

In 2009 he signed a record label with E.M.E (Empire mates entertainment). A record label owned by Banky W.
In 2011, he released a single “holla at your boy” from his debut studio album superstar.

Holla at your boy was there a song that shot him into the limelight. He attained his recognition after a collaboration with Drake on the hit song One dance, this song made him appear as the first Afrobeat artist to appear in the Guinness World Record.

By February this year, Wizkid became the most streamed artist of all time on Spotify and he has been making record waves ain’t then.

2. Davido:

DMW records boss, David Adedeji Davido

David Adedeji Adeleke  popularly known as Davido is another big name in the music industry both locally and internationally.
He died on the 21 of November 1992. He rose to fame in 2012 after releasing Duro his second single from his studio debut Album Omo baba olowo.

He signed a record deal with Suny Music in January 2016.
He founded his own record label Davido Music Worldwide simply known as DMW that has signed the likes of Mayorkun, Liya and Peruzzi.

Davido has been referred to as the king of modern day Aftobeats. In 2019 he was cited As one of the top 100 most influential Africans by new African magazine.

As of August 2021, he is the second most followed African on Instagram.

3. Tiwa Savage

African bad girl, Tiwa Savage

Third on the list is our koroba and somebody’s son crooner Tiwa Savage aka Africa’s bad girl.
Tiwatope Savage born on the 5th of February 1980 In Isale Eko, she relocated to London at the age of 11 for her secondary education. She dabbled into music about 5 years later doing backup vocals for the likes of Mary J Blidge and George Micheal.

She participated in the X Factor albeit the Uk version and also graduated from the Berklee College of Music.
In 2009, she signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV music publishing. By 2012, she signed up with the record label Mavins Record after moving back to Nigeria.

In 2014, Tiwa Savage was the first female Nigerian artist to be nominated for the BET awards. In the same year, she was also nominated for the MTV European music award which she later won In 2018.
Her music is a blend of pop, hip-hop, R&B, and of course Afrobeats.

4. Burna Boy:

African Giant, Burna Boy

Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu known as Burna Boy was born on the 2nd of July 1991 is one of the most biggest and successful singers in the music industry.
He is a Rapper, Singer, and also a songwriter.
His music genres range from Afro-Fusion, Afrobeat, dancehall, hip hop, pops, and R&B.

He has been in the music industry since the year 2011 till the present.
He has worked with labels like Spaceships, Badhabit, Atlantic, Warner music e.t.c.
Like to party from his album, L.I.F.E. in 2012 made him rise to fame. He has collaborated with the likes of Stormzy, Ed Sheeran, Sauti Sol, Wizkid e.t.c.

5. Timaya

Egberi Papa 1 of Bayelsa, Timaya 

Enetimi Alfred Odon popularly known as Timaya is a songwriter and a singer from Nigeria. He gained popularity with his summer single song Bum Bum which was released in 2012.

6. Mr. Eazi

Mr. Eazi The Don

Mr. Eazi is fond of mixing his music career with entrepreneurial activities. With his star studded oh my gawd which is listed as no1 itune charts in the US and billboard world digital Sales chart he has made a name for himself in the music industry.

He was recognized for his guesting on Colombian reggaeton J Balvin’s Colores by the Latin Grammys.
We have got other Afrobeat singers like

7. Patoranking

8. Adekunle Gold

9. Fireboy DML

10. Rema

Conclusion to our list of best Afrobeat singers in Nigeria

These days anyone looking to make waves in Naija music industry tends to go the Afrobeat way.
It is not surprising as it has made a believer out of everyone. What do see about our list of best Afrobeat singers in Nigeria as of today? You can also join the conversation below in the comment section. Thanks for reading!


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