Ckay, Ayraa Star and 8 wave making newcomers in Nigerian music

Deborah Dan-Awoh

Ckay, Ayra Starr may have been the newcomers who stormed 2021 with viral hit songs but, they are not the only ones who have the potential to become the next legends of Afrobeat music.

Ckay and Ayraa Star

The year 2020 changed the face of music in the Nigerian entertainment industry as it put upcoming newbies like Ayraa Starr, Ckay and others in the public eye as rare talents.

Last year was even a better year for the Afrobeat genre with Wizkid and other stars putting Nigeria on the map with top-charting hit songs from Essence to Somebody's Son by Tiwa Savage.

It also saw the arrival of newcomers like Portable, Zinoleesky, Buju and Ruger who brought on a fresh sound and ginger for the next phase of Nigerian music. These newcomers have quickly risen to prominence with hits such as "Zazoo" by street dancer and singer Portable- The song which has since become a street anthem and social media sensation is making its round like "In my Maserati" by Olakira, "Holy Father" by Victony and Zinoleesky's "Ma pariwo".

This article covers ten of these newbies the ground they have gained in music, the record labels they are signed to and their style of delivery.

Bella Shmurda

1. Bella Shmurda

Bella Shmurda upset our mainstream consciousness with the viral “Vision 2020”- A sound that establishes his authority as a voice of the streets by conveying unfiltered experiences of the ghetto through music. 

 Following the release of Vision 2020 remix, which features Olamide, Shmurda has been on a streak of creativity with his subsequent projects including, High Tension EP, “Dangbana Orisa” and most recently, “Cash App”, which was the buzzing anthem of 2021.

The 'Dagbana shoko' king is relentless in his pursuit of music, prominence, as he has featured in albums of A-rated artists such as Olamide’s Carpe Diem and Davido’s A Better Time.

Shmurda dumped his education at LASU to focus on his music and money. Although in a tweet LASU urged the singer to return to school- earlier Shmurda dropped a statement on appreciating himself for not wasting away in LASU after this song hit 550 million streams.

Ayraa Star

2. Ayra Starr

Princess of Afrobeat and fast-rising Ayraa Starr is a breath of fresh air to the music industry.

Constantly blessing airwaves with her celestial vocals and smooth lyrics, the Mavin signee in just 2years has garnered international and local accolades.

The dexterous singer was celebrated last year by streaming giant Spotify-she joined a list of fierce African women making waves in music and was named the EQUAL Africa Artist of the month.

Nineteen-year-old Ayraa broke into the music scene with her heartbreak hit lead single 'Away' which peaked as the #1 song in Nigeria in 2020.

It also debuted as one of the 20 most played songs on Radio in Nigeria – all in a single weekend.

In 2021, Ayraa released her much-anticipated album '19& Dangerous'-with lead tracks 'Bloody Samaritan' and 'Fashion Killer'. The Mavin princess is a star rising quickly, 2022 ushered in visuals for her track 'Beggie Beggie' featuring Ckay.


3. Ruger

Micheal Adebayo Olayinka aka Ruger is an Afrobeat singer and songwriter who rose to the limelight in 2021 after his official unveiling by Jonzing World headed by D’Prince in affiliation with Mavin Records. Jonzing World is ready to reiterate its magic but this time, in affiliation with Sony Music UK. Ruger’s debut single, “One Shirt ” features both D’Prince & Rema.

On 19 February 2021, he released Ruger, a self-titled single off his first EP project, titled PANDEMIC. 

Receiving mainstream recognition with the release of his debut extended play and its hit track "Bounce", which became his major hit, Ruger's music quickly worked its way to number one on Apple Music in Nigeria, and other African countries.

 By 19 November 2021, Ruger had dished another sizzling song  titled The Second Wave, produced by Kukbeats


4. Zinoleesky

Oniyide Azeez aka Zinoleesky is a versatile singer and songwriter who is popular for his freestyles that saw him become a social media sensation, Marlian Music signed Zinoleesky in late 2019.

The singer, released his debut single “Ma Pariwo”, a sensual sound that received accolades in the mainstream. The dark skinned singer wrapped up the year 2020 with his debut project, Chrome Eccentric- with themes centered on fame, God, love, sex etc. The name Zinoleesky is already a trending topic in conversations that concern street music.


5. Jamopyper

Jamiu Damilare Tajudeen, aka Jamopyper is signed to Zlatan's ZANKU Music: he stole the moment with Mayorkun featuring on the song, 'If No Be You'.

Jamopyper's buzzing hit became a viral sensation on social media before its official release.

The budding singer who was nominated as Rookie Of Year at The Headies 2020 alongside Omahlay and Tems-

 With proper talent management from the ZANKU crew, Jamopyper has a shot at becoming the next hit star of Nigerian music.


6. Olakira

The song 'Maserati' was a smooth blend of luxury and vibes. The singer-producer, Ade Ebenezer, aka Olakira, probably had no idea that "In My Maserati" would become one of the hottest records in Nigeria in 2020.

Olakira entered the Nigerian music industry with a 7-track EP dubbed Wakanda Jollof, released in 2019.

He surpassed his expectation with second single In my Maserati.In my Maserati For a Newbie who caught the bug of fame in 2020, Olakira is on a fast pedestal to global acclaim.

The 31year old singer also bagged a global endorsement deal with the Italian luxury auto manufacturer Maserati and a new luxury Maserati ride.

Call it a prophetic song or allude it to luck or good fortune, Olakira became the first African artist to bag such a deal with the Maserati brand.

  Remix of the self-produced record "In my Maserati" features Davido and saw it rise to #6 on the Official Afrobeats Chart UK.


7. Mohbad

Ilerioluwa Oladimeji aka Mohbad is a singer, songwriter, rapper and entertainer who began his musical journey in 2016.

Mohbad is also signed to Marlian music piloted by Naira Marley. The rapper and singer Mohbad banded with in-house producer, Rexxie to produce “KPK”, one of 2021’s first hits. The chart-topping record went viral and popularized slang like OPP (O Por Pa), KPK (Ko Por Ke), making the rounds in Nigeria’s pop culture. 

A promising street talent with lots of fan support and loyalty Mohbad closed out 2020 with an 8-track EP, Light with features from Davido, Lil Kesh, and Naira Marley.

The 24-year-old Mohbad has also performed at some shows in the UK-he released other songs like, 'Feel Good'- a song that narrates the silver lining in every hopeless situation, the song recounts the struggle to fame and wealth for the artist.


8. Ckay

Chukwuka Ekweani stormed the music scene after his viral sound became the global top trending song on the video streaming platform, Tik Tok.

Though the artist-producer just arrived in the Nigerian music industry about 2years ago, the past year has been promising enough to envisage what 2022 holds for him. The remix of “Love Nwantiti '' which features Joeboy, Kuami Eugene released in early 2020 received global reception. Ckay rounded up the year with the announcement of joining Warner Music South Africa.

The 26-year-old recently released another hit single 'Emiliana'-the single has topped charts. He is also featured in “La La”, one of the most critically acclaimed records of Davido’s recent album.

Teaming up with Princess of Afrobeat-Ayraa Star on her track 'Beggie Beggie' from her 19& Dangerous album Ckay-Africa's boyfriend has yet again lent his vocals to something magical.


9. Portable

Nigerian street newcomer act, Portable toppled trends with his viral freestyle 'Zazoo Zeh'' featuring Olamide and Pocolee last year.

The fast-rising street singer Habeeb Okikiola aka Portable since his debut hit 'Zazoo' has allowed him to share the same stage with homegrown stars such as; Tiwa Savage, Wizkid and others.

Portable's sudden emergence into the list of top rising stars in Nigerian earned him the title 'Child of grace', or Shaku Shaku master-Portable's legwork skills are second to none.

Although Portable accredits his success to Olamide, CEO of YBNL, his rugged and crazy street style of music is relatable to many.


10. Victory

Anthony Chukwuemeka Victor professionally known as Victony is a 21-year-old singer and songwriter popular for hit sound with Mayorkun 'Holy Father'.

The 'Outlaw King' Victony also became known for his debut EP, Saturn with other hit songs like Pray, Maria, Broken and Sing My Song. 

Tik Tok was one of the biggest factors for 'Holy Father' going viral. Although Victony was involved in a car accident on April 25, 2021, which had him confined to the wheelchair.

He stood up to perform his hit single “Holy Father” beside Mayorkun at “A Decade of Davido Concert” by Flytime entertainment.