The Nigerian music industry in 2019 has been booming with breakthrough pop singers. The pop scene over the last few years have witnessed a special place of abode reserved for only the A-list artist; 2019 has been able to create a historical twist to change the natural phenomenon. Not all new acts topping the charts at the moment will be examined; this is why three out of these acts will be used as a case study. Rema 19, Fireboy 23, Joeboy 22 are the notable mentions that will be examined in this piece.
The distinctive attribute about this new generation of pop singers is the consistency and hard work they have exerted during this early musical year. Some critics believe that a major determinant for their success is the obvious project silence from A-list artists like Wizkid, Davido, Tekno but even with the new school artists mentioned above, only Rema has two projects. The other basis can be attributed to the remarkable level of talent use from these young acts.
There has been a gradual process each of these new acts has embarked on individually but they all tend to share a similar combination code to the locked box that has opened the mainstream world. Rema started the year very fast with an overnight EP which instantly took the no.1 spot on Apple music. Dumebi became an instant hit the following week which was then followed up with another no.1 spot EP. ‘Dumebi’ ended the month as one of the most popular songs of the month in the country. Rema draws mild influences from Wizkid sound. His slick voice and cadence sound similar to the early years of Wizkid’s career. The issue of influence and modelling will be another vital sign of these artistes’ good aspiration to move to a top spot category. This has also led to the swift development of Fireboy and Joeboy. Fireboy is a YBNL signee and his label boss, Olamide is one of the most influential and talented artist in the industry and most of his works has transcended from close experiences and issues that have occurred around him. The bumper track, ‘Jealous’ was borne out of his addiction issue with a girl. This is a conduit that joins the artistry layout of Olamide and Fireboy. Joeboy and Mr Eazi have shared an impeccable level of closeness right from the Empawa project set up by Mr Eazi right to his feature on the single, ‘Faaji’ which dropped last November. Joeboy is often appreciated by listeners and music outlets as the artiste that has been able to improve Mr Eazi’s created ‘Banku music’.
One vital point that proves the essence of these artists’ pure talent is that most of the hit songs we have been listening to did not go through any form of intense publicity process or media stunt to prove its worth. They passed from every platform to another organically. ‘Baby’ was released sometime in May but gained commercial success and attention after a month plus from the date of release. ‘Jealous’ made its debut appearance on the YBNL ‘Mafia Famly’ album which dropped in December 2018 and at that time; it was never considered to be a hit single off the album. Regardless of ‘Dumebi’ being an instant hit, it has appealed to a large fan base for a debut work from a new artist.
The industry system that has been formed has not been adequately able to provide a long-lasting opportunity for independent artists to thrive. It is believed that the early years of a breakthrough artiste should be cemented with a record label. The idea of ‘starting a label, running it and signing oneself’ comes up after 5-7 years in the music business. Wizkid, Davido, and Burnaboy are popular label owners and they are considered the top artists in the industry with critically acclaimed projects and an undisputed successful career. The general perception of most new artists in this industry is to ‘blow’ and nothing else because when this happens, money falls in. Rema, Fireboy, and Joeboy are signed to Mavin Records, YBNL and Gorilla Sauce Entertainment respectively. There is a cogent point of realisation on the high level of pressure from fans on releasing ‘bangers’ frequently. The key thing to this challenge is to stay cool and make music at the most convenient ambient possible.
This piece is not to conclude on who the best new artist is and the award categories for a new artist is not limited to these three as there are other prolific new artists like Zlatan, T-Classic, Naira Marley, Timz, Tems. The purpose of this piece is to use the artistes mentioned above as a case study for new artists’ evolvement into the mainstream platform.
According to the Merrian Webster Dictionary, the term ‘upcoming’ is synonymous with words like ‘approaching’ and ‘forthcoming’. The same dictionary defines ‘new’ as something produced, introduced or discovered recently. One of the serious mistakes music consumers and the media make is the tag ‘upcoming artistes’’ for developing artistes who are fast gaining media attention. The term ‘upcoming’ does not speculate a precise period for a young artistes’ breakthrough, it only believes in the possibility of ‘coming through’ with something ordinary. This year’s set of breakthrough stars have shown more than an idea of something ordinary but they have also given us the sign of a possible mainstream future in Nigeria. A savvy illustration of the term ‘new’ is a mug properly kept, cleaned or turned into works of art can still maintain a convincing level of newness for those that have never seen it before. This is related to the early years of the breakthrough artiste. Combining talent, hardwork, consistency and a great level of freshness should be a major highpoint in such person’s career.
Ogunleye Oluwakorede writes mainly on
entertainment, history and
socio-economic matters. He has previously released works like album reviews and
content information. He is also a music critic and analyst particularly on
Nigerian music entertainment.