The year 2015 was somewhat slow in terms of music from A-list artistes in Nigeria but things picked up in the later part of the year and fans were blessed with pristine sounds and quality vocals from a range of artistes.
We take a look at some of the songs that cut across the major demographics of the nation, leaving a lasting impression in terms of airplay, awards and international renown.
This said, we present you 15 biggest Nigerian songs that defined 2015 and dominated mainstream media in no particular order:
1. Godwin by Korede Bello
In May, 2015, the jerry curl Mavin singer performed at the inauguration dinner for Nigeria’s newly sworn in President, Muhammadu Buhari and it was obvious many more feats would follow.
From there, Godwin became the unofficial sound of campaign rallies from Lagos to Lokoja and even beyond there. Add wedding receptions to that.
The song cut across all social strata and events. Quite remarkable, amazing even, because Korede’s repertoire isn’t abundant yet. His label boss and legendary producer Don Jazzy had his signature “tungba” touch all over the song and turned an otherwise cheesy tune into a winner, making it easily the song of the year. – Jide Taiwo
2. Ojuelegba by Wizkid
The most obvious thing about Wizkid in 2015 is the transition he is making from ‘boy’ to ‘man’, and it is evident in his general demeanour. Against this back drop we look at Ojuelegba and conclude (even though a bit too early) that he just might have made what would go down as the biggest song of his career in Ojuelegba.
Embracing an afrobeat tinge he found since Jaiye Jaiye, he fuses it with a slight sample of Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre’s 1992 classic Nuthin’ But A G Thang and as a result it got even Drake interested in Nigerian music. That’s major! – Jide Taiwo
3. Jagaban by YCee
‘New kid on the block’ YCee stepped into the scene in 2015 and stole some major buzz from an otherwise slow year, with a song that many did not see coming. He dropped the infectious tune produced by D Will and enlisted Olamide on a remix joint to make it all the more a galactic piece of work. But as they say, you can’t improve on perfection.
Jagaban (though heavily assisted by the Olamide collaboration) was already on its way to becoming one of the most rotated, mainstream song of the year and the fact that it was served by a ‘newbie’ doesn’t make it any less stellar. – Henry Igwe
4. Lagos Boys by Olamide
Olamide is not new to us in terms and view of making hit records. And we have come to love him for this, especially for his consistency and drive in an age where he could easily have been swept under the tide owing to complacency.
Lagos Boys produced by Pheelz is easily a jam any day, any time. It portrays the suave lifestyle of the Lagos boy in all his charm and dashing confidence.
The beats are catchy and the chorus a driving force behind the many frenzied displays in many a Lagos party. Above all, the song is a victory song of sorts for the youths of this day, it mirrors them in sheer ecstasy as they celebrate their various degrees of success and achievements through the course of the year. – Henry Igwe
5. Fans Mi by Davido (featuring Meek Mill)
Davido could at this point drop his Omo Baba Olowo moniker because daddy’s billions might have helped but homeboy has shown consistently over the years that he is no ‘Daddy’s Boy’.
No year has gone by since 2012 that Davido has not delivered a hit track or two and, truth be told, he deserves every accolade that comes his way.
His collaboration with Meek Mill is quite remarkable because while ‘Mr. Minaj’ is not that platinum-selling superstar, his relationship with Rick Ross and MMG puts him in a network of friends any artiste will be happy to have.
Davido holds his own well with the artiste and it is also noteworthy that he and Meek actually did sit down (or stand in the studio – as the case may be) to put together an original song, not the latter fortuitously jumping on a Davido beat.
It took a year from when he announced that they were working together to when the song was actually released. And though the song is not exactly likely to win any prizes for depth and lyricism, Davido scores an A for effort, hustle and an ability to deliver commercially successful songs over time. – Jide Taiwo
6. Bobo by Olamide
Bobo is built around Olamide’s understanding of Nigerian pop culture and street lingo and it is truly thrilling listening to the beats interweave with the rhythm and lazy lyrics on the song.
He shines a little light on his rough pasts and touches on his present situation with a bit of a smug feel and assurance.
Young John does remarkably on the song, as well as other YBNL songs from 2015, and deserves all the praise for helping shape a great year musically in terms of music production. – Henry Igwe
7. High Notes by Banky W
Thankfully, Wizkid’s departure will not be the only thing notable about EME Records in 2015. Mr. Banky reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out a melody that would pique R Kelly’s interest. And just like the Pied Piper of R&B, he shows off his musical ambidexterity on this track by crooning in high notes (no pun intended) and spitting rhymes that many a rapper will covet.
And like he said on the song Bad Guy P Remix, he ‘plays for the team he coaches’ and will obviously have to do so for much longer. This is true as Shaydee Boi is definitely no replacement for Wizkid and with the team needing a ‘marquee player’, Banky W has no choice but to step in as that player. – Jide Taiwo
8. Reggae Blues by Harrysong (featuring KCee, Olamide, Iyanya and Orezi)
This song doesn’t need much defining. Four of Nigeria’s biggest Afro pop names came together on it with a mix of humour, musicianship and flair and made an instant hit off Dr Amir’s production.
The local drums and percussions garnished the song in different ways, making a sizzling piece off what is otherwise a laid back song. It shone across major parts of the nation especially in the closing months of the year.
Harrysong and KCee have formed a super fusion and their music partnership is great. But critics fear that the 5 Star music company is based on little substance and originality, save for Harry’s inputs.
The music literati in Nigeria knows better than to take a record label seriously after a failed Skiibii PR stunt and the many similarities in Ebaeno and Jantamanta by Mavins Records, among other things.
But, hey, Reggae Blues was a hit song in 2015 and nothing short of it. – Henry Igwe
9. King Kong Remix by Vector (featuring Phyno, Reminisce, Classiq and Uzi)
Let’s be real, hip hop in Nigeria has damn near become what Fuji became in the 90’s – weak! And this is far from what the art form really is.
Fuji’s salvation arrived when practitioners fused a little bit of Juju and highlife into it to make it more appealing. In the same vein, Nigerian rappers have gone pop, which is not necessarily a bad thing, because the audience wants what it wants. And this is why it is refreshing when the occasional rapper remembers his roots and makes a proper rap song.
The remix of King Kong features some of the ‘dopest’ lyricists right now and is a reminder to others to get back to rapping because the singing is getting out of hand!
This is pretty much a clarion call to Ice Prince, Classiq and the likes to do what they ought to be doing.
In sum, everything about King Kong is hip hop! From the beats to its ‘braggadocious’ theme and lyrics, it reminds us anew of what rappers worldwide are known for. Good joint. – Jide Taiwo
10. Ashimapeyin by Wande Coal
Wande Coal’s Wanted album might have met mixed reviews here and there and the reasons are obvious – the expectations were too high.
Be that as it may, the criticisms take nothing away from Wande’s musical strength and vocal lustre. We say this because on Ashimapeyin the man dug deep inside and brought forth pure magic and nothing less. Magic!
He came through on the street-themed anthem, singing in his trademark Yoruba dialect, a signal of his reemergence in the saturated Nigerian music industry. The chorus is sweet like sugar cane especially as he employs innuendos here and there, the verses are sharp and gritty like window panes, and overall the song is coloured with many markings of Afro pop class and ingenuity. – Henry Igwe
11. Efejoku by Lil Kesh (featuring Viktoh)
Lil Kesh is the closest competition to Olamide today as far as that Yoruba rap-Afro pop connect in Nigerian music is concerned.
Reminisce is a more lyrically-balanced artiste than both YBNL stars, probably more balanced than both of them put together. But what he lacks in youthful appeal and Afro pop influence these two have, almost in abundance. And here is where the difference lies.
Efejoku is straight up appealing, almost an instant hit upon first listen. Kesh is in another world altogether, a world wherein his understanding of the market demands in Nigeria leaves him almost unmatched. To cap this, he has a brilliant alignment with Young John’s productions so that their outputs continue to make miracles like one walking on water.
It is a compelling piece of work especially in terms of production, commercial viability, street appeal and originality. – Henry Igwe
12. Right Now by Seyi Shay
Seyi has been underrated for a while, and it’s ironic because she arguably has a more rounded experience of the music industry – having been on a major MTV show while her contemporaries here were struggling to circulate their CDs to Music Africa and whatnot.
It shows that you need more than Matthew Knowles’ tutelage to succeed musically.
Nevertheless since she got back to Nigeria few years ago, she has been making decent efforts and has made a handful of good songs. 2015 however proved to be her year, as she dropped the much-anticipated debut album and signed on to Island Records UK, an arm of Universal Music Group.
Right Now is the second single off that album and by far the best. She does well on the song and skillfully marries it with the tastes of her local audience base which is what stands out the song. – Jide Taiwo
13. Tesojue by Reminisce
The Baba Hafusa album is a fiery, genre-busting album but Reminisce and his camp didn’t do enough to keep the fans fixed on it for long. It came and went away too quickly in a relatively slow year musically, an indication that his PR game is weak – perhaps nonexistent.
It took Billboard’s recognition in May, 2015 for Reminisce to spread into certain playlists not because the album was subpar but more as a result of publicity issues. No mainstream buzz per se, near zero social media influence and so on.
The album was cross-hatched by mostly blurry, lewd shadings of sex and the female ‘behind’. Other times, it wass outright x-rated lyricism on many songs off it, still it deserves more renown than it got.
That said, Tesojue is lit! The producer Jospo deserves all the accolade there is for such a song. There are some Afro pop elements here and there, some hip hop injections, but overall a feel good jam for the streets and frenzied social gatherings. – Henry Igwe
14. Shake Body by Skales
Since leaving EME Records the rapper has managed to take his career to the next level with the release of an album and a number of hit songs, perfect response to naysayers.
Shake Body is a song that many would remember for its energy and drive, especially as it helped launch Skales on that giant podium of light and acclaim.
Songs like Ijo Ayo featuring Olamide and Always featuring Davido from his Man Of The Year album are hit records by any standard, but Shake Body has to be the best from the young man all year in terms of mainstream buzz and show-stopping elements. – Henry Igwe
15. Orente by Adekunle Gold
Adekunle Gold first got involved in music as a graphic artist who used to design CD jackets among other artistic endeavours. But he got really popular two years ago when his photoshop spoofs with celebrities started making the rounds.
He’s put himself into photos with Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Barak Obama, to name a few. It made for a good laugh and that might have been it.
But in 2014 he released Sade and to everybody’s surprise it was actually a good song. He leans on a ‘folksong-y’ melody and sounds like nobody else at present.
His follow up Orente proves that (maybe) the dude actually does have workable talent.
Olamide thinks so too because he signed him up to his YBNL ensemble, helping the young man finish strongly for the year as he builds up for a greater 2016. – Jide Taiwo