From the ubiquitous Rnb sensation “Essence”, to Prettyboy DO’s political satire “1996, these are the most poignant, culture-shaping and year-defining Nigerian songs released in 2021.
- Ladipoe & Amaarae, Love Essential
Coming in number 10 is Love Essential, an ethereal RnB collaborative effort by Ladipoe and avant-garde Alte sensation Amaarae. It’s the 5th track on Ladipoe’s 6-track EP ‘Providence’. Defined by ethereal keys, sultry vocals from Amaarae and sleek-yet-hard bars from Ladipoe, Love Essential is a cathartic love song that drowns the listener in a sea of emotions where the feelings of love, heartbreak and drama are palpable.
- The cavemen, Stranger
Stranger is from Love and highlife, the sophomore album of Nigeria’s finest highlife duo. Stranger is such a beautiful love song, with lyrics such as “…baby lean on my shoulder, na me and you forever, oh baby don’t be a stranger’. The song paints a picture of a life in paradise with the one you love—Living in a cabin by the beach side, waking up to the soft crashing of waves on the shore, warm sunny mornings embellished with the melodies of songbirds, afternoons running palm-in-palm, barefoot on the beach sand, without the archetypal worries of life in the 21st century—All the while, Stranger is the soundtrack of this movie.
- DJ Tarico & Burnaboy feat. Preck & Nelson Tivane, Yaba Buluku
Yaba Buluku is a high-octane, energy-oozing club banger. An amapiano record upholstered by blistering drums, wickedly-intense melodies and self-assured lyrics from Grammy-award-winning Burnaboy. “…Odogwu you bad o, e file fun Burna…”. It’s the song the DJ plays to turn the heat up on the dancefloor—Picture this, the song comes on, swarms of youthful bodies prance around, hands in the air screaming “Odogwu you bad o, e file fun Burna”, they cluster into circles dancing legwork, each one putting their unique spin to the move.
- Focalistic and Davido, Ke Star remix
One of the most infectious amapiano sounds in recent history. From the first bar of the song, you’re already knee-deep in the vibe. Bold boisterous percussion, perfectly timed synth sounds, an addictive melody—Just a few amazing things about the track.
- Steady, Wizkid
Off the Deluxe version of his globally-acclaimed, Grammy nominated LP ‘Made in Lagos’, Steady is the cherry on the cake. It’s an alternative RnB composition marked by pensive chords and sultry vocals. On the song, Wizkid skitters around themes, from love to lust to desire to admiration—It’s a perfect song for a sex playlist.
- Tems, Crazy things
The record is a beautifully crafted pop-song—A blend of archetypal pop elements and Latin Jazz nuances, the record sees Tems veer off from her typical pensive sonic palette to an affably sunny sound. The song makes you just want to let-loose, fling your shoes off and hit the dancefloor.
- Gyakie & Omah Lay, Forever remix
The brilliance of this record cannot be overstated—The melody is so simple and infectious, the lyrics are poignant, the cadence is perfect, the back-and-forths between Omah and Gyakie! Oh God! You can’t help but nod along to the beat and get lost in the sound. It’s the love song for almost all occasions—in the club, with your partner chilling, to propose to your partner. Random TikToks, ….
- Prettyboy DO, 1996
…boisterous drums, blistering keys, raging distorted guitar sounds, Prettyboy singing with undulating rage—1996 is an iconoclastic political satire where DO sings about the horrors of the End SARS protests and Nigeria’s shameful history of targeted brutality against peaceful protesters.
- SARZ & Lojay, Monalisa
This song set dancefloors all over the world in flames—from owambe’s in Ibadan, to clubs in Lagos, London and Dubai—In the heat of its reign, everywhere went up in flames anytime it came on. A collaborative effort by ace-producer SARZ and newcomer Lojay. ‘Monalisa’ is the life of the party—Just the track that a wounded Nigeria needed to usher in a transition to normalcy, following the twin harrowing experiences of Lockdown and the End SARS protests.
- Wizkid feat Tems and Justin Bieber, Essence Remix
Essence Remix, the Bieber remix of the stand out track off Wizkid’s 4th studio album—Made in Lagos, is our top pick. This song checks all the boxes of legendary song—Whittle the awards, the staggering number of streams, the public hype, the cultural impact, its domination on global charts, …, from the actual song and it would still be one of the best, if not the best RnB song of 2021. It’s an RnB sound with a unique sound, It’s a song that makes you feel things. Tems’ magical voice, Wizkid’s sultry vocals and the sonorous vocals of Bieber that has the uncanny ability to leave listeners spellbound, all in one song—The result is magic!