these underrated nigerian artists are on the rise

January 16, 2018

words by: Vane Karolle

2017 saw the rise of a new wave of music and this wave came with a concise message- Nigeria's lyrical millenials are on the rise. However cliche this may sound to you, you better believe it. Undoubtedly, it was the year of Nigerian music industry's OG frontliners like Wizkid, Davido, Adekunle Gold et al but their moments didn't exactly make it to the highlights for me. Nigeria's heritage has created a new, self-sufficient and most importantly outwardly facing urban music scene which interestingly isn't taking cue from just the much celebrated afrobeat sound. 

In truth, these acts are not completely new to Nigeria's music scene however, the country's euphonic infrastructure has been positioned in such a way that portrays a certain reluctance to support the more recent homegrown talent such as themselves because they seek to break the norm and their music is a clear deviation from the country's perception of music. That's already changing. These talents have successfully and organically grown their own fan bases and created their unique genre tapping  inspiration from western genres like R&B, Jazz and Hip hop. It's not just their music, it's their aesthetics which partly draws from the UK's grime era what with funkified streetwear like the tracksuits as well as the 90s era in general which translates to their music and ups their steez. 

Asides the lack of social acceptance, these underdogs on the rise also brave the lack of funding of the arts and do so by coming together to and working in the same small circles of local producers and videographers which has proven instrumental to their creating high quality aesthetics, as well as creating local music shows that promote each other's sounds. Millennials in the country's major cities are showing mad love and support as well. Shows are now packed, merchandises are selling out, the hype is getting louder, these artistes are finally getting some recognition. 

From the up and coming French-Nigerian rapper and producer, Idris King to the self proclaimed "Incredible King Of Nigeria", MC & producer, Ikon, here are a few of Nigerian music's  new crop of artists the rise and no doubt, in a class of their own;




Like every other emcee, Ladipo Eso who goes by the stage name LADIPOE, is a story teller. His sounds bear hints of afrobeat, dancehall and of course finely blended with the American music genre that is rap which all translate to the unique genre that is "Afro-rap".  From being part of a small music group (LEQ) in North Carolina to his collaborations with a few of Nigerian musical giants like Falz, Yemi Alade, Show Dem Camp and most recently Tiwa Savage, to getting signed to one of the leading record labels in the country- Mavin Records, Ladipoe is slowly becoming a force to reckon with in these parts. 



His good looks make it all too easy to pay him just enough attention to hear him out and on hearing his silky smooth voice, you'll realize that this singer is more than just his face. With sounds you could refer to as "Afro-funk" with a heavy dose of R&B. Inspired by the 70s funk genre citing acts like K-Ci & Jojo,  Funbi stole the hearts of Nigerians with his vocals in "Adore Her", a ditty he was featured on alongside rapper, Ladipoe. Funbi's most recent body of work, "Hallelujah"proves that he is finally stepping out of his small project features and coming into his own.

Tomi Thomas


Free-spirits will definitely connect with Tomi Thomas. Between his super breezy steez and a fiery passion for music, Thomas' sound features genres like Afrobeat, Hip-hop, Garage, Funk, Techno and Soul with a touch of Electro. With God and his spirit as his own muses, Tomi's sounds also feeds off of the likes of Mariah Carey, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Eminem, Akon and Bumi Thomas. One time member of the music group LOS (Loud On Sound), Thomas' since launched a solo career and is currently expanding the consciousness of music listeners in Nigeria with his unique sound.

Pretty Boy D-O


D-O is best described as a vibe. This afro-urban act currently has a whole lot of millennials doing the "footwork" which he wittily titled  his most recent effort. Pretty new to the scene, D-O has taken ownership of his sound and is unabashedly creating his own niche. The galala stepper's energy and sound have proven trippy with his new hot single (Footwork) already reaching number 6 on the iTunes chart in Nigeria.



Think Ikon, think Kanye West. Why? Here's what they both have in common; they're both producers cum rappers. Whilst building a reputation as one of Nigeria's top producers, Ikon also worked on creative projects with the music groups Collectiv3 and 3 Wise Men, so he's not exactly new to the scene as an artiste. Still maintaining his repertoire as a top notch producer, Ikon is also carving out his niche as a rapper. Ikon uses his music as a philosophical expose on life as a whole.

Temi DollFace


They don't make them like DollFace anymore. With vocals that'll disarm you, this afro electro-pop singer continuously outdoes herself with her socially conscious sound so distinctive in nature, visuals with off-the-beaten-track aesthetics and style that sets you back to the 70s and the 80s as DollFace is a sworn member of the vintage club. Though her break out hit was "Pata Pata", I somehow seem to vibe more to her "beep beep" tune which she co-produced alongside Ikon. Without a doubt, DollFace is ripe for the pop realm's taking.

Show Dem Camp


With an already impressive following both at home (Nigeria) and abroad (USA & UK), this rap duo comprising of Ghost & Tec have been killing the game and have set the pace for up and coming acts in the industry. The afro-hip hop OGs have mastered the art of synchronizing Nigerian sounds with westernized melodic styles, thus, always delivering truly distinctive tunes. What's more interesting about the duo is that they deliver socially conscious music which explains why kids of the new age now swoon over their sound. Their most recent body of work Palm Wine Music Vol 1 which sees the duos involvement in the Palm wine music genre (originally from the Kru people of Liberia) has been a hit so far, thus setting Show Dem Camp in a class by itself.

Idris King


Think of Idris King as the leader of the new school. This French-Nigerian rapper and entrepreneur caught the attention of millennials home and abroad not only with his lyrical prowess but also with 90s baby movement. Known for constant franglish (French and English) maneuvering, Idris' sound is best described as new school hip hop, you could consider him the afro, modern day version of the likes of Run-D.M.C and LL Cool J with jiggy tunes that'll have your body moving without your consent.

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