You can’t talk about 2020 without mentioning the unforeseen COVID-19 outbreak. I’m sorry, you’re probably tired of seeing that line in almost every piece you’ve read in recent times, but yeah, it did happen, and is still happening. 2020 was actually a lot for us all, especially between the months of March and October which saw the EndSARS protests and Lekki Toll Gate Massacre, it did feel like the end of Sthe world had come, but we out here still riding. 

Putting all the negativity aside, it did bring us some good; particularly in the music space. We did get albums from the gods of the industry. Wizkid finally released Made In Lagos; after keeping us on our toes for almost 2 years, Burna Boy showed us he wasn’t settling for just a Grammy nomination and doubled his hustle on Twice As Tall, Davido who was having a very eventful year gave us A Better Time, Tiwa Savage showed us her “universal” side on Celia, and Olamide, oh Olamide! This man is most times skipped when the GOAT conversation comes up, but it’s time we start to give him his credits. Having dropped 2 projects in the same year – 999 & Carpe Diem, he showed us versatility and consistency.

One beautiful thing that got to me last year was the emergence of new artistes and sounds in the mainstream music space. Coming from 2019 where we had newbies – Blaqbonez, Joeboy, Fireboy and Rema on crazy form, it felt like 2020 was going to be their year, with Joeboy and Rema already having hits in the early parts of the year, Nobody and Beamer respectively. They all did deliver eventually, but mother earth had other plans, it was time to shine her face on a hand full of other youngings who had put in the good work and were ready to fly. Here’s a list of new artistes who had us dancing in our sitting rooms for a good part of year 2020, and even until now.

P.S: I used “sitting room” because I trust we weren’t out partying, and exchanging the corona virus like gifts.

P.S 2 (not to be mistaken for the Playstation 2): This list is based on artistes who gave us a reason to smile during and post lockdown. If you don’t see your fave, no vex.

1. Omah Lay

This bad boy from PH city had mandem debating the authenticity of his numbers for weeks. Firstly, he’s a newbie. Secondly, it’s R&B. So how exactly could he be racking millions of streams within weeks of release? Well there’s only one answer to that question; the music is close to perfect. Omah Lay has the vocal strength and the catchy lyrics to go with it, that’s why he can easily top charts and bag features with the big boys of the industry. A recent video placed him recording with Wizkid and young producer P-Prime, and we’re here for all the smoke. Having gifted us two beautiful projects and multiple hits within one year, music in 2020 cannot be talked of without Omah Lay not being mentioned.

2. Bella Shmurda

Time was running out and streets needed a banger to close out the year. Bella didn’t just give us a banger, he basically gave us the biggest song in the year – Cashapp. Bella Schmurda began to garner some attention in mid-2019 after the release of his single with the legendary Olamide. In 2020, he released his debut project, a 7-track project titled High Tension. Later in the year, he’s appearing on Olamide and Davido’s albums respectively, and also featured on Masterkraft’s hit single – Hallelu which has made massive waves in this new year. He’s kicked off 2021 with hit single – Rush, and has announced the release of his album Hypertension, this year. Bella may be for the streets, but he has this unique sound that he takes everywhere with him, this makes him stand out, and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us this year.

3. Oxlade

From bagging a hit feature from an unlikely source in 2018, to performing at the O2 in 2019, and then dropping one of the most solid tapes in 2020, Oxlade’s career has been a total rollercoaster and it’s definitely not coming down soon. He released two of the biggest songs in the country last year – Away, and DKT. Outside the music, he was also one of the most vocal entertainers during the EndSARS protests, which showed the massive influence he has in this generation. Oxlade’s vocal strength is almost unmatched, and lyrically; he’s up there. As the years go by, he continues to stun us. 

4. Bad Boy Timz

Timz was truly out to “have fun” in 2020. All he preached was faaji, gbese, and of course to not snooze on chasing the bag. He began to have eyes and ears on him after the release of his 6-track debut EP which features Zlatan and Barry Jhay. His first hit single – MJ came in the earlier part of the year, followed by remixes featuring DMW’s Mayorkun, and Teni respectively. For me, his big break came after his feature off Olamide’s album – Loading became a massive hit nationwide. We can’t even lie, like every featured artiste on Olamide’s Carpe Diem, Timz held Loading down, and it should definitely go down as one of the biggest songs of his career. Badboy Timz is clearly one of the fastest growing Afrobeats artiste of this generation, and with an album on the way, he is surely out to shock us in 2021.

5.  Zinoleesky

This Kizz Daniel-inspired Instagram freestyler became a multiple hit maker in 2020. The Marlian Records signee gained public attention after his ‘Fuck You Challenge’ video went viral in 2019. Since then, he’s put out multiple tracks, and an EP which includies massive hits Ma Pariwo and Kilofeshe. The fast rising star from Agege, Lagos is enough proof of the numerous talents waiting to be unleashed in many parts of the country. 

Last year was really a rollercoaster, but mostly with the lows. Regardless, it’s safe to say that musically, it’s one of the best years we’ve experienced. This year already looks like it has potentials, with the already massive hits out now, and albums we are expecting. One thing I’m certain of is every artiste on this list is going to shake your speakers and earphones in the best way they can. 

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