As an individual or society, the importance of representation cannot be overemphasized. What we see often shapes our view of the world. Thanks to the advancement of technology, today’s media plays a key role in how our norms, values, and aspirations are formed. Hence, when we are surrounded by people like us, who have done/are doing something similar, our zeal and grit to accomplish is reinforced.
In the past decade, the Nigerian entertainment industry has witnessed tremendous growth, especially in music. With Burna Boy, Wizkid and Davido, topping charts, bagging mouth-watering endorsement deals, and selling out the most coveted show venues, home and abroad. For the trio, their success is a testament that hard work, skill, creativity, and tenacity are a few of the best values to hold on to when working in such a faced-paced industry like the music industry.
This new generation of Afrobeat artists are picking up the pace and fitting perfectly into the big shoes of their predecessors. They’re changing the narrative and exceeding expectations, putting in the work and defying industry odds, whilst creating a brand that’ll cater to both the Nigerian audience and the international music scene.
Since her unveiling in early 2021, as one of Mavins’ newest acts, Ayra Starr has barely taken a breather. In the last year, she has released one EP and a successful studio album as well as featured in global tours with international artists like Koffee. Her global hit song, Bloody Samaritan, peaked at the top of Nigeria’s TurnTable Top 50, making her the first female to reach number one with a solo song. Also, she recently released a hot remix of the same track with Kelly Rowland. Ayra Starr was featured in the part 2 edition of the African Lullabies project, alongside Asa, Teni, Simi, and other African superstars. One key theme to note about her music and persona is that she’s literally a superstar. It almost feels like she’s been prepared to do this all her life. As a young Nigerian woman who made her debut as a teenager, Ayra Starr’s work rate and accomplishments are absolutely incredible.
2020 was a significantly tough year because of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, but it also marked the birth of a new normal in all aspects of the world, including music. While a lot of artists and show promoters across the world complained about the downtime in business, Ckay’s track Love Nwantiti was making rounds and topping charts across the Middle East, North Africa, and eventually Europe, Australia, and Latin America. Although the song first went viral on TikTok, today this track has been certified Platinum in over 12 countries. Ckay’s win also opened up a new avenue for African artists to focus on TikTok challenges as a valid outlet for promotion. No doubt, we can learn a thing or two from Ckay’s playbook on how to make a global hit song.
In July 2021, Fireboy released what would become the most important track in his musical run so far. Peru, in all of its 2 minutes and 31 seconds, was a certified bop and reaching Number one on the UK Afrobeats Singles Chart, was partly proof of that. Shortly after, Fireboy announced a dreamy remix with Ed Sheeran that landed the song a nomination for Song of the year at the 2021 African Entertainment Awards USA and recognition by the Republic of Peru.
Fireboy also featured on the remix of Madonna’s 1998 single Frozen alongside Sickick. In his recently released third studio album Playboy, he collaborated with industry heavyweights like Chris Brown, Shenseea, and Euro. Project after project, Fireboy is determined to walk in excellence and make a bold name in the global music industry.
When Temilade Openiyi, aka Tems, first released her 2019 hit “Try me” she represented a fresh, ground-breaking, and unforgettable vibe. So far, that’s exactly how her career has been. Her journey is one that embodies her entire persona-unique, different and elevating. Tems went from collaborating with Wizkid, one of the biggest Nigerian artists in the world, on what will become a Grammy-nominated single (Essence) to becoming a Global sensation in months.
In September 2021, she was featured on Hip-hop Icon, Drake’s Certified Lover Boy album. Recently, Future sampled her song “Higher” on his chart-topping single, Wait For U, crediting her as a featured artist on the project.
A few months ago, Marvel released the tracks of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which featured Tems’ cover of Bob Marley’s hit song “No Woman, No cry.” She also contributed as a lyricist on Rihanna’s track “Lift me up” on the album.
In all of her exploits and successes, one thing is for sure, It’s Tems’ world and we’re just living in it!
Although the cultural impact of the exportation of these artists’ craft cannot fully be measured, there’s a clear linear progression from exportation through global recognition. It’s not only exciting for the possibilities and mountain of opportunities that stay lined up for these artists but hope for the next generation of African creatives to come.