Ever since artistes like Timaya , Burna Boy, W.A.J.E, burst on to the music scene from the South-South, the region has cemented it place as a hotbed for talents. To further prove this aforementioned point befitting, 2015 birthed a plethora of incredible musicians with impeccable artistry.
After keenly monitoring the music being rolled out of the region for the past 364 days, a list of the artistes attracting the strongest buzz was churned out and each assigned to music heads, label execs as well as OAPs from the south-south.
The selected artistes all have two things in common that any musician needs to thrive in the music business: strong single (s) and a growing fan base.
Check out our list of 6 artistes from the South-South you’ll need to watch in 2016.
Artistes From The South-South To Watch In 2016: GREO // STEVEN TONES // KOD // JOHNNY DRILLE // ONE TOUCH // TNJ
KOD is arguably one of the biggest Artiste/Hiphop revelations from the South-South in recent years and as 2016 rolls in, he is geared up to accept the responsibilities of being awarded the BEST NEW ARTISTE at the South South Music Awards (SSMA) 2015.
The 18 year old rapper whose real name is Kenile Ogoh David (KOD) literally burst out from nowhere when he featured at the SSMA 2014 Cypher alongside ol Gees like DUNO, MOFAME, JO & GREO in the fall of last year. Only on January 1st 2015, he dropped his second single AT LAST, BLACK FLOWER in February, and OMG (Oh My Goodness) in April. He went on to release his debut album KEEN ODE DELIVERY in July with hit singles like LEVELS and TRUE DAT before closing the year with his award winning track titled LORD KNOWS.
Indeed KOD had an eventful year as much on stage, performing at several major events including touring with major artistes like Tuface, M.I, Jesse Jagz, Cynthia Morgan, Burna Boy, etc at StarMusic The Trek 2015 edition. Under the keen supervision of his label Vibe Music Factory (VMF), KOD has grown into a household name in the south, arguably being the most played indigenous artiste across radio airwaves and also has become a fans favourite where ever he turns up. His boyish smile and fashion sense is also one of his major buzzers especially for the ladies. But on the mic, KOD is ruthless as a rattlesnake when he begins to spits bars and has been often compared currents international kickers like J-Cole, Big Sean and Kendrick Lamar, artistes whom he agrees are great influences to his sound. He also sees Nigerian HipHop reverend M.I Abaga as a mentor and had the opportunity to meet him on tour a couple of times and tap some inspiration.
The University of Benin Mathematics undergraduate has his eyes set on 2016 already with activities lined up as he continues to extend his music beyond southern borders which includes campus tours, brand appearances, radio interviews, new music releases, top collaborations and possibly a second album.
Mo’Fame is an all round music lover, Entrepreneur, GM, Lockdown Entertainment, OAP, Host, “Music Mix Weekend Special” #1 entertainment show in the South of Nigeria and co-host, “Lose it” on KUFM 92.7 Benin City.
With the over saturation of afropop sounds in the Nigerian music industry, it takes a bit of digging to find some alternative sounds that truly stand out in the humdrum of rhythmic pop music. Many artistes these days are quick to describe themselves as versatile; which in most cases is really just a way of avoiding being judged on the merits of a particular music genre. You can, therefore, understand my surprise and pleasure when I heard one who was bold enough to say that he is a folk rock musician and producer, and better still, could defend his artistry with the sort of music he’s put out so far.
I first heard of Johnny Drille when he was a contestant on Project Fame in 2013. He finished in the top ten of that competition. Next, he covered Di’Ja’s hit song “Awww” as part of his Johnny Covers Naija project. That was when I really began to pay attention.
How does a guy who is heavily influenced by artistes like Owl City and Philip Philips as well as bands like the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons fit into Nigeria’s current music landscape? He doesn’t. He stands out. Johnny Drille easily achieved this with his first official single of 2015, “Love Don’t Lie”.
He readily admits that our music industry doesn’t have a big enough platform to accommodate and promote his type of music. However, he has stuck to his guns, refusing to water down his art and choosing to forego the chance of getting on the bill of big concerts featuring Nigeria’s top pop artistes for the development of his artistry to the point where he’ll headline multimillion naira tours at some point in the future. It’s easy to knock on Johnny Drille’s ambitions given the (lack of) structure of the Nigerian music industry, but with the release and relative national success of his latest single, “Wait For Me”, Johnny has proven that perhaps, with a little push and consistency, he and artistes like him can open new vistas in the music industry and create alternative sounds that can compete internationally.
His musicianship is über refreshing, his appeal is almost effortless and his aura when performing is simply indescribable. Johnny Drille is growing to be a master of his craft and well on the way to being a leader of the alternative school. It only gets better.
Osato “EDK” Edokpayi is an incurable media junkie and a radio personality at Vibes 97.3 FM, Benin City. He tweets via @satoEDK.
2015 was indeed the year to finally cement his place as a true force and voice to reckon with from the South-South. Born Egerton ‘Touch’ Ajayi in the 80s and raised by a single mother, Onetouch, a Nigerian music producer and Hiphop recording artiste from the ancient Bini kingdom, Benin-City won the BEST HIPHOP ACT at the annual South South Music Awards (SSMA) 2015 edition after being nominated in same category at the 2012 SSMA Awards and in 2011 he was nominated in four categories including BEST NEW ARTISTE.
ONETOUCH over the years has redefined his sound and soul lifting lyrics, blending his native ‘BINI’ language with English language thereby unveiling fresh type of sound that the world should look out for.
The artiste who has a Diploma Degree in Business Management for the better part of 2015, temporarily relocated to Ghana and while there seemed to catch a spark of fire as between June and October 2015, he released as much 5 new records and a video, amongst which is ‘The Grace ft Ya Pono’, ‘The Call’, ‘Enemies ft Sarkodie & Jupitar’ and of course working with major Ghanian producers like KillBeatz, EddyKBeatz etc.
As 2016 unfolds, OneTouch is teaming up with his brothers from the South to bring in a new type of sound that will indeed make the Nigerian music industry more interesting. He is already working on his debut album set to be released before 2016 runs out. The Album according to him will feature lots of Nigerian, Ghanian and international acts and producers.
One things is certain and it is that OneTouch is upon us and is here to stay. The future of Africa Music is in the hands of this blessed rhythmic soul.
I first heard of this chap in my penultimate year in school, and after his first sixteen bars I was sold. His delivery was all there was to it at said time, his content needed some upgrading; and man did he upgrade! Few weeks ago, he eclipsed all Emcees in the Lagos camp of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and brought the house down with his overly catchy joint “Normal Levoo”. Same song that has bagged a nomination for BEST GOSPEL SINGLE at the TOP NAIJA MUSIC AWARDS to be held in Lagos this January, same song that shook the South, and took over every airwave from Lagos, to Delta, Edo, Abuja and co, now tell me when last you heard a gospel rapper this good?
OGHENETEGA OKE, born in Benin City, raised in Warri, a true son of the South; TNJ, popularly called “Yung Gospel” is a breath of fresh air to the Southern Music scene. In 2011, he put out two singles BOUNCE & YOUR LOVE, which amassed over 10,000 downloads. While attending the University of Benin from where he was conferred a B.sc in Industrial Physics, he gained enviable recognition when he put out his own version of the hit song “ARA” by Brymo (Former Chocolate City Music heavyweight). In 2014, he dropped bars to a Sarz’ renowned record “ISE YEN” & it caught the attention of veteran producer DJ KLEM, rumoured to be mentoring the young chap.
Last time I saw TNJ he was at the GUINESS #MadeOfBlack event in Benin, where he beat 10 secular rappers to emerge Winner of the freestyle competition; it was a smash performance really. The confidence this lad possesses, Gospel Emcee on a roll. TNJ like you can already tell is that barrier-breaking Gospel Rapper y’all have been waiting for and if I do say so myself I believe that TNJ is about to re-invent gospel rap in the Country, our African Lecrae in a jiffy.
He is currently working on new material to take over in 2016, if I were to coin Reminisce’s words- The boy is about to spread like a rumour. Brace yourself Nigeria.
John Iyoha, avid follower of South South Music, celebrated critic, God’s wordsmith and all-round music enthusiast.
by Michael O.
Alternative hip-hop act Omoregbe Oluto who’s better known by his artistic name ‘Greo’ caught our attention with the releases of his Edo State culture embedded digital album he titled ‘Oral Tradition’ on the sixteenth day of October, 2015.
Oral Tradition has the album is called, is a 51minutes 34seconds awesome enlightenment ‘bout Edo State’s tradition by Greo. ‘The Sojourn’ which samples a deep traditional tune often used when a respected or loved one leaves (mostly when dead); is a perfect explanation of the depth Greo went to make ‘Oral Tradition’.
He’s said to cite Majek Fashek, J. Cole, Femi Kuti, Lupe Fiasco and Nas as his major source of inspiration. Without much ado, it’s safe to say Greo is a rare breed in the south blessed with creativity of all sort including the gift of a passionate spoken words artist.
While we still vibe to the #OralTradition and soak ourselves into history/culture of Edo state, we are still patiently waiting for Greo to release a breakout song to showcase him to the world as the southern part of Nigeria can’t be the only place to hold such an incredible talent.
Michael Oghene is a music editor at www.360nobs.com.
The first time I heard him, I thought to myself “if August Alsina could sing in pidgin, this is what he would sound like”. Since then he’s gone on to show versatility and creativity which in my opinion are two important qualities any musical artiste should possess, whether budding or established.
Steven ‘Tones’ Omigie or simply called STEVEN TONES is an afrocentric pop sensation and is signed to Vibe Music Factory.
Tones has the vocal prowess of a top international artiste and sees Chris Brown and Wande Coal as major influences to his music and sound. His major strength is in his ability to create afrocentric sounds, using catchy and witty lyrics, street languages and slangs then blending it with the popular RnB and Pop genres to create his own unique Afrocentric Pop genre.
Following the success of his tracks, AS E DEY HOT and NO LELE in 2015, I’m almost certain 2016 would be a better year if he reaches down for the greatness that lies inside of him and does away with mediocrity.
Tshyka is an on air personality with K.U 92.7FM, Benin City’s more music variety station. Catch him on air, weeknights at 9PM