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I cannot forget the first time I heard and saw Ruby sing. It was Industry Nite in 2012, and Chocolate City was being hosted. Though all performances were from well-known and well-respected artistes, only two stood out for me – Ruby’s and Threadstones’.
Ruby got on the stage wearing an easy smile and without warning, started belting out beautiful music to the sound of live instruments from an amazing band. Her voice was simply angelic.
Ruby undoubtedly has the best voice among all the well-known artistes in Nigeria. Any doubt to that claim will be dispelled when singing along to her M.I.-produced 2014 single, Good Man.
Ruby’s music seems to spring from a deep well of emotions most likely harboured deep in her heart. From her 2011 official debut, Okay, where she confronts her lover for breaking her heart; 2013’s Down where she pledges her loyalty to her lover and Good Man in 2014 where she becomes one of the few women to celebrate the good among menfolk, Ruby is definitely the best of ear candy this country has produced.
Watching Ruby sing is sure to elicit goosebumps as she soulfully hits every note on any piece of art she decides to serenade her audience with. Ruby Gyang is one artist that more people should have on their playlist.
Kahli Abdu is a rapper who originates from Jos and resides in the United States, in the City of New York.
A man who pays no attention to the childish metaphors and silly hyperboles that most ‘rappers’ around believe they have to overkill in their songs to make a hit, Kahli opts for musical depth and sources his music from immediate experience rather than bourgeois fantasy.
For me personally, Kahli won my confidence as a rapper to watch in the Bandits EP which he released in 2012. Bandits EP has Kahli talking about the Jos Crisis over soft strings in State of Emergency, decrying that he is a rapper over a sample of Jay-Z’s ‘Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)’, partying without compromising his Hip Hop sound in Toast, and so on.
He teamed up with a production duo from Washington DC a while back and they formed a trio called Kahli Abdu & VHS Safari. The three are now signed to Chocolate City and have released their first single under the label, On This Side, which has the trio presenting their new sound – a fusion of 90’s Hip Hop, Afro Percussions and indie pop synthesizers as Kahli alternates between singing and rapping.
Aramide is a Nigerian soul singer signed to Baseline Music, which is also home to singer, Skales. Born in Lagos, Aramide grew up in a music oriented family where her love for music began. Aramide discovered her gift right from her teena, honed her talent and began making an impact while studying Political Science at the University of Jos. After college, Aramide was signed by eLDee to Trybes Records, before being eventually snatched up by Baseline Music.
I first listened to Aramide in about 2010 when she was singing under the name Arry Moore. The song was It’s Over, a song where Aramide tells an ex-lover that they are through and she has moved on.
Aramide is an amazing singer who sings straight from the heart, with words and melodies that allow the listener connect with what she is feeling, as she did in It’s Over. Not a one hit wonder either, Aramide has continued to impress, with songs like Feeling This Feeling, which she released in 2014.
I first listened to Adekunle Gold in 2013 while he was part of a duo called The Bridge. The song I heard was a cover of John Legend’s All of Me, which they absolutely did justice to, giving it their own twist by replacing the original lyrics with a pidgin version.
Fast forward to 2015, I again heard Adekunle Gold in Sade, and the song blew me out of the water. Sade is one song which I did not know most of what he was saying because of the Yoruba, but could still feel the emotions pouring out from the singer and could tell what the song was about.
Following the success of Sade, Adekunle got signed to Olamide’s YBNL. In an interview with NET, he says:
‘When I recorded Sade, Olamide and the entire YBNL soldiers were impressed. He called me a day before the OLIC (Olamide Live In Concert) and that was when I discovered the entire team were feeling the jam. Olamide later called me that he was interested in working with me. That was how the deal came through.’
He has now released a follow up single, Orente which is enjoying significant success. One can only hope he retains his originality now that he is signed to a very commercial label.
Threadstone is undoubtedly Nigeria’s best rock band! The rock band were formerly signed to Loopy Music and though they did not release a lot of music to shake up the industry within the time of their signing, it is very clear that they have the talent to make it happen.
Threadstone is made up of Ajay Kafang the lead vocalist, Umar Jawfu the lead guitarist, Charles Udeh the bassist/producer with Edache Egoga on drums.
I first saw Threadstone at the same Industry Nite that I first encountered Ruby Gyang and they were amazing. They held the party-going crowd to their hoarse rock vocals, and amazing guitar riffs. The energy there was palpable. I have seen them perform once more and they were even more amazing as they performed for about an hour without either them or their fans tiring out.
The band members now lead solo careers but still come together occasionally to perform their awesome music.
Show Dem Camp
Olumide Ayeni and Wale Davies more popularly known as Ghost and Tec, are the duo that make up Show Dem Camp. Show Dem Camp is a Hip Hop crew with a sound like none other and whose originality is unrivalled internationally.
Being widely travelled and having lived in the UK, Ireland, Amsterdam and the US, Show Dem Camp’s music can be said to be about one thing – life. From songs about love in Sweet Love off Clone Wars 2 to their latest single Happy Weekend where they rap about how policemen and touts try to hustle cash off people in Nigeria, Show Dem Camp’s music is totally relatable.
With accolades such as performing in 3 different continents, being featured on MTV Iggy alongside other international artistes and American business mogul and former teen star Nick Cannon tweeting in support of the duo’s new material and hinting at possible business collaborations, Show Dem Camp are a duo to watch.
BOJ has this nice husky voice going on for him and the gift to create beautiful melodies. Though I have not heard any memorable singles from him (I still have not listened to his very popular BOJ On The Microphone mixtape), he has been amazing on every feature I have heard him on and been the one responsible for the success of the single.
Eva first won my heart when I watched a clip of her freestyling on Jimmy Jatt’s Jump Off five years ago. That day, I watched several freestyles and it was clear that only Eva’s and Jesse Jagz’ freestyles were totally unrehearsed, and Eva’s freestyle was the smoother of the two. She rode the beat, spewing lyrics in her usual, laid back manner.
I have since then gone to hear songs where Eva raps better than anyone else I’ve heard, even though this does not happen as much as I would have liked it to. I love Eva’s version of Shuga where she tells the story of a lost girl. Eva does not get a tenth of the credit she deserves and she should definitely be on the playlist of every real rap music lover.
With Shizzy, I am bound to be biased as this is one musician I personally know and love. Shizzy D is from Borno State, a music addict, gifted in the art of spinning words and transforming them into mind-blowing songs. Unfortunately, he was killed in 2012 at the heights of Boko Haram’s hold on Maiduguri. His music, however, lives on. One track comes to mind as I write this – a song called Nightmares. On Nightmares, Shizzy raps that he has been dreaming he is about to die. The depth and chilling prediction in that song will only make you marvel of the mind of this musical genius.
Fortunately, Shizzy D has an amazing collection of recorded material that I hope will be made available to the world someday.
Another rapper I personally know, B.K Blaze has what it takes to be ranked among rap legends if his cards are played right. B.K is what I call the ultimate wordsmith. I have seen him grow from the point where he was stringing silly metaphors because they sound good, to being one of the deepest wordplay rappers I know in Nigeria (after M.I. maybe). Unfortunately, B.K’s best music is still unreleased but I hold special affection for songs like Maid City where he talks about the trauma experienced in Maiduguri, and so on.
This is one talent to watch and that I recommend for your playlist.
Boogey is one of the deepest rappers in Nigeria right now, if not the deepest. When he is in his zone Boogey raps about issues in a way I have never imagined before. Also, his performances are super lit. Boogey definitely takes his art seriously using visuals and other effects to convey his message to his live audience. The Aboriginal Records signee is one that will bring his own level to the music industry if he has the right support.
Boogey’s rap is not one of those loud, arrogant types but more of a laid back flow that can get intense and then ebb again when the situation does not demand aggression.
Sizzle PRO is a producer – the only one on this list. In the Nigerian music industry where a lot of mere beatmakers are tagged producers, Sizzle is actually the true definition of the word producer. He does not just bake beats but gives a direction to how the song should go, providing valuable input. And that is not just why he is on the list.
Sizzle gained a lot of popularity when he introduced the Sizzle Saturdays in 2011 – a new single every last day of the week. He made the beat, sometimes wrote the song, and got his talented musician friends to lace the piece of art with their vocals. It was a success.
Now having produced for the likes of Aramide, Ese Peters, Omawumi and Waje, Sizzle has been able to create his distinct producer sound while only putting his golden touch to music that he deems meaningful.
Signed to EME, Shaydee is one singer who has already gained quite some popularity in the music industry. However, he is still on this list because not enough credit is given to his amazing vocals. Shaydee has an amazing, sonorous voice that easily stands out in a music industry where music usually comprises of an upbeat instrumental combined with an untrained voice.
When he first set out in EME, it seem Shaydee was more into the commercial, tasteless type of music. Recent times, however, have shown a paradigm shift and the Kaduna native has began to find his foothold with amazing singles like Ti E Nikan and High.
I do not know much about Ese Peters, except that he is an amazing and gifted singer. Also signed to Aboriginal Records, Ese Peters is an awesome vocalist and I will classify his music to the closest thing to soul music Nigeria has. In his 2014 single, Prayer, Ese Peters blesses the listener in more ways than one. His music is a soothing, refreshing balm that seems to be primarily aimed at encouraging and healing everyone that it comes across.
Kamar is a Kaduna boy signed to Aboriginal Records. The talented singer is blessed with an amazing voice and skilled in the use of the guitar. I do not know much about Kamar or been a keen listener of his songs, but when I watched his acoustic sessions on Ndani TV, I had to admit that this was the kind of singer Nigeria needs more of. Armed with only his guitar and a sonorous voice, Kamar serenaded the camera for 4 minutes singing melodiously a mashup of his own For My Bed single with covers of Jeremih’s Birthday Sex and Wizkid’s In My Bed.