By Dia Zamani
2013 was the year of the underdog, it seems. Endorsement deals and career successes came for a lot of artistes who had hitherto been unknown the previous year.
The tell-tale signs are everywhere for the crop of acts named below. 2014 is the year they will most probably accelerate to stardom or superstardom, especially if Oluwa is involved.
Phyno: The man of the year. After mesmerizing everyone – Igbos and non-Igbos alike – with his unique blend of lyricism, wordplay and flow in a mix of his mother tongue and English with admirable prowess in 2013, it’ll be something of a shocker if the light-skinned, tats-for-skin rapper/producer does not become an A-list artiste like his Yoruba counterpart and frequent collaborator, Olamide. In fact, he is widely expected to continue where the latter stopped in 2013.
Yemi Alade: Truth be told, her banging body gets far more credit than her stellar vocals do, and that is the consequence of being blessed doubly by God. She released a certified club banger in the Selebobo-produced Johnny in the last quarter of 2013, which is already something of a hit in the East. With a kickass video to boot and massive promotion of that single, the maiden Peak Talent Show winner could be pop’s next princess.
Temi Dollface: Pretty, sassy, great dancer, superb singer etc. Temi has got it all in her kit and her personalized genre of drama soul could very well be the revelation of the year. Ultimately, it’s up to the lady who reminds one of a Janelle Monae – Brenda Fassie hybrid to prove her debut single, Pata Pata was not a fluke.
Sean Tizzle: After Burna Boy and Leriq, the synergy between rave of the moment, Sean Tizzle and his producer D’Tunes is arguably the next best in the industry. After ending a breakout year on a superlative note with the release of an oldies-themed video for Komole, it will come as no surprise to anyone if the Davido-lookalike becomes the next Nigerian export to the international scene, especially as Afrobeats is showing no signs of relenting in it’s spread across the globe.
Orezi: Extremely underrated artiste, this one is. His dancehall track, Rihanna became a nationwide hit after the release of the visuals with a Mauritian-born doppelganger of the pop songstress. The follow-up, Maserati may have been an average song, but Orezi has been around for quite a while and will most likely bounce back, especially if he keeps up the chemistry with beatmaker, Kiddominant.
Chidinma: When you have a team of Ill Bliss, Tha Suspekt and Clarence Peters around you, what excuses do you have not to ‘blow’? The petite Chidinma, who has seen her stock rise since winning the MTN Project and Kora Awards, could be the breakout star of 2014 if the energy in her voice is harnessed to the fullest. Away with the razzo-Emi Ni Ballers and in with the classy Kedikes though…all say Aye!
Ajebutter 22: Black Magic might dispute the fact that ‘Badman Butter’ is the king of alternative rap in Nigeria, but truth is the former frontman of Soyinka’s Afro is making better music and if not for his ill-advised break, could’ve been really big in 2013. New year, new beginnings, they say. It will do everyone, his fans included, a world of good, if the hunk gets his act together and makes more music this year. We wait his joint album with Studio Magic too.
Black Magic: A giant in his own right, it is surprising that the Delta-born rapper and singer hasn’t moved to the next level in the industry yet. Maybe he needs to tweak his formula, promote Black Magic 2.0 and improve on his verses to be as good as his hooks.
BOJ: Ajebutter and Show Dem Camp owe their biggest hits – Omo Pastor and Feel Alright – to this lanky, 80s-style bearded singer . The Bohemian look seems to be working for him and together with his great hooks, might just push him to national acclaim this year. And pulling a Tuface and ditching his DRB Lasgidi bandmates would do good music a favour, one it will most likely return with success.
Yung L: Ice Prince struck gold by signing the Grip Boiz, comprising producer, Chopstix; rapper, Endia; dancehall act, Yung L and the still largely anonymous J-Milla. Endia might be the most talented and ‘deepest’ but Yung L is the most certain to ‘blow’ in 2014. His commercial flow drips a thousand gallons of swagu, as anyone who has watched the videos of the E-Kelly-produced Fever and SOS can attest. With Panshak’s goodwill and funding to boot, Mr Marley could hit the zenith this year.