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2021 IN REVIEW: 21 artistes who refined Afrobeats last year

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2021 IN REVIEW: 21 artistes who refined Afrobeats last year

In 2022, five Nigerian Afrobeats artistes will be representing the nation at the 64th annual Grammy Awards. Burna Boy, Wizkid, Tems, and lastly the father and son duo kids, Femi and Made Kuti will be looking to make the Giant of Africa proud on the international stage.

While we await March 2022, we would have to discuss the excellence of the creatives in the Nigerian music industry and analyze how they got the invite to mount the top echelon with international stars.

Afrobeats is no longer a music genre, it is an ideology that has found it’s way into the hearts of music lovers across the globe. Indeed, music is a universal language; first it soothes your ears then it hypnotizes the listeners with the crispy beats and relatable lyrics.

Afrobeats is currently among the leading genre in the world and this is due to the creativity and professionalism of Nigerian music moguls, the stakeholders, talents and record executives.

After a perilous 2020 where events had to be canceled due to COVID-19 rules, artistes had to restrategize their approach in the dissemination of music and interaction with fans. Interestingly, the world was watching.

What did the lockdown in 2020 teach Afrobeats artistes?

During the lockdown in 2020, everyone was ordered to stay indoors and function, including celebrities and socialites. The coronavirus pandemic aided people to look within themselves and communicate with the suppressed part of them.

Tems came through with her ‘For Broken Ears’ EP in September and it served as her audition to feature on Wizkid’s fourth studio album, Made In Lagos.

The single ‘Essence’ has continued to amass international awards and topping the 2021 music charts worldwide. The single has since transitioned Tems’ career positively.

How did Afrobeats become a mainstay on international radio?

Talent is not enough, it takes grit, determination and continuous grind to attain that breakthrough.

Afrobeats has always been enjoyable; The genre had icons such as D’Banj, PSquare, Don Jazzy gaining mainstream exposure, however, there was no mainstay on the international stage.

The genre needed more than just hits, it needed star power- Enter Wizkid, Davido and Burna Boy. These three modern day musical virtuosos were responsible for waving the Afrobeats banner across the globe, their projects featured on international radio and put the Afrobeats sound in the mouth of those who reside outside the shores of Africa.

Afrobeats has done well in 2021. In the meantime, Ripples Nigeria will be unraveling twenty-one major players in the music industry. These stars have hits, an exceptional body of work (EP or album) and most importantly, their names are on everybody’s lips.

Check out the list below.

1. Wizkid

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In 2019, Tems came through with her single, ‘Try Me’. She quickly became one of the most interesting artiste to watch; honing her prowess and persona, Tems’ unique voice, lyricism and perception on music distanced her from her peers.

It wasn’t until she worked with Wizkid before she gained that mainstream prominence. The single, ‘Essence’ has continued to break barriers and music charts across the world despite being a 2020 release.

Tems also featured on Canadian rapper Drake’s ‘Fountain’ off the 2021 album, Certified Lover Boy. The fame of the 26-year-old singer has continued to skyrocket.

It is pivotal to note that Tems is also a Grammy nominee for her contribution on Wizkid’s ‘Essence’.

4. Ayra Starr

Her eponymous EP and debut album, 19 & Dangerous captured the hearts of the younger generation and she is indeed on her way to becoming ‘2021 Next Rated Artiste’. Her single ‘Bloody Samaritan’ has amassed over 7 million plays on the music platform, Spotify.

She also has other hits such as ‘DITR’ and ‘Away, away” under her belt.

Ayra Starr is the star on the rise.

5. Davido

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9. Buju TYE

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Despite announcing a potential album earlier in the year, Mavins records starlet Rema real name Divine Ikubor is yet to publish a proper body of work. The 21-year-old singer however released two impressive singles this year.

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First, he released ‘Bounce’ before he dropped the sensational single, ‘Soundgasm’.

12. Tiwa Savage

Tiwa Savage’s 2021 has been significantly marred by her leaked video on social media. Aside from the controversial video that surfaced on the internet, Savage’s 2021 music project, Water & Garri continued her success as one of the leading female singers in the country.

The single, “Somebody’s Son” featuring Brandy which was initially released as a promotional single for Water & Garri on August 19, 2021 but it would go on to become the best single off the project.

Further, ”Somebody’s son” was serviced to urban contemporary radio and it later peaked at number 27 on the US Adult R&B Songs chart.


13. Ruger

Adekunle Gold has transitioned immensely as an artiste, from speaking about minimalism in his music, Adekunle God has simply stated that he is embracing the epicureanism of life.

2021 has been an awesome year for the 34-year-old Afrobeats singer-songwriter. His hits, ‘High’ and ‘Sinner’ have further distanced Gold from his ‘safe’ ideology about life.

In 2021, Adekunle Gold featured on the list of the most streamed artistes in this part of the world.