While West African pop has come to be dominated by the sounds of Afrobeat, it is more of a catch-all term for the variety of West African pop sounds that are emerging from the region. Arguably, it is Fela Kuti who laid the foundation by fusing Western sounds taken from jazz and funk with West African sounds to create Afrobeat in the 70s. A similar sonic melting pot is present today, with their EDM, house, pop, dancehall, R&B, hip hop and trap coming across as a combination of contemporary Western sounds infused with West African rhythms and melodies.
West African pop has now crossed borders, transported by the internet and the diaspora to places such as the UK and USA. The growing popularity of the sound in these places has led to an explosion in popularity of the practitioners and sees them increasingly crossing-over and collaborating with other pop stars such as Drake, Snoop Dogg, Wyclef Jean, Skepta and Rae Sremmurd.
Below are four Nigerian artists who are fusing West African and Western sounds to create their own brand of Nigerian pop.
Small Doctor – This Year
Featuring an infectious rhythm and the ever popular autotuned vocals, ‘This Year’ is Small Doctor’s latest single. Shot in the desert, the colourful, dance-heavy music video is reminiscent of scenes from Mad Max, although with a much more upbeat soundtrack. Hailing from Ondo State in Nigeria, Temitope Adekunle aka Small Doctor broke onto the scene in 2012, releasing mixtapes and freestyles. Singing primarily in the Nigerian language Yoruba, he rose to prominence in 2015 with the release of the singles ‘Gbagaun’, ‘Anobi’ & ‘Mosquito Killer’, produced by Dre Sean. His music is a combination of pop with Fuji music, a popular Nigerian genre which arose from the improvisational Ajisari/Were music tradition, which is a kind of music performed to wake Muslim people before dawn during the Ramadan fasting season.
Kiss Daniel – No Do
Sensuous and simple, ‘No Do’ is a ballad and Kiss Daniel’s first single of 2018. Shot in Lagos the video follows Kiss Daniel as he strolls through the streets and encounters everyday life in the area he calls home. Kiss Daniel was born in Ogun State. He is best known for his single ‘Woyu’ released in 2014 which was nominated for Best Pop Single at the 2015 Headies, as well as Hottest Single of The Year at the 2015 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. The single also received a remix featuring Tiwa Savage and Davido. Kiss Daniel showed interested in music from an early age, receiving support from his father and was signed to G-Worldwide Entertainment in 2014. His debut album ‘New Era’ was released in 2016 which saw him winning Album Of The Year and Best R&B/Pop album at the Headies in 2017.
Reekado Banks – Like Ft. Tiwa Savage and Fiokee
Featuring label-mate and multi-talent Tiwa Savage as well as Fiokee, ‘Like’ is the latest single from Reekado Banks. Dedicated to the ladies, like so many pop songs, the video takes on a cinematic quality with scenes straight form Noire films and flourishes of 80s neon. Lagos born Ayoleyi Solomon aka Reekado Banks fka as Spicy, has been active as an artist since 2008, although he gained notoriety in 2014 with his Rookie of the Year win at The Headies. Released in 2016, his debut album, Spotlight, was released in 2016 and debuted at number 10 on the Billboard World Album Music Chart. Signed to Mavin Records, he has worked with the likes of Don Jazzy, Korede Bello, Di’Ja, Dr SID and D’Prince.
Glenn Mena – Sound it (Freestyle)
Shot on Lagos Island, ‘Sound it’ showcases Glenn’s skill as a rapper. With a strong dancehall feel, the track is all about the rhythm and witty verses. Afropolitan model, pianist and recording artist, Glenn Mena had been making music since 2010, however it was with the release of his single ‘Movement’ in 2012 that he his career really took off. Releasing a number of singles between then and 2017, his debut EP ‘Mask&Music’ was released on his own imprint of the same name. Not tying himself to a specific genre, his sound evolves as he grows and learns as an artists.