7 Nigerian Indie Artists to Look Out For
Take a listen to some of today's Nigerian indie artists on the rise.
Despite an industry long dominated by record labels, indie artists are finally starting to break new ground in Nigeria. The rise of social media has ushered in a new age for Nigerian music, with the traditional labels slowly declining as a fresh batch of artists take over.
Indie record labels are now starting to compete with traditional labels for influence in the market. New acts are popping up with different styles and making their mark on the music sphere. Let’s have a look at some of them.
Seven Nigerian Indie Artists to Look Out For
The seven artists on this list range from relatively undiscovered to almost fully blown. You may have heard some of their music or none at all, but they’re all doing something right and I fully expect them to become dominant forces in Nigerian music. Let’s talk about these “Naija” artists to watch...
Show Dem Camp
This indie rap band is probably the most successful entry on this list as of today. Show Dem Camp has been making music in Nigeria from as far back as 2010, so it hasn’t been an easy journey for the rapper duo of Tec (birth name Wale Davis) and Ghost ( birth name Olumide Ayeni). They chose to go the indie route at a time when the record labels had the industry under a stranglehold.
Today, they’re finally starting to reap the rewards of their resilience. They now own their indie label and have been nominated twice for the Headies Awards in Nigeria. They’ve released up to 10 studio projects and don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. If there’s anyone I fully expect to be at the top of Nigerian music in years to come, it’s Show Dem Camp.
Formed by students of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Apartment VII is one of the lesser-known groups on this list. This indie band with their alternative music may be small and undiscovered now, but they’re definitely on the right path.
Their cool music style and deep lyrics may be different from the regular afrobeat sound popular among Nigerians, but I enjoy it so much and I know the Nigerian fanbase is starting to develop a taste for alternative music.
Apartment VII has two studio projects, Abstract Reality (2019) and An Ode to Mortality (2021), so you can tell they’re relatively new compared to more successful indie bands like Show Dem Camp. If these young students can keep going strong and making good music, I’m positive their big break is coming.
Like Apartment VII, Warsheep is also relatively unknown but is slowly gaining the recognition his music deserves. He also produces an alternative kind of music that’s different from the usual Nigerian sound.
His music is more soul than afrobeat, and his style bounces between dark and uplifting. Whatever the mood of the song, Warsheep’s smooth and emotional delivery is something you can count on.
Warsheep is a young artist trying to find his way, but he’s off to a good start. If he can stay consistent and not lose his way, he could become an incredible artist in the years to come.
Azanti is another indie artist presenting a different kind of sound in Nigerian music. Recently signed to an indie record label, Apex Village, he’s finally starting to get the reach his hard work and good music deserve. His new album, with a Cavemen feature, has gotten more than 100,000 streams on Spotify alone already.
With his new label and new album, things are beginning to look up for Azanti. He has experimented with different genres like soul, RnB, and Afropop and even fused some of them. So far, his experiments have been yielding awesome results. He’s also just 18 years old so who knows how far he could go?
Another indie artist on the cusp of his big break is UK-based Nigerian artist, Obongjayar. He started on Soundcloud and caught the attention of an indie record label called XL Recordings which helped him release his first project in 2016.
Obongjayar is also an alternative-style musician whose music has been tagged “difficult to describe” by many. He has played around with Afropop, spoken word, and even electronic music.
Obongjayar is finally getting the attention he deserves. His collaboration with massively respected producer, Sarz, in the Sweetness EP helped to boost his popularity in the Nigerian space and he has continued to build on from there. He now boasts more than half a million monthly listeners on Spotify, with over 14 million streams.
Raybekah is an awesome example of what social media can do for an indie artist. She became popular on Instagram with her catchy freestyle videos. In one of the videos, she featured fellow artist Kholi on a freestyle called Boo. That video was the first spark of her music career. It went viral, getting reactions and reposts from big celebrities. Since then, she’s steadily built on that first success.
Raybekah is currently signed to Ora Records, an indie record label based in New York. She’s released more than 20 singles and freestyles but is yet to release an album. With the waves she’s currently making, it’s safe to say her album could be the next big thing.
Raybekah - Finger Down | AKtivated Sessions
After many years making music, 1da Banton looks like he could finally become a big-time hit. He signed with a small label called Squareball Entertainment in 2014 with big things in his mind. Three years later, he released his first project, The Banton EP, which was received relatively well. One of the songs, Way Up, was even used as the theme song for Big Brother Naija.
His first album, Original Vibe Machine, came in 2021 and did so well that US State Secretary Antony Blinken listed one of the songs on his 2021 favorite songs of the year Spotify playlist. 1da Banton made a remix of that song, No Wahala, with big artists Kizz Daniel and Tiwa Savage to further fuel the excitement. 1da Banton is on the cusp of stardom, and I back him to make the most of it.
Music in Nigeria is more exciting than ever before. Social media has opened up a route to the fanbase for indie artists. New labels have made it easier to get access to the finances and professional help they need. I don't know what the future holds but I'm excited about it.
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