Writers Note: Last year, I wrote an article with the same title as this one and in the time it’s taken me to write another one, a lot of things have happened. I apologize for taking so much time before I put out this one. I really hope to continue this list, even write it monthly and I’m going to work towards that.
Away from the usual applause that greets our more popular genres of music (i.e. Afro beat, Afro pop and even Fuji), the Nigerian Alternative sound has slowly begun forging a path for itself in recent times.
The tag ‘Alternative’ as regards the Nigerian sound is a source of debate from music lovers and critics alike. Some are of the opinion that any genre outside the more popular sounds mentioned above are to be considered alternative while others feel songs that are distinct in their use of live instruments should be considered as alternative songs.
Urban dictionary defines “Alternative music as a vast music genre that can be similar to pop music, or completely different.”
I call the artistes mentioned in this list alternative not because of their individual genres, alternative because they bring something different to the table.
I’d like to say a massive thank you to Soundcloud. The music app keeps playing a major part in my discovery of the amazing musicians on this list.
This said here are 9 Nigerian alternative acts you should look out for – in no particular order
In 2016, I stumbled upon Odunsi via twitter he had just released his Time of Our Lives EP and I remember sitting at my work station enthralled at the music I was listening to. Since then, I’ve followed Odunsi’s career closely listening to almost all the materials he has released. Even the ones he was featured in and the ones he produced. With the right management, Odunsi should be amongst the breakout artistes of 2017. Listen to his music HERE.
2. Nonso Amadi
While listening to Odunsi and discovering how Soundcloud works, I heard Suicidal – a track by Nonso Amadi. I also began stalking his page and that of Hills Music Group just to hear more of this Canada based musician that sounded different from the other Nigerian musicians out there. He also released the video to his hit track Tonight and nothing has remained the same. Now, I’m hearing that both he and Odunsi have a joint EP together… May their careers never flounder!
3. Tay Iwar
Listening to Tay Iwar, many never realize that it’s a Nigerian who is singing until someone mentions it to them. This dude comes correct on all his songs so much so that many regard him as a musician to look out for. His producing skills are not under doubt to. This is evident in the number of musicians that have worked with him at his Bantu Studios in Abuja. His brother Sute is a rapper that is definitely one to watch. He has released two EPs so far.
Now Santi or Ozzyb as he is sometimes called is a little different from the rest of the names on this list because of his preferred genre of music. I call him a new school reggae musician. The dread locked musician shuttles between Lagos and Dubai perhaps this influences the smooth music he makes.
5. Efe Oraka
Efe is another Abuja based musician who recently came into the limelight following her amazing mashup of 21 of Jon Bellion’s songs in 2 minutes! Everyone who saw that video applauded her and the icing on the cake was when Jon himself acknowledged her. Please listen to her music whenever you have the chance.
6. Dami Oniru
For a long time, Dami’s track Mind Dem ft. Chuza was my jam!! As a matter of fact, it still is. Take a listen on Dami’s Soundcloud page and your ears will thank you for ages to come.
7. Tomi Owo
I can only define Tomi’s voice and her music with this word – Soothing. From the lyrics to the arrangement and choice of instruments, everything just comes together beautifully. Check out her music.
Daramola has a bit of history behind him as he has made music with several star musicians around the world. His mother is also a veteran musician so I guess it’s safe to say music runs in his veins. What I particularly like about Daramola is the way he infuses gospel into his songs.
9. Cina Soul
The first Cina Soul song I heard was her remake of Asa’s Bamidele and I’ve not been the same since then. I’ve prayed and prayed that she puts out something new but I’ve been disappointed on that part. But I stay hopeful that I’d find something new soon. She may not be Nigerian, but I in all my majesty anoint her as one.
Did I mention that I also started making a weekly playlist where you could hear these guys and more? Please listen HERE.
As amazing as all the names on this list are, they are not the only wonderful alternative musicians out there. But be rest assured that as I discover new guys, I’ll bring them to your attention.