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The 15 Best New-Age Nigerian Music Performers

In this list, we’ll be drawing out the best new-age Nigerian music performers by virtue of their great stage presence and control.

Live shows and concerts have always been a mainstay in the local music scene and for many Nigerian musicians, it is their bread and butter. Most times these live shows are concerts brought to life by the guest performers and a DJ playback so as a nation, we’ve become used to being entertained by pumped-up performances as our favourite musicians take the stage, hopping and dancing from one end to the other while yelling the lyrics to elicit a response from the excited crowd, all the while with their records playing from the deck. In more recent times, these concerts are being upped to live shows complete with live instrumentalisation from a band and the artiste’s records, rearranged and differently rendered to give new life to their music and by so doing, the audience. For many, live shows are preferred to concerts for the elevated level of curation they have while countless others find fresh energy in the ecstatic heights of DJ-supported concerts shows. It however takes a master artist to nail either of the two and give the people a great show that infuses new life into their music and endears the artiste further to them. 

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Over time, props have been given to the performance skills and on-stage presence of artistes who have made a name for themselves over the past decade and beyond, therefore to appreciate the new generation of musicians owning the scene, in this list, we’ll be drawing out new age musicians who have great stage presence and control, are absolute crowd controllers and pleasers with the uncanny ability to sing as freely as if they were in their home studio. Here are 12 Nigerian new age musicians who are some of the best music performers:

Best New-Age Nigerian Music Performers; 1. Rema

Best new-age nigerian music performers
Rema on stage at Kigali, Rwanda

When Rema had broken out, some doubters had camped on the other side of his artistry, firm in their belief that the now international sensation was a fluke. Rema had consistently put these notions to flames as his debut EP continued to top charts and make records. But the biggest hush with which he’d burned these backtalks to nothing had been at his first-ever live performance. It had been at the Lagos Homecoming concert of 2019 and he had taken to the stage in a ski mask, which had captured the crowd’s attention and then he’d proceeded to steal them away as he performed with a confidence and stage presence beyond what anyone would have imagined for the fresh act. 

ALSO READ: From Bella Shmurda to Seyi Vibez Here are 12 Street-Hop Musicians Redefining the Sound in Nigeria

2. Tems

Best new-age nigerian music performers
Tems on stage at the 02 Arena

In conversation with Apple Music as part of her release campaign for her second EP, If Orange Was A Place, Tems plain-facedly shared that she had been extremely introverted growing up, and not many people had known of her vocal powers. Vestiges of that little girl still carry in the global sensation that is Tems of today in the star’s reserved, out-of-the media nature. But that self-contained persona evaporates whenever Tems climbs a stage and begins to put her voice to use as she visibly transforms in front of the crowd into a soulful goddess-like singer, singing her heart out just the way she wanted when she was a little girl. 

It had however taken unrelenting practice for Tems to tap into her inner diva and since then she’s headlined shows at soldout venues in New York, London and Lagos. 

3. The Cavemen

Best new-age nigerian music performers
The Cavemen performing at Abuja. Ph by @Bam_bee

In 2020, off the back of their debut album, Roots, The Okorie brothers had hit the music scene with a sound so fresh yet familiar, their music had defied the language barrier of being rendered in Igbo to become one of the most enjoyed projects of the year. They had nonetheless not rested on their oars. But had flipped the relish of their project into an entire experience that saw them perform live at solo shows in different locations with gradually increasing price points no one could baulk at. A real-life encounter with modernised Igbo highlife music at its best, their performances had been so thoroughly enjoyed, the shows soon led them to take on Ghana and the viral moment where Wizkid had displayed his fondness for their sound by spraying them dollar notes. 

Best New-Age Nigerian Music Performers; 4. Ayra Starr

Best new-age nigerian music performers
Ayra Starr on stage at Benin

At 19, Ayra Starr continues to leave fans and spectators flawed by her unshakeable confidence and sense of self. The young star had hit the ground running like the secrets to stardom had been imprinted on her palm and in December 2021, she’d proved in flesh via her concert performances that she is indeed 19 & Dangerous. Off the back of her Bloody Samaritan hit single as well as Beggie Beggie with Ckay, from her debut album, Ayra Starr had made a staggering number of guest appearances at shows during Detty December. And even when she’d had the flu, with her voice unable to bend and soar to her every command, Ayra Starr had captivated the crowd still with her sparkling aura, crowd control and cute little breakdance. 

ALSO READ: Ayra Starr is the Aptly Named 19 & Dangerous Singer with A Melodic Message for Every Ear

She also joined the international show headliners group chat following the success of her first-ever show in London and soon after, in Kenya. 

5. CKay

CKay Davido Lala
CKay performing at Davido's show in Lagos

CKay may not have had any headline shows but the global sensation left a lasting impression at the concerts he’d made appearances at. Most noteworthy of all was his set at Wizkid’s 3-day show at London’s 02 Arena. Brimming at full capacity of 20,000 guests, CKay had taken to the stage, guitar slung across his frame, strumming and casually singing his Love Nwantiti smash hit, acapella, like he performed in front of a 6-figure audience every other day. 

CKay also took his Afro Emo sound to American television host, Jimmy Fallon's The Tonight Show, singing Love Nwantiti and Emiliana so well, he put autotune to shame.

6. Lady Donli

Pan African Star; Lady Donli
Lady Donli doing her thing on stage

Lady Donli is known by two monikers; Cash Mummy and also as the Pan African Rockstar. And she’s known by the latter for one major reason; her electrifying live performances and thrilling stage antics. An alte sweetheart, during her days as an up and comer, she’d honed her performance skills by holding live sessions from spaces as small and intimate as a living room. 

ALSO READ: Fan Affairs with Lady Donli: "Someone Bought All My Merchandise"

She’s since then, had an impressive run of headline shows in Lagos as well as Abuja which gave fans of the stage-tornado a night they wouldn’t forget in a hurry.

Best New-Age Nigerian Music Performers; 7. Tomi Thomas

Best new-age nigerian music performers
Tomi Thomas on stage

Tomi Thomas was blessed with a voice that he never shies away from making good use of. It’s however one thing to have spine-tingling vocals and another to channel that vocal ability into a full package that brings an arresting stage presence into the mix. In fact, the singer’s transcendental performances have become such a fan favourite, they gladly re-immerse themselves in the experience of his periodic shows tagged ‘Higher Vibrations.’

ALSO READ: Tomi Thomas is the Vessel Channelling Soulful Afro Music From Heart to Heart

8. Blaqbonez

Best new-age nigerian music performers
Blaqbone on stage at the Love Crusade

A rapper like no other, Blaqbonez has made a name for himself as an all-round entertainer, making us laugh at his antics while bopping to his songs. With a recently successful headline show; Breaking the Yoke of Love tucked under his belt, Blaqbonez had re-inforced his star power by not only sticking to the theme perfectly but carrying the crowd along while dishing out a well-arranged rendition of his Sex Over Love album. Ironically, prior to his first-ever sold-out show, Blaqbonez had almost fallen prey to doubters who were of the opinion that he was only great as an internet sensation. 

ALSO READ: Highlights From Blaqbonez 'Breaking The Yoke Of Love' Crusade | WATCH

9. Lojay

Best new-age nigerian music performers
Lojay performing

Last year when the West African art fair, Art X had made a comeback, they’d done it with a bang and a night of pulsating live music from Lojay and his LV & ATTN collab album with Sarz. It had been Lojay’s first rodeo headlining a show but he had handled the show like a pro, giving the audience an energised and very alive performance. Lojay was also one of the new age musicians who had debuted at the 02, sharing a stage with Wizkid as he brought his hit record Monalisa to a fresh climax. 

ALSO READ: Fan Affairs with Lojay: ' I want to Go on A Tour Round Nigeria'

Best New-Age Nigerian Music Performers; 10. Ruger

Best new-age nigerian music performers
Ruger on stage

A natural star, Ruger’s freestyle videos alone hold a fascinating aura that sucked viewers in from the get-go and he’s since been established as a new-gen sweetheart with hit song after hit song which he always revitalises when he hits the stage. In fact, Ruger’s appearance at the 02 Arena to support Burna Boy earned him glowing remarks from the show’s headliner. 

Ruger has also sold-out shows at African destinations such as Kenya and Rwanda.

11. PsychoYP

PsychoYP Live

Abuja’s very own rap sensation, PsychoYP had his headline show as far back as 2018, following the success of his YPSZN album. Also doubling as the leader of Apex Village, a community of creative talents in music and other ventures, YP has garnered a reputation of being a crowd rouser, known to pull up on stage with a mob with which he soon launches the crowd into a fever-pitch frenzy.

ALSO READ: Fan Affairs with PsychoYP: "A Bus Full of Kids Were Singing My Songs"

12. Made Kuti

Made Kuti New Afrikan shrine
Made Kuti performing at the New Afrikan Shrine.
Ph by @Hitchoflife

A true Kuti, in deed the legacy of his grandfather, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Made has filled the rafters of the Lagos-based New Afrikan Shrine with young blood, looking for a good time out with live music and invigorating performances. They get this and more as Made Kuti is not only a superb live performer but a multi-instrumentalist, ready to switch from his saxophone to the piano in an instant.

Best New-Age Nigerian Music Performers; 13. Oxlade

Oxlade Plug the Ox
Oxlade on stage at Plug the Ox '21

Oxlade's falsetto is one so uniquely arresting, in a room filled with singers, it would still be distinguishable. The new age sensation and master of hooks has never been one to sleep on his vocal power, organising the first edition of his show, Plug The Ox as far back as 2020 for his fans to experience his voice in person. The 2021 was a hit with fans describing it as an unforgettable experience.

ALSO READ: Fan Affairs with Oxlade: 'I Miss Street Soccer'

Oxlade has also made it to the 02 Arena during Wizkid's first appearance at the venue, performing his earlier hit, Causing Trouble to the 20,000 strong crowd.

14. Prettyboy D-O

African Rodman Prettyboy D-O
Prettyboy D-O performing

December last year when Prettyboy D-O was promoting his end of year show, his running manifesto had been for show goers to 'say no biscuit shows' where they only got occasional input from the performers with the crowd doing most of the singing. A two-time performer on the music platform, Colors Studio, his energetic and animated performances have always served to further propagate his artistry, giving him enough credence to invite fans out for a night of a fulfilling show from him.

15. Amaarae

Amaarae live
Amaarae at her HardRock Cafe show in Lagos

Yes, Amaarae is not a Nigerian musician but the Ghanaian act has from the very beginning of her career, won over Nigerians who have in turn become her biggest fans, and she a something of a honorary Nigerian. Something of a cult favourite act, Amaarae’s shows always come with an air of intimacy and risque liberality that urges the fans to indulge fully in the airy headiness of her butter-soft voice. These energies were so present at her recent headline shows in New York and Lagos that clips surfacing online not only showed fans having a good time, but showed a crowd of people deeply immersed in the experience Amaarae offered them. 

ALSO READ: Amaarae Interview: From Apple Music Rising Act to Topping Shazam and Global Charts

This list is by no means exhaustive and we'll like to hear from you on other Nigerian new-age musicians who make up some of the best performers.

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