Best musicians in Nigeria 2023
Based purely on lyrical prowess, vocal delivery, and undiluted quality assessment by Clacified's in-house musical expert, these are the best musicians in Nigeria.
The Nigerian music industry is the undisputed leader in the afrobeats genre, with the vast majority of Africa's wealthiest performers hailing from the Sub-Saharan giant. However, since popularity and wealth are not conclusive indicators of quality, this article curates the most definitive list of the best musicians in Nigeria.
Who really is "the best"?
The term "best" is used in this context to qualify only recent quality, without regard to reputation or standing.
Following these criteria, musicians with legendary stature in the business, such as 2baba, PSquare, Wizkid, etc., failed to meet the requirements for inclusion.
These names will be included prominently in a future "all-time" or "greatest" list.
Based purely on lyrical prowess, vocal delivery, and undiluted quality assessment by Clacified's in-house musical experts, these are the best musicians in Nigeria:
With Boy Alone achieving the fifth most first-day album listens on Spotify Nigeria in 2022, Omah Lay is the ninth-best musician in Nigeria. Attention, his collaboration with Justin Bieber, is also the first single by a Nigerian to reach a million Spotify streams on the day of its release.
As well as being one of the best musicians in Nigeria, Omah Lay is the fifth most streamed artist on BoomPlay and the fourth most streamed African on Audiomack.
Two of Omah Lay's songs, Bad Influence and Godly, are in the top seven of Africa's most streamed songs on Audiomack, making him, along with Kizz Daniel, the only artist with multiple entries.
Omah Lay established himself as one of the best musicians in Nigeria in his breakthrough year of 2020, when "Bad Influence" became the most streamed song on Apple Music Nigeria.
Etching his name in the sands of time, Omah Lay's "Boy Alone" album is the first debut album to have all songs chart on the YouTube NG Top Songs Chart in its first week of release.
With his EP "Barnabas," the first project to achieve 100 million plays on Boomplay, Kizz Daniel is the eighth-best musician in Nigeria. The vocalist is the second-most-played artist on BoomPlay and the first to have two songs reach 150 million streams on the platform.
The tenth-most popular Nigerian on Spotify, Kizz Daniel was also 2022's third-most popular Nigerian artist on YouTube Music, behind only Asake and Burna Boy.
Kizz Daniel fully established his status as one of the best musicians in Nigeria in 2022 with the successive megahits Buga and Cough, two of TikTok's most popular continental trends.
7.BNXN (formerly Buju)
Winner of the much-revered Next Rated gong at The Headies 2022, BNXN Buju is the seventh-best musician in Nigeria. That same year, the singer earned his first UK Official Singles Chart entry with Finesse (by Pheelz), which peaked at #52.
His 2022 project, "Bad Since '97," received the most first-day plays of any EP on Spotify Nigeria in 2022 and was the fifth most streamed project on BoomPlay.
Being one of the best musicians in Nigeria, BNXN has featured on the Billboard Global Album Chart and was included on the FIFA 23 official soundtrack.
BNXN's vocal performance with Pheelz in Finesse held the record for the most consecutive weeks at number one on the UK Official Afrobeats chart (10 weeks) until getting superseded by Burna Boy's trailblazing Last Last. Also, the song, which received significant airplay from BBC radio lineup, featured on the TikTok US Top Tracks list.
BNXN's "Gwadalada," starring Kizz Daniel and Seyi Vibez, was the most popular song on Spotify and Apple Music Nigeria as of February 2023, and in addition to being one of the best musicians in Nigeria, BNXN was the fourth most-streamed local artist on Spotify in 2022.
A multifaceted vocalist who has been one of the nation's most consistent Gen-Z performers, Fireboy DML, the poster boy of Olamide's YBNL record label, is the sixth-best musician in Nigeria.
Fireboy's Playboy is the sixth Afrobeat album to surpass 400 million listens on Spotify, certifying the musician as one of the best in Nigeria.
Certified platinum in the United States, France, and twice in the United Kingdom, Peru accounts for almost 73% of Spotify streams on the Playboy album and won Best Pop Song at the 2022 Soundcity MVP Awards.
Being one of the best musicians in Nigeria, Fireboy DML was among an exceptional group of black vocalists that recorded an original soundtrack for the 2022 blockbuster film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Fireboy contributed to the official Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack playlist
Fireboy DML is the first Nigerian artist to perform at the BET Mainstage Awards, a feat that solidifies his status as one of the country's best musicians.
With a song (Holy Father - Mayorkun) that was the country's sixth most streamed in 2022, Victony is the fifth-best musician in Nigeria. The singer received his first entry into the US Apple Music Top Songs with Different Sizes (by Burna Boy) that same year.
Victony's Soweto was one of the most popular Afrobeats sounds on TikTok, and he was famously endorsed by Ed Sheeran during Fireboy DML's November 2022 OVO Arena Wembley show.
With his megahit "Calm Down ft. Selena Gomez" surpassing Ckay's Love Nwantinti Remix as the country's most-viewed music video on YouTube, Rema is the fourth-best musician in Nigeria. Besides Burna Boy, the fast-rising superstar is the only African artist with a gold-certified album in France.
The singer was picked as one of three performers for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game halftime performance, as America's most popular sport recognised him as one of the best musicians in Nigeria.
Calm Down, his performance with Selena Gomez and the most played Nigerian song on Spotify in 2022, won Rema his first entry into the Billboard Hot 100 charts and made him the first African to get three million YouTube views in twenty-four hours for a music video. Rema is also the first Afrobeat performer at the international hip-hop music festival Rolling Loud.
Rema's "Rave & Roses" is the first debut album by an African talent to garner a billion plays across all digital streaming platforms, establishing him as one of the best musicians in Nigeria.
In addition, Rema is the Nigerian musician with the most monthly listeners on Spotify, with nearly twice as many as second-placed Burna Boy and ranking 61st globally.
Less than a year after his meteoric rise to superstardom, Asake remains infallible in the music business, with no duds in his repertoire. Considering an unparalleled 2022 hegemony with at least a half-dozen singles and perhaps the decade's finest Nigerian album, Asake is the third-best musician in Nigeria.
One of Asake's most notable accomplishments is his consistent performance in both feature and solo songs. Since the publication of his album in September 2022, no artist has had a bigger proportion of tracks on Spotify's "Top 50 Nigeria" playlist than Asake, certifying him as one of the best musicians in Nigeria.
In his breakthrough year of 2022, Asake
- was crowned Artiste of the Year by Audiomack,
- sold out his debut gig at the famous 02 Academy Brixton in five minutes, and
- was the second-most-played Nigerian artist on iTunes, Spotify, and Boomplay, behind only Burna Boy.
Asake's hit single "Terminator" is the second most played song by Nigerians on Spotify in a single day, behind only "Bad To Me" by Wizkid.
Spotify NG differs from regular Spotify. While Wizkid's "Bad to Me" is the most played song on Spotify NG in a single day, the international hit "Love Nwantinti" by CKay is the most played Nigerian song on Spotify globally in a single day.
Sungba was the most streamed song on Apple Music Nigeria in 2022, and his first album, Mr Money With The Vibe, holds the record for the largest opening day for an African album in Apple Music's history.
In the three months after the release of his first album, Asake amassed more than a billion streams on Nigeria's five most popular streaming services. For contextual comparison, Wizkid's commercially successful album "More Love, Less Ego" was only able to sell two-fifths as many copies within the same time frame.
The first African artist to get over a million hashtagged posts on Facebook, Davido is the second-best musician in Nigeria. In 2022, the iconic singer became the first Nigerian musician to be featured on a FIFA World Cup soundtrack before performing in the Qatar-held closing ceremony of football's elite tournament.
Despite a fairly muted 2022–2023 period, Davido is still one of the best musicians in Nigeria, with his album A Good Time being the most streamed Afrobeats record of all time on YouTube.
Davido is tied with FELA for the second-most local entries on the World Album Billboard chart with four albums. His 2017 hit single "Fall" has the fifth-most-viewed music video on YouTube.
The continent's most streamed artist, Burna Boy stands alone atop any ranking of Nigeria's best musicians. Since his 2018 breakthrough with Ye, the Grammy-winning artist has independently flown the flag and set the standard for afrobeats.
The renowned vocalist is the first African to earn 200 million plays on Boomplay, the first African act to obtain a gold-certified record in France, and the first African artist to sell out the prestigious 21,000-capacity State Farm Arena in Atlanta, USA.
Burna Boy is also the first African artist to get RIAA certifications for songs from three different albums, cementing his position as the best musician in Nigeria.
In addition, Burna Boy is the first African artist to have several solo tracks eclipse 200 million listens on Spotify, and his album African Giant is the second-most streamed African album in history, behind only CKay's CKay the First.
Flying the flag as Nigeria's best musician, Burna Boy headlined the halftime show during the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, introducing Rema and Tems.
Burna Boy is the first African musician to sell out the
- 13,000-capacity 3 Arena in Dublin, Ireland, twice,
- 15,000-capacity Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland,
- 16,000-capacity Avicii Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.
As well as being the best musician in Nigeria, Burna Boy is the first Nigerian and the second African after Fally Pupa to sell out Accor Arena's 20,300 capacity. The icon is also the first African to headline and totally sell out Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous venue.
Burna Boy's "Love Damini" surpassed Wizkid's "Made in Lagos" as the quickest African album to reach 400 million listens on Spotify, accomplishing this feat in four months against twenty-four.