In Nigerian music, Hip-Hop plays second fiddle to pop. The most powerful co-signs over the past 15 years in Nigerian music, have belonged to pop stars. However, the size of an artist’s superstardom, doesn’t always equate the power of a co-sign. The potency of a co-sign is determined by the regularity with which a superstar’s presence can elevate a smaller artist’s record or presence.
Sometimes, the co-sign also comes by way of signing the artist to a label. This article aims to document the most powerful co-signs in Nigerian music in recent history. The criteria is simple;
- Availability of a superstar
- Potency of feature
- Potency of regularity
Without further ado, here are the biggest co-signs in Nigerian music;
While Flavour’s co-sign often gets pigeonholed into traditionalist Igbo pop sounds like Ogene, Highlife or Ekpili in the South-West, Ijele’s co-sign is an aspiration for South-Eastern acts. Over the past few years, his presence has elevated a few records.
While her co-sign seems to go under the radar, it’s a product of her brand, as a heartthrob of the Nigerian mainstream. She’s loved and adored by many, who are then invested in anything that concerns her: her marriage, her child and her music. Over the past few years, LadiPoe and Chike have hugely benefited from it.
While this might go against certain power dynamics, his presence on certain records has been key to their success. While on ‘Infinity’ featuring Olamide, the latter is definitely the legend and the bigger artist, Omah Lay was the hotter artist. In the conversation of that record’s success, his presence was bigger than Olamide’s own.
The same argument can be made for ‘Pami’ with DJ Tunez, Wizkid and Adekunle Gold.
In 2021, Omah Lay’s presence also propelled ‘Pronto’ by Ajebo Hustlers and ‘Forever’ by Gyakie into the realms of a hit.
In 2019, Mayorkun elevated Joeboy’s ‘Don’t Call Me Back.’ The year before that, his presence gave a hit to Kizz Daniel, with ‘True.’ By 2020, Chike thanked Mayorkun for ‘If You No Love (Remix).’
In a similar way to Olamide and Omah Lay with ‘Infinity,’ Mayorkun’s presence on Davido’s ‘The Best’ follows a similar dynamic. Then there are records like ‘Nkan Be’ for Lil Kesh, ‘If No Be You’ for Jamopyper, ‘What Type of Dance’ for DJ Kaywise, ‘MJ (Remix)’ for Bad Boy Timz and more.
Let’s stop there for now.
Just below Olamide, Davido is Nigeria’s biggest artist-label exec combo. Where do we start and how do we go about it? In 2021 alone, Davido’s presence handed out hits to Focalistic, Adekunle Gold and Teni, with ‘Ke Star (Remix),’ ‘High’ and ‘For You’ respectively. His presence also did something for Peruzzi on ‘Somebody Baby.’
While Davido’s availability makes him do a lot of features, you can’t really use that to discountenance him. In 2020, he was largely absent from the Nigerian mainstream, but he still did a myriad of features.
This goes way beyond being a king of the streets: Olamide is talent and musical acumen unparalleled. Since his presence propelled ‘Zazoo’ to become Nigeria’s hottest record, Harrysong, T.I Blaze and Bad Boy Timz have been grateful for his name – that’s just over the past one month alone.
Stretching back, Olamide’s presence gave Naira Marley his first Nigerian hit record, with ‘Issa Goal’ in 2018. A year later, his presence elevated ‘Instagram’ for Reminisce. His co-sign did something great for Bad Boy Timz, and even for P-Priime, via Carpe Diem.