Michael Chiedoziem Chukwudera
Southeastern Nigeria has contributed immensely to Nigeria’s music history. The region has contributed immensely especially in the development of highlife and folk music in the country. From the region has come many of Nigeria’s most viral and acclaimed music talents from Osita Osadebe, Oliver De Coque, Celestine Ukwu, Mike Ejeagha, Onyeka. Onwenu, etc. These singers came from Igbo land, developed their talents there and became known far and wide in Nigeria and even across Africa.
Presently, however, despite the multitude of talents in the Eastern region of Nigeria, the music industry is underdeveloped, and publicity is a difficult task to achieve for budding talents in the region. Whether on radio, TV, blogs or magazines, these talents are not being spotlighted enough. Many of them are burdened by the rot of the industry which includes record label problems and lack of publicity. We curated a list of ten amazing talents from the region who are worth listening to.
One of the most innovative artistes from Nigeria in the last five years, Jeriq is largely credited by critics to have brought the Igbo version of trap music to the limelight. Jeriq came into the limelight in 2020 around the time of the pandemic. During the sit-at-home period among the gathering of boys in the hood, and hustlers navigating the hard socio-economic conditions of the times and dreaming of a better life, Jeriq’s music found eager audience with the release of his EP, “Hoodboy Dreams.” Since then, he has grown in popularity as a potential top future rapper with increasing followership. His new album, “Billion Dollar Dreams” is due for release on May 26th, 2022.
With the rise of TikTok across Nigeria and the world, Ugoccie came to limelight with her song, “You Really Like Me” featuring Kolaboy. She is known for her style of music which combines Igbo rock style music with Afrobeats. She is currently one of the best known talents to come from the region in recent times. Her latest single, Breakfast features top Igbo rapper, Phyno.
Valdozzy, an Enugu-born artiste and an alumni of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is one of the best Afro-soul artistes from the region. His debut EP, “Magic” under Ala Africa record label, amassed impressive numbers across various streaming platforms. The EP is a six-track project that dwells on the themes of lust, romance, and ambition. Valdozzy’s music is a blend of melody and soul. His new EP, Love and Shakabula, is expected to drop around July, 2022.
Kolaboy’s Long EP, “The Storyteller,” released in 2020, established him as a rapper with narrative acumen. The stories he tells through his music are inspiring as they are touching. His rap style and the culture which it encompasses is ideologically similar to J. Cole and the Carolina story as told in Forest Hill Drives. Kolaboy has since gone on to release other tracks like “Omalicha,” “Ogoli,” “Debit alert,” and his latest track making the rounds, “Brother Man.”
By far the best Igbo female rapper in recent memory, Daisy became popular after her stellar performances in the Slimcase shows. Her rap lines are filled with powerful punchlines which espoused her bragging right as a rapper. Any fan of core rap will enjoy listening to this sensation. Her album, Firecracker is available on all platforms. Listen here.
Ifé’s music fills a particularly important void in the Igbo Renaissance which seeks the deepening of cultural consciousness. Blessed with a deep and soulful voice, the lanky, chocolate-complexioned crooner sings about the Igbo culture and history. She debuted in 2019 with the EP, “Dark Light.” Her latest offering is an album titled “Sunset and Photographs” which explores Igbo heritage, culture and history including the Biafran war. Her music is being used across America, Canada and Europe to teach the Igbo Language. For anyone looking to see how soulful the Igbo Language can be, look out for Ifé’s music. Stream Sunsets and Paragraphs here.
Ifex G, an Onitsha-born and bred artiste, is one of the Igbo rappers who have been everywhere in recent times, featuring alongside Nuno and Jeriq in the hit song, “Selense” and also releasing a couple of hits on his own. The beauty of his music lies in how richly it portrays the “Iyoo” culture while combining Highlife sounds with Hip Hop. His debut EP, “Anụmanụ” released in 2020, enjoyed massive airplay in the east and across Nigeria. He was featured in Masterkraft’s hitsong “Gae” was one of the biggest hits from the region last year. Check out his new track, “Ọfọ.“
Nuno has been around for sometime now. A few years ago, he was signed to Penthauze, a record label owned by the popular Igbo rapper, Phyno. Nuno’s stint at the label had not gone very well with the record label not giving him any lead way in the industry. Nuno has been featured recently on some hit tracks including Jaysynth’s “5 kpa,” and Masterkraft’s “Gae.” Check him out here on Spotify.
Unarguably one of the finest music talents from the Southeast in recent times, Rhatti’s music found feet during his time at Nnamdi Azikiwe University. Having endured a tough start to his career, Rhatti is set to relaunch his career. His moves are not yet totally public but his single, “God is da Plug” featuring Rhatti and Jeriq has enjoyed massive airplay in the east. Check him out here on Spotify.
Somto is an Afro-soul singer whose lyrics and vocals has caught the heart of so many music lovers in the region and beyond. A graduate of Linguistics from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, the vocalist has been singing since his childhood days. Somto spoke to Afrocritik about his music. According to Somto, his exposure to music in his childhood, and his father’s influence were particularly important in his developing an interest in music. Growing up in Ọ́jọ́, Lagos, “My father exposed me to music across different genres and cultures from jazz to hip hop, to Igbo highlife, soul, western classics, and also a copy of the former Beatles singer, John Lennon’s memoir, ‘Strawberry Fields forever.’ This book would go on to have a profound effect on him and influence me philosophically as an artiste,” he said.
Somto sings passionately about love, happiness, his aspirations and struggles. With only two singles, “All Night Long” and “Nleka” out in the market, the world is yet to see the best of this very talented artiste.
Michael Chiedoziem Chukwudera writes weekly pieces on music, culture and literature for Afrocritik. Follow him on Twitter @ChukwuderaEdozi.